It would seem that the question is clear, and V.M. Molotov, in his historic speech at noon 22 on June 1941, stated that the attack was unparalleled treachery. On this basis, the conviction of historians has grown up that the attack, of course, was sudden and even for some time caused a certain confusion of leadership.
True, in recent years, the leadership is no longer talked about confusion, but the thesis of surprise still has widespread acceptance.
Only it is impossible to agree with him. It’s not even the point that the USSR was preparing for war, that the inevitability of war was in the air, that intelligence reports were coming in, etc. Numerous facts indicate that the beginning of the war was not entirely unexpected, not only for the military in the border districts, but even for the rear areas located far from the borders. There, already in the first days of the war, vigorous mobilization activities unfolded.
In the literature, the reaction of the people to the announcement of the beginning of the 22 war on June 1941, is drawn exactly the same way: a silent meeting at the loudspeakers, then a short rally, after which the people go to besiege enlistment offices in large numbers, demonstrating a great patriotic impulse.
Alexander Yakovlevich Chalkov, a metallurgist at the Kuznetsk Metallurgical Plant, recalls how he was going to go fishing on Sunday, but this peaceful occupation was interrupted by the news of the war. After listening to Molotov's statement, the following happened: “And the first thing that we, the steelworkers, did, it was a complete avalanche, moved to the party committee to sign up for volunteers. Hundreds of my comrades have already drawn up documents in the military registration and enlistment office for sending to the front. I was among them. ” Further, Chalkov recalls that they turned the statement over and left it at the Martin, for steel, as is known, is extremely important for war.
But if we add a few important details to these memories, the whole picture of the spontaneous mobilization of the Kuznetsk metallurgists is changing dramatically. First, Molotov's statement was transmitted to the whole country without a recording, and if in Moscow it sounded at noon, then in Stalinsk (as it was then called Novokuznetsk), it was listened to at 16 hours of local time. Since they usually go fishing in the morning, the message about the beginning of the war obviously could not prevent Chalkov from fishing and then listening to Molotov's speech.
Secondly, a crowded spontaneous rally of metallurgists only at first glance seems commonplace. But at a second glance it is clear that he had a different background.
Then the law of 26 June 1940 of the year on the transition to the eight-hour working day and seven-day working week, which promised for an absenteeism without a good reason 6 months of correctional labor at work with retention 25% salary.
Seriously punished for being late for work. KMK as an enterprise of continuous cycle worked around the clock. So the metallurgists could not quit their work spontaneously. In addition, the metallurgical plant will not abandon the furnace and blast furnace unattended, which is fraught with an accident with all the ensuing consequences. From here it is quite obvious that the metallurgists rally was prepared in advance so that both the people gathered and the equipment needed to keep the minimum necessary supervision.
But if this rally and enrollment in the army organized a party committee, then everything falls into place. It is clear that this was not improvisation, but in advance, even before the start of the war, prepared by action. Metallurgists, who did not work on the shift that day, were warned in advance so that they did not disperse about their business and come to the plant on demand. That is why Chalkov did not go on the planned fishing.
The city committee of Stalinsk and the party committee of the KVM could learn about the beginning of the war approximately after 10 hours of local time (in Moscow it was 6 in the morning when they received information about the beginning of the war; no doubt the military and party leaders began to notify the local authorities all over the country by telephone). The party organizer of the combine had time to gather workers, to organize a rally by the time Molotov spoke.
Such facts can be found tens and hundreds. In Vladivostok, for example, people listened to Molotov's speech at the local time at 19 at a loudspeaker hung on the building of the regional committee of the party. At this time in the cinema "Ussuri" was showing a film. The session was interrupted by the announcement: “Men! All the way out. First of all - the military. " Five hours later, at midnight local time, the radio meeting began.
A powerful wave of mobilization began throughout the country. And 22 of June, and in the following days, many people, primarily workers of large enterprises, for some reason, massively threw work, completely unafraid of the punishment laid down by the current laws, went to the military registration and enlistment offices and submitted applications to the front. Hundreds and even thousands of skilled workers left the enterprises, although it was strictly forbidden by law to arbitrarily leave enterprises and institutions, and despite the fact that production was put at risk of being stopped. This could only have happened if this mass mobilization had been prepared in advance, even before the war, in every detail, and was carried out at the direction of the party trade. If you carefully read the reports on the mass submission of applications to the front in the first days of the war, they clearly show the firm, organizing hand of the party.
And about the strange behavior of metallurgists in the early days of the war. On the night from 23 to 24 June 1941, the People's Commissar of Ferrous Metallurgy of the USSR I.T. Tevosyan called the chief engineer of the Kuznetsk Metallurgical Plant L.E. Weisberg also offered to urgently organize the production of armor steel in ordinary open-hearth furnaces, motivating this decision by the fact that the factories producing it were in the combat zone. Weisberg promised to think, and by morning he called Tevosyan, saying that it was possible in principle. And then he received permission to re-equip open-hearth furnaces.
This conversation is mentioned in a number of books, but none of the authors asked a simple question: how could this be? How did this 23 quality steel production plants in June find themselves in a combat zone? The fighting then went practically along the border, in the territory of the former Poland, where there were no metallurgical plants. For example, the Red October Stalingrad Plant, one of the main enterprises producing high-quality steel, was located more than 1400 km from the front line. To Stalino (Donetsk), it was also not far, about 800 km. With the onset of 50 km per day, the Germans would need 16 days to get to it. Leningrad 23 June was also still far from the front line. Why was there such a rush?
This remarkable case reveals a veil of silence about the reasons for such a quick and massive mobilization on the very first day of the war. This could happen only if the party leadership, that is, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) and Stalin personally, believed that the German attack could lead to a very quick defeat.
This conclusion may seem controversial to many. However, if we do not include post-knowledge and do not evaluate the beginning of the war from the point of view of subsequent victories (of which, of course, nothing was known about 22 June 1941 of the year), then such a calculation was quite reasonable.
The Soviet leadership carefully studied the actions of the German army in Poland in 1939, in Denmark, Norway and France in 1940. It was clear: in the first hours of the war the Germans would collapse with all their might and would rush forward.
Even the French army, which was considered to be the strongest in Europe before the war and relied on a powerful system of long-term defense, could not stand against the Germans. The Red Army, which was experiencing a large-scale and painful process of reorganization, occupied a theater of military operations that were very poorly prepared for war, and had weak communication lines, could also not withstand this first, strong blow. This option, as seen from the actions on the first day of the war, was considered the most likely and, at the same time, the worst.
It should be noted here that the whole character of the mobilization begun by June 22 was such as if the Red Army had already been defeated, and the Germans were marching towards Moscow. At the same time, the situation at the front of 22 and even 23 of June was far from clear even for the General Staff. There was no connection with many armies, the Germans for 22 June broke through 40 – 50 km deep into Soviet territory only on the main lines, and the next day they planned counter-counterstrikes. Based on the current situation of the first day of the war, it was too early to draw such far-reaching conclusions. The threatening situation took shape only a few days later, when it became clear that the counterattacks had failed and the Germans were coming. So the mobilization initiated by the party organs of 22 June definitely came from the firm conviction developed even before the war that if the Germans attacked, there would inevitably be a big digression.
But, unlike the French government, Stalin and his comrades were not going to give up.
If the Red Army cannot stop the onslaught of the enemy, then it is necessary without a buildup, in the very first hours and days of the war, to begin a general mobilization in order to create a new army, to begin evacuation and transfer industry to military production. In this spirit, apparently, instructions were issued to all party bodies and committees in the field, with orders to take action immediately after the first announcement of the beginning of the war, without waiting for the official announcement of mobilization.
Moreover, as can be seen from many facts, the volunteer impulse covered mainly the communists and the Komsomol large enterprises. It should be noted here that no one canceled the class approach. The workers were considered the most reliable and staunch pillar of the party, and if the Red Army was beaten, then it was the workers who were to form the core of the new armed forces. Workers must arm themselves and stop the onslaught of the enemy even at the cost of a sharp drop in production. The main thing, as they apparently believed in the Politburo, was to stop the Germans at any cost in the first days and weeks of the war, and then how it would turn out. For this, they were even ready to call on the most skilled workers, who took many years to grow and which could not be replaced.
In addition, apparently, there were certain doubts about the reliability and resilience of the Red Army, at least many of its units, created according to general conscription, once in the first days of the war they decided to create separate units and even militia armies, the core of which was times the workers of large enterprises with a powerful party stratum. In principle, these doubts were not unfounded. There were enough units and connections with weak discipline in the Red Army, and this sometimes resulted in serious problems. On the contrary, units and formations made up of workers were distinguished by high stamina and excellent fighting qualities, such as the famous “Black Knife Division” - the 30 of the Urals Volunteer Tank Corps, the selected workers of the Urals formed in 1943.
Sometimes things are much more eloquent than words. The party mobilization launched by 22 on June 1941 of the year in the very first hours of the war is an outstanding organizational achievement. However, the point of view adopted during the war prevented the widespread announcement of this, that the enemy attacked unexpectedly and treacherously. She had a great political significance. People had to explain simply and intelligibly why the enemy was stronger and achieved so much success. It is now possible to write a plump monograph, and put everything on the shelves. In the course of the war, short explanations were necessary, which were understandable to everyone.
If it were said that the party had organized mobilization, very carefully and comprehensively thought out, then this would contradict the thesis of a surprise attack. Notify the party committees, gather people, organize rallies with incendiary speeches and oaths, create a multitude of collection points, and even prepare paper for thousands of applications to the front — all this required at least a preliminary discussion and drawing up at least the most minimal plan. And this wave of mobilization swept across the country, to the very suburbs, swept decisively, uniformly and without much disruption.
Anyway, this planning discussion took place before the start of the war, which was not expected. It would have been absurd: the war was not expected, and the party already had a big mobilization plan. Therefore, the thesis about the patriotic impulse of the masses came to the fore, while the party modestly withdrew into the shadows.
Today, when passions have subsided somewhat, we can pay tribute to this party plan. He, of course, made a significant contribution to the victory. The Germans could not even have imagined that the mobilization in the USSR would spin so quickly and so decisively. As Major General George Thomas, head of the economic department of the Wehrmacht High Command, writes in his memoirs, they quite seriously planned to be able to seize Caucasian oil a month after the start of the war. At least it was very desirable for them. This is how low they evaluated the fighting capacity of the Red Army, although I must say, they had some reason for this in the form of the experience of the French campaign. The whole plan of the war against the USSR was based on the fact that the Wehrmacht would smash the Red Army in the first week or two of the war, and then go almost marching, almost without resistance. Party mobilization became an unpleasant surprise for them, since it turned the French-style blitzkrieg into a stubborn, protracted and ultimately losing war for Germany.