i.However, during Stalin's Great Purge in the late 1930s, whichwas still partially ongoing at the start of the war in June 1941, theofficer corps of the Red Army was decimated and their replacements,appointed by Stalin for political reasons, often lacked militarycompetence. Of the five Marshals of the Soviet Union appointed in1935, only two survived Stalin's purge. 15 out of 16 army commanders,50 out of the 57 corps commanders, 154 out of the 186 divisionalcommanders and 401 out of 456 colonels were killed, and many otherofficers were dismissed. In total, about 30,000 Red Army personnelwere executed.]Stalin further underscored his control by reassertingthe role of political commissars at the divisional level and below tooversee the political loyalty of the Army to the regime. The commissarsheld a position equal to that of the commander of the unit they wereoverseeing. But in spite of efforts to ensure the political subservience ofthe armed forces, in the wake of Red Army's poor performance inPoland and in the Winter War, about 80 percent of the officersdismissed during the Great Purge were reinstated by 1941. Also,between January 1939 and May 1941, 161 new divisions wereactivated. Therefore, although about 75 percent of all the officers hadbeen in their position for less than one year at the start of the Germaninvasion of 1941, many of the short tenures can be attributed not onlyto the purge, but also to the rapid increase in creation of military units.j.In the Soviet Union, speaking to his generals in December 1940,Stalin mentioned Hitler's references to an attack on the Soviet Unionin Mein Kampfand Hitler's belief that the Red Army would need four10RESTRICTED
RESTRICTEDyears to ready itself. As early as August 1940, British intelligence hadreceived hints of German plans to attack the Soviets only a week afterHitler informally approved the plans for Barbarossaand warned theSoviet Union accordingly. But Stalin's distrust of the British led him toignore their warnings in the belief that they were a trick designed tobring the Soviet Union into the war on their side. He had an ill-foundedconfidence in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and suspected the Britishof trying to spread false rumours in order to trigger a war betweenGermany and the USSR. In early 1941, Stalin's own intelligenceservices and American intelligence gave regular and repeatedwarnings of an impending German attack. Soviet spy RichardSorge also gave Stalin the exact German launch date, but Sorge andother informers had previously given different invasion dates thatpassed peacefully before the actual invasion. Stalin acknowledged thepossibility of an attack in general and therefore made significantpreparations, but decided not to run the risk of provoking Hitler.
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- Spring '19
- Operation Barbarossa