As Adolf Hitler began to formulate his grandiose plans for the conquest of the Soviet Union, he considered the far northern operation area little more than a sideshow. Neither he nor his general staff realized the importance of the harsh, unforgiving tundra that contained a rail line connecting the port of Murmansk to the rest of Russia. It would prove to be a considerable miscalculation.
Ice-Free Northern Port
Located about 150 miles above the Arctic Circle, Murmansk was the only northern Soviet port that was ice-free year round. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Kola Bay, the gateway to Murmansk, could handle shipping when the larger northern port of Archangel was frozen solid.