What's going on in Leningrad?

The series covered the invasion of the USSR in depth, and the siege of Leningrad in detail. As the war and the series have progressed, all the fighting and attention seems to be in the south of the Soviet Union.
How is the war in the north and around Leningrad going at this stage (August 1943)?

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During this period the Northern sector of the Eastern Front is relatively quiet. The frontline is static and neither side has the resources for an offensive operation. After the conclusion of the Soviet Operation Polar Star in March 43 there are no offensive operations until January 44.


Seems weird that those two moments are both in winter

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If you think of the terrain, there are a lot of forests and swamps which heavily favours defence. Much easier to attack when the ground is hard frozen.

Here are all of the Soviet Offensives in the Leningrad area:

Tikhvin Counteroffensive – 12 November to 31 December 1941
80,000 killed, wounded, and missing by the Soviet Leningrad Front, 190,000 total casualties for the Leningrad Front

Operation Liuban’ (Leningrad-Volkhov) Offensive – 6 January to 30 April 1942
308,367 killed, wounded, sick, and missing in the Leningrad and Volkhov Front

Attempted Rescue of 2nd Shock Army – 13 May to 10 July 1942
94,751 killed, wounded, sick, and missing in the Leningrad and Volkhov Front
66,000 killed, wounded, and captured in the 2nd Shock Army

Second Sinyavino Offensive – 19 August to 15 October 1942
40,085 killed, captured, and missing (mostly lost from the destruction of the reorganized 2nd Shock Army), 113,674 total casualties suffered by the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts – new units would be assigned to recreate the 2nd Shock Army a third time

Operation Spark (Third Sinyavino Offensive) – 12 to 24 January 1943
33,940 killed, captured, or missing 81,142 wounded for a total of 115,082 casualties suffered by the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts out of 302,800 Soviet military personnel engaged in the successful offensive

Operation Polar Star (Leningrad-Volkhov Front involvement) – 12 February to 27 February 1943
(Includes Fourth Sinyavino Offensive)
35,000 killed, 150,000 total casualties suffered by the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts in their involvement with Operation Polar Star

Mga Offensive (continuation of Polar Star) – 19 March to 1 April 1943
31,789 killed, captured, or missing, 71,319 wounded or sick suffered by the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts

Fifth Sinyavino Offensive – 12 July to 22 August 1943
20,890 killed, captured, or missing, 79,937 wounded or sick suffered by the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts

Sixth Sinyavino Offensive – 15 September to September 1943
10,000 killed, wounded, captured, or missing by the Leningrad Front

Adolph Hitler made the decision to erase the besieged city of Leningrad by starving the Soviet military and civilians to death after the last attempt by the 18th Army to penetrate the defenses of Leningrad was stopped on September 30, 1942. Army Group North brought forward engineers to assist the engineers and pioneers of the 18th Army to build multiple trench lines reinforced with concrete machine gun pillboxes and concrete bunkers for anti-tank guns and light field artillery. These trench lines were heavily protected by extensive layers of barbed wire and minefields to keep the starving people from breaking out.

Adolph Hitler then orders the 18th Army to strike eastward to join with the Finnish Army on the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga to totally cut off Leningrad from any possible chance of supply by the Soviet Union. This German offensive was stopped and driven back by the Soviet Tikhvin Counteroffensive.

While the 18th Army was retreating, all of the engineers and pioneers in the German side of the Leningrad lines started to frantically construct a fortified trench line just like the German defensive line to the south of Leningrad on the west bank of the Naziya River for the retreating German soldiers to hold. This fortified line would gradually be extended southeastward to the Volkhov River.

These extensive German and Soviet fortified defensive lines basically turn the Leningrad region into a modernized version of the Western Front of World War 1. These Soviet offensives are literally modernized versions of Ypres, Nueve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge, Festubert, Artois, Vimy Ridge, and 2nd Champagne. The Soviet gains are meager as their attacking troops are pinned down fighting their way through the German trench lines. Most of the attacks only go a couple of kilometers deep before they collapse under German fire. The only marginal success for the Soviet Union was Operation Spark which seized the city of Shlisselburg and opened a narrow corridor connecting Leningrad with the Soviet Union with a 38% casualty rate among the victorious Soviet troops. The heavily forested and swampy terrain even makes the situation worse since armored vehicles can’t be deployed in mass in the area which forces the Soviet Army to break them up into 3 vehicle platoons of light/medium tank, 2 vehicle platoons of heavy tanks or assault guns. At most in a few areas, the Soviets can deploy company sized units of 10 light/medium tanks or 5 heavy tanks/assault guns.

Even in 1944, the Soviet offensive in the area against the greatly weakened 18th Army was the equivalent of a modernized version of the US Argonne Offensive of 1918.

Of course, the Soviet Union buried almost all of these battles with the exception of the 2nd Shock Army’s first destruction in their revised history. Almost all of these battles came to light only after the fall of the Soviet Union but even now they are still overshadowed by the battles occurring to the south of Leningrad.


Many thanks for this detailed depiction and explanation.

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