History 30/12/19 Operation “Northern lights”: why the Germans failed to capture Leningrad in 1942

In the second year of the great Patriotic war simultaneously with the offensive in the South, Hitler planned operation “Nordlicht” (“Northern lights”), the purpose of which was the capture of Leningrad. However, the Red Army are able to intercept the Nazis strategic initiative.

“get Rid of the Russian nightmare”

in the Spring of 1942, after the “invincible” Wehrmacht was repulsed from the walls of Moscow, the Fuhrer needed new victories. Now he hoped to use the help of “brothers in arms” (a formulation of military cooperation with the Berlin preferred to Helsinki). Thus was born the idea of the German-Finnish final assault on Leningrad. On 5 April 1942, Hitler signed the Directive for command of the land forces: “in the North to take Leningrad and link to the land of the Finns”.

First of all, it was necessary to strengthen the position on the diplomatic front. Tight “bind” Finland to Germany, Hitler in June, arrived in Helsinki for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Marshal Mannerheim. In private conversations with the leadership of Finland, the head of the Third Reich promised to wipe Leningrad from the face of the earth, thereby freeing the Finns from the “Russian nightmare.” Hitler said to Mannerheim and President Risto ryti that the operation will begin in early September and that of Sebastopol to the North already being transferred siege weapons of the 11th army.

after Receiving the preliminary consent of Finland, on 23 July, Hitler gave a Directive to army group “North”: to prepare the capture of Leningrad.

the Scope of “Northern lights”

the Original operation was code-named “Feuerzauber” (“Magic fire”), but then was renamed “Northern lights”. According to the American military historian Earl the Zimka, to capture the city on the Neva river, the Germans were planning to use 10 divisions (although it took at least 18). On the defeat of the Soviet 13th StRakovich divisions was given three months. Coming to the southern outskirts of Leningrad, in the East the Nazis were to unite with the Finns and to fully close the blockade. After that, as Hitler believed, the city will be able to take even without street fighting.

the Generals of the Wehrmacht knew the unrealistic nature of these plans and requested reinforcements. But Hitler responded that in Leningrad, and so has concentrated much artillery, how many is that of Verdun in the First world war. To break the resistance of the superior forces of the Russian planned not only the shelling, but the bombardments from the air. Although commander field Marshal Erich von Manstein was not sure of the effectiveness of this strategy, the führer has appointed the start of operations on September 10. A week before this period, Mannerheim evasively confirmed the participation of Finland, however, insisted that the military capabilities of his country are limited. Some see in the “indecision” of the former tsarist General evidence that in his heart he did not want the destruction of Leningrad.


whatever the reasons for the fluctuations Mannerheim, at a crucial moment in the Northern capital saved not he, and the Soviet command. In late August the Russians launched their own offensive at the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts included in the historiography of the great Patriotic war as sinyavinskaya operation.

“They launched an attack from the East, South of the Ladoga lake, and struck so-called “bottle neck” – a ledge on the extreme left flank of group of armies “North”, where its Eastern and Leningrad fronts stood back to back and separated by several kilometers. This attack threatened (at least potentially) to restore land communication with Leningrad,” said the Earl in Zimka.

Despite the fact that, in General, front-line to mid-October, returned to the previous state, division Manstein suffered considerable losses (from 26 to 51 thousand people). In addition, the reflection of the Soviet offensive was spent stock boariaowls designed for “Nordlicht”. The role played by the protracted rains. “Operation Northern lights” in time has not started, and in the winter, in connection with the events in Stalingrad, it has completely lost its relevance. The only attempt at active actions of the Germans at Leningrad in 1942, became a botched landing on the island is Dry in the Ladoga lake.

Timur Sagdiyev

© Russian Seven

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