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Ingrian people

The Ingrian flag.

Chronology The start of the war is generally held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland; Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. The exact date of the war's end is also not universally agreed upon. It has been suggested that the war ended at the armistice of 14 August 1945 (V-J Day), rather than the formal surrender of Japan (2 September 1945); in some European histories, it ended on V-E Day (8 May 1945). However, the Treaty of Peace with Japan was not signed until 1951, and that with Germany not until 1990.

Background How the World War 2 came to the Ingria land was initiated by a non aggression pact made with Germany and Russia. The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the Nazi German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop.

In addition to stipulations of non-aggression, the treaty included a secret protocol that divided territories of Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland into Nazi and Soviet "spheres of influence", anticipating potential "territorial and political rearrangements" of these countries. Russia made territory demands on Finland, also requested access by the Soviet Union Army to enter strategic areas on Finland in 1939, Finland declined the Soviet union demands. On 26 November 1939, Soviet Union arranged a shelling on their own army post on the border Mainila. It was a cassus belli and a pretext to withdraw from the previous Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression treaty signed in 1932 by representatives of Finland and the Soviet Union. The Soviet invasion was well planned many months prior to the invasion across the border of Finland in 30, November 1939. Soviet forces invaded Finland with 21 divisions, totaling some 450,000 men, along the 1100 km border from the Gulf of Finland to the Arctic Port on the Barents Sea of Petsamo.

Most of the civilians on the Karelian Isthmus including Ingria and Karelian people evacuated to Finland to escape being run over by the anticipated Soviet Union invasion. The Soviet Union invasion failed due to the resistance of the Finnish army, but the cost was enormous, some 25,904 Finnish soldiers died, 43,557 were wounded, and 957 civilians died from the failed Soviet Union invasion in the 4 month war, also known as the Winter War. Finland Army was outnumbered by soldiers and war machinery, so it yielded to negotiating peace, Soviet Union obliged on their terms, demanding territory and property from Finland. The peace treaty was signed in Moscow on 12 March. Ingria in World War II which replaced the Ingria (Ingermanland) after a temporary autonomy during the 1920s and 1930s, documents the level of destruction suffering during World War II by its infrastructure and population.

Initial period of warEdit

On 27 June 1941 the Council of deputies of the working people of Leningrad decided to mobilize thousands of people for the construction of fortifications. The Leningrad Narodnoe Opolcheniye Army begun to be formed almost immediately while city fortifications to ring it were built around it to offer a measure of defence. One of the fortifications ran from the mouth of the Luga River to Chudovo, Gatchina, Uritsk, Pulkovo and then through the Neva River. The other defence passed through Petergof to Gatchina, Pulkovo, Kolpino and Koltushy. Another defence against the Finns was built in the northern suburbs of Leningrad (Nevanlinna). In all 190 km of timber barricades, 635 km of barbed wire entanglements, 700 km of anti-tank ditches, 5,000 earth-and-timber emplacements and reinforced concrete weapon emplacements, and 25,000 km of open trenches were built by civilians. Even the gun off the Russian cruiser Aurora was mounted on the Pulkovskiye Heights to the south of Leningrad. These measures proved their worth when Soviet troops of the Northwestern Front were defeated in the Baltic Soviet Republics at the end of June, and the Army Group North had forced its way to Ostrov and Pskov. On 10 July both cities were captured and German troops reached Kunda and Kingisepp from where they advanced to Leningrad from Iivananlinna, the Luzhski region and from the south-east, and also to the north and south of the Lake Ilmen in order to isolate Leningrad from the east, and to join the Finns at the eastern bank of the Lake Ladoga. The shelling of Leningrad began on 4 September, and aerial bombing on 8 September, starting 178 fires in Leningrad. In early October the Germans refused to assault the city and Hitler's directive on 7 October, signed by Alfred Jodl was a reminder not to accept a capitulation.

Period of the siegeEdit

In 1942, during the siege of Leningrad, 25,000-30,000 Ingrian Finns were deported to Siberia by the NKVD. When Nazi Germany occupied the southern and western parts of Ingria, most of the remaining Ingrian Finns were evacuated to Finland or allowed to resettle there after petitioning the German authorities. The siege continued until Operation "Spark" — a full-scale offensive by troops of the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts — started the morning of 12 January 1943. After fierce battles, the Red Army units overcame the powerful German fortifications to the south of the Ladoga Lake, and on 18 January 1943 the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts met, opening a land corridor to the besieged city. In January 1944, a Soviet offensive drove the Germans from the southern outskirts of the city, ending the siege. Later, in the summer of 1944, the Finns were pushed back to the other side of the Bay of Vyborg and the Vuoksi River. The bravery of the city's defenders was an important symbol of the Soviet will to resist - in the first few weeks of the war the British had been so disheartened by the collapse of the Soviet armies, they thought a Nazi victory was all but inevitable. The warnings to citizens of the city as to which side of the road to walk on to avoid the German shelling have been restored and can still be seen. The ultimate number of casualties during the siege is disputed. After the war, The Soviet government reported about 670,000 deaths from 1941 to January 1944, mostly from starvation and exposure. Some independent estimates give a much higher death toll of anywhere from 700,000 to 1.5 million, with most estimates around 1.1 million. Most of these victims were buried in the Piskarevskoye Cemetery. On 3 February 1944, the Soviet assault began. A Soviet armoured group quickly penetrated the German line and established a bridgehead on the western bank of Narva. On 14 February 1944, the Red Army Volkhov and Leningrad fronts launched operations aimed at forcing the German Generalfeldmarschall Georg von Küchler's Army Group North back from its positions near Oranienbaum and out of Estonia. In the process, the attack was expected to encircle Generaloberst Georg Lindemann's 18.Army. The huge force fell on the sector of SS-Obergruppenfüher Felix Steiner's III (Germanic) SS Panzer Corps, hitting the area of the 9th and 10th Luftwaffe Field Divisions. The Luftwaffe units crumbled quickly, and soon Army Group North was falling back to new positions around the Narva river on the western border of Ingria. Steiner's SS Corps brought up the rear, fighting many bloody rearguard actions until it finally reached the positions in Ivangorod (Iivananlinna) on the eastern bank of Narva river which provided a natural chokepoint between the Northern end of Lake Peipus and the Baltic Sea. This position, known as the Panther line, was where von Küchler wanted to set up his defense. Adolf Hitler refused, and replaced von Küchler with Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model as commander of Army Group North. Model agreed with von Küchler, however, being one of Hitler's favourites, he also was allowed more freedom by Hitler. Using this freedom to his advantage, Model managed to fall back and begin establishing a line along the Narwa river with a strong bridgehead on the Eastern Bank. This appeased Hitler, and also followed the German standard operating procedure for defending a river line. The main brunt of the Soviet attack was to fall on Steiner's SS Corps, positioned east of the strategically important town of Narva. Steiner's corps was mostly made up of SS Freiwilligen or volunteer formations. SS men from Scandinavia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Hungary, Romania, Italy, Spain and the Baltic States joined German formations in the defense of the river line. The Dutchmen of the 4.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Brigade Nederland and the various nationalities of the 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland began frantically digging in along what had become known as the Narva Line. The defensive line ran for over seven miles, from the village of Lilienbach in the north to the village of Dolgaja Niva in the south, bulging eastwards from the Narva river near Ivangorod. 63,227 Ingrian refugees, including the Votes and the Izhorians, had left for Finland by 31 October 1944. Many of them settled in Finnish families, helping them by working on farms. After the war, the Soviets demanded these people back and Finland had to return them to the Soviet Union after the armistice. The Ingrians were promised by Soviet authorities that they could return to their own region, but instead were deported to different parts of the Soviet Union. 55,773 Ingrians arrived and were scattered to the regions of Novgorod, Kalinin, Vologda, Sverdlovsk, and elsewhere. Some years after the war even those children of Ingrian descent that had been adopted by Finnish families were reclaimed by the Soviet Union. Later some Ingrians moved back to Ingria. Others moved to Estonian SSR, partly because of similarities between the Estonian language and Finnish.

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