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Soviet leaders, including Stalin, Expected a 1941 Nazi German Invasion, Anglo-American intelligence reveals


To exaggerate the importance of the factor of ‘surprise attack’ in military theory at the expense of the historical materialist emphasis on developing a ‘stable rear’ (e.g. heavy industry) for Soviet military operations, Khrushchev and his allies in the MI6 propaganda apparatus have frequently accused Stalin of not having expected a Nazi German assault, and have presented the casualties of the war as ‘caused’ ‘mainly’ by mere surprise. What follows debunks such a myth, showing that Stalin and his comrades expected a Nazi German assault.



The History of the USSR & the Peoples’ Democracies

Chapter 10, Section 4 (C10S4) 


Saed Teymuri



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Nor did the Soviets have any delusion as to approximately when the war with Nazi Germany will begin. According to an American intelligence document written in June 1940, the Finnish Prime Minister Risto Ryti told US diplomat Schoenfeld that top-ranking military leaders in the USSR predicted war with Nazi Germany to occur within one year (i.e. on June 1941). An excerpt of the document is as follows:

The Prime Minister told me this afternoon that notwithstanding Molotov's emphatic statement to him of intention of Soviet Union to keep out of the present war, important military leaders in Russia have lately expressed the conviction that the Soviet Union will be at war with Germany within a year. (740.0011 European War 1939/3761: Telegram, The Minister in Finland (Schoenfeld) to the Secretary of State, Helsinki, June 13, 1940. In: “Foreign relations of the United States” (FRUS), Diplomatic papers, 1940, Vol. 1, General, (ACTIVITIES OF THE SOVIET UNION IN  EASTERN  EUROPE, AND SOVIET RELATIONS WITH THE BELLIGERENT POWERS), Department of State, Historical Division, Bureau of Public Affairs, 1959) (IMG)

It was 1941, and the Soviets, expecting an imperialist assault on their territory, retained vigilance. Indeed, in a timeline produced by the US intelligence in 1945, it was noted that on the very first day of the year 1941:

Stalin’s New Year message stated that the USSR was prepared for every eventuality, and was in a state of total mobilization. (Chronology of Principal Events Relating to the USSR Part I, OSS, September 25, 1945, p. 151) (IMG)

The term ‘total mobilization’ of course refers to the mobilization of the entire armed forces for the war conditions. In the ‘Military Intelligence’ magazine published by the United States Army Intelligence Center and School, anti-Soviet American Captain Rober Kells Jr. admitted:

In terms of Soviet military doctrine. Stalin's actions prior to June 22, 1941, seemed perfectly reasonable. Stalin had come to the conclusion. probably early in 1941, that war with Germany was inevitable. (‘Intelligence, Doctrine and Decision Making: Josef Stalin and June 22, 1941’, Captain Robert E. Kells Jr. In: Military Intelligence: From the Home of Intelligence, Vol. 11, No. 1, United States Army Intelligence Center and School, January-March 1985, p. 17) (IMG)

On January 4, 1941, only three days after Stalin’s New Year message:

Timoshenko, Defense Commissar, ordered strict economy in use of gasoline and oil by the Red Army in order to build up reserves. (Chronology of Principal Events Relating to the USSR Part I, OSS, September 25, 1945, p. 151) (IMG)

On January 30, 1941:

Pravda announced that due to organization changes, Red Army training and activity reached maximum approximation to real conditions of warfare. (Chronology of Principal Events Relating to the USSR Part I, OSS, September 25, 1945, p. 153) (IMG)

Around this time, the Americans too received intelligence from Erwin Respondek, a high-level official of Nazi Germany and American spy, regarding the coming Operation Barbarossa. According to Stephen Kotkin of the neo-conservative Hoover Institute:

The Americans, too, had learned the world's most important secret. A high German economic official from Weimar days, Erwin Respondek, who had been tasked with preparing the Currency for the occupied Soviet Union, arranged meetings with the U.S. commercial attaché in a darkened cinema and passed him word of the invasion planning. In early 1941, Respondek had prepared the first of several detailed memoranda for the United States outlining the steps being taken for the destruction of the Soviet Union and "a rigorous liquidation of Bolshevism, all its political and other institutions, and, in particular, the 'extermination' of its leaders by the SS." Respondek, whose key contact was General Halder, had proved a reliable source till now…. (‘Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941’, Stephen Kotkin, p. 854) (IMG)

The Americans passed on this intelligence, of which the Soviets were already well aware:

After internal debate, Roosevelt had undersecretary of state Sumner Welles tell Konstantin Umansky, the Soviet envoy in Washington, that the United States “has come into possession of information which it regards as authentic, clearly indicating that it is the intention of Germany to attack the Soviet Union.” (‘Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941’, Stephen Kotkin, p. 854) (IMG)

Actually, the coming war was well-expected by the Soviets including Stalin himself, since the mid-1930s. The Nazi-Soviet pacts (1939-1941) did not delude the Soviets on the imminence of the much-expected war. A CIA document, referring to the period between 1939 and 1940, admitted:

The likelihood of war with Germany however was recognized in the USSR, and possibly a food-stockpiling program was instituted. (The Ethyl Alcohol Industry in the USSR, CIA, February 27, 1953. p. 4) (IMG)

In mid-1940, the British diplomatic intelligence, citing the British Prime Minister, noted the Soviet Government was apprehensive of German war plans against the USSR:

PRIME Minister stated this morning that … the Soviet Government were becoming rather apprehensive of German continental hegemony and of an attack on Russia. It was for this reason that the Soviet Government were taking al those “precautions” in Lithuania and other Baltic States, which were solely designed to strengthen the position of the Soviet defenses in  the event of German aggression. The Prime Minister also quoted General Vassilievski, who is acting as a liaison officer here and was one of negotiators of the peace treaty, as having stated repeatedly that there would be war between Germany and Russia before the end of the present conflict. (N 5827/283/38, Mr. Vereker to Viscount Halifax, No. 429, June 15, 1940. In: Foreign Office (January to December 1940), p. 126. In: Foreign Office (January 1940 – December 1941), p. 150) (IMG)

A 1998 US military document cited Matvei Zakharov – Soviet Marshal, Chief of General Staff, and Deputy Defense Minister – stating that the Soviet defense ministry in the late 1930s modified the Third Five Year Plan, in order to prepare for the war against the Nazis:

By the mid-1930s Soviet military forecasters were agreed that Nazi Germany and imperial Japan had become the chief threats to the USSR. According to M. V. Zakharov, Marshal B. M. Shaposhnikov, who served as Chief of the Soviet General Staff during the late 1930s, revised the threat estimate for the Third Five Year Plan to address this issue. (The Methodology of Foresight and Forecasting in Soviet Military Affairs, Soviet Army Studies Office, Jacob Kipp, May 31, 1998, p. 14) (IMG)

Thus, on May 1, 1941:

Defense Commissar Timoshenko stated in his May Day proclamation the readiness of Red Army to rebuff any encroachment on Soviet territory; declared that the country was “in a capitalist encirclement.” (Chronology of Principal Events Relating to the USSR Part I, OSS, September 25, 1945, p. 162) (IMG)

On June 6th, 1941:

Stalin signed decrees “on measures for industry’s preparedness to switch to the mobilization plan for [producing] ammunition” and for possible wartime mobilization of all industry from July 1. (‘Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941’, Stephen Kotkin, p. 877) (IMG)

As the economy was preparing for a total war, so was the Soviet stay-behind guerrilla training. Partisan warfare training was being actively organized by the CPSU and the NKVD weeks prior to the War. Based on the:

information gradually assembled by the Germans, it appears certain that partisan warfare was planned even before the beginning of hostilities, not by the military, but by the Communist Party and the NKVD. This is substantiated in a report, by the Chief of German Army Military Police of December 31st, 1941. (Soviet Partisan Warfare Since 1941, CIA, March 1, 1949, p. 6) (IMG)

The German military intelligence:

report noted the following statement of a twenty-five-year old Soviet partisan: “I know that, two to three weeks before the outbreak of war, Vassili Kossolapov, a member of the Bolshevik Central Committee (the highest Party group), who was in Kholm during meetings and discussions of the Party, repeatedly urged the organization of partisan groups. (Soviet Partisan Warfare Since 1941, CIA, March 1, 1949, p. 6) (IMG)

If Stalin was the dictator of the USSR not expecting war with Nazi Germany, and if the high-ranking commander in the Soviet Union did not dare to challenge him on the question of preparations for war against Nazi Germany, then the following which Roger Moorhouse of the BBC and Royal Historical Society describes, would not have happened. In, 1941:

defensive preparations continued. By the mid-summer of 1941, around 2,000 strongpoints had been completed along the Molotov Line, of which around half were armed and equipped. In addition, all of the "fortified areas" were ordered brought up to combat strength as soon as possible. In mid-May Zhukov succeeded in securing a "partial mobilization," with reservists being called up and over 50,000 troops from the Caucasus and other interior districts of the Soviet Union being relocated to the western frontier areas. (The Devils’ Alliance: Hitler’s Pact with Stalin, 1939-1941, Roger Moorhouse, 2014) (IMG)

It is often said that the Soviets ignored the warnings of their spy Richard Sorge concerning a fascist Japanese invasion of the Soviet Union. Such claims are baseless. Richard Sorge, a Schleicherite agent who had infiltrated Nazi Germany’s intelligence, had the support of Eugen Ott and Hans Zehrer, both agents of Kurt von Schleicher. Sorge was informed by the Japanese progressive Ozaki and Sorge informed the Soviets that the Japanese fascists were planning to invade southwards. Stalin, upon receiving such military intelligence, decided to send the bulk of the Siberian troops to Moscow. Nazi Germany’s extraterritorial special operations chief Otto Skorzeny wrote in his memoirs:

It was due to the indiscretions of Eugen Ott that Ramsey [i.e. Richard Sorge’s codename] was able to inform his 4th Office on March 5, 1941 that the German attack on the USSR would take place "mainly in the direction of Moscow" and in mid-June. In another signal deciphered by the Japanese, on May 15 Sorge gave the date of the attack as June 20, 1941. Immediately after the sitting of the Imperial Council on July 2, 1941 Ozaki informed Sorge that the Japanese government had decided to attack the USA. On August 14 Ozaki brought Sorge the important information that all Japanese war plans against the USSR had practically been abandoned. and Sorge also learned the significant points from the meeting of the Japanese high command held on August 20 or 23. 1941. Ozaki was also informed about the entire military transport on the Manchurian railroads. On September 27 he was able to assure Sorge that "Japan was preparing a great offensive in the south." aimed at Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippine Islands: it would take place at the end of November or early December 1941. Any danger of a war against the USSR had eliminated.

Only now, after receiving this intelligence, could Stalin send the bulk of the Siberian troops to Moscow. It was more than half a million men. Thus was Moscow saved.

(My Commando Operations, Otto Skorzeny, 1975, p. 119) (IMG)

In mid-June, the Soviet media initiated a wave of psychological warfare against the imperialist adversaries. To neutralize British provocations and to entice the Germans away from an invasion, the Soviet press:

tried to seize the initiative, composing a TASS bulletin, read out over Moscow radio at 6:00 p.m. on June 13 and published in Soviet newspapers the next morning. (…). "Germany is also, just as consistently as the USSR, observing the terms of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact," it stated. "In view of this, according to Soviet circles, rumors of Germany's intent to break the Pact and to attack the USSR are utterly groundless." (‘Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941’, Stephen Kotkin, p. 880) (IMG)

In doing so, the Soviet media:

aimed not only to refute the rumors of war, again blaming them on British provocations to cause that very war, but also to elicit a German denial of any intentions to attack…. (‘Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941’, Stephen Kotkin, p. 880) (IMG)

This propaganda and psychological warfare operation was not an indication of the Soviet ignorance of German war plans, but rather the contrary – it was evidence of the USSR’s attempt to delay its much-expected expected war. While the Soviet media engaged in the psychological warfare, the USSR was still rigorously preparing for combat:

The Germans knew, of course, that the Soviets had been calling up reserves, moving forces to the frontier, furiously building border defenses, and stepping up patriotic propaganda. (‘Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941’, Stephen Kotkin, p. 881) (IMG)

Red Army troops concentrated on the eastern border in a manner to stall the expected German advance, without provoking or handing the Germans an excuse for war:

Such immense Soviet troop concentrations testify to … Stalin's understanding that Germany represented a monumental danger…. But only one of the two vast armies on the frontier had occupied its firing positions. Stalin had allowed covert strategic redeployments westward and lately had finally yielded to Timoshenko and Zhukov's insistence that the Red Army commence camouflaging of aerodromes, tank parks, warehouses, and military installations (which in many cases would require repainting). But he would not permit assumption of combat positions, which he feared would only play into the hands of German militarist-adventurers, who craved war and schemed to force Hitler's hand, the way they had pushed the Wehrmacht beyond the agreed-upon German-Soviet line in Poland in 1939. Soviet planes were forbidden from flying within six miles of the border. Timoshenko and Zhukov, … made sure that frontline commanders did not cause or yield to "provocation." (‘Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941’, Stephen Kotkin, p. 894) (IMG)

Stalin certainly was not a naïve man, and he could not have helped being aware of the massive German troop buildup on the borders of the Soviet Union because his intelligence services were doing an admirable job collecting information. (‘Intelligence, Doctrine and Decision Making: Josef Stalin and June 22, 1941’, Captain Robert E. Kells Jr. In: Military Intelligence: From the Home of Intelligence, Vol. 11, No. 1, United States Army Intelligence Center and School, January-March 1985, p. 16) (IMG)

Stalin already knew of the Nazi plans almost a day prior to the Nazi aggression. However, to prevent the enemy from gaining an excuse for war, and to delay the war for as long as possible, he issued the alert three hours prior to the attack. In the magazine published by the United States Army Intelligence Center and School, Kells remarked:

Stalin finally became convinced that an attack against his country was in the offing on the afternoon of June 21, yet he waited until three hours before the attack to issue an alert. This refusal to act any earlier underscores Stalin’s desire to delay the war until 1942. (‘Intelligence, Doctrine and Decision Making: Josef Stalin and June 22, 1941’, Captain Robert E. Kells Jr. In: Military Intelligence: From the Home of Intelligence, Vol. 11, No. 1, United States Army Intelligence Center and School, January-March 1985, p. 16) (IMG)


Around midnight, Mikhail Kirponos, commander of the Kiev military district, called the defense commissariat on the high-frequency phone from his field HQ at Ternopol to report that another German had forded a river and crossed the border near Sokal (Ukraine) and said that Wehrmacht soldiers had taken up their firing positions, with tanks at their start lines. Zhukov called the Near Dacha to inform Stalin. A little after midnight, a train carrying Soviet oil, manganese, and grain crossed the frontier into Greater Germany, its passage observed by waiting German divisions. At around 1:00 a.m., Timoshenko called Pavlov on the high-frequency phone, evidently with word of Directive No. 1 to assume full combat readiness, and a caution not to succumb to provocation. (‘Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941’, Stephen Kotkin, p. 900) (IMG)

The Red Army was awaiting the Hitler gang.

In 1190, the King Barbarossa reached the River Saleph, located to the south of modern-day Turkey. However, while crossing the river on June 10, he fell off his horse and drowned. Subsequently, a plague struck the German Crusader army, leading to its disintegration. Prior to reaching … the Shaam, the German troops suffered a humiliating defeat. 751 years and 12 days after the drowning of King Barbarossa during the Third Crusade, ‘Operation BARBAROSSA’, the Pan-European Crusade led by Nazi Germany against Soviet power, was officially launched on June 22, 1941. The Nazi invasion of the USSR’s industrial and proletarianized cities, such as Stalingrad, was met with the active and strong resistance of the people of those cities, as the proletariat tend towards a determined resistance against fascism. The hybrid nature of Soviet warfare, the Partisan guerrilla resistance on the one hand and the conventional Red Army resistance on the other, would successfully break the Hitlerite war machine.

The Soviet military strategy both during and after the Great Patriotic War, accounting for the historical materialist fact that the strength of the rear – the industrial backbone and the support units - is fundamentally vital to the strength of the frontline troops, extensively utilized guerilla warfare both in the Nazi-occupied Soviet territory and in the rest of Europe, so to cause disruptions in fascist troop formations. Such a strategy helped undermine the Axis troops' material rear, thus forcibly deforming the neatly organized fascist armies. The deformation of such frontlines created enough holes and gaps in the shape of the fascist army formations so to render them vulnerable to conventional assaults from the regular Soviet frontline troops. When the enemy is flawless, force it to have flaws. When facing a well-organized and self-consolidated enemy, send a bug-like entity to its rear so that the ‘wiz-wiz’ of the ‘bug’ and the damages that this small but dangerously mobile entity causes will force the enemy to look back, to almost-vainly attempt to eliminate this small but annoying and mobile entity, and to thus to sacrifice its neat and tidy formation. Upon the deformation of the enemy, by the time the weaknesses in enemy lines have been created, assault with utmost mass against the weak points created by the deformation, and mightily strike and strike those weak points enough so that no longer will the foe have the energy to uphold its strong points. This scientific Soviet military strategy, which persisted well into the 1980s and was renamed the 'Operational Maneuver Group (OMG)', was also applied by the Russian Army in the 2022 Ukraine War.


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