Red Army

Photo of the Day

The diary of Tanya Savicheva, a girl of 11, her notes about starvation and deaths of her sister, then grandmother, then brother, then uncle, then another uncle, then mother. The last three notes say “Savichevs died”, “Everyone died” and “Only Tanya is left.” She died of progressive dystrophy shortly after the siege. Her diary was shown at the Nuremberg trials.

The Siege of Leningrad

When Germans encircled Leningrad they planned to quickly freeze and starve the city. They had no idea the devastation and horror that the people of Leningrad would be willing to endure without ever giving in. The siege is one of the longest in history and one of the deadliest as well.

Leningrad, the old imperial capital, was the most beautiful city in Russia and had for centuries been her cultural heartland. Founded as Czar Peter the Great’s window on the West, it had known many agonies throughout its turbulent history, but in 1941 geography and pragmatic military strategy would see Leningrad engulfed in a tragedy unparalleled in modern history.

With most of Europe already under the heel of Nazi Germany, Hitler turned his attention eastward toward the vast expanse of the Soviet Union and on the morning of June 22, 1941, launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. Spearheaded by three Army groups, German forces stormed across the Russian frontier and completely overwhelmed the Red Army units in their path. With clinical precision, the world’s largest army was being systematically annihilated and, after just 18 days of fighting, the Russians had lost over three million men, 6,000 tanks, and most of their aircraft.

Germany and her allies attempted to strangle the life out of the historic Soviet city of Leningrad – the heart of the Russian Revolution

It would be no exaggeration to say that the family of every native citizen of St. Petersburg was touched by the blockade, which lasted almost 900 days, from September, 1941 to January, 1944. During that time nearly a third of the population at the siege’s beginning, starved to death. Roughly one in three. Many of them in the streets.

Few people outside realised what the siege was like. For years afterwards Stalin kept people in the dark. Deaths were underestimated. Its party leaders were purged. For decades, details of the blockade have been little known in the West. Stalin suppressed the facts of the siege and twisted its history.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Unknown Source. Häyhä after being awarded the honorary rifle model 28.

Photo: Unknown Source.
Häyhä after being awarded the honorary rifle model 28.

Simo Häyhä

The White Death – World’s Greatest Sniper

Simo Häyhä was credited with over 500 kills in his service during the Winter War with his service cut short as he was wounded by a Soviet sniper. Simo was shot in the face with what turned out to be an exploding bullet and he was taken out of action due to these wounds. The total time that Simo Häyhä served in the Winter War was 100 days with about 500 kills credited to him. His record is truly remarkable and is long since remembered in the nation of Finland.

Häyhä’s specialty was his knowledge of the forests, his enduring patience, and his impeccable rifle marksmanship. A sniper by trade, he would dress up in all-white camouflage, sneak through the woods with only a day’s worth of food and couple clips of ammunition, and then lie in wait for any Russian stupid enough to wander into his kill zone.

Simo Häyhä was born in 1906 or 1905 (there seems to be two dates of his birth depending on the reference materials) in Rautajärvi, Finland.  The town was in the shadow of the Soviet Union and as was the case with many border areas, the home of Mr. Häyhä was lost to the Soviets in the spoils of the Winter War.  Like many of the towns and villages of this region the area was rural, and Mr. Häyhä was what people would call an outdoorsman spending much of his time outside letting his skills sharpen.

In 1925 Mr. Häyhä joined the Finnish Army for his one year of mandatory service.  He must have been suited well for the Army in some regards as when he left he had achieved the rank of corporal.  Later Simo Häyhä joined the Suojelskunta (Finnish Civil Guard) serving in his home district. The Civil Guard is a difficult organization to explain but putting the Civil Guard in US terms it is much like a very well-trained National Guard Unit.

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Photo Of The Day

 

Felix Dadaev (left) in the 1940s and the real Joseph Stalin (right).

Felix Dadaev (left) in the 1940s and the real Joseph Stalin (right).

Stalin’s Body Double, 1940s

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