‘Bomb Romania!’ Russia declassifies secret files from first days of Nazi Germany’s attack on USSR
The project is devoted to one of the most terrible pages of Soviet history – the start of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. On June 22, the previously-unstoppable Nazi war machine launched an unannounced attack on the Soviet Union, triggering a ruthless war which killed millions.
The files, released by the Russian Defense Ministry, date back to the early 1950s and were penned by some of the most prominent generals in the Red Army at the time, including Marshal Ivan Bagramyan.
Special attention is given to a 3-page document signed by Georgy Zhukov who served as the Chief of the General Staff. The order, signed at 7:15, June 22, only three hours after the start of the Nazi invasion, makes a call “to attack the enemy forces by all means and destroy them in areas where they have violated the Soviet border.” It also states that Soviet troops shouldn’t hit the territories of Finland and Romania “until special instructions” are given. However, on the back of the last page there is a postscript from Zhukov himself: “Bomb Romania!”
Romania was a significant contributor to Nazi Germany in terms of military and extermination of Jews since the start of 1940s. The then-Romanian authorities collaborated with the Third Reich to kill over 160,000 Romanian Jews, according to Holocaust-related documents. Having previously become an Axis member, the country joined the Nazi-led invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22.
Finland, which is also mentioned in the declassified documents, wasn’t legally a part of Axis regime, however it often took part in the alliance’s operations.
The documents released on Friday contain only a small part of the evidence “of the unprecedented mass heroism of the soldiers and commanders of the Red [USSR] Army, which turned Hitler’s ‘Operation Barbarossa” to dust, the statement from the ministry says. Barbarossa was the code name for Nazi Germany’s failed Blitzkrieg plan to defeat and occupy Soviet Union. The ministry also published the map of Hitler’s mass-scale operation which contains details about the deployment of Nazi forces on USSR borders and directions of the main attacks in the first days of the war.
Stories of day-to-day heroism of Soviet people throughout the whole conflict have also been revealed. This includes reports about troops in Kiev, which were one of the first to confront the Nazi war machine, and about soldiers from the whole USSR fighting side by side. Some documents include joyful news of Soviet pilots returning safely from operations, while others lament their tragic death.
The war cost the Soviet Union over 26 million lives, according to official figures. More than 8 million of them died on the frontlines, repelling the invasion of the Nazi troops and pushing for the ultimate defeat of Nazism.
The Soviet Union bore the brunt of the Second World War with more than 75 percent of Nazi Germans' and their allies’ forces in Europe concentrated on the Eastern Front. It was also the Eastern Front where Nazi Germany suffered 74 percent of its war losses.
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