The following long excerpt is the opening text from Chapter 22 of Icebreaker
, titled The TASS Report
. In earlier chapters Suvorov discusses that Stalin had made others, such as Molotov, responsible for actions taken in getting ready for WWII, and waiting until late to assuming the actual de jure
office of governing, as opposed to merely being the head of the Communist Party, the de facto
leader of the USSR. If anything had gone wrong he could blame them. Suvorov also briefly discussed prior that Stalin was very deft in eliminating his competition in rising to command of the party and thus the country. This is very similar to what Hitler did with taking over the NSDAP, except that Hitler was obviously very vocal in doing so.
On 13 June 1941, Moscow Radio broadcast an unusual and puzzling report from TASS. It claimed that 'like the Soviet Union, Germany is also steadfastly observing the conditions of the Soviet—German non-aggression pact . . .' and that 'these rumours [of a German attack on the Soviet Union] are propaganda clumsily concocted by forces which are hostile to the Soviet Union and Germany, and which are interested in further extending and developing the war . . .' The main Soviet newspapers published this report the next day. Yet within the week, Germany had attacked the Soviet Union.
Everybody knew who had written the TASS report. Stalin's characteristic style was recognized by generals serving in the various Soviet headquarters, by GULAG prisoners, and by Western experts. Although Stalin purged TASS after the war, none of the leading figures in this institution were ever accused of having spread reports which could have been considered 'manifestly harmful'. Stalin could also have put the blame for broadcasting the TASS report onto any member of the Politburo, but he did not do this either; he took the entire responsibility for it himself.
Much has been written about this TASS report in both the foreign and the Soviet press. Everyone who has dealt with the subject has laughed at Stalin's touching naivety. The TASS report, however, is not so much amusing as mysterious and incomprehensible. Only one thing is clear: the identity of its author. All the rest is an enigma.
The TASS report appears to contradict everything we know about Stalin's character. Boris Bazhanov, who was Stalin's personal secretary and knew him better than anyone, describes him as 'secretive and cunning in the extreme . . . He possessed the gift of silence to a high degree, and in this he was unique in a country where everyone talks too much.'
Many writers have testified to Stalin's taciturnity: 'He was an irreconcilable enemy of verbal inflation, or garrulousness,' wrote Abdurachman Avtokhranov. 'Don't say what you think, and don't think what you say, could be another motto for his life.' Robert Conquest, a prominent researcher into the Stalin period, has observed that 'we still have to peer through the darkness of Stalin's exceptional secretiveness', and that 'Stalin never said what was on his mind, even when speaking about his political aims'. (The Great Terror)
The ability to keep silent, in Dale Carnegie's apt words, is the most rarely found talent of all in human beings. From this viewpoint Stalin was a genius. Nor was this only a very strong trait in his character; it also served as a very strong weapon in dispute. He lulled his enemies with his silence, so that the suddenness of his blows made them irresistible. Why then did Stalin suddenly publicize his thoughts about relations with Germany in a Radio Moscow broadcast? Where was his secretiveness and cunning then? If Stalin had any thoughts about how future events would develop, why did he not discuss them in the close circle of his comrades-in-arms? Who passes important messages to his army through the radio station of the capital and the main newspapers? The army, navy, secret police, concentration camps, industry, transport, agriculture, and the entire population of the Soviet Union formed part of the state system. They were all subordinated, not to newspaper reports, but to their superiors, who in turn received orders through special, often secret channels from their chiefs. Stalin's empire was centralized like no other and, particularly after the Great Purge, the mechanism of state government was built in such a way that any order was immediately transmitted from the highest level down to the lowest functionaries, who rigorously carried it out. The large-scale operations in 1939 involving the arrest and elimination of Yezhov's supporters, and the actual replacement of the entire directorate of the secret police, were carried out quickly and effectively, in such a way that no one outside ever decoded the signal to begin the operations, or knew how or when Stalin gave the signal to set them in motion.
If Stalin, in June 1941, had had ideas to put before millions of functionaries without delay, why did he not avail himself of that smooth machine of government, which would transmit any order immediately and without distortion? If it were a statement of some gravity, it could be duplicated on secret channels. The TASS report, according to Marshal of the Soviet Union A. M. Vasilevsky, 'was not followed by any new policy instructions about the armed forces, or by any review of previously taken decisions'. (A. M. Vasilevsky: Delo Vsei Zhizni, Moscow IPL 1973, p. 120). The Marshal goes on to say that it changed nothing in the work of the General Staffer of the People's Commissariat for Defence. Indeed, 'it was essential that nothing should change'.
No confirmation of the TASS report was sent along secret military channels. On the contrary, there are documents which show that, at the same time as the TASS report was published, an order was given to the troops in the military districts, including the Baltic Special Military District, which in both sense and spirit was directly contrary to the TASS report. (Archiv MO SSSR, Archive 344, schedule 2459, item n, p. 31) The material published in military newspapers, especially those which are unavailable to outsiders, was also in direct conflict to the content of the TASS report. (See for example Vice-Admiral I. I. Azarov; Osazhdennaya Odessa, Moscow Voenizdat)
The TASS report was not only out of keeping with Stalin's character; it did not tally with the central idea of all communist mythology. Throughout his entire life, any communist tyrant, and especially Stalin, constantly repeats a simple and eminently comprehensible sentence: 'The enemy is watching.' This magic sentence explains the absence of meat in the shops, the 'liberation campaigns', censorship, torture, mass purges and closed frontiers. Phrases like 'the enemy is on the watch' and 'we are surrounded by enemies' are not just ideology; they are the sharpest weapon the Party has. This weapon destroyed all forms of opposition. Yet once, and only once in the history of all communist regimes, the head of the most powerful of them all told the whole world that the threat of aggression did not exist. ...
Stalin's behaviors seem consistent with his following a hidden agenda, and thus the real need for his infamous purges. He needed to get rid of those he thought might be suspicious of odd actions, perhaps like why so completely destroying the facilities of the Stalin Line and the ability to blow up bridges in case the Germans attacked first. In this regard, I see Stalin bypassing even his normal mode of communicating, regarding the June 13 message as doing two things. First, it is a clear signal to the Germans that they had better attack soon, because waiting will allow the Soviets to have their armies ready, especially moved off of the transport trains and deployed. And second, it helped to lull the minds of enough Soviet officers and troops being deployed that there wasn't really an immanent German attack coming.
Stalin had to know that the Germans were indeed massing for attack, via both aerial reconnaissance and from the vast network of communist partisans in Germany and elsewhere. The Soviets also saw that the Germans were establishing fake defensive positions at the frontier at the same time that they were doing the same. They also should have made sure that the first troops deployed to their western front were established as true covering forces for the subsequent arriving 'shock' troops. These first would act in temporary defensive mode in case the Germans attacked first, which they did, while being deployed near the Stalin Line, i.e. a considerable distance from the frontier.
Of course, as Suvorov says, based upon the sheer numbers of logistics and vast land mass of the USSR, Hitler's goose was cooked either way. Suvorov also states that the Soviets tipped off Hitler, if by nothing else, the early deployment of an invasion force that threatened the oil fields in Romania. As such, why would the Germans have ever taken Stalin's 'enigmatic' message as that they could take their time in getting ready to launch Barbarossa? The message gave Stalin plausible deniability with what people are still crediting it as.
And when the Germans attacked, those Russians already deployed were not in a defensive posture, with the wrong type of weapons, while many Soviet troops, arms, ammo, and fuel were sitting ducks on their trains. Stalin then 'purges' anyone that is a threat to the official story, to himself, and especially the hidden agenda.