Authors: David E. Murphy
What Stali n Kn ew
David E. Murphy
Yale University Press
New Haven & London
Copyright ∫ 2005 by David E. Murphy.
All rights reserved.
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(beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Murphy, David E., 1921–
What Stalin knew : the enigma of Barbarrosa / David E. Murphy.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-300-10780-3 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. World War, 1939–1945—Campaigns—Eastern Front. 2. Stalin, Joseph, 1879–1953—
Military leadership. 3. Soviet Union—Politics and government—1936–1953. I. Title.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the
Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library
For my wife, Star
In the early 1920s, Stalin and a few colleagues were relaxing in
Morozovka Park, lying in the grass. One asked: ‘‘What’s the best
thing in the world?’’ ‘‘Books,’’ replied one. ‘‘There is no greater
pleasure than a woman, your woman,’’ said another. Then Stalin
said, ‘‘The sweetest thing is to devise a plan, then, being on the alert,
waiting in ambush for a goo-oo-ood long time, finding out where the
person is hiding. Then catch the person and take revenge!’’
Stalin: An Unknown Portrait
Introduction: Stalin’s Absolute Control, Misconceptions, and
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Stalin versus Hitler: Background
The Outspoken General: Ivan Iosifovich Proskurov
Proskurov Sets Stalin Straight
Soviet Borders Move Westward
The Finns Fight: Proskurov Made a Scapegoat
Soviet Military Intelligence Residencies in
Soviet Military Intelligence Residencies in
Who Were You, Dr. Sorge? Stalin Never Heard of You.
NKVD Foreign Intelligence
Fitin’s Recruited Spies
Listening to the Enemy
Working on the Railroad
The Border Troops Knew
Proskurov Is Fired
Golikov and Operation Sea Lion
‘ We Do Not Fire on German Aircraft in Peacetime’’
German Deception: Why Did Stalin Believe It?
The Purges Revived
On the Eve
A Summer of Torture
The Final Reckoning
Conclusion: Will the Future Be a Repeat of the Past?
Appendix 1: Organization and Functions of Soviet Military
Appendix 2: Hitler’s Letters to Stalin
Appendix 3: Those Executed without Trial on October 28, 1941
Appendix 4: Chronology of Agent Reporting
Glossary of Spies and Their Masters
This book is the result of a suggestion by Jonathan Brent, editorial director
of Yale University Press, who first brought to my attention the extensive
collection of archival documents on Soviet intelligence being assembled
by Aleksandr N. Yakovlev and members of his International Democracy
Foundation in Moscow. Brent felt it would be a valuable contribution to an
understanding of the events leading up to the German invasion of the
USSR on June 22, 1941, if I, as a career intelligence officer, were to exam-
ine how the Soviet intelligence services functioned at that time and how
Stalin reacted to the information they provided on the German threat.
From the outset, Jonathan Brent and his staff at Yale University Press were
unstinting in their support of my efforts. Special thanks to my copy editor,
Roslyn Schloss, whose herculean work transformed this text.
My research has greatly benefited from the advice and assistance of
friends and colleagues in the United States who brought to my attention
publications on this subject. Robert Tarleton made available to me mate-
rial from his own extensive library, as did Harriet Scott, who continues to
follow Russian military affairs. My old friend William J. Spahr, Zhukov’s
biographer, was always ready to respond to my questions. Another friend,
Hayden B. Peake, now curator of the CIA Historical Collection, encour-
aged me in my work, as did CIA historians Kevin C. Ruffner, Donald P.
Steury, and Michael Warner. Serge Karpovich, a former colleague and
longtime friend, was most helpful in housing me in Moscow, introducing
me to friends and relatives there, and untangling particularly difficult Rus-
sian sentences encountered in translation.
I owe special thanks to Gennady Inozemtsev for his hospitality and
that of his family in Moscow and his help in guiding me through the
complexities of Russian bureaucracy and the Russian Internet. Very im-
portant was his contact on my behalf with Lidiya Ivanovna Morozova,
General Proskurov’s daughter, who shared her memories of her father.
Sergei A. Kondrashev, my coauthor on
Battleground Berlin: CIA versus
KGB in the Cold War,
also deserves mention for his efforts on my behalf in
dealing with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and for his
hospitality in Moscow.
Finally, and most significantly, without the help of my wife, Star, this
book would never have been finished. Her encouragement was constant,
as were her proofreading and patient transformation of my rough chapters
into acceptable computer form.
My principal resource in the research carried out in writing this book was
the two-volume collection of documents
(The Year 1941) pub-
lished in Moscow in 1998 by the Mezhdunarodny Fond ‘‘Demokratiya’’
(International Democracy Foundation) in the series Rossiya—XX Vek. Ac-
cording to the principal editor, academician Aleksandr N. Yakovlev, the
collection was prepared in response to a 1995 directive from Boris N.
Yeltsin, then president of the Russian Federation. The Russian documents
were assembled from the Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Federation
(AVP RF), Archive of the President of the Russian Federation (AP RF), Cen-
tral Archive of the Foreign Intelligence Service (TsA SVR), Russian State
Military Archive (RGVA), Russian State Economics Archive (RGAEh),
Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Recent
History (RtsKhIDNI), Center for the Preservation of Current Documenta-
tion (TsKhSD), Central Archive of the Defense Ministry of the Russian
Federation (TsA MO RF), and Central Archive of the Federal Security Ser-
vice (TsA FSB). The collection also contains German documents bearing
on this period from various archives in the Federal Republic of Germany.
I used two collections of documents in addition to the principal collec-
tion by A. N. Yakovlev. One,
Organy Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti SSSR
v Velikoy Otechestvennoy Voine
(Organs of State Security USSR in the
Great Fatherland War), was published in two volumes in early 1995 by the
Federal Service of Counterintelligence (FSK), later renamed the Federal
Security Service (FSB). It contains documents reflecting reporting by both
the FSK and the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) for the period up
to June 1941. It is particularly valuable because it contains detailed bio-
graphic summaries on each of the persons named in the documents. The
Sekrety Gitlera Na Stole U Stalina
(Hitler’s Secrets on Stalin’s
Desk), was jointly published later in 1995 by the FSB and the SVR. It deals
with documents covering just the period of March through June 22, 1941.
There is some duplication in entries in both books of documents from the
TsA SVR and TsA FSB. Some documents from both publications are also to
be found in
The goal of these publications is to demonstrate that in the prewar
period the internal security and foreign intelligence services of state se-
curity provided the Soviet leadership with ample warning of an impending
German attack, yet their reporting was disregarded. The ostensible rea-
sons for this are argued in both books in slightly different ways. In addi-
tion, they both present their versions of the events and circumstances that
led up to the German invasion of the Soviet Union, contending that France
and England, supported by the United States, planned from the early
1930s to direct Germany’s growing military might against the USSR in a
campaign to eliminate ‘‘Bolshevism.’’ As a result, the West and the Soviet
Union failed to form an anti-Hitler coalition and Stalin was forced to
conclude a nonaggression treaty with Germany. I do not agree with this
position but it enjoys wide support in official circles in Russia today. It is
still used by some to exonerate Stalin for his behavior in the months lead-
ing up to the German invasion and to explain the failure of intelligence
reporting to sway Stalin from his conviction that if only Hitler were not
provoked by Soviet defensive measures, he would not invade until the
USSR was better prepared.
Unlike these two collections, Yakovlev’s
places the blame
squarely on Stalin. Some complain that in his selection of documents
Yakovlev emphasized ones predicting a German invasion rather than those
indicating German forces would be used in attacking England. This crit-
icism is not completely accurate but it is true that the Yakovlev collection
does not discuss the contributing archives’ criteria for submitting docu-
ments or the standard the compilers observed in their selection process.
We do know, however, that
is the only Russian publication that
contains officially released military intelligence reports and summaries,
complete with the appropriate references from the Central Archive of the
Defense Ministry (TsA MO RF).
No official history of the GRU, the military intelligence, has yet been
published. In 2001 Olma Press in Moscow published a two-volume collec-
tion by Aleksandr I. Kolpakidi and Dmitry P. Prokhorov entitled
which assembles information on the history, organization, and per-
sonalities of the military intelligence without, though, providing archival
references. In 2002 the St. Petersburg publishing house Neva, in conjunc-
tion with Olma Press, published
GRU: Dela i Liudi
in the series Rossia v