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The Ladoga route in the winter of 1942-1943

The preparation for the work of the ice route in the winter of 1942-1943 had begun long in advance. The "Action plan for the organization of an auto route across Lake Ladoga for the winter period of 1942/1943" was approved at the end of August 1942. The plan included not only vehicular routes, but also the construction of a railway on the ice of the Shlisselburg bay. On October 31 the decree "On the construction of a military auto route across Lake Ladoga for 1942-1943" was approved. The document was signed by the commanders of the defense of Leningrad L. A. Govorov, A. A. Zhdanov, A. A. Kuznetsov, T. F. Shtykov and N. V. Solovyev.

The second winter of the siege was warm. Ladoga did not freeze, and this delayed the beginning of the function of the ice route. It was only on December 20, 1942 that the first horse-drawn transport went across Ladoga, and on December 24 it was allowed to transport cargo on cars. In spite of the extremely adverse conditions for the functioning of the ice route – the movement of the ice that sometimes shifted, forming cracks – the route functioned at the full scale. Along the route little houses on sledge runners were positioned, together with the tents for traffic controllers and repair trucks. During the winter the bridge construction brigades built more than 500 demountable bridges in order to cover the cracks. The security and the anti-air defense of the ice route increased.

Carrying out the decree of the State Defense Commitee dated November 21, 1942, the soldiers of the 9th railway brigade started building a pile-and-ice railway bridge across Ladoga from the West bank, with the soldiers of the 11th railway brigade building the same bridge from the East bank. The 35 kilometer long railway was supposed to connect the Ladozhskoe ozero and Kobona stations. The construction of the railway line was stopped due to the breach of the siege around Leningrad.

The main task of the ice route was the provision of all necessary items to the forces of the Leningrad front line and the Baltic fleet that were getting ready to break the blockade of Leningrad. In total during the time of function of the ice route in 1942-1943 the route helped transport to Leningrad 118 thousand tons of food supplies, 55 thousand tons of ammunition, 33 thousand tons of coal and fuel. 88 thousand people were evacuated. On March 30, 1943 the ice route was closed, and on April 4 the third wartime navigation opened on Ladoga.