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World War 2

While the terror lessened after 1939 as it became abundantly clear that the country’s economy was suffering from the sheer numbers of people taken from the workplace to camps, it was Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 that put an end to it.

Stalin had concluded a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany in 1939 and was for some inexplicable reason blind to Hitler’s potential for treachery.
As many an observer has wryly pointed out, Stalin suspected his own officers but blithely had faith in a megalomaniac foreign dictator.

World War 2

World War 2


Despite a massive amount of intelligence suggesting the Germans were planning an invasion, Stalin never countenanced the possibility and so shocked was he when German divisions numbering over three million men rolled confidently across the Soviet border on the morning of 22 June 1941, he had what has been described as a nervous breakdown on the spot, leaving the USSR without a leader at its most critical moment in history.

Moreover, the purges of the previous seven years had taken such a massive toll on the Red Army that it was no match for Hitler’s efficiently organised and motivated troops. By July the Germans were approaching Leningrad – taking the leadership by surprise with the speed of their advance.
Shortly afterwards, Leningrad was to be plunged into its darkest hour.

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