The German Army Group North surrounded the Soviet city of Leningrad on September 8, 1941, in order to starve out the defenders of the USSR’s second-largest city. Over 650,000 civilians died of starvation, freezing, and illness in the resulting siege, which drove people to resort to cannibalism. Over 1 million wounded and sick were evacuated by barge across Lake Ladoga in the summer, and by sleds during the winter, but over 2 million civilians were still trapped behind enemy lines.
After repeated attacks to relieve the city, the Soviet Army launched a full-scale offensive, code-named Operation Spark on January 12, 1943. Six days later, a supply corridor had been secured, and by the 27th, the German Army had been driven from the southern portion of the city. The siege of Leningrad lasted 872 days, over two and a half years.