One side effect of the fall of the Soviet Union was that it freed Russian military historians and veterans from having to obey the official line on the events of the Second World War. One of the most impressive results of this new freedom has been Artem Drabkin's website devoted to gathering and storing eyewitness accounts of the fighting, creating in the process an invaluable historical source.
This book uses many of these accounts along with records from Soviet and German archives and previously published works to examine the first twenty four hours of Operation Barbarossa, the surprise German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941.
One of the most interesting things to emerge is the length to which the Russians were willing to go to avoid falling for any potential German provocations, defined as anything up to and included quite sizable air raids on Soviet facilities near the border. This hampered the air force in particular with some people describing how they were unable to respond to the initial German attack as quickly as they could have done. It is also clear that the Soviets were well aware that they might be about to be attacked, and if given another week might not have been caught out quite so badly.
It's also interesting that this book ends before it became clear that the Soviets were about to suffer a major disaster. At the end of the first day of Barbarossa the Germans were making good progress, but the Soviet border armies were still intact, and some were planning counterattacks. In the air some Soviet regiments suffered very badly on the first day, others were barely involved. This is a fascinating read and a very valuable contribution to the sizable literature on Barbarossa.
1 – If War Comes Tomorrow
2 – Sons of the Homeland
3 – Bullets and Bombs
Photo Album: Barbarossa Unleashed
4 – Brest: The Rat Trap
5 – A Hot Day
6 – In the Skies
Photo Album: Barbarossa Maintained
7 - … And at Sea
8 – Far from the Front
Author: Artem Drabkin, Alexei Isaev, Christopher Summerville
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military