Now and Then - SS POW parade in Leningrad

POW parade SS Latvians Schutzmannschaft battalion Leningrad 1942

Today, 81 year ago - POW parade in Leningrad.

Prospekt of the 25th of October, Leningrad. 25.07.1942 / Nevsky prospekt, St. Petersburg. 25.07.2023

Beginning from July 20th, many Leningraders noted in their diaries an unusually strong cannonade even by the scale of the siege which had lasted for almost an year by that day. Soviet troops went on the offensive in the southwestern suburbs of the city, capturing the village of Staro-Panovo in a few hours. After many months of fruitless attempts to push the frontline by at least a kilometer by striking from within the siege encirclement, it was the first palpable tactical success. Soldiers of the 85th Rifle Division, formerly the 2nd Leningrad People's Militia Division, even managed to advance beyond their assigned objectives and stormed into another suburb of Uritzk, pursuing the routed enemy. Unfortunately, they weren't able to consolidate their gains because of the division commander's indecision and poor coordination, and freshly captured positions in Uritzk were abandoned.

The spearhead of the Soviet offensive was directed at the positions of "Kampfgruppe Jeckeln", which bore the name of the notorious Nazi war criminal Friedrich Jeckeln who managed to participate in nearly every large scale massacre of Jews and other Soviet civilians on the Eastern Front. This unit incorporated hardcore Nazis from German SS units, Latvian Schutzmannschaft battalions which actively participated in making the Baltics and the Leningrad region "Judenfrei", and various European Nazi volunteers like the Flemish and the Norwegian Legions.

The hammer blow of the Soviet offensive on July 20 fell on the positions of the 21st Schutzmannschaft battalion raised in Liepaja. Shocked by repeated volleys of new 300mm M-31 rockets and surprised by the Soviet infantry which stormed into their trenches, the Latvians fled while several dozen of them immediately surrendered. In order to celebrate this long-awaited success for the Leningraders, starved both for food and good news from the front, a march of prisoners war organised along the streets of the city. At least 2 soldiers in pre-WW2 Latvian uniform can be seen on this photo, the ones immediately to the left and right of the Soviet soldier with a rifle in the foreground.

Special thanks to Дмитрий Евменов for his aid in translating German documents.

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