After the outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939, the Soviet leadership undertook a whole series of internal political measures aimed at strengthening the country's military and economic power. "Army and navy numbers after the adoption of the USSR Armed Forces in the September 1939 session" of the Law on General military duty "increased from 1.9 million people to 5.3 million people on June 1, 1941. Improved economic performance, which was achieved through tighter labor discipline, the use of social competition methods, as well as the introduction of June 26, 1940 . working week with an eight-hour working day instead of the previous six days with a seven-hour working day (each month gave 33 hours of extra time: 208 against the previous 175).
This was facilitated by the addition of new territories with their economic and human resources after September 17, 1939. At the same time, it should be noted that universal military service in May 1941 was not introduced in the Baltic Military District, and approval of new mobilization plans. The Navy was envisaged by July 1, 1941. Although in June 1941 the number of armed forces of the USSR reached 5.3 million people plus 800 thousand. Called for training fees, this was only 61% of the mobilization plans of the Red Army in case of the start of hostilities. At the same time, by June 1941, the troops of the first strategic echelon of the Red Army were manned by 55%.
In terms of quantitative production of weapons and equipment, the USSR surpassed Germany as early as 1940; the qualitative characteristics of domestic weapons were still inferior to those of the Germans, but even here the Soviet Union reduced its lag, ahead of the enemy in a number of new technical developments. Further specialization of the industry was continued and a new economic base of the military industry was created in the Urals and in other eastern regions of the USSR. The completion of the economic and military program was scheduled for 1942 - the last year of the third five-year plan. However, such calculations were refuted by the defeat and capitulation of France in the summer of 1940, which inevitably led to a reduction in the time allotted by the USSR, but it was not fully consciously realized by the Soviet leadership.
Despite a number of evidences of Germany’s preparation for war with the USSR, adequate measures were not taken, and the news of the hostilities that began on June 22, 1941 came as a shock for I. V. Stalin and his entourage, especially in light of the famous statement on June 14 1941 TASS about the groundless rumors about a possible war. Seeking to compensate for the mistakes made and prevent panic and paralysis of power, Stalin took the lead in repelling aggression, working 14-16 hours a day in the first week of the war. By 9 o'clock in the morning, the General Staff prepared a draft decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet on general mobilization and education of the Stavka, on June 22 a mobilization of servicemen was announced, and on June 30, 1941 a national mobilization plan was adopted.
On June 23, the Headquarters of the High Command was created, which included the people's commissar of defense Marshal S. G. Timoshenko (chairman), chief of the General Staff G. K. Zhukov, I. V. Stalin, V. M. Molotov, Marshals S. M. Budyonny and K. B. Voroshilov, Commissar of the Navy N. G. Kuznetsov. The actual leadership of the Stavka, which was never assembled in full force, was in the hands of Stalin. On June 24, the Council for Evacuation (L. M. Kaganovich) and the Soviet Information Bureau (A. S. Shcherbakov) were created under SNK. On June 29, the CPC and the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) sent a directive to the party and Soviet authorities, which formulated the main requirement for their work; "All for the front, all for victory!"
The highest emergency authority was formed on June 30, 1941 and existing until September 5, 1945. The State Defense Committee, headed by I. V. Stalin, the State Defense Committee subordinated to the Headquarters of the Supreme Command, the General Staff and the Central Headquarters of the partisan movement ( created 30.05.1942), more than 60 urban GKOs, authorized by the GKO. The composition of the GKO initially included 5 people (J. V. Stalin, V. M. Molotov, K. B. Voroshilov, G. M. Malenkov, L. P. Beria), then their number increased to 9 ( from January 1942 - L. M. Kaganovich, N. A. Voznesensky, A. I. Mikoyan, from 1944 - N. A. Bulganin).
Each of them was responsible for a specific area of work: Molotov for the production of tanks, Mikoyan for supplying the front, Voznesensky for starting the evacuated industry, Malenkov for producing aircraft, Voroshilov for forming new units, etc. The GKO wars adopted more than 10 thousand documents that regulated the country's economic and political life. The GKO decision, in particular, carried out the deportation of the population, including individual nationalities, already in 1941: from August 950 thousand Germans (among them 500 thousand Germans of the Volga region), several tens of thousands of the Finnish population, etc. Over time, special bodies with more powers emerged under the State Defense Committee: in February 1942 - the Transport Committee, in December 1942 - the Operational Bureau of the T-bills (monitored the fulfillment of military orders and the current work of the people's commissariats), various other committees and commissions, up to 20 August-1945 of the Atomic Co. Committee, headed by Beria.
Despite certain successes achieved in the process of reorganizing the management system, in the first weeks of the war the effectiveness of these measures was relative. “It was difficult to tell where the State Defense Committee ends and where the Headquarters begins, and vice versa,” Zhukov later recalled. “In practice, it turned out that Stalin is the Headquarters and the State Committee also defended Stalin. He commanded everything, he conducted, his word was final and not subject to appeal.
" Only on the 48th day of the war, August 8, 1941, did the Supreme Headquarters of the Supreme Command take its final form after many hurried reorganizations. At the head of the Stavka was now Stalin (Commissar of Defense since July 19, 1941), who directly commanded units of the Red Army and the Navy. Representatives of the VKG on the fronts submitted to him. The accelerated mobilization was unsuccessful: by July 10, out of 210 divisions and 3 rifle brigades in the active army, only 90 were fully staffed. The July-August mobilization of military personnel became more successful. However, the protracted reorganization of state administration did not allow immediately repelling the advancing enemy. The “surprise of the attack” was aggravated by the strategic miscalculation in determining the main attack of the Wehrmacht troops in the south-western direction, and not the central one, as it was in reality.
As a result, 11 divisions of the Western Front were located between Belostok and Minsk. The first reaction of the regime was the intensification of repressions against representatives of the command, including on July 4, 1941, a change of leadership of the Western Front, commander General of the Army DG Pavlov and Chief of Staff Major-General V. Ye. Klimovsky were arrested and later shot. In total, in 1941 about 20 representatives of the highest command were executed, at least 35 generals were captured or missing, dozens were removed from their posts. Numerous displacements of the high command were caused by the incompetence of the leaders of the 1930s, manifested in military conditions.
Parts of the Wehrmacht were opposed by the dispersed forces of the Red Army, significantly weakened as a result of unprepared and unjustified counter-attacks in late June - early July 1941. Only in July 1941 the Red Army switched to strategic defense along the entire front line, which made it possible to reduce the pace of German offensive ( first of all on the central direction). From July 10, Soviet troops successfully restrained the Wehrmacht during the Smolensk battle, forcing the Army Group Center (Field Marshal F. Boc) from July 30 to go on the defensive. Here, for the first time during the war on August 30 - September 8, 1941, under the leadership of Zhukov, a successful offensive El-Ninsk operation was carried out, during which German losses reached 45 thousand people.
Less successfully, despite the heroic resistance of the Soviet troops, the fighting unfolded on the South-Eastern and Southern fronts, where the German Army Group South was operating (Field Marshal-General G. Rundstedt). Reinforced by General Guderian’s tank units deployed from the center, troops of the Army Group Center broke through the front north of Kiev, creating a flank threat to Soviet units. Because of Stalin’s ban, Kiev was to be surrendered to Kiev (which had to be left on September 19), and 500,000 Soviet troops were surrounded; and only some of them, headed by A. A. Vlasov, made their way into the location of the Red Army. The front commander, General M. P. Kirponos, was killed during the battle.
In the northeastern part of the Soviet-German front, the German Army Group North (General Field Marshal W. Leeb), reinforced by the 3rd Tank Group of Gotha transferred from the central direction, moved in August 1941 to a forced offensive on Leningrad. The fall of Tallinn on 28 August made it possible to concentrate all the available funds on this main task. German troops managed to reach the southern outskirts of Leningrad and after the capture of Shlisselburg on September 8, they blocked the city. G. K. Zhukov, who replaced September 12, 1941, K. Ye. Voroshilov as commander-in-chief of the Leningrad front, organized a deeply echeloned defense and, introducing severe penalties, including detachments and shooting retreating (September 17 order), managed to change the course events and stabilize the front by the time of his response to Moscow in early October. The defense of Leningrad was of great importance. On February 23, 1942, the second secretary of the Leningrad Regional Committee and the city committee of the CPSU (b) A., A. Kuznetsov emphasized: "The importance of the defense of our city is great.
First, the townspeople of your city, the troops of the Leningrad Front, were the first to prove that we can and must not only delay the advance of the fascist hordes, but also cause serious, crushing damage to them. Essentially, if you make out the story, after all, no one stopped the German troops before Leningrad, before our Patriotic War, the German troops! "
By September-October 1941, the blitzkrieg of the German troops was disrupted. This was not only a political, military, but also an economic defeat for the designs of Germany. All of its industry was designed for a lightning war, and new circumstances now dictated its reorganization, difficult in war conditions. No less important were the military losses of Germany in the summer-autumn campaign. In the first five weeks alone, the Wehrmacht lost about 200 thousand people, more than 1.5 thousand tanks and 1 thousand aircraft, that is, twice as many as in two years of war in Europe. The losses of the German troops increased many times in August 1941.
On August 11, 1941, Chief of the Ground Forces General Staff F. Halder wrote in his diary: "The general situation shows more and more clearly that the colossus - Russia ... was underestimated by us. This statement can be extended to all economic and organizational aspects, to the means of communication and, to the particular, to the purely military capabilities of the Russians. " A typical admission of miscalculations was the shooting in August 1941, on the orders of Hitler, of the former German military attache of General Kestring for unverified information about the state and number of Soviet troops in the prewar period. The German Blitzkrieg plan in the summer of 1941 was thwarted.