The theme of the heavy defeats of the Red Army in June-July 1941 remains one of the most relevant and controversial. Doctor historical Yuri Rubtsov believes that the root cause of the beginning of the war, which was tragic for the Red Army, is that the Soviet leader became a victim of disinformation carried out by the German special services ("Duck" in Berlin "). In my opinion, this version is wrong.
Stalin, Rubtsov believes, believed the German explanations that the large-scale transfer of German divisions to the Soviet-German border that began in May on the 1941 was carried out to disguise the planned invasion of England (Operation Sea Lion). As a result, "until the last day forbade bringing the troops of the border districts on alert."
Intimidation is half the battle
Firstly, the assumption that Stalin pecked on the Goebbels department’s misinformation contradicts the nature and life path of the Soviet leader. He didn’t trust much even to his comrades, and even more so for his enemies. Stalin never had any illusions about Hitler’s intentions, and all the more in 1941. In particular, at the extended meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) at the end of May, 1941 said: “The situation is getting worse every day. It is very likely that we may be attacked by fascist Germany ... Everything can be expected from such adventurers as the Hitlerite clique. ”
Secondly, “already in the beginning of March 1941, the Soviet government learned through intelligence channels that Hitler had abandoned plans to invade the UK”, states Oleg Vishlev (“Stalin and Hitler. Someone deceived whom”) based on the documents. Therefore, the attempts of the Germans, who were trying to present the buildup of their troops on the border with the USSR as a preparation for Operation Sea Lion, could not be misled by Stalin.
Third, in the spring and early summer of 1941, Stalin took large-scale measures to strengthen border districts. Yuri Rubtsov attributed this to the action of "intimidation" of Hitler. Yes, in part this is the case: calling 793 of thousands of reservists, hidden transfer from internal districts to western seven armies (66 divisions), putting 63 reserve divisions into combat readiness and their advancement by night marches into the covering armies, bringing them into battle readiness and hidden redeployment to places the concentration of 52 second-tier divisions, the withdrawal of the first-tier divisions of the covering armies to the fortified areas. But orders to build urgently front field command posts, to disperse and disguise airplanes at airfields, warehouses and bases, to bring all long-term firing structures and fortified areas into battle readiness do not fit into the goal of “intimidation”. Yes, and the early release on the orders of the People's Commissar of Defense of 14 in May 1941, of all schools with the direction of young officers in the western border districts in the logic of "deterrence" does not fit. These are all measures of preparation for repelling an attack.
Yuri Rubtsov's confidence that "Stalin forbade any actions to bring the troops into the necessary degree of combat readiness ..." only "out of fear to give the Germans even the slightest reason for aggression" relies on an analysis of Soviet-German relations in May-June 1941. But the actions of Stalin and Hitler on the eve of the war cannot be considered in isolation from the world around them. In 1941, there were other players in the international arena. The Soviet leadership took this into account and believed that preparations for war should include not only measures to repel possible aggression, but also foreign policy maneuvers. This was twice stressed by Stalin in a speech to graduates of military academies 5 May 1941. He first said: “It’s not enough to have good equipment, organization, you need to have more allies,” and then again returned to this topic: “In order to prepare well for war, it is not only necessary to have a modern army, but it is necessary to prepare the war politically. What does it mean to politically prepare a war? .. It means to have enough reliable allies and neutral countries. ”
With the allies in the prewar years it was bad. The reason is obvious: the USSR and the rest of the European countries had opposing social systems and did not trust each other.
In 1940-1941, the Soviet leadership made great efforts to have as many allies and neutral states as possible by the beginning of the war. Something succeeded. The main achievement - on April 13, 1941, a Soviet-Japanese neutrality treaty was concluded in Moscow, which greatly weakened the axis of Rome - Berlin - Tokyo and minimized the probability of a war on two fronts for the USSR. But this was perhaps the only major success of Soviet diplomacy. On the whole, the situation remained very alarming: most European countries were accustomed (as it was in the 1941th century under Napoleon and as is the case in our time under Obama) to Hitler, who was the strongest at that time. As the USSR’s allies, by the spring of 25 he could count only on England and the USA. But at that time, these countries did not show any sympathy for Soviet Russia. Bourgeois public opinion in England and the USA did not distinguish between the USSR and Germany, considering them to be "totalitarian countries." Even after the attack on the Soviet Union, the Wall Street Journal wrote on June 1941, 1941: “The American people know that the fundamental difference between Mr. Hitler and Mr. Stalin is determined only by the size of their mustache. An alliance with any of them will be paid for by the prestige of the country. ” The British press was full of similar statements. Relations with London in the spring of 10 were strained - in May, the British even returned to plans for bombing Soviet oil fields in the Caucasus. The situation was completely complicated after the arrival of Hitler’s deputy Hess to England on May 1941, 11, which could really lead to the conclusion of a separate peace between Berlin and London (from May XNUMX, German aviation stopped mass raids on the cities of Great Britain).
Under these conditions, Britain and the United States could become allies of the USSR only in one case - if Hitler was the obvious initiator of the war. That is why, in order not to give Germany the slightest reason to accuse the Soviet Union of aggressiveness, Stalin refrained to the last from officially bringing the troops to full combat readiness. The correctness of this policy has been confirmed. On June 22, 1941, no one in the world doubted that Hitler had started the war. Public sympathy between Britain and the United States turned towards the Land of the Soviets: Winston Churchill already on June 22 spoke on British radio with support for the USSR, and on July 9, US President Franklin Roosevelt, in a message addressed to M. I. Kalinin, wrote: “The American people hate armed aggression (emphasized me. - V. L.). The Americans are bound by close ties of historical friendship with the Russian people. Therefore, it is natural that they watch with sympathy and admiration the titanic defensive struggle that the Russian people are now waging. " Stalin's subtle policy in May-June 1941 subsequently led to the formation of a powerful anti-Hitler coalition.
For objective reasons
Yuri Rubtsov believes that the Red Army paid a "very high price" for the belatedly due to Stalin’s fault to bring the troops of the western districts into full combat readiness. This is an excessive exaggeration of the moment of bringing the troops into full combat readiness for the outcome of border clashes. Indeed, the defeat of the main forces of the three special military districts (118 divisions) did not occur on June 22, but during the oncoming battles of June 24 – 30, when the troops were already fully operational. In this regard, the American historian Roger Reese in the book "Stalin's soldiers involuntarily: the social history of the Red Army. 1925 – 1941 ”rightly observes:“ The element of surprise helps explain why the military units at the border were initially confused, which put them at a disadvantage. But this does not explain in any way why the corps and the army advanced from the rear, which had weeks to prepare, failed in the battles. The suddenness can explain why the German Air Force caught hundreds of aircraft on the ground and destroyed them on the very first day of the war. But this doesn’t explain why the Soviet planes were captured on the ground on the third and fourth day of the war. ” By the way, Stalin did not attach much importance to the moment the directive was issued to bring the troops into full combat readiness. According to the recollections of the heads of the Soviet government, Y. E. Chadayev, on June 22 and 1941 of the year, Stalin, after a telephone conversation with the commander of the Western Special Military District, Army General D. G. Pavlov, said: “Pavlov knows nothing concrete about what is happening on the border! It has no connection even with army headquarters! It refers to the fact that a directive was late for the troops ... But shouldn't an army be on alert without a directive? ”
The secondary experience of the moment of bringing the troops into full combat readiness for the outcome of the batches confirms both modern experience: both the authorities of Yugoslavia and the leadership of Iraq knew the exact dates for the start of wars against them, did everything to bring the troops into full alert, but this did not save.
To successfully repel an attack, the presence of forces and means, their necessary concentration and skillful use in the directions of the main attacks of the aggressor, the training of personnel and combat coordination of subunits and units, the moral and political condition of the army and the people, and the readiness for the sacrificial struggle are more important.
In 1935-1941, much work was done in the USSR to increase the combat readiness of the Armed Forces. The Red Army was transferred to the cadre base, and in September 1939, universal military duty was introduced. Serial production of a new generation of weapons and military equipment (tanks, guns, aircraft), the number of military formations increased from 98 to 303 divisions; in the border districts, cover armies were created and deployed with a strength of 186 divisions (taking into account 16 divisions of the second strategic echelon that arrived in the cover army before the war). The preparation of the Western theater was carried out: airfields, fortified areas, roads. In the last months before the war, additional measures were taken to strengthen the border districts.
As a result of the tremendous efforts of the people and the Soviet government by June 1941, the Red Army possessed the necessary forces and means to repel Hitler’s aggression. It was not inferior to the Wehrmacht in terms of the total number and equipment of the combat means of the troops, and even surpassed it in some types of military equipment (tanks, aircraft).
The moral and political state of the army and the people was high. In the book The Epoch of Dictatorships. 1918 – 1947. ”P. Thibault writes about the atmosphere in the USSR:“ The unity of the nation was strengthened before the war by all possible (and impossible) means and was stronger than ever, while the whole world, misled by the purges and repressions of 1936– 1938's, believed that the USSR was on the verge of collapse. Only 22 June 1941, when Hitler attacked Russia, the real power of this country was revealed to the world. ”
But with the necessary concentration of forces and means, their skillful use in the directions of the main attacks of the aggressor, with trained personnel and combat coherence, the situation was bad. Despite the great efforts of the Soviet government to strengthen border districts in March-June 1941, their command failed to organize effective reconnaissance in its area of responsibility. As a result, troop intelligence did not reveal the real order of battle of the Germans and on the directions of the main attacks the Wehrmacht forces had a multiple advantage. With such superiority, the degree of bringing the combat-ready state of the Soviet troops, who took the first blow, did not really mean anything.
The matter is different - the Red Army was significantly inferior to the Wehrmacht in mobilization, and this was due to objective reasons. The USSR in preparation for war lagged behind Germany by about four years: Hitler declared universal military service from March 1 to 1935, and the USSR economy made it possible to do this only from September 1 to 1939. In the 1939, the Wehrmacht numbered 4,7 a million people, and the Red Army - in 2,5 times less (1,9 million). During 1939 – 1941, the number of the Red Army increased threefold (to 5,8 million by 22 in June of 1941). During this period, it was simply physically impossible to learn it for waging a modern maneuver war with an experienced adversary. Stalin soberly assessed the capabilities of the Red Army. At a meeting of the 17 commanding staff on April 1940 of the year devoted to summarizing the experience of hostilities against Finland, he noted: “We have no cultural, qualified or educated commanders or units ... We need well-knit and skillfully working headquarters. We don’t have them yet ... Then modern warfare requires well-trained, disciplined fighters, initiative ones. Our fighter lacks initiative. He is individually underdeveloped. He is poorly trained ... ”That is why Stalin sought to delay the start of the war. He believed that the Red Army would be able to fight the Wehrmacht on equal terms not earlier than the middle of the 1942 of the year. In 1941, the enemy was objectively smarter, stronger, more skillful. By the way, foreign military experts then had a very low opinion of the combat power of the Red Army. US naval minister Franklin William Knox said: “Hitler will get rid of Russia for six weeks to two months,” and War Minister Henry Lewis Stimson informed the president: “Germany will be thoroughly busy for at least a month, and as much as possible for three months defeat of Russia ".
But the situation changed, and by the middle of 1943, the combat capability of the opposing sides had leveled off, and with 1944, soldiers, officers and generals of the Red Army had already surpassed the enemy in the art of war.
Yuri Rubtsov writes that Stalin was "in the illusions that he was playing the game in the Soviet-German duet." In fact, Hitler was in illusions. Life has convincingly proved that the war ended in Berlin.