Road of Life
Overview
 
The Road of Life was the ice road
Ice road
Ice roads are frozen, human-made structures on the surface of bays, rivers, lakes, or seas in the far north. They link dry land, frozen waterways, portages and winter roads, and are usually remade each winter. Ice roads allow temporary transport to areas with no permanent road access...

 transport route across the frozen Lake Ladoga
Lake Ladoga
Lake Ladoga is a freshwater lake located in the Republic of Karelia and Leningrad Oblast in northwestern Russia, not far from Saint Petersburg. It is the largest lake in Europe, and the 14th largest lake by area in the world.-Geography:...

, which provided the only access to the besieged city of Leningrad
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade was a prolonged military operation resulting from the failure of the German Army Group North to capture Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. It started on 8 September 1941, when the last...

 in the winter months during 1941–1944 while the perimeter in the siege was maintained by the German Army Group North
Army Group North
Army Group North was a German strategic echelon formation commanding a grouping of Field Armies subordinated to the OKH during World War II. The army group coordinated the operations of attached separate army corps, reserve formations, rear services and logistics.- Formation :The Army Group North...

 and the Finnish Defence Forces
Finnish Defence Forces
The Finnish Defence Forces are responsible for the defence of Finland. It is a cadre army of 15,000, of which 8,900 are professional soldiers , extended with conscripts and reservists such that the standard readiness strength is 34,700 people in uniform...

. The siege lasted for 29 months from 8 September 1941, to 27 January 1944. Over one million citizens of Leningrad died from starvation, stress, exposure and bombardments.
Encyclopedia
The Road of Life was the ice road
Ice road
Ice roads are frozen, human-made structures on the surface of bays, rivers, lakes, or seas in the far north. They link dry land, frozen waterways, portages and winter roads, and are usually remade each winter. Ice roads allow temporary transport to areas with no permanent road access...

 transport route across the frozen Lake Ladoga
Lake Ladoga
Lake Ladoga is a freshwater lake located in the Republic of Karelia and Leningrad Oblast in northwestern Russia, not far from Saint Petersburg. It is the largest lake in Europe, and the 14th largest lake by area in the world.-Geography:...

, which provided the only access to the besieged city of Leningrad
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade was a prolonged military operation resulting from the failure of the German Army Group North to capture Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. It started on 8 September 1941, when the last...

 in the winter months during 1941–1944 while the perimeter in the siege was maintained by the German Army Group North
Army Group North
Army Group North was a German strategic echelon formation commanding a grouping of Field Armies subordinated to the OKH during World War II. The army group coordinated the operations of attached separate army corps, reserve formations, rear services and logistics.- Formation :The Army Group North...

 and the Finnish Defence Forces
Finnish Defence Forces
The Finnish Defence Forces are responsible for the defence of Finland. It is a cadre army of 15,000, of which 8,900 are professional soldiers , extended with conscripts and reservists such that the standard readiness strength is 34,700 people in uniform...

. The siege lasted for 29 months from 8 September 1941, to 27 January 1944. Over one million citizens of Leningrad died from starvation, stress, exposure and bombardments. The road today forms part of the World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

.

Establishment

The Road of Life began to operate on 20 November 1941 when the first convoy of horse-drawn sleighs brought supplies to the city. Shortly thereafter, the ice road
Ice road
Ice roads are frozen, human-made structures on the surface of bays, rivers, lakes, or seas in the far north. They link dry land, frozen waterways, portages and winter roads, and are usually remade each winter. Ice roads allow temporary transport to areas with no permanent road access...

 began receiving truck traffic. Via the Road of Life, supplies could be brought into the city, and civilians evacuated to the still Soviet-controlled opposite coast. During the winter of 1941–42 the ice corridor of the "Road of Life" operated for 152 days, until 24 April.

About 514,000 city inhabitants, 35,000 wounded soldiers, industrial equipment from 86 plants and factories, and also some art and museum collections were evacuated from Leningrad during the first winter of the blockade. While the road was protected by anti-aircraft artillery
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

 on the ice and fighter planes in the air, truck convoys were constantly attacked by German artillery and airplanes, making travel dangerous.

Finland's role in the siege is under dispute. Some historians hold that Finnish divisions tried to but could not push forward across Lake Ladoga to cut the well-known route and complete the siege; another argument maintains that Finnish forces intentionally left the supply route open in tacit defiance of Germany's requests. The latter argument further divides into a view supporting a high-level decision and another supporting only low-level common sense by the unit commanders on location. Regardless of the motivation, in the end the Finns did not complete the siege and cut the supply, nor did they employ artillery against Leningrad or the Road of Life.

The total number of people evacuated from the siege of Leningrad through the Road of Life was about 1.3 million, mostly women and children who made the journey on foot.

During 1942 the "Artery
Artery
Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. This blood is normally oxygenated, exceptions made for the pulmonary and umbilical arteries....

 of Life", a 29 km (18 mi) long oil pipeline via Lake Ladoga was built of which 21 km (13 mi) ran under water at depth of 12.5 metres (41 ft).

During the following winter of 1942–1943, the Road of Life began to operate once again, starting with horse traffic on 20 December 1942. Motor vehicles began to operate on 24 December 1942. Construction of the 30 km (18.6 mi) long railway over piles and ice also began in December 1942.

Operation Spark
Operation Spark (1943)
Operation Iskra was a Soviet military operation during World War II, designed to break the German 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...

 — a full-scale offensive of troops of the Leningrad
Leningrad Front
The Leningrad Front was first formed on August 27, 1941, by dividing the Northern Front into the Leningrad Front and Karelian Front, during the German approach on Leningrad .-History:...

 and Volkhov Front
Volkhov Front
The Front was reformed on the 9 June 1942 from the Volkhov Operational Group of the Leningrad Front and served until 15 February 1944, participating in the relief of the Siege of Leningrad and taking part in other operations including:-Campaigns:...

s — started in the morning of 12 January 1943. After heavy and fierce battles, the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 units overcame the powerful German fortified zones to the South of Lake Ladoga, and on 18 January 1943 the two fronts met, opening a land corridor to the besieged city. Almost immediately, both truck and rail traffic began to bring supplies to Leningrad.

The city of Leningrad was still subject to at least a partial siege, as well as air and artillery bombardment, until a Soviet offensive broke through the German lines, lifting the siege on 27 January 1944.

For the heroic resistance of its citizens, Leningrad was the first city awarded the honorary title of Hero City
Hero City
Hero City is a Soviet honorary title awarded for outstanding heroism during the German-Soviet War of 1941 to 1945. It was awarded to twelve cities of the Soviet Union. In addition the Brest Fortress was awarded an equivalent title of Hero-Fortress...

 in 1945.

Volume of transported goods

The Road of Life was used to transport:
  • January 1942: approximately 53–54,000 tonnes of various goods,
  • February 1942: over 86,000 tonnes,
  • March 1942: over 118,000 tonnes.

In total the ice road
Ice road
Ice roads are frozen, human-made structures on the surface of bays, rivers, lakes, or seas in the far north. They link dry land, frozen waterways, portages and winter roads, and are usually remade each winter. Ice roads allow temporary transport to areas with no permanent road access...

 was used to ship more than 360,000 tonnes of goods, mostly rations and fodder, into Leningrad
Leningrad
Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

.

In the first winter of the siege the ice road
Ice road
Ice roads are frozen, human-made structures on the surface of bays, rivers, lakes, or seas in the far north. They link dry land, frozen waterways, portages and winter roads, and are usually remade each winter. Ice roads allow temporary transport to areas with no permanent road access...

 operated until 24 April 1942. The last shipment was made via ice floes, and in places it was necessary to unload and reload by hand. In that time, around 32,000 tonnes of ammunition and almost 35,000 tonnes of fuels and lubricants destined for the front and naval fleet were shipped out of Leningrad.

On the 19 November a transport route opened across Lake Ladoga, named 'the Road of Life'. However, three weeks later it was closed, and remained so until the middle of January.

After the siege

In the summer, with the start of the navigable period, deliveries to the city continued thanks to the Ladoga Military Flotilla. In 1943 the Road of Life was replaced by the Road of Victory – a railway, laid on the narrow path beaten out by German troops from Leningrad to Volkhov
Volkhov
Volkhov is an industrial town in Leningrad Oblast, Russia, situated east of St. Petersburg, on the Volkhov River. Population: -History:...

. Now the Road of Life, within the limits of Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, is often referred to as Ryabovskoe Highway, but within Vsevolozhsk
Vsevolozhsk
Vsevolozhsk is a town and the administrative center of Vsevolozhsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Karelian Isthmus east of St. Petersburg. Population: The town's name came from manufacturer Vsevolozhsky...

, the Road of Life is the official name.

Monuments and memorials

In total there are seven monuments along the Road of Life, 46 memorial poles along the road, and 56 memorial poles along the railway. All of these are part of the Green Belt of Glory
Green Belt of Glory
The Green Belt of Glory is a war memorial surrounding Saint Petersburg, Russia, commemorating the Siege of Leningrad of the Second World War. The belt consists of multiple small memorials marking the historical front line.-History:...

 («Зелёный пояс славы»).
  • The memorial complex "The Flower of Life" («Цветок жизни»), at the 3rd km of the Road of Life, consists of a monument, erected in 1968, by the architects A. D. Levyenkov and P. I. Melnikov, and eight tablets (representing pages from the diary of the Leningrad
    Leningrad
    Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

     schoolgirl Tanya Savicheva
    Tanya Savicheva
    Tatiana Nikolayevna Savicheva , commonly referred to as Tanya Savicheva was a Soviet child diarist who endured the Siege of Leningrad during World War II.- Early life :...

    ), erected in 1975 by the architects A. D. Levyenkov and G. G. Fetisov, and the engineer M. V. Koman.
  • The "Rumbolovsk Hill" («Румболовская гора») memorial complex, at the 10th km, in Vsevolozhsk
    Vsevolozhsk
    Vsevolozhsk is a town and the administrative center of Vsevolozhsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Karelian Isthmus east of St. Petersburg. Population: The town's name came from manufacturer Vsevolozhsky...

    , erected by the architects P. F. Kozlov and V. N. Polukhin. It consists of metallic oak
    Oak
    An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

     and laurel
    Bay Laurel
    The bay laurel , also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree, or simply laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is the source of the bay leaf used in cooking...

     leaves, symbolising life and glory, and a tablet with a verse by the poet Olga Berggolts
    Olga Berggolts
    Olga Fyodorovna Bergholz was a Soviet poet. She is most famous for her work on the Leningrad radio during the city's blockade, when she became the symbol of city's strength and determination.-Early life:...

    .
  • The "Katyusha" («Катюша») monument, at the 17th km, near the village of Kornevo, erected in 1966 by the architects A. D. Levyenkov, P. I. Melnikov, L. V. Chulkevich and the designers G. I. Ivanov and L. V. Izyurov.
  • Fifty-six memorial kilometre posts along the Finland Station – Lake Ladoga railway line. Erected 1970 by the architects M. N. Meisel' and I. G. Yavein.
  • Forty-six memorial kilometre posts on the highway from Rzhevka railway station, on the edge of Saint Petersburg, to Lake Ladoga. Erected in 1967 by the architect M. N. Meisel'.
  • A memorial consisting of a steam locomotive
    Steam locomotive
    A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

    , which had operated on the Road of Life, erected at the station Lake Ladoga in 1974 by the architect V. I. Kuznetsov.


  • The memorial complex "Broken Circle" ("Разорванное кольцо"), at the 40th km of the Road of Life, on the shore of Lake Ladoga near the village of Kokkorevo. Consists of a statue of an anti-aircraft cannon (1966, architect V. G. Fillipov, sculptor K. M. Simun
    Konstantin Simun
    - Biography :Simun was born in Leningrad, USSR, in 1934. He studied sculpture at the secondary school of Arts at the I. Repin Art Institute in Leningrad, then at the Tallinn Art Institute in Estonia, and from 1953 to 1957 at the I. Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 1958 he...

    , engineer I. A. Rybin).
  • "The Crossing" («Переправа») monument, near the hamlet of Morozova, dedicated to the memory of the soldier-pontoon
    Pontoon bridge
    A pontoon bridge or floating bridge is a bridge that floats on water and in which barge- or boat-like pontoons support the bridge deck and its dynamic loads. While pontoon bridges are usually temporary structures, some are used for long periods of time...

    eers (1970, architect L. M. Drexler, engineer E. N. Lutsko).
  • The "Steel Way" («Стальной путь») plaque in the Petrokrepost railway station, dedicated to the memory of the heroic railway workers on the Road of Life (1972, architects N. M. Meisel' and I. G. Yavein, sculptor G. D. Glinman). On the same site stands a memorial steam locomotive
    Steam locomotive
    A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

     (1975).
  • The "Kobona" («Кобона») plaque in the hamlet of Kobona, dedicated to the Road of Life (1964, architects M. N. Meisel'. A. A. Yakovlev).
  • The memorial automobile "The Legendary One-and-a-Half-Tonne" («Легендарная полуторка») at the 103rd km of the Petrozavodsk
    Petrozavodsk
    Petrozavodsk is the capital city of the Republic of Karelia, Russia. It stretches along the western shore of the Lake Onega for some . The city is served by Petrozavodsk Airport. Municipally, it is incorporated as Petrozavodsky Urban Okrug . Population:...

    highway, at the turn-off for Voibokalo (1974, architect A. D. Levyenkov, artist V. V. Fomyenko).
  • The "Voibokalo" («Войбокало») plaque at the Voibokalo railway station, commemorating the Road of Life (1975, architect S. S. Natonin).

External links

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