2nd Shock Army
The 2nd Shock Army was a field army of the Soviet Union during the Second World War. This type of formation was created in accordance with prewar doctrine that called for Shock Armies to overcome difficult defensive dispositions in order to create a tactical penetration of sufficient breadth and depth to permit the commitment of mobile formations for deeper exploitation. However, as the war went on, Shock Armies lost this specific role and reverted, in general, to ordinary frontline formations; the 2nd Shock Army was formed from the Volkhov Front's 26th Army in December 1941 and consisted of the 327th Rifle Division and eight separate rifle brigades. During the Lyuban Offensive Operation in early 1942, the 2nd Shock Army broke through German lines, was cut off from reinforcement along the Volkhov River by a German counter-attack, was not permitted to retreat; when the order for retreat came in, the 2nd was destroyed trying to escape. This happened again during the Siniavino operation, in which the survivors of the 2nd Shock Army had to return to the Front's HQ for resupply and manpower to rebuild the Army.
By 1944, during its participation in the Battle of Narva, the 2nd Shock Army consisted of five rifle divisions along with 600 artillery pieces, a tank brigade, another tank regiment, two SPG regiments, masses of ammunition and supplies. After the war ended, the 2nd Shock Army remained in northeastern Germany until January 1946, after which it returned to the USSR, where its HQ was reorganized as the HQ of the Arkhangel'sk Military District, it was composed of three rifle corps by this time. After the 2nd Shock Army was re-designated HQ Arkhangelsk MD's 116th Rifle Corps, its component units were spread among other districts; the 109th Rifle Corps went to the North Caucasus Military District, the 134th Rifle Corps went to the Voronezh Region. In January 1942 the Volkhov Front commander, had to request the Army’s commander, General Lieutenant Sokolov, a former NKVD commissar, be relieved, as he was incompetent. Command was handed over to the former commander of General Lieutenant Klykov; that same month the 2nd Shock Army was launched against Lyuban, but its offensive saw the Army isolated, under a new commander, General Lieutenant A. A. Vlasov.
On January 7, 1942, Vlasov's army had spearheaded the Lyuban Offensive Operation to break the Leningrad encirclement. Planned as a combined operation between the Volkhov and Leningrad Fronts on a 30 km frontage, other armies of the Leningrad Front were supposed to participate at scheduled intervals in this operation. Crossing the Volkhov River, Vlasov's army was successful in breaking through the German 18th Army's lines and penetrated 70–74 km deep inside German rear area; the other armies, failed to provide the required support, Vlasov's army became stranded. Permission to retreat was refused. With the counter-offensive in May 1942, the Second Shock Army was allowed to retreat, but by now, too weakened, it was annihilated during the final breakout at Myasnoi Bor. Vlasov was taken prisoner by the Wehrmacht troops on July 6, 1942, he raised a legion of Russians who fought alongside the German forces. 2nd Shock Army again suffered severe losses during the Siniavino operation from 19 August - 20 October 1942.
Again, the remnants were returned to the Front reserves for rebuilding. In January 1943 it took part in the offensive which aimed to raise the Siege of Leningrad, Operation Iskra; the Stavka intervened in Leningrad Front offensive planning during September 1943, changing the plan so that 2nd Shock Army would attack from the Oranienbaum bridgehead. The offensive, under a newly appointed commander, General I. I. Fedyuninskii, begun on 14 January, took part in breaking the 900-day Siege of Leningrad, pushed west to the outskirts of Narva, resulting in the Battle of Narva; the 2nd Shock Army struggled to take Narva and German positions further west of the city until September 1944, when deep exploitation by Soviet forces in the Baltic States forced a German retreat through Estonia. As a result of the strategic Soviet victory in this region, the 2nd Shock Army was moved south and assigned to the 2nd Belorussian Front; as part of the 2nd Belorussian Front, the 2nd Shock Army fought across Poland and northeastern Germany, with its route of march taking it north of Warsaw and Stettin.
In late March, the army helped capture Danzig. On May 1, 1945, the 2nd Shock Army took Stralsund on the Baltic Coast, ending the war there and on the island of Rügen. Lieutenant General Andrey Vlasov commander of the pro-Nazi Russian Liberation Army General Ivan Fedyuninsky, commander during the Battle of Narva Keith E. Bonn, Slaughterhouse: The Handbook of the Eastern Front, Aberjona Press, Bedford, PA, 2005 Feskov, The Soviet Army in the Period of the Cold War, Tomsk, 2004
Leonid Aleksandrovich Govorov was a Soviet military commander. An artillery officer, he joined the Red Army in 1920, he graduated from several Soviet military academies, including the Military Academy of Red Army General Staff. He participated in the Winter War as a senior artillery officer. In World War II, Govorov rose to command an army in November 1941 during the Battle of Moscow, he commanded the Leningrad Front from April 1942 to the end of the war. He reached the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1944, was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and many other awards. Leonid Aleksandrovich Govorov was born into a peasant family of Russian ethnicity in the village of Butyrki in Vyatka Governorate, he attended a technical high school in Yelabuga and enrolled in the shipbuilding department of Petrograd Polytechnical Institute. In December 1916, however, he was mobilized and was sent to the Konstantinovskye Artillery School, from which he graduated in 1917, he became an artillery officer with the rank of podporuchik.
When the Russian Revolution broke out and the Russian Army disintegrated, Govorov returned home, but was conscripted into the White Guard army of Aleksandr Kolchak in October 1918, serving in an artillery battery with the 8th Kama Rifle Division of the 2nd Ufa Army Corps in the Western Army, fighting in the Russian Civil War. Govorov fought in the Spring Offensive of the Russian Army, a general drive westwards by White forces in the east, he deserted in November 1919, fleeing to Tomsk, where he took part in an uprising against White authorities as part of a fighting squad. Govorov joined the Red Army in January 1920, serving in the 51st Rifle Division as an artillery battalion commander. With the division, he fought in the Siege of Perekop in November, during which Soviet forces drove Pyotr Wrangel's White Army out of Crimea. Govorov was wounded twice during the year and was awarded the Order of the Red Banner in 1921 for his actions in Crimea. Govorov obtained further military education, graduating from the Artillery course in 1926, the Higher Academy course in 1930, the Frunze Military Academy in 1933.
In 1936, Govorov was among the first officers who attended the newly founded Military Academy of Red Army General Staff, from which he graduated in 1938. From 1936, he was head of artillery in the Kiev Military District. In 1938 he was appointed as lecturer in tactics at the Dzerzhinsky Artillery Academy. In 1939, he finished his first research publication; this was the period of Joseph Stalin's Great Purge. Govorov was close to being arrested, but in the end survived thanks to the intervention of Mikhail Kalinin and continued to rise in rank. In 1939 the Soviet-Finnish War broke out, Govorov was appointed chief of artillery of the 7th Army, as his research while at Dzerzhinsky Artillery Academy was about assaulting and penetrating fortified enemy positions, he commanded the massive artillery assault that allowed the Soviet breakthrough along the Mannerheim Line in 1940. For this he was promoted to the rank of division commander, he was appointed Deputy Inspector-General of Artillery of the Red Army.
After Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Govorov commanded the Artillery on the Western Front in Belarus from August to October 1941. During the Battle of Moscow, he was appointed Chief of Artillery of the 5th Army, under the command of Major General Dmitri Danilovich Lelyushenko. After Lelyushenko was wounded on 18 October Govorov assumed command of the army. During the Soviet counter-offensives in the winter of 1941–42, his army liberated Mozhaisk; as a result, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general of artillery. In April 1942 Govorov was appointed commander of the Leningrad Group of Forces of the Leningrad Front, which combined the former Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts. In July, the Volkhov Front was re-established, Govorov became the head of the entire Leningrad Front, replacing Lieutenant General M. S. Khosin. Leningrad had been cut off from the rest of the country since September 1941, the Soviet forces were trying to lift the siege of Leningrad, causing colossal damage to the city and suffering to the civilian population.
The Road of Life, the only means of supply to the city, was cut by regular German and Finnish air strikes. Soviet forces launched several offensives in the region in 1942; the Lyuban Offensive Operation resulted in the encirclement and destruction of most of the Soviet 2nd Shock Army. In this situation, Govorov's background as an artilleryman was considered most valuable, since the city was under constant shelling, one of Govorov's tasks was to launch an artillery counter-offensive against the German guns; as soon as he became the commander of the Leningrad Front in July 1942, Govorov mounted local attacks in several sectors of the front, while preparing a much larger offensive. Together with the Volkhov Front, the Leningrad Front would break the blockade of the city by eliminating the German positions south of Ladoga Lake, where only 16 kilometres separated the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts; this position was called "the bottleneck". At the same time, German forces were planning Operation Northern Light to capture the city and link up with Finnish forces.
To achieve that, heavy reinforcements arrived from Sevastopol, which the German forces had captured in July 1942. Both sides were unaware of the other's preparations; as a result, the Soviet Sinyavino Offensive failed and the 2nd Shock army was decimated for the second time in a year, but the German forces suffered heavy casualties and canceled Operation Northern Light. In late November 1942
The Neva is a river in northwestern Russia flowing from Lake Ladoga through the western part of Leningrad Oblast to the Neva Bay of the Gulf of Finland. Despite its modest length of 74 kilometres, it is the fourth largest river in Europe in terms of average discharge; the Neva is the only river flowing from Lake Ladoga. It flows through the city of Saint Petersburg, three smaller towns of Shlisselburg and Otradnoye, dozens of settlements; the river is navigable throughout and is part of the Volga–Baltic Waterway and White Sea – Baltic Canal. It is a site of numerous major historical events, including the Battle of the Neva in 1240 which gave Alexander Nevsky his name, the founding of Saint Petersburg in 1703, the Siege of Leningrad by the German army during World War II; the area of Neva river was inhabited by Finnic people. In Finnic languages the word neva has wide spread with similar meanings. In Finnish it means poor fen, in Estonian waterway, it has been argued that the name derives from Indo-European adjective newā which means new.
The river came to exist in 1350 BC. However, the place names of the area doesn`t support any Indo-European influence in the area before Scandinavian traders and Slavs started to enter the region in 8th Century. In the Paleozoic, 300–400 million years ago, the entire territory of the modern delta of the Neva River was covered by a sea. Modern relief was formed as a result of glacier activity, its retreat formed the Littorina Sea, the water level of, some 7 to 9 metres higher than the present level of the Baltic Sea. The Tosna River was flowing in the modern bed of the Neva, from east to west into the Litorinal Sea. In the north of the Karelian Isthmus, the Littorina Sea united by a wide strait with Lake Ladoga; the Mga River flowed to the east, into Lake Ladoga, near the modern source of the Neva River. Near the modern Lake Ladoga, land rose faster, a closed reservoir was formed, its water level began to rise flooded the valley of Mga and broke into the valley of the river Tosna. The Ivanovo rapids of the modern Neva were created in the breakthrough area.
So about 2000 BC the Neva was created with Mga. According to some newer data, it happened at 1410–1250 BC making the Neva a rather young river; the valley of Neva is formed by glacial and post-glacial sediments and it did not change much over the past 2500 years. The delta of Neva was formed at that time, pseudodelta, as it was formed not by accumulation of river material but by plunging into the past sediments; the Neva flows out of Lake Ladoga near Shlisselburg, flows through the Neva Lowland and discharges into the Baltic Sea in the Gulf of Finland. It has a length of 74 kilometres, the shortest distance from the source to the mouth is 45 kilometres; the river banks are steep, on average about 3 to 6 metres and 2 to 3 metres at the mouth. There are three sharp turns: the Ivanovskye rapids, at Nevsky Forest Park of the Ust-Slavyanka region and near the Smolny Institute, below the mouth of the river Ohta; the river declines 4.27 metres in elevation between mouth. At one point the river forms the Ivanovskye rapids.
There, at the beginning of the rapids, is the narrowest part of the river: 210 metres. The average flow rate in the rapids is about 0.8–1.1 metres per second. The average width along the river is 400 to 600 metres; the widest places, at 1,000 to 1,250 metres, are in the delta, near the gates of the marine trading port, at the end of the Ivanovskye rapids near the confluence of the river Tosna, near the island Fabrinchny near the source. The average depth is 8 to 11 metres. In the area of Neva basin, rainfall exceeds evaporation. Since 1859, the largest volume of 116 cubic kilometres was observed in 1924 and the lowest in 1900 at 40.2 cubic kilometres. The average annual discharge is 2,500 cubic metres per second on average; because of the uniform water-flow from Lake Ladoga to the Neva over the whole year, there are no floods and corresponding water rise in the spring. The Neva freezes throughout from early December to early April; the ice thickness is 0.3 to 0.4 metres within 0.5 to 0.6 metres in other areas.
Ice congestion may form in winter in the upper reaches of the river, this sometimes causes upstream floods. Of the total ice volume of Lake Ladoga, 10.6 cubic kilometres, less than 5 percent enters the Neva. The average summer water temperature is 17 to 20 °C, the swimming season lasts only about 1.5 months. The water is fresh, with medium turbidity; the basin area of Neva is 5,000 km ², including the pools of Lake Onega. The basin contains 26,300 lakes and has a complex hydrological network of more than 48,300 rivers, however only 26 flow directly into Neva; the main tributaries are Mga, Izhora and Murzinka on the left, Okhta and Chernaya River on the right side of Neva. The hyd
The Stavka was the high command of the armed forces in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. In Imperial Russia Stavka refers to the administrative staff, to the General Headquarters in the late 19th Century Imperial Russian armed forces and subsequently in the Soviet Union. In Western literature it is sometimes written in uppercase, incorrect since it is not an acronym. Stavka may refer to its members, as well as to the headquarter location; the commander-in-chief of the Russian army at the beginning of World War I was Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievitch, a grandson of Tsar Nicholas I. Appointed at the last minute in August 1914, he played no part in formulating the military plans in use at the beginning of the war. Nikolai Yanushkevich was his chief of staff. In the summer of 1915 the Tsar himself took personal command, with Mikhail Alekseyev as his chief of staff. In the years 1915–1917 Stavka was based in Mogilev and the Tsar, Nicholas II, spent long periods there as Commander-in-Chief; the Stavka was divided into several departments: Department of General-Quartermaster Department of General on Duty Department of military transportations Naval department Diplomatic chancery The Stavka was first established in Baranovichi.
In August 1915, after the German advance, the Stavka re-located to Mogilev. 19 July 1914 – 18 August 1915: Lieutenant-General Nikolai Yanushkevich 18 September 1915—01.04.1917: General of Infantry Mikhail Alekseyev 10 November 1916 – 17 February 1917: General of Cavalry Vasily Gurko 11 March 1917—05.04.1917: General of Infantry Vladislav Klembovsky 5 April 1917 – 31 May 1917: Lieutenant-General Anton Denikin 2 June 1917 – 30 August 1917: Lieutenant-General Alexander Lukomsky 30 August 1917 – 9 September 1917: General of Infantry Mikhail Alekseyev 10 October 1917—03.11.1917: Lieutenant-General Nikolay Dukhonin 3 November 1917—07.11.1917: Major General Mikhail Dieterichs 7 November 1917—02.1918: Major General Mikhail Bonch-Bruevich The Stavka of the Soviet Armed Forces during World War II, or the headquarters of the "Main Command of the Armed Forces of the USSR", was established on 23 June 1941 by a top-secret decree signed by Joseph Stalin in his capacities both as the head of government and as the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
According to this decree Stavka was composed of the defence minister Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, the head of General Staff Georgy Zhukov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, Marshal Semyon Budyonny and the People's Commissar of the Navy Admiral Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov. The same decree organized at Stavka "the institution of permanent counsellors of Stavka": Marshal Kulik, Marshal Shaposhnikov, Kirill Meretskov, head of the Air force Zhigarev, Nikolay Vatutin, head of Air Defence Voronov, Kaganovich, Lavrenty Beria, Zhdanov, Mekhlis. Soon afterwards, the deputy defence minister of the army, was arrested following false charges made by Beria and Merkulov. Meretskov was subsequently released from jail on the same day, at the end of the first week of September 1941, called for by Stalin. Stavka's Main Command was reorganized into the Stavka of the Supreme Command on 10 July 1941; this action occurred after Stalin was named Supreme Commander, replaced Timoshenko as head of Stavka.
On 8 August 1941 it was again reorganized into Stavka of the Supreme Main Command. On the same day Strategic Directions commands were instituted. A 17 February 1945 decree set out the membership of Stavka as Stalin, Aleksandr Vasilevsky, Aleksei Antonov, Nikolai Bulganin and Kuznetsov. General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Creation of the Main Command of the Armed Forces of the Union of USSR
Robert Ivanovich Rozhdestvensky was a Soviet poet who broke with socialist realism in the 1950s–1960s and, along with such poets as Andrey Voznesensky, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Bella Akhmadulina, pioneered a newer and freer style of poetry in the Soviet Union. Robert Rozhdestvensky was born to a military family in the village of Kosikha in Altai Krai. Following the outbreak of World War II, with both parents in the army, he found himself in the orphanage. After graduating high school, he attended Petrozavodsk University, he quit the University in order to attend Maxim Gorky Literature Institute, which he finished in 1956. In the time of the Khrushchev Thaw he worked alongside Voznesensky and Akhmadulina, they broke with the Social Realism, wrote emotional, lyric poems. Despite this, Rozhdestvenski was always careful not to criticize the government, thus remained in official favor through the 1960s and 1970s being awarded the Lenin Prize in 1979. In October 1993, he signed the Letter of Forty-Two. Rozhdestvensky died on 19 August 1994 in Peredelkino.
Flags of Spring, 1955 To My Contemporary, 1962 Dedication, 1970 In Twenty Years, 1973 Insomnia, 1991 Alyoshka's Thoughts, poems for children, 1991 Last poems of Robert Rozhdestvensky was published after his death. Collection of Robert Rozhdestvensky's Poems in English Translated from the Russian By Alec Vagapov.http://samlib.ru/a/as_w/robert-rozhdestvensky.shtml Robert Rozhdestvennsky poetry at the stihipoeta
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad was a prolonged military blockade undertaken from the south by the Army Group North of Nazi Germany against the Soviet city of Leningrad on the Eastern Front in World War II. The Finnish army invaded from the north, co-operating with the Germans until they had recaptured territory lost in the recent Winter War, but refused to make further approaches to the city; the siege started on 8 September 1941. Although the Soviet forces managed to open a narrow land corridor to the city on 18 January 1943, the siege was not lifted until 27 January 1944, 872 days after it began, it was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history, the costliest in casualties suffered. Some historians classify it as genocide. Leningrad's capture was one of three strategic goals in the German Operation Barbarossa and the main target of Army Group North; the strategy was motivated by Leningrad's political status as the former capital of Russia and the symbolic capital of the Russian Revolution, its military importance as a main base of the Soviet Baltic Fleet, its industrial strength, housing numerous arms factories.
By 1939, the city was responsible for 11% of all Soviet industrial output. It has been reported that Adolf Hitler was so confident of capturing Leningrad that he had invitations printed to the victory celebrations to be held in the city's Hotel Astoria. Although various theories have been put forward about Germany's plans for Leningrad, including renaming the city Adolfsburg and making it the capital of the new Ingermanland province of the Reich in Generalplan Ost, it is clear Hitler's intention was to utterly destroy the city and its population. According to a directive sent to Army Group North on 29 September, "After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban centre. Following the city's encirclement, requests for surrender negotiations shall be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot and should not be solved by us. In this war for our existence, we can have no interest in maintaining a part of this large urban population."Hitler's ultimate plan was to raze Leningrad to the ground and give areas north of the River Neva to the Finns.
Army Group North under Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb advanced to Leningrad, its primary objective. Von Leeb's plan called for capturing the city on the move, but due to Hitler's recall of 4th Panzer Group, von Leeb had to lay the city under siege indefinitely after reaching the shores of Lake Ladoga, while trying to complete the encirclement and reaching the Finnish Army under Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim waiting at the Svir River, east of Leningrad. Finnish military forces were north of Leningrad, while German forces occupied territories to the south. Both German and Finnish forces had the goal of encircling Leningrad and maintaining the blockade perimeter, thus cutting off all communication with the city and preventing the defenders from receiving any supplies – although Finnish participation in the blockade consisted of recapture of lands lost in the Winter War. Thus, it is argued that much of the Finns participation was defensive; the Germans planned on lack of food being their chief weapon against the citizens.
On Friday, 27 June 1941, the Council of Deputies of the Leningrad administration organised "First response groups" of civilians. In the next days, Leningrad's civilian population was informed of the danger and over a million citizens were mobilised for the construction of fortifications. Several lines of defences were built along the city's perimeter to repulse hostile forces approaching from north and south by means of civilian resistance. In the south, the fortified line ran from the mouth of the Luga River to Chudovo, Uritsk and through the Neva River. Another line of defence passed through Peterhof to Gatchina, Pulkovo and Koltushy. In the north the defensive line against the Finns, the Karelian Fortified Region, had been maintained in Leningrad's northern suburbs since the 1930s, was now returned to service. A total of 306 km of timber barricades, 635 km of wire entanglements, 700 km of anti-tank ditches, 5,000 earth-and-timber emplacements and reinforced concrete weapon emplacements and 25,000 km of open trenches were constructed or excavated by civilians.
The guns from the cruiser Aurora were moved inland to the Pulkovo Heights to the south of Leningrad. The 4th Panzer Group from East Prussia took Pskov following a swift advance and managed to reach Novgorod by 16 August; the Soviet defenders fought to the death, despite the German discovery of the Soviet defence plans on an officer's corpse. After the capture of Novgorod, General Hoepner's 4th Panzer Group continued its progress towards Leningrad. However, the 18th Army – despite some 350,000 men lagging behind – forced its way to Ostrov and Pskov after the Soviet troops of the Northwestern Front retreated towards Leningrad. On 10 July, both Ostrov and Pskov were captured and the 18th Army reached Narva and Kingisepp, from where advance toward Leningrad continued from the Luga River line; this had the effect of creating siege positions from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga, with the eventual aim of isolating Leningrad from all directions. The Finnish Army was expected to advance along the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga.
Army Group North 18th Army (v
Operation Iskra was a Soviet military operation during World War II, designed to break the Wehrmacht's Siege of Leningrad. Planning for the operation began shortly after the failure of the Sinyavino Offensive; the German defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad in late 1942 had weakened the German front. By January 1943, Soviet forces were planning or conducting offensive operations across the entire German-Soviet front in southern Russia, Iskra being the northern part of the wider Soviet 1942–1943 winter counter offensive; the operation was conducted by the Red Army's Leningrad Front, Volkhov Front, the Baltic Fleet from 12 to 30 January 1943 with the aim of creating a land connection to Leningrad. Soviet forces linked up on 18 January, by 22 January the front line was stabilised; the operation opened a land corridor 8–10 kilometres wide to the city. A railroad was swiftly built through the corridor which allowed more supplies to reach the city than the Road of Life across the frozen surface of Lake Ladoga reducing the possibility of the capture of the city and a German–Finnish linkup.
The success led to Operation Polyarnaya Zvezda less than two weeks which aimed to decisively defeat Army Group North, lifting the siege altogether. The operation was a failure. Soviet forces made several other attempts in 1943 to renew their offensive and lift the siege, but made only modest gains in each one; the corridor remained within range of German artillery, the siege was not lifted until a year on 27 January 1944. The Siege of Leningrad started in early autumn 1941. By 8 September 1941, German and Finnish forces had surrounded the city, cutting off all supply routes to Leningrad and its suburbs. However, the original drive on the city failed and the city was subjected to a siege. During 1942 several attempts were made to breach the blockade but all failed; the last such attempt was the Sinyavino Offensive. After the defeat of the Sinyavino Offensive, the front line returned to what it was before the offensive and again 16 kilometres separated Leonid Govorov's Leningrad Front in the city from Kirill Meretskov's Volkhov Front.
Despite the failures of earlier operations, lifting the siege of Leningrad was a high priority, so new offensive preparations began in November 1942. In December, the operation was approved by the Stavka and received the codename "Iskra"; the operation was due to begin in January 1943. By January 1943, conditions were improving for the Soviets; the German defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad had weakened the German front. The Soviet forces were planning or conducting offensive operations across the entire front in southwestern Russia. Amidst these conditions, Operation Iskra was to become the first of several offensive operations aimed at inflicting a decisive defeat on Germany's Army Group North; the area south of Lake Ladoga is a forested area with many wetlands close to the lake. The forest shielded both sides from visual observation. Both factors hindered the mobility of artillery and vehicles in the area, providing a considerable advantage to the defending forces; the Sinyavino heights were a key location, with terrain 150 meters higher than the surrounding flat terrain.
Because the front line had changed little since the blockade was established, German forces had built an extensive network of interconnected trenches and obstacles, interlocking artillery and mortar fire. The Neva River was frozen, allowing infantry to cross; the Germans were well aware that breaking the blockade was important for the Soviet side. However, due to the reverse at Stalingrad and the Soviet offensive at Velikiye Luki to the south of Leningrad, Army Group North was ordered to go on the defensive and was stripped of many troops; the 11th Army, to lead the assault on Leningrad in September 1942, which had thwarted the last Soviet offensive, was transferred to Army Group Center in October. Nine other divisions were reassigned to other sectors. At the start of the Soviet offensive, the German 18th Army, led by Georg Lindemann consisted of 26 divisions spread across a 450 kilometres wide front; the army was stretched thin and as a result had no division-level reserves. Instead, each division had a tactical reserve of one or two battalions, the army reserves consisted of portions of the 96th Infantry Division and the 5th Mountain Division.
The 1st Air Fleet provided the air support for the army. Five divisions and part of another one were guarding the narrow corridor which separated the Soviet Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts; the corridor was only 16 kilometres wide and was called the "bottleneck". The German divisions were well fortified in this area, where the front line had been unchanged since September 1941, hoping to repel the Soviet offensive; the plan for Operation Iskra was approved in December. With the combined efforts of the Volkhov and Leningrad Fronts, defeat the enemy in the area of Lipka, Dubrovka and thus penetrate the Leningrad blockade. Finish the operation by the end of January 1943; this meant opening a 10 kilometres corridor to Leningrad. After that, the two fronts were to rest for 10 days and resume the offensive southward in further operations; the biggest difference from the earlier Sinyavino Offensive was the location of the main attack. In September 1942 the Soviet forces were attacking south of the town of Siniavino, which allowed them to encircle several German divisions, but left the army open to flanking attacks from the north, it was this which caused the offensive to fa