‘On 22 June at 4 a.m. …’ Invasion of the USSR by Germany and Its Satellites
In the early hours of June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the USSR without a declaration of war. It was joined by Romania and subsequently by Italy, Finland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Croatia.
German planes bombed airfields, troop dislocation areas in western military districts, communications and other key facilities, and the cities of the Baltic states, Belorussia, Moldavia and the Ukraine.
The Wehrmacht subjected Soviet borderline facilities and Red Army units to continuous artillery bombardment. German troops crossed the Soviet border from the Baltic to the Black Seas. Initially, Soviet border troops took the brunt of the blow. Trying to repulse vastly superior enemy forces, many Soviet border patrol units were killed to the last man.
J. Stalin learned about the German invasion from Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army G. Zhukov.
At 5:30 a. m., over an hour-and-a-half after the start of the invasion, German ambassador F. von der Schulenburg paid a visit to Soviet People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs V. Molotov. At the commission of his government, F. von der Schulenburg read a diplomatic note stating that Germany had been forced to take immediate ‘military counter-measures’ against the USSR ‘on account of the unsufferable threat to the German eastern border stemming from the massive concentration and preparation of the armed forces of the Red Army’. In response, Molotov declared that the German accusations were totally unfounded and called the German arguments for attacking the USSR a ‘lie’ and a ‘provocation’.
At 5:45 a. m., V. Molotov, People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs L. Beria, People’s Commissar of Defence S. Timoshenko, Chief of the Main Political Directorate of the Red Army L. Mekhlis, and Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army G. Zhukov arrived in Stalin’s Kremlin office. the participants of this meeting took the first and most important decisions in the war that has come down in Russian history as the ‘Great Patriotic War’…