By January 1943 the city of Leningrad had been surrounded and besieged for almost a year and a half by German and Finnish troops. The civilian population of the city was subjected to starvation and near constant bombardment by German artillery and aircraft, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. The only supply route into the city was across the frozen waters of Lake Ladoga, the ‘Road of Life’, where supplies could be brought in and people evacuated via truck. The Soviets launched Operation Iskra on 12 January 1943 in an attempt to form a land bridge, whilst taking advantage of the relocation of German forces south. Following an aerial bombardment, the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts pushed towards each other and eventually made contact on 18 January, forming what became known as the ‘Corridor of Death’. A rail link was established to supply the city, however it was highly treacherous as it was within easy striking distance of German artillery.
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