Stalin initially dismissed as disinformation a Soviet intelligence warning about the imminence of the Nazi invasion in 1941

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Soviet leader Joseph Stalin initially dismissed as “misinformation” a message sent by intelligence from Berlin in 1941 warning that Nazi Germany had completed military preparations to attack the USSR, according to a Article written by Sergei Naryshkin, director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the start of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), which cost the Soviet Union more than 26 million human lives.

The message was sent on June 16 by Harro Schulze-Boysen, a German military member of the resistance against Adolf Hitler and a member of the spy network known as The Red Orchestra or The Red Chapel. In it, the spy warned that the Nazi regime had finished all military activities in preparation for an attack against the USSR and that an assault could be expected at any time.

Naryshkin’s article provides a photocopy of the Schulze-Boysen report. The message specified that the objects of the German aviation attacks would be mainly the Svir-3 power plant (built in 1933 and which supplied electricity to Leningrad, present-day Saint Petersburg) and the Moscow factories that produced spare parts for aircraft. According to the report, German fighters had already been transferred to Hungarian airfields, while major German aircraft repair shops were operating in the then German cities of Königsberg, Gdansk, Graudenz, Wroclaw and Mariemburg.

On June 17, Stalin called the USSR’s head of foreign intelligence, Pavel Fitin, and the people’s commissioner for state security, Vsevolod Merkulov, to his office to find out personally and in detail how reliable the source who sent the message was. message.

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During that meeting, Fitin endorsed the absolute reliability of Schulze-Boysen. However, after listening carefully to their explanations, Stalin reacted sharply: “Disinformation. You can go.”

“Fitin did not expect such a harsh reaction from the leader, but it seems he got it right,” Naryshkin writes. “Stalin ordered the intelligence directorate to take the maximum measures to verify the information obtained and requested other additional evidence. Fitin immediately sent a verification order to the ‘rezidentura’ [base de espionaje] from Berlin, “he adds.

The USSR’s foreign intelligence chief instructed to review reports from the Schulze-Boysen and also from Arvid Harnack, another member of the German Red Orchestra. Although he obtained solid proof of the veracity of this information, he did not have time to report to Stalin, since the war had already started.

Also, on June 19, 1941, the Soviet agent Willi Lehmann informed the ‘rezidentura’ in Berlin about Hitler’s order to the employees of the central office of the Nazi Germany secret Police, the Gestapo, to begin operations. military against the USSR from 3 in the morning of June 22.

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