The Siege of Leningrad in German Documents

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Roberto
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The Siege of Leningrad in German Documents

Post by Roberto » 30 Aug 2002 12:41

What follows are transcriptions from German documents related to the siege of Leningrad, which led to the death, mainly by starvation, of about one million civilians, most of them in the winter of 1941/42.

All quotes, except where otherwise indicated, were taken from the catalogue of the current exhibition Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941-1944. Dimensionen des Vernichtungskrieges.

1. From the personal war diary of Generaloberst Franz Halder, entry of 08.07.1941 (Generaloberst Halder, Kriegstagebuch, Bd. III: Der Rußlandfeldzug bis zum Marsch auf Stalingrad (22.6.1941 -24.9.1942), bearb. von Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, Stuttgart 1964, page 53)

[...] 8.7.1941: Ergebnis [...]

2. Feststehender Beschluß des Führers ist, Moskau und Leningrad dem Erdboden gleich zu machen, um zu verhindern, daß Menschen darin bleiben, die wir dann im Winter ernähren müßten. Die Städte sollen durch die Luftwaffe vernichtet werden. Panzer dürfen hierfür nicht eingesetzt werden. [...]


My translation:

[...] 8.7.1941: Result [...]

2. It is the established decision of the Führer to erase Moscow and Leningrad in order to avoid that people stay in there who we will then have to feed in winter. The cities are to be destroyed by the air force. Tanks may not be used for this purpose. [...]



2. Order of the Army High Command (Oberkommando des Heeres) to Army Group North of 28.09.1941 (Bundersarchiv/Militärarchiv, RM 7/1014)

Betrifft: Abschließung der Stadt Leningrad

An

Heeresgruppe Nord

Auf Grund der Weisung der Obersten Führung wird befohlen:
1.) Die Stadt Leningrad ist durch einen möglichst nahe an die Stadt heranzuschiebenden und dadurch Kräfte sparenden Ring einzuschliessen. Eine Kapitulation ist nicht zu fordern.
2.) Um zu erreichen, dass die Stadt als Zentrum des letzten roten Widerstandes an der Ostsee möglichst bald ausgeschaltet wird, ohne dass grössere eigene Blutopfer gebracht werden, ist die Stadt infanteristisch nicht anzugreifen. Sie ist vielmehr durch Niederkämpfen der Luftabwehr und der feindlichen Jäger, durch Zerstörung der Wasserwerke, Lagerhäuser, Licht- und Kraftquellen ihrer Lebens- und Verteidigungsfähigkeit zu berauben. Die militärischen Anlagen und Verteidigungskräfte des Gegners sind durch Feuer und Beschuss niederzukämpfen. Jedes Ausweichen der Zivilbevölkerung gegen die Einschliessungstruppen ist - wenn nötig unter Waffeneinsatz - zu verhindern.
3.) Durch Verbindungsstab Nord wird bei Finnischem Oberkommando gefordert werden, dass die in der Karelischen Landenge vorgehenden finnischen Kräfte die Einschliessung Leningrads von Norden und Nordosten her im Anschluss an die über die Newa vorgehenden deutschen Kräfte übernehmen und dass die Einschliessung selbst nach obigen Gesichtspunkten erfolgt.

Umgehende Verbindungsaufnahme zwischen Heeresgruppe Nord und Verbindungsstab Nord wegen Regelung der Einzelheiten wird von OKH zeitgerecht befohlen.

I.A.

gez. Halder


My translation:

Subject: Sealing off the city of Leningrad

To

Army Group North

According to directives of the Supreme Command the following is ordered:
1.) The city of Leningrad is to be sealed of by a ring to be taken as close as possible to the city in order to save forces. A capitulation is not to be required.
2.) In order to achieve that the city as center of the last great Red resistance on the Baltic is eliminated as soon as possible without greater sacrifices in blood of our own being brought, the city is not to be attacked by infantry. It is to be deprived of its life and defense capacity by crushing the enemy air defense and fighter planes and destroying waterworks, stores and sources of light and power. The military installations and defense forces of the enemy are to be crushed by fire and bombardment. Any move by the civilian population in the direction of the encircling troops is to be prevented – if necessary by force of arms.
3.) Liaison Staff North will require the Finnish high command to provide for the Finnish troops advancing in the Karelian isthmus taking over the encirclement from the north and north-east in connection with the German troops advancing over the Neva and the encirclement itself being carried out according to the above criteria.

Immediate contact between Army Group North and Liaison Staff North for regulation of details will be ordered by Army Supreme Command in due time.

By order

signed Halder



3. From the letter of General Quarter Master Eduard Wagner to his wife of 09.09.1941 (Bundesarchiv/Militärarchiv, N 510/48 )

[...] Der Nordkriegsschauplatz ist so gut wie bereinigt, auch wenn man nichts davon hört. Zunächst muß man sie in Petersburg schmoren lassen, was sollen wir mit einer 3 ½ Mill-Stadt, die sich nur auf unser Verpflegungsportemonnaie legt. Sentimentalitäten gibt’s dabei nicht [...]


My translation:

[...] The northern theater of war is a good as cleaned up, even if you hear nothing about it. Now we first must let them fry in Petersburg, what are we to do with a city of 3 ½ million that would only lie on our food supply wallet. Sentimentalities there will be none. [...]



More is to follow.

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Post by atkif » 31 Aug 2002 21:25

Thank you for this translation.I would not be able to read it in German

2. It is the established decision of the Führer to erase Moscow and Leningrad in order to avoid that people stay in there who we will then have to feed in winter. The cities are to be destroyed by the air force. Tanks may not be used for this purpose.

This is interesting that there are so many of those who claim that Russian
communist evil was greater than Nazi's.
At least Berlin was not "to be destroyed " in the Stalin's plans.
That is not to say that Commies didn't committ terrible crimes .
But to claim that nazism was somehow "better"...?
That it "was protecting the Western civilization"..? 8O

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Post by atkif » 31 Aug 2002 21:42

At least 641,000 people had died in Leningrad during the Siege (some estimates put this figure at 800,000).

http://www.p38lessonplan.com/leningrad.htm

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Post by michael mills » 01 Sep 2002 06:32

Leningrad was not encicled until the end of September 1941, ie three months after the start of the German invasion.

The Soviet Government had adequate time to evacuate most of the civilian population, leaving only a fighting force that could be supplied across Lake Ladoga. Such evacuation was quite feasible, and was undertaken in all other cities menaced by the German advance. For example, by the time the German Army captured Kiev at the end of September, the great majority of the inhabitants were no longer there.

However, for propaganda reasons, the Soviet Government refused to evacuate the civilian population of Leningrad. Throughout the siege, the city was never entirely cut off; a trickle of supplies flowed across Lake Ladoga, first by ferry and then in the winter of 1941-42 by truck across the ice. The amount of food comming in was sufficient for the fighting force but not for the civilians. Since the available food was reserved for the Read Army and the Party, there was mass starvation among the civilians.

Accordingly, the death of almost one million civilians in Leningrad cannot be attributed solely to a German plan; it was also, even mainly, the result of the willingness of the Soviet Government to sacrifice millions of its own people in order to achieve its ends. If the civilian population had been evacuated in time, then there would have been no mass starvation, no matter how much the German Army bombarded the city.

The German orders to fire on civilians attempting to flee Leningrad were a reaction to the situation, rather than the implementation of genocide. It was a measure to prevent the Soviet authorities solving the problem of feeding the population of Leningrad by dumping it across the German lines and thereby making it a problem for the Germans. The previous German orders for the destruction of Leningrad were not of themselves genocidal; if the population had been evacuated, then the destruction of buildings could have been carried out without mass loss of life.

In the summer of 1942, the greater part of the surviving civilian population of Leningrad, in particular women and children, was evacuated across Lake Ladoga by ferry, an action that could and should have been carried out by the Soviet authorities one year previously.

If the exhibition on the crimes of the Wehrmacht does not reveal the underlying reason for the mass starvation in Leningrad, then that is a measure of the bias of its German leftist organisers.

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Post by Gwynn Compton » 01 Sep 2002 11:47

The German orders to fire on civilians attempting to flee Leningrad were a reaction to the situation, rather than the implementation of genocide. It was a measure to prevent the Soviet authorities solving the problem of feeding the population of Leningrad by dumping it across the German lines and thereby making it a problem for the Germans. The previous German orders for the destruction of Leningrad were not of themselves genocidal; if the population had been evacuated, then the destruction of buildings could have been carried out without mass loss of life.


Even so, would have the Germans given the same orders if it was a city full of French, English, Dutch? The role of the sub-human ideas towards Russians still must have played a factor.

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Post by atkif » 01 Sep 2002 13:51

michael mills wrote:.
Accordingly, the death of almost one million civilians in Leningrad cannot be attributed solely to a German plan; it was also, even mainly, the result of the willingness of the Soviet Government to sacrifice millions of its own people in order to achieve its ends. If the civilian population had been evacuated in time, then there would have been no mass starvation, no matter how much the German Army bombarded the city.

Very serious accusation.Do you think that "the Soviet Government"
was able to foresee how long the siege would last ?
Do you think that "the Soviet Government" would benefit from the "sacrifice"of "millions of its own people"?
What ends "the Soviet Government" was trying to achieve by such a sacrifice?
Looks like some sort of a conspiracy theory.
Would you mind elaborating ?
So again the Germans are not to blame for the deaths of the people of Leningrad.It was again the evil Stalinists.

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Post by Ovidius » 01 Sep 2002 14:57

atkif wrote:Do you think that "the Soviet Government" would benefit from the "sacrifice"of "millions of its own people"?
What ends "the Soviet Government" was trying to achieve by such a sacrifice?
Looks like some sort of a conspiracy theory.
Would you mind elaborating ?


Why did the Party Secretary Of Leningrad, Andrei A. Zhdanov, refuse to capitulate or evacuate the city, if he and his bosses in Moscow cared so much for their citizens(for which they fought the class struggle :mrgreen: )? And he even wrote about his decision to resist and not leave the city himself.

atkif wrote:So again the Germans are not to blame for the deaths of the people of Leningrad.It was again the evil Stalinists.


Obviously :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

~Ovidius

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Post by Scott Smith » 01 Sep 2002 15:11

Gwynn Compton wrote:
Michael Mills wrote:The German orders to fire on civilians attempting to flee Leningrad were a reaction to the situation, rather than the implementation of genocide. It was a measure to prevent the Soviet authorities solving the problem of feeding the population of Leningrad by dumping it across the German lines and thereby making it a problem for the Germans. The previous German orders for the destruction of Leningrad were not of themselves genocidal; if the population had been evacuated, then the destruction of buildings could have been carried out without mass loss of life.

Even so, would have the Germans given the same orders if it was a city full of French, English, Dutch? The role of the sub-human ideas towards Russians still must have played a factor.

The Germans would not have been any better prepared to provide for the idle welfare of 3.5 million Anglo-Saxons either.
:)

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Post by Scott Smith » 01 Sep 2002 15:32

atkif wrote:At least Berlin was not "to be destroyed " in the Stalin's plans.

Berlin was sealed-off too until it capitulated. This is called Siege Warfare and it dates from ancient times. If one doesn't have the forces to reduce a city then one waits it out, especially if, like Leningrad, it is not a decisive objective. Refugees are bundensome to all armies and anyway one doesn't send Red Cross packages to besieged cities. Furthermore, cities like Berlin, Leningrad, and Moscow were prestige targets that can't be surrendered without some propaganda penalty. The belligerents could have avoided trouble by declaring their cities to be Open. But of course they don't because they are at war and they are fighting to win.
:)

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Post by atkif » 01 Sep 2002 21:50

Ovidius wrote:Why did the Party Secretary Of Leningrad, Andrei A. Zhdanov, refuse to capitulate or evacuate the city, if he and his bosses in Moscow cared so much for their citizens(for which they fought the class struggle :mrgreen: )? And he even wrote about his decision to resist and not leave the city himself.

Just because the Soviet people didn't want to surrender.
Just because they somehow didn't like the idea of the Germans ruling them.It is probably ve-e-e-r-y difficult to comprehend. :mrgreen:
Last edited by atkif on 01 Sep 2002 21:58, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by atkif » 01 Sep 2002 21:56

Scott Smith wrote:Berlin was sealed-off too until it capitulated. This is called Siege Warfare and it dates from ancient times.

Machiavellian tactic again ? :wink:
You seem quite reluctant to admitt the difference.
There were no plans to exterminate the population of Berlin
by the evil Communists.
There were evidently plans to exterminate the people of Leningrad which
the quotation brought up by Roberto proves.
Last edited by atkif on 01 Sep 2002 22:10, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by atkif » 01 Sep 2002 22:06

BTW Russian people didn't want to surrender to the Napoleon's invaders
as well in 1812.Oh.. my -it just crossed my mind -probably the evil communist were already the force to reacon with ,at the Alexander'court :mrgreen: .
Of course the Russian people were supposed to want to surrender.
They are only Slavs..They are supposed to crave the occupation of the
''master race". :mrgreen:
I don't think so.
Less than two and a half months after June 22, 1941, when the Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany, German troops were already approaching Leningrad. The Red Army was outflanked and on September 8, 1941 the Germans had fully encircled Leningrad and the siege began. It lasted for about 900 days, from September 8, 1941 till January 27, 1944. Two million 887 thousand civilians (including about 400 thousand children) plus troops didn't even consider any calls for surrender. Food and fuel stocks were very limited (1-2 months only). All the public transport stopped. By the winter of 1941-42 there was no heating, no water supply, almost no electricity and very little food. In January 1942, in the depths of an unusually cold winter, the lowest food rations in the city were only 125 grams (about 1/4 of a pound) of bread per day. In just two months, January and February, 1942, 200 thousand people (!!!) died in Leningrad of cold and starvation. But some of the war industry still worked and the city did not surrender.


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Post by Scott Smith » 02 Sep 2002 03:05

atkif wrote:
Scott Smith wrote:Berlin was sealed-off too until it capitulated. This is called Siege Warfare and it dates from ancient times.

Machiavellian tactic again ? :wink:

The political theorist Machiavelli lived in the 15th-16th century Italian Renaissance. "Ancient" means before the Middle Ages, the ancient world and Rome. I suggest some historical study on the historical realities of Siege Warfare.

You seem quite reluctant to admitt the difference.

The difference with what? If Berlin had under some scenario held out for a hard winter while surrounded by anyone then the German civilians would have died like flies.

And then postwar scribblers could find examples of Soviet rhetoric like from Ehrenberg and make a "Genocide" claim. It all depends on whose ox is being gored.

There were no plans to exterminate the population of Berlin by the evil Communists. There were evidently plans to exterminate the people of Leningrad which the quotation brought up by Roberto proves.

His smoking-gun quotations culled by Leftist German historians prove nothing. Halder's signature is on the order; this is the kind of bullshit bellicose political rhetoric that is typical of the military. Big deal. Change the names and we could be talking about the Germans or the Japs instead of the Russians.

Sorry, but all teleological considerations about the Good-War and our noble Soviet ally aside, the fact is that when you resist a miltary occupation--a siege--you suffer the consequences, whether these may be bombardment or the risk of starvation.

Genocide plans? Lots of smoke, not much fire. War sucks.
:)
Last edited by Scott Smith on 09 Sep 2002 09:23, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Gwynn Compton » 02 Sep 2002 04:09

The Germans would not have been any better prepared to provide for the idle welfare of 3.5 million Anglo-Saxons either.


This is also true.

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Post by Roberto » 02 Sep 2002 10:54

michael mills wrote:However, for propaganda reasons, the Soviet Government refused to evacuate the civilian population of Leningrad.


Says Mr. Mills, who by this statement has brought upon himself the task of providing evidence that the Soviet government refused to evacuate the civilian population of Leningrad “for propaganda reasons”.

michael mills wrote:Accordingly, the death of almost one million civilians in Leningrad cannot be attributed solely to a German plan; it was also, even mainly, the result of the willingness of the Soviet Government to sacrifice millions of its own people in order to achieve its ends.


The German plan was not the only cause, for sure.

But arguing that the main cause of the disaster was the Soviet failure to evacuate the city (to the extent that it would have been possible to do so when the threat of encirclement became imminent) and not the German plan to let the population starve to death rather than accept the city’s capitulation if offered, is what a distinguished English judge would call “a travesty of the facts”.

Or shall we call it the logic by which the rapist of a teenage girl blames the victim's parents for having let her go out on the streets at night?

michael mills wrote:Throughout the siege, the city was never entirely cut off; a trickle of supplies flowed across Lake Ladoga, first by ferry and then in the winter of 1941-42 by truck across the ice.


Whose merit was that exclusively or primarily, Mr. Mills?

Of the Germans who consciously left open the Ladoga road?

Or first of Soviet counteroffensives which kept the Germans from entirely closing the ring and then of a remarkable organizational and logistical endeavor on the part of the Soviets?

michael mills wrote:The amount of food comming in was sufficient for the fighting force but not for the civilians. Since the available food was reserved for the Read Army and the Party, there was mass starvation among the civilians.


Well, the Red Army was not exactly well-fed either (although Leningrad cannibals are said to have preferred Red Army soldiers on leave to their fellow citizens), and the Party bosses were off the hook because they received extra supplies by plane (Zhdanov, for instance, had his daily ration of orange juice flown in). But while troops and workers had priority in the allocation of the rare supplies, it is not as everything had gone to them and no effort had been made to feed the civilian population with the sparse supplies available, as Mr. Mills is apparently trying to make believe.

Another function of the Ladoga ice road that Mr. Mills conveniently fails to mention was the evacuation of starving civilians. Despite huge losses due to German air attacks, the Soviets managed to take over half a million people out of the city on the Ladoga ice road until 15 April 1942:

The most careful calculation suggests that about 1,000,000 Leningraders were evacuated during the blockade: 33,479 by water across Ladoga in the fall of 1941; 35,114 by plane in November-December, 1941; 36,118 by the Ladoga ice road in December, 1941, and up to January 22, 1942; 440,000 by Ladoga from January 22 to April 15; 448,694 by Ladoga water transport from May to November, 1942; 15,000 during 1943. In addition, perhaps 100,000 Lenigraders went to the front with the armed forces.


Source of quote: Harrison E. Salisbury, The 900 Days, New York 1970, pages 590 and following.

It is arguable that, had it not been for this massive evacuation in wintertime, the city’s entire civilian population would have perished.

michael mills wrote:The German orders to fire on civilians attempting to flee Leningrad were a reaction to the situation, rather than the implementation of genocide. It was a measure to prevent the Soviet authorities solving the problem of feeding the population of Leningrad by dumping it across the German lines and thereby making it a problem for the Germans.


I suppose that Michael Mills can show us documentary evidence in support of this contention of his, namely the one that the flight of starving civilians towards the German lines was expected to be the result of “dumping” organized by the Soviet government rather than spontaneous acts of desperation.

Or shall we dismiss those contentions as another of Mills’ hollow guesses based on little other than wishful thinking?

michael mills wrote:In the summer of 1942, the greater part of the surviving civilian population of Leningrad, in particular women and children, was evacuated across Lake Ladoga by ferry, an action that could and should have been carried out by the Soviet authorities one year previously.


As shown by the above quote from Salisbury’s book, no more people left Leningrad by ferry in the summer of 1942 than had left the city over the ice in the winter of 1941/42.

Michael Mills is again kindly asked to demonstrate that the Soviet government i) could have evacuated the whole of the city when the danger of encirclement became imminent and before the circle closed and ii) refused to do so for propaganda reasons.

He is also requested to explain why leaving the city’s population at the mercy of a brutal conqueror who would rather let it perish than take care of it would make the Soviets more responsible for the fate of Leningrad’s citizens than Hitler and the Wehrmacht High Command.

According to such reasoning, I suppose that Michael Mills would seek the lion’s share of responsibility for the fate that befell the inhabitants of East Prussia and Silesia in the winter of 1944/45 with the Nazi leadership, which could have evacuated these areas with plenty of time in the autumn of 1944 but refused to do so.

I suppose he would also blame the bloodbath of the RAF's Operation "Gomorrha" mainly on the Nazi government's failure to evacuate more citizens of Hamburg to the countryside.

And so on.

michael mills wrote:If the exhibition on the crimes of the Wehrmacht does not reveal the underlying reason for the mass starvation in Leningrad, then that is a measure of the bias of its German leftist organisers.


The subject matter of this exhibition made by Germans and for Germans is not what the Soviets did, but the policies and actions of the German Wehrmacht.

And if Mills had read the catalogue of the exhibition, he would know that it does little more than present documentary evidence and let it speak for itself.

What the documents say is obviously so damaging to the ideological agenda of Nazi apologists like Mr. Mills that they frantically attempt to play it down.

Very instructive.
Last edited by Roberto on 02 Sep 2002 14:26, edited 2 times in total.

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