On the Edge of the Abyss: Why Stalin Did Not Believe Intelligence Officers in June 1941

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The website of the TV channel “Tvzvezda” has published a series of articles on the great Patriotic war of 1941-1945 by writer Leonid Maslovsky, based on his book “Russkaya Pravda”, published in 2011.

In his opinion articles, Maslovsky reveals “the myths of the imaginary foe, Russia, and the events of the great Patriotic war, showing the greatness of our Victory.” The author notes that in his articles he is going to “show the US’ unhelpful role in West Germany’s preparations for war with the USSR”.

Germany used simple but true methods of disinformation: Hitler issued the order to attack, and the scheduled date of occurrence of the attack was cancelled. On the offensive on the Western front, Hitler issued an order 27 times, cancelling it 26 times.

Thus, he acted in relation to the USSR. Germany successfully spread misinformation. Goebbels wrote in his diary on May 25, 1941: “As for Russia, we have managed to organize a grand flow of false messages. Fake newspaper stories do not give foreign countries the opportunity to understand where truth starts and falsehood ends. This is the atmosphere that we need”.

On the 14th of June 1941, Goebbels wrote in his diary the following entry: “English radio already claims that our campaign against Russia is a bluff”. On the 15th of June he wrote: “Our game is fully successful”.

Intelligence officers from the USSR and England took German disinformation seriously and filled up Moscow on the date of the German attack on the USSR. Days passed, weeks and even months from the named date, and Germany did not attack the USSR. Our intelligence reports had gained a growing distrust.

And then on 14th June 1941, Soviet Newspapers published a TASS statement which refuted the rumors about “the proximity of war between the USSR and Germany”, it refuted the assumption of territorial and economic claims, allegedly made by Germany to the Soviet Union, and allegations about the concentration of Soviet and German troops on the border.


As was reported by TASS, in particular, who stated that, “Germany also is closely following the conditions of the Soviet-German non-aggression pact, like the Soviet Union, which is why, according to Soviet circles, the rumors about Germany’s intentions to break the pact and take the attack on the Soviet Union is deprived of any of soil.” Even before the publication in the press, on 13th June 1941, Molotov handed Schulenburg the message from TASS.

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The TASS announcement was thoughtful and a timely diplomatic move of the Soviet government, which was made to ascertain from the Germans themselves their intentions, and in the event of a German attack on the USSR, they would clearly be identified as the aggressor.

The TASS announcement meant Germany could declare only two answers – their peaceful intentions or declaring war, or to remain silent. Silence in this case was tantamount to a declaration of intent in the near future to start a war against the Soviet Union.

Hitler could do nothing to oppose the move of the Soviet government, and in Germany, the Soviet message was not even mentioned. The Soviet government, headed by Stalin, made the world understand that Germany would soon attack the Soviet Union.

And all the unfounded allegations that Stalin did not believe in the possibility of an attack on us by Germany and did not take measures to repel aggression, are not worth a brass farthing.

Before an announcement by TASS, on May 10th, 1941, in Scotland, Rudolf Hess landed with a parachute. He had been a reliable ally of Adolf Hitler, who, whilst in prison, wrote the book “Mein Kampf”, and then took one of the leading posts in Hitler’s Germany. There is reason to believe that Hess, representing Hitler’s Germany, and Great Britain concluded an agreement based on mutual concessions. As a result, Germany could start a war with the USSR without fear for their rear.

Despite all the sufficient action taken by the USSR government to ensure a hundred years after the war no one could accuse the Soviet Union of aggression, there are dozens of “historians” like Viktor Suvorov, who write that the Soviet Union attacked or wanted to attack Germany.

He writes about it, despite the whole history of the Second world war suggesting that the aggressor was Nazi Germany, who attacked not only the USSR, but also other countries too. The leadership of Germany, Adolf Hitler personally, wrote dozens of times publicly stating the expansion of the living space to the East, about the necessity of the seizure of land of inferior races and first of all – the vast territories of the Soviet Union.

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He writes about the aggressive plans of the USSR, knowing that from the very beginning of the formation of the Nazi party and the coming to power of Hitler, Germany had turned their greedy gaze to the East, i.e. the Soviet Union, and its purpose was world domination. This goal was announced to the whole world, and today’s prosecutors of Russia are not allowed to know this.

They deliberately lie and defame the most peaceful people on earth – Russian people. Even Hitler, in a speech at the meeting of the headquarters on 9th January 1941 said: “Stalin, the ruler of Europe, is an intelligent head, he will not openly oppose Germany.” And on 5th May 1941, the German military attaché in the USSR, Krebs, reported to Halder: “Russia will do everything to avoid war. Will go to any concessions, including territorial”.

Our greatest misfortune is the fact that the liberal West is funding individuals, deliberately distorting our history, and the liberal media is promoting the works of forgers with all means available. This forger is the aforementioned UK national Viktor Suvorov (real name – Rezun). His books litter the shelves of Russian bookstores. His books educate a considerable part of the new generations. In my opinion, no country in the West under any circumstances would allow anything like this.

Our intellectuals are convinced that as a result of the repressions of 1937–1938, the place of a mature and experienced officer, took the young and unprepared, and this led to severe defeats in the beginning of the war.

In reality, it is time to replace the dead: J.B. Gamarnik, V. M. Primakov, M. N. Tukhachevsky, I. F. Fedko, I. E. Yakir, with G.F. Zhukov, Konev, Malinovsky, Rokossovsky, F. I. Tolbukhin, who went to the original world war, joining it, except for officer Tolbukhin, as simple soldiers. Their rank was promoted for excellence in fighting, military service and study.

Those who were replaced in the First world war did not participate and were appointed for partisan services. M. N. Tukhachevsky in world war I participated for a few months. The training of troops in the time of Uborevich and Yakir was poor with low qualification of commanders, which is supported by documents describing the state of the red army, in particular, in 1936.

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In the period from 1937 to 22nd June 1941, the number of troops in the Red army had increased 3.56 times – from 1.433 million people to 5.1 million people. The officer corps by January 1, 1941, reached 580 thousand people, and by 22 June – 680 thousand people. Almost all the officers of the red army had a military education. Without military education before the war, the number of officers in the army would have been less than 0.1%. These facts indicate that there was no decapitation of the army.

For three years, in the period from 1st January 1937 to 1st May 1940, the army dismissed 36,898 people for various reasons, including those associated with illness, age limit, misconduct. It was not 40 thousand people, as is commonly believed.


According to Article 58 – 9,913 soldiers were convicted, with 1,364 people sentenced to capital punishment.

Because of the cleanup of the officer corps, taking into account the laid-off and recovered, 13,685 people were actually fired. In relation to the number of officers in the red army, on December 31, 1940 the number discharged from the army for political reasons accounts for 2.36 per cent. Moreover, the 2.36% (dismissed officers) were replaced by trained personnel.

From the above information it is obvious that the talk of “beheading the army” on the eve of the great Patriotic war of 1941–1945 is not true.

You can say that our officer corps on 22nd June 1941 were not sufficiently prepared to wage a new, modern war with the vastly superior forces of the enemy, but the reason for this unpreparedness is not related to the purge of the army.

But we can agree that it is hardly possible to find officer corps capable of equalling and resisting an army who seized weapons, conquered all European countries, including France, and had a number of allies, twice the number of Red Army.

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