“The people of Leningrad and Stalingrad put up some of the most tenacious defenses in modern military history. Leningrad was under siege from September 1941 until January 1944, and as many as a third of its three million inhabitants died of starvation or disease. Electricity was cut off, potable water was nonexistent, and the only lifeline was a wintry truck and train route over frozen Lake Ladoga. In addition, the Germans on the outskirts of the city shelled it constantly, adding to the horrific casualty figures. Still, the citizens kept the trolley lines running and built their own fortifications, with the women digging a massive antitank ditch around the city, driving trucks, and operating streetcars. The Nazi assault similarly devastated Stalingrad, although over a shorter period of time. Munitions workers in the city drove the tanks that they had built directly off the assembly line and into battle. When the Nazis retreated, not a single building was left intact in Stalingrad.” – The World War II Desk Reference, Douglas Brinkley and Michael E. Haskew, eds.
Published inThe Second World War