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How did the supplies shipped in winter over the “Road of Life” to Leningrad compare to those at other times of the year?

How did the supplies shipped in winter over the “Road of Life” to Leningrad compare to those at other times of the year?



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A key factor in the survival of Leningrad during its 900 day siege was the "Road of Life" built across a frozen Lake Ladoga during the winter months of 1941, 1942, and 1943, and lasting nearly half a year.

How do the supplies shipped over the road compared with a "normal" volume of supplies delivered by ship during the summer months?

At what point was ice thickness would it stop/start… and how long were the "windows" in the spring and fall when the ice was not thick enough to support the Road of Life, but the lake was still too frozen for conventional shipping?


Russian wiki (Road of life) provides extensive data with references.

  • September-November 1941 (navigation) - about 60000 tons, about 30000 men evacuated - intense fightings, heavy bombings, building infrastructure (docks, depots, railroad etc.), bad weather (storms, early freezing - barges could go only until 10th November); pre-blockade reserves spent;
  • November/December 1941 - April 1942 (ice road) - about 360000 tons, about 550000 men evacuated - peak of famine;
  • May-November 1942 (navigation) - about 750000 tons, about 450000 men evacuated - navigation in may was restricted due to ice; starting from summer-autumn of 1942 there was no famine in the city, as population decreased much due to both evacuation and deaths in the winter of 1941/42;
  • Winter 1942/1943 (ice road) - about 200000 tons - there were some reserves after navigation;
  • Navigation of 1943 - about 240000 tons - in January 1943 the Red Army was able to break through a (very narrow) pathway into Leningrad called Road of victory; then from Spring 1943 the new railroad was functioning (also called "Road of death", as German artillery shelled it);
  • Winter 1943/44 - there was no ice road through Ladoga, as all supplies went by the Road of victory.

At what point was ice thickness would it stop/start… and how long were the "windows" in the spring and fall when the ice was not thick enough to support the Road of Life, but the lake was still too frozen for conventional shipping?

In 1941 barges went only until 10th November, but some ships continued routing until 4th December. On 20-21 November they sent the first wagon-train (horses and sledges, about 63 tons). First trucks went on route on 22nd November (only about 100 tons per day in the beginning).

The first ice road was closed on 21st April 1942. But navigation could start only on 21st May because of ice.