A joint German and Finnish force launched an offensive against the city in 1941 as part of Unternehmen Silberfuchs. Murmansk suffered profound destruction, second only to Stalingrad of all the Soviet cities. However, fierce Soviet resistance and unforgiving territory prevented the Germans from capturing the city and from cutting off the vital Karelian railway line.
During WWII, Murmansk was a port city that imported vital products from the western world. These products were dominantly military supplies and manufactured goods, both of which were essential to the Russian WWII War Machine.
This resistance was eventually recognized in 1985 by the Soviet Union with the formal designation of Murmansk as a Hero City on May 6, 1985. In commemoration of this event, the massive statue Alyosha, depicting a Russian soldier of World War II, was erected overlooking the city harbour. For the rest of the war, it served as a transit point for weapons and other supplies entering the Soviet Union from other Allied nations.
During the Cold War it was a centre of Soviet submarine activity, and since the break-up of the USSR, it remains the headquarters of the Russian Northern Fleet.
Later these heroic acts were recognized by the Soviet Government and Murmansk was given the title of Hero City. During the Cold War Murmansk became a center for Soviet submarines and is now the HQ for the Russian Northern Fleet.
To commemorate the 85th anniversary of the city's foundation, the snow-white church of the Saviour-on-Waters was modelled after the White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal and built on the shore for sailors of Murmansk.