CHAPTER 19 – Stalin in May 166
In the fields of foreign policy, Stalin has set himself an objective of the utmost importance, which he hopes to attain by his own efforts. Count VON DER SCHULENBURG (secret dispatch dated 12 May 1941)
In order to understand what happened in June 1941, we must inevitably look back to the month of May. It is the most mysterious month in the whole of Soviet history. Every day, every hour of that month is filled with events, the meaning of which can still only be guessed at. Even those events which took place in the full view of a watching world have still not been fully explained by anyone. On 6 May 1941, Stalin became the head of the Soviet government. This move puzzled many people.
We know, for example, from captured German documents that the German leaders were likewise unable to find a satisfactory explanation for this event. For the first time in Soviet history, the supreme authority of the Party and that of the government had been officially placed in the same hands. This did not mean that Stalin’s personal dictatorship had been strengthened in any way; if sonorous titles were a measure of power, then Stalin would have been entitled to a magnificent collection of them some ten years earlier. But he chose quite consciously not to take this course, and after he had taken over the post of General Secretary of the Party in 1922, he declined all state and government posts.
Stalin raised his command post above the government and above the state. He controlled everything, but officially was responsible for nothing. As early as 1931, Leon Trotsky described the mechanism to be used for preparing the communist coup in Germany: Should the new policy succeed, then all the Manuilskys and all the Remmeles would be given full credit, but the initiative would still have been Stalin’s. But in the event of its failure, however, Stalin had kept the way completely clear for himself to find someone to blame. This was the quintessence of his strategy. Stalin was strong in this field. (BO, No. 24, p. 12)
The coup did not take place and Stalin did indeed find people to blame, and gave them exemplary punishment. He ruled the internal affairs of the Soviet Union in the same way. The victory of the kolkhoz system belonged to Stalin’s genius, while millions of victims of the same system perished because of its many enemies and the careerist hangers-on who had distorted the Party line. It made the heads of some of these comrades at regional level swim from their successes. Stalin had no connection at all with the great purges -they were Yezhov’s fault! Nor did Stalin sign the Pact with Hitler.
The Pact passed into history bearing the names of Molotov and Ribbentrop. In Germany it was Hitler, the Chancellor, more than Ribbentrop who bore the official responsiblity for this Pact, although he was not present when the Pact was signed. Stalin, who did attend the signing, did not at that time hold any governmental or state appointments; he attended simply as citizen Joseph Stalin, who had not been invested with any state, governmental, military or diplomatic powers, and consequently was not responsible for what was taking place.
It was in exactly the same way that the treaty with Japan was signed on 13 April 1941. Stalin was present, but he did not bear any responsibility for what was taking place. When Stalin later stabbed Japan in the back, at a critical moment when the country was worn out by war, his conscience was clear; he had not signed the Pact. On 6 May 1941, however, Stalin officially took upon himself the burden of state responsibility. For Stalin, the new title did not strengthen his authority, but restricted it; from that moment onwards, he not only took all the most important decisions but official responsibility for them as well.
Stalin’s power had been restricted until then only by the Soviet Union’s external borders, and not always even then. What could have compelled him voluntarily to take upon his shoulders the heavy responsibility for his own actions, if he could have
remained at the peak of infallibility, while leaving it to others to make the mistakes?
This entire circumstance somehow reminds me of Khrushchev’s famous elk hunt. While the animal was still far off, Nikita shouted at the hunters and chuckled at his guest Fidel Castro, who was not having much success. Khrushchev himself was not in the shoot and did not even have a gun in his hands. But when the animal was being driven towards the hunters and there was no way anyone could possibly miss the mark, Nikita picked up a gun … Stalin had never taken the levers of state power into his hands in seventeen years. Why should he do so now?
According to evidence given by Admiral of the Soviet Fleet N. G. Kuznet-sov, ‘when Stalin assumed the chairmanship of the Council of People’s Commissars, in practice the system of leadership in no way changed’. (VIZH 1965, No. 9, p. 66)
Von der Schulenburg, the German Ambassador in Moscow, reported to his government that ‘I do not know of a single problem related to the internal situation in the Soviet Union which was so serious as to induce Stalin to take such a step. But I venture to assert with considerable confidence that the reasons for Stalin’s deciding to take over the highest state post are to be sought in foreign policy.’ Soviet marshals agree that Stalin’s appointment was connected with external problems. (Marshal of the Soviet Union I. Kh. Bagramyan, Tak nachinalas’ voina, Voenizdat 1971, p. 62)
So what were the external problems which could have impelled Stalin to take such a step? In May 1941, many European states had been crushed by Germany. Problems concerning Soviet relations with France, for instance, simply could not exist. Britain, which had preserved its independence, offered Stalin the hand of friendship in a letter from Churchill sent on I July 1940. Roosevelt’s attitude to Stalin was more than friendly, and American technology was already flowing like a great river into the Soviet Union. There were only two potential enemies.
But Japan, which had been given a performance of Soviet military might in August 1939, had just signed a treaty with the Soviet Union and was turning its gaze in the opposite direction. Thus Germany alone must have provided the reason for Stalin to take that apparently incomprehensible step. What could Stalin do in relation to Germany by making use of his new official title of head of state? He had only three options. He could have established a lasting and inviolable peace. He could have declared himself official leader of a future armed conflict on the part of the Soviet Union to repel German aggression.
Or he could have officially declared an armed conflict on the part of the Soviet Union in order to wage an aggressive war against Germany. The first option falls down at once. Peace with Germany had already been signed by Molotov’s hand. After he took over Molotov’s place as head of state, Stalin did absolutely nothing to meet Hitler and begin negotiations with him. Stalin went on using Molotov for peace talks as before. Molotov was known to have tried to meet the German leaders even on 21 June, but Stalin made no such efforts.
This means that, whatever his purpose in taking over this official post, it was not to conduct peace negotiations. Communist propaganda emphasizes the second option: that Stalin saw the German attack coming, and decided personally and officially to place himself at the head of the country’s defence. But Germany’s onslaught was manifestly unexpected. On 22 June, the head of the government was obliged to address the nation and break the terrible news. But Stalin avoided meeting his direct obligations, which were fulfilled by Molotov, his deputy. Why was it necessary for him to sit in Molotov’s chair in May, but to hide behind his broad back in June?
On the evening of 22 June, the Soviet High Command issued a directive to the troops. It is Marshal G. K. Zhukov who speaks: General N. F. Vatutin said that J. V. Stalin had approved draft directive No. 3 and ordered that my signature be placed on it … ‘All right,’ I said. ‘Put my signature down on it.’ (G. K. Zhukov, Vospominaniya i razmyshleniya, APN 1969, P- 251)
We learn from official history that this directive emerged bearing the signatures of Marshal S. K. Timoshenko, People’s Commissar for Defence, G. M. Malenkov, member of the council of the secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU and General Zhukov, Chief of the General Staff. (History of the Second World War, Vol. 4, p. 38)
Stalin thus compelled others to sign the order, while avoiding any personal responsibility for it himself. So why did he take on the responsibility in May? The directive went out to the armed forces to rout the invading enemy. It is a document of the utmost importance. What had the ‘member of the council of the secretary’ got to do with it?
The following day the composition of the Stavka, the supreme organ of military leadership in the Soviet Union, was announced. The word is untranslatable, but the Stavka consisted of Stalin and a handful of his most trusted colleagues. Stalin categorically refused to head it, agreeing to join this supreme body of military leadership with the rights of an ordinary member only. This gave rise to a somewhat anomalous situation:
Under the existing arrangements, there was no way in which S. K. Timoshenko, People’s Commissar for Defence, could act independently and take policy decisions without Stalin. The result was that there were two commanders-in-chief. One was People’s Commissar Timoshenko, who was the commander according to the law and statutes. The other was J. V. Stalin, who was commander-in-chief in fact. (Ibid)
In a defensive war, Stalin adapted his well-tried method of leadership. He took all the policy decisions, while responsibility for them was borne by the Molotovs, the Malenkovs, the Timoshenkos and the Zhukovs. It took the members of the Politburo one month to compel Stalin to take over the post of People’s Commissar for Defence, and, on 8 August, the post of Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Had it really been worth Stalin’s while to assume responsibility when the defensive war had been foreseen, in order to do everything he could to avoid responsibility as soon as that war began?
We are compelled to confine ourselves to the third option: that Stalin had exploited Hitler to crush Europe, and was at that point preparing a surprise attack at Germany’s back. Stalin intended to head the ‘liberation’ of Europe in person, and as head of the Soviet government. The Communist Party had conditioned the Soviet people and army to believe that the order to launch a war of ‘liberation’ in Europe would be given by Stalin himself. Communist orthodoxy now claims that the Red Army was preparing ‘counterattacks’.
Nobody was talking about counter-attacks at the time. The Soviet people knew that the war would begin on Stalin’s orders, and not as a result of an attack by some enemy or other: And when Marshal of the Revolution Comrade Stalin gives the signal, hundreds of thousands of pilots, navigators and parachutists will rain down upon the heads of the enemy with the full force of their arms, the arms of socialist justice. The Soviet armies of the air will bring happiness to humanity! (Pravda, 18 August 1940)
In his post as Secretary-General of the Party, Stalin could give any order, and that order would be instantly and exactly obeyed. But any order given by Stalin was unofficial, and therein lay Stalin’s invulnerability and infallibility. But now this situation no longer satisfied him; he had to give an order, the most important of his life, in such a way that it would be officially his. According to the evidence of Marshal of the Soviet Union K. K. Rokossovski (Soldatsky dolg, Moscow 1968, p. n), each Soviet commander held a ‘special secret operations envelope’ in his safe.
This ‘letter M red envelope’, as it was known, could only be opened on the orders of the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars (until 5 May 1941 this was Vyacheslav Molotov), or of the People’s Commissar for Defence, Marshal of the Soviet Union, S. K. Timoshenko. But according to Marshal Zhukov, Timoshenko ‘could not take any policy decisions without Stalin’. So Stalin took Molotov’s post so that the Prime Order should come from Stalin, and not from Molotov.
A red envelope lay in the safe of every commander, but on 22 June 1941 Stalin issued no order that they be opened. Rokossovski has told us that several commanders took their heads in their hands and opened their envelopes. (The 58th Article laid down that anyone opening a red envelope without authorization would be shot.) But they did not discover in them anything needed for defence. Of course, we had detailed plans and instructions on what to do on M-Day . . . Everything was written down minutely and in detail . . . All these plans existed. Unfortunately, however, they said nothing about what to do should the enemy suddenly go over to the offensive. (Major-General M. Gretsov, VIZH 1965, No. 9, p. 84)
So although the Soviet commanders did have war plans, they had no plans for a defensive war. The top Soviet leaders were aware of this; in the first minutes and hours of the war, they resorted to improvisation, composing new directives for the troops instead of sending a short message ordering the envelopes to be opened. In a defensive war, all these envelopes, and everything that had been ‘written down minutely and in detail’, were no longer needed. Nor, by the way, did the first directives issued by the top Soviet leaders orientate the troops towards digging themselves in. These were neither defensive nor even counter-offensive directives. They were in essence purely offensive directives. The Soviet leaders went on thinking and planning only on these lines even after the defensive war had been thrust upon them. The content of the red envelopes was quite definite in nature.
In an obscure situation the offensive urge of the troops had to be held back somewhat until it had become quite clear what was happening. That is why the first directives were aggressive in character, but their tone was restraining – advance, but not in the way it is written in the red envelopes! Stalin did not want to take risks in an obscure situation. That is why Stalin’s signature does not appear on the most important directives of the ‘Great Motherland War’; he had prepared himself to carry out the honoured duty of launching a mission to liberate the peoples of the world, and not to fight a defensive war which had been forced upon him.
Hitler read Schulenburg’s telegrams and understood that Stalin was hoping ‘to attain an objective of the utmost importance by his own efforts in the field of foreign policy’. Hitler appreciated the danger he was in, and deprived Stalin of the opportunity to give the Prime Order, for which he had assumed the mantle of head of state. On taking up his duties, each head of government announces a policy programme. On 5 May 1941, when Stalin’s appointment had been pre-determined, he made a speech in the Kremlin at a reception held in honour of graduates of military academies. Stalin spoke for 40 minutes. Bearing in mind his impressive ability to keep silent, 40 minutes was a staggeringly long time.
Stalin spoke of something of the utmost importance. His speech was never published, and this is a one thousand per cent guarantee of its importance. Stalin spoke about international relations, and about war. Soviet official publications contain quite a few references to this speech: J. V. Stalin, the Secretary-General of the CPSU (b), in the course of a speech he made at a reception for graduates of military academies on 5 May 1941, gave it clearly to be understood that the German Army was the most probable enemy. (VIZH No. 4 1978, p. 85)
The History of the Second World War (Vol. 3, p. 439) confirms this account. Marshal Zhukov, however, who is a much more authoritative source, relates some more interesting details. In Zhukov’s words, Stalin adopted his usual manner of asking rhetorical questions, which he then answered himself. ‘Was the German Army invincible?’ he asked: The Germans mistakenly consider that their army is perfect and invincible . . . Germany will never have success fighting under the slogans of aggressive wars of conquest, under slogans of subjugating other countries, or of forcing other countries and states into submission. (G. K. Zhukov, Vospo-minaniya i razmyshleniya, p. 236)
So the speech was about war with Germany. Why then did it remain secret? It is understandable that it could not be published before the war, but it is less easy to understand why the speech was not made public once war had broken out. Even if it had not been possible to publish it in its entirety, Stalin could have referred to it in the speech he made on 6 November 1941, for example: ‘Did I not warn you all! I was even talking about war with Germany as early as 5 May!’
But Stalin did not say this, and there can only be one reason for this silence. On 5 May, he spoke of the inevitable war, and named Germany as the main enemy, but said not one word about the possibility of a German attack. Had he done so, he or his aides would have recalled it afterwards as confirmation of his genius and sagacity. But they did not. Throughout Stalin’s lifetime and even after his death, the speech remained a Soviet state secret. Collections of Stalin’s works contain not just his speeches, but even the notes he made in the margins of books written by others, yet this highly important speech was never published.
What is more, much has been done to make sure that it was forgotten for ever. Immediately after the war had ended, Stalin’s book The Great Motherland War was published in editions of millions of copies in many languages. The book begins with Stalin’s radio broadcast on 3 July 1941. The purpose of the book was clear. It was to hammer the idea into our heads that Stalin first began to speak about the Soviet—German war only after Germany had invaded the Soviet Union, and that he spoke only about defence. Stalin in fact began to talk about the war before the German invasion, not after it, and he spoke not about defence but about something else. If the speech had been about defence, then why keep it secret, particularly after the Germans had invaded?
We have already seen how, after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had been signed, Zhukov and Meretskov, two prominent Soviet military leaders, and Lavrenty Beria, the most outstanding chief of police of all times and of all nations, did a great deal to destroy everything connected with the defence of Soviet territory. Then Stalin began to talk about war with Germany. He spoke at a secret gathering, but in such a way that he was heard by all the marshals, all the generals, and all the graduates from the military academies. What would Zhukov, Meretskov and Beria do in this situation?
Surely they would begin to lay down mines in the frontier areas and, erect barbed wire, and mine bridges? No, they did just the opposite: At the beginning of May 1941, following Stalin’s speech at the reception for military academy graduates, the
brake was applied even more strongly to all the work that was being done to build engineered defences and to lay down mines. (I. Stari-nov, op. cit., p. 186)
If we do not believe Colonel Starinov, we may turn to the German archives to find exactly the same thing there. German intelligence apparently never obtained the full text of Stalin’s speech, but there are many direct and indirect signs which indicate that German intelligence believed that Stalin’s speech of 5 May 1941 was about war with Germany. The same German intelligence observed that Soviet minefields and other engineered defence obstacles were being removed in May and June 1941.
May 1941 marked a sharp turning-point for the whole of Soviet propaganda. Before that, communist newspapers had glorified war and rejoiced that Germany was destroying an increasing number of countries, governments, armies and political parties. The Soviet leaders were delighted with ‘modern war in all its terrible beauty!’ (Pravda, 19 August 1940), and rubbed their hands gleefully over the sight of Europe reduced to ‘a putrid scrap-heap, a pornographic spectacle where jackal eats jackal’. (Pravda, 25 December 1939)
A friendly greetings telegram from Stalin ‘To the Head of the German State, Herr Adolf Hitler’ appears on the same page. The words jackal eats jackal’ appeared directly under this token of friendship. Then suddenly everything changed. The day after Stalin’s secret speech, Pravda adopted a very different tone: The fire of the Second Imperialist War blazes beyond the frontiers of our Motherland. The whole weight of its incalculable misfortunes is laid on the shoulders of the workers. The people do not want war. Their gazes are fixed on the countries of socialism which are reaping the fruits of peaceful labour.
They see with every justification a solid bastion for peace in the armed forces of our Motherland, in the Red Army and Navy. In the present complex international situation it is necessary to be ready for surprises of all kinds . . . (Pravda, 6 May 1941, leading article)
In March 1939, Stalin had accused Britain and France of wanting to drive Europe into war, while they remained aloof so that they could later ‘step on to the stage .with fresh forces, in the “interests of peace”, of course, and dictate their conditions to the weakened participants in the war’. (Stalin, Report, 10 March 1939)
But only one leader was present at the signing of the pact which was the key to the war, and that was Stalin. Neither Japanese, American, British nor French leaders attended the signing of the pact which began the war. Even the German Chancellor was absent. But Stalin was there, and it was Stalin who for the time being stood aside from the war. Shortly afterwards, on 17 September 1939, the Red Army delivered its surprise attack on Poland. Next day the Soviet Union announced its reasons by radio: Poland has become a convenient springboard for hazards and surprises of all kinds which could constitute a threat to the Soviet Union . . . the Soviet government can no longer remain indifferent towards these facts … in view of such circumstances, the Soviet government has directed the High Command of the Red Army to order its troops to cross the frontier and to take into its protection the lives and property of the populace . . . (Pravda, 18 September 1939)
But who, it might be asked, turned Poland into a ‘convenient springboard for hazards of all kinds?’ Molotov’s and Stalin’s cynicism and effrontery knew no bounds. Hitler went into Poland in order ‘to extend Lebensraum for the Germans’. Molotov had a different purpose: ‘in order to help the Polish people out of an illstarred war into which they have been driven by foolish leaders, and to give them the opportunity to lead a peaceful life’. (Ibid.)
But Soviet communists even to the present day have not changed their view on the nature of these events. The official collection of documents on the History of Soviet Frontier Troops (Pogranichnye voiska SSSR 1939-41, Moscow Nauka) was published in 1970. Document No. 192 states that the aim of Soviet operations in September 1939 was to ‘help the Polish people to leave the war’. The Soviet Union has always helped everyone altruistically to find the way to peace.
Molotov signed a neutrality pact with Japan on 13 April 1941 to uphold peaceful and friendly relations, and mutually to respect territorial integrity and inviolability … in the event of one of the Parties to the treaty becoming the object of hostilities on the part of one or several third powers, the other Party to the treaty will remain neutral throughout the whole of the conflict. When Stalin was on the verge of being destroyed, Japan kept its word. But when Japan was on the verge of destruction, the Red Army delivered a crushing surprise attack on her.
Afterwards the Soviet government explained that such a policy is the only means capable of bringing peace nearer, of freeing the peoples from further sacrifices and sufferings and to give the Japanese people the opportunity to save itself from further dangers and destruction . . . (Soviet government statement, 8 August 1945)
It must be noted that the declaration was formally made on 8 August, while the Soviet troops delivered their blow on 9 August. In practice, there was a time-gap. The attack was made at local Far East time. The announcement was actually made several hours later at Moscow time. In military language this is called ‘preparation and delivery of a surprise first strike with the opening of a new strategic front’. (General S. P. Ivanov, Nachal’nyi Period Viony, Moscow Voen-izdat 1974, p. 281)
In political language it is called ‘a just and humane act by the USSR’. (Colonel A. S. Savin, VIZH 1985, No. 8, p. 56)
After the first crushing strike had been delivered, Marshal of the Soviet Union P. Ya Malinovsky addressed his troops, saying that The Soviet people cannot live and work in peace while the Japanese imperialists are rattling their arms on our far eastern frontiers while awaiting the right time to attack our Motherland. (Kommunist, No. 12, 1985, p. 85)
Malinovsky gave this speech on 10 August 1945, just four days after Hiroshima had disappeared. Did the ‘Japanese imperialists’ really have nothing to do but sit and wait for ‘the right time’? Modern Soviet publications still insist that ‘the Soviet Union was pursuing the aim of saving the peoples of Asia, the Japanese people included, from further sacrifices and suffering’. (VIZH 1985, No. 8)
In May 1941 the Soviet press suddenly began to talk about how the peoples of Europe wanted peace and were looking with hope to the Red Army. These were the same words and tone which were invariably used before every communist ‘liberation’.
The Great Purge in the Soviet Union was completed at the end of 1938. A new stage began. There were new times, new aims and new slogans. It was in March 1939 that Stalin first began to talk about the need to be ready for some ‘surprises’, not inside the country but in the international arena. In August 1939 Stalin presented the first surprise, the first ‘unexpected event’ for which the whole of the Soviet people and indeed the whole world were sighing – the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Thereupon German troops, quickly followed by Soviet troops, invaded Poland. The official Soviet explanation is that ‘Poland had been converted into a field of various unexpected events’. Once this threat had been removed by the unselfish action of the Soviet government, the Red Army and the NKVD, Stalin began calling for readiness to meet ‘new unexpected events’, since ‘the international situation is becoming increasingly complicated’. It would seem that there was nothing more simple; peace had been signed with Germany, so where was the complexity in the situation?
But Stalin went on repeating his warning not to have faith in the apparent lack of complications, to be ready to face unexpected events and any sharp turns and changes May 1941 was the month when the slogan ‘Be ready for unexpected events’ suddenly sounded throughout the country like an alarm bell. It sounded on the first day of May from the front page ofPravda and was repeated a thousand times over by all other newspapers, and by hundreds of thousands of voices of commissars, political workers, and propagandists, all interpreting Stalin’s slogan for the masses.
The call ‘to be ready for unexpected events’ resounded in the order No. 191 of the People’s Commissar for Defence issued to ‘all companies, batteries, squadrons, air squadrons and on ships’. Was Stalin perhaps warning the country and army of the possibility of a sudden German attack? No; the German attack came as a complete surprise to Stalin himself; and he could hardly have given warnings about dangers which he did not foresee. All talk about unexpected events ceased on 22 June 1941, and this slogan was never repeated again.
Contemporary Soviet publications contain no mention at all of the slogan ‘prepare for unexpected events’, although this was one of the most strident motifs of Soviet propaganda during the ‘pre-war period’.
At first glance it is surprising that Stalin himself never subsequently remembered his slogan. He could have said somewhere, ‘Hitler has suddenly attacked us – I warned you to be ready for unexpected events!’ But Stalin never said this. ‘Remember Order No. 191?’ Marshal Timoshenko could have recollected on occasion after the war. ‘I even warned you about it in that order!’ Soviet historians and Party bureaucrats could have explained what a wise Party we had even without naming Stalin and Timoshenko. The pages of its main newspaper carried calls almost every day to be ready for unexpected events. But neither Stalin, nor Timoshenko, nor anyone else ever recalled that alarm cry of May and June 1941.
Why was that? Because what was understood by the slogan ‘prepare for unexpected events’ was not the German invasion, but something quite the opposite. Under this slogan the Chekists were removing minefields on the frontiers, not laying them down, and they knew that this was preparation for the Central Unexpected Event of the twentieth century. In order to have an idea of the true meaning of this slogan, we must without fail look at the first page of Pravda of 1 May 1941. It was this page which set the tone for a great choir of many voices, which simply repeated Pravda’s statement. On the main front page of the newspaper, two quotations stand out.
Both are Stalin’s. The first, which comes right at the beginning of the leading article, states that ‘what has been accomplished in the USSR can also be accomplished in other countries’. The second is in an order from the People’s Commissar for Defence about the need to be ready to face up to hazards and ‘tricks’ on the part of our foreign enemies. Everything else on the front page is about the brutal war gripping Europe, the sufferings of the workers, their longing for peace and the hopes they place in the Red Army.
Much is said about Soviet efforts to preserve peace. Japan (whose hour had not yet struck) is given as an example of a neighbour, with whom good relations had finally been established; Germany, however, is not numbered among the good friends. Since the enemy is cunning and perfidious, the argument runs, we must reply to his machinations not simply by defending our own territory but by liberating the peoples of Europe from the disasters of a blood-letting war.
After five days of this noisy, orchestrated press campaign, Stalin took over the post of head of the government and made his secret speech in which he named Germany as the main enemy. Having thus assumed state responsibility for foreseeing ‘unexpected events’, Stalin was suddenly faced with Hitler’s onslaught in June. This was such an ‘unexpected event’ that it compelled Stalin to do everything possible to avoid assuming responsibility for any state decisions at all. Evidently Stalin had been preparing, not for a German invasion, but for ‘unexpected events’ of quite the opposite kind.
CHAPTER 2O – Words and Actions 182