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Operation Polyarnaya Zvezda
Part of the Eastern Front of World War II
Operation Polar Star WW2.PNG
Soviet plan for Operation Polyarnaya Zvezda in the context of the wider offensive in the northern and central parts of the front.
DateFebruary 10–April 1, 1943
LocationSouthern shore of Lake Ladoga , near present-day Saint Petersburg and near Demyansk, Russia
Result Stalemate
Nazi Germany Germany  Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Nazi Germany Georg von Küchler Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov
Units involved
Army Group North Leningrad Front,
Volkhov Front,
Northwestern Front

Operation Polyarnaya Zvezda (Russian: Операция Полярная звезда, Operatsia Polyarnaya Zvezda; English translation: Operation Polar Star) was an operation conducted by the Soviet Leningrad, Volkhov and Northwestern Fronts in February and March 1943. The operation was planned by Georgy Zhukov in the wake of the successful Operation Iskra and envisaged two separate encirclements. One was to be carried out in the north by the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts near Mga and one was planned to be carried out further to the south, by the Northwestern Front, near Demyansk.

The operation succeeded in recapturing the Demyansk salient but failed to encircle the German forces. The northern part of the operation failed, without gaining much ground. With the battles in the south near Kharkov and, later, Kursk using reinforcements for both sides, the frontline near Leningrad stabilised until July 1943.




Northern part

Southern part

Action in March


The Soviet offensive failed before it even began. The successful evacuation of the Demyansk salient shortened the frontline enough to bring the offensive to a halt. Although Zhukov made several attempts to reinvigorate the offensive throughout March, it was clear the his fronts were too exhausted to advance further. The spring thaw marked the end major battles on the Eastern Front until the July. The defences of Army Group North were only broken in January 1944, during the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive.

The failure of the operation resulted in silence on the topic after the war. Neither Zhukov's or Meretskov's memoirs make any mention of the operation or even of any specific fighting in the area after the 18 January, the day the blockade of Leningrad. Zhukov's memoirs include only a short mention of the recapture of the Demyansk salient without any word on his role on the operation and then skip to the battle of Kursk. Meretskov's memoirs only speak of "local battles" in the area, and then skip to 1944. The first source to outline the operation and its goals was the 1976 official history of the war. Details of the operation's planning, course and outcome were only made available with the recent archival releases.

Army Group North, despite holding the line, was not in a good position. It was stretched extremely thin and could not mount any offensive or restore the blockade of Leningrad. The army group's strength would continue to drop throughout 1943, while the opposing Soviet forces would grow in strength. The growing disparity in strength let to the collapse of the defences in 1944.



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