Northern Illinois University Press

Double Deception

Stalin, Hitler, and the Invasion of Russia

James Barros and Richard Gregor

"A spy thriller better than any creative novelist could concoct."American Historical Review

"Important for anyone interested in the diplomatic and intelligence maneuvers leading up to Operation 'Barbarossa' or the nature of the Stalinist regime in the pre-war Soviet Union."Canadian Military History

"A stimulating, carefully documented and highly engaging account."Canadian Journal of History

The German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 marked a turning point in the Second World War. The massive German assault that brought the Soviet Union into the war inflicted devastating losses on the Red Army and threatened the nation's very existence. Why the Soviets seemed to lack any prior knowledge about the impending invasion is a question that has remained unanswered. With the most elaborate set of intelligence services and an extremely suspicious worldview, how did they fail to detect forces amassing on their border and to prepare for one of the most aggressive moves in military history?

Barros and Gregor explore the interplay of intelligence and foreign policy in the events leading up to the invasion known as Operation Barbarossa. The authors maintain that, contrary to widespread belief, Stalin's policy toward Germany, rather than German deception plans or a failure on the part of the NKVD and the Army's GRU, set the stage for the German invasion. The authors examine Stalin's mind-set to show how his desires to evade war enhanced the credibility of Hitler's deception operations and to demonstrate the extent to which Stalin's self-inflicted deception contributed to Germany's strategic military surprise.

Double Deception reconstructs the information and disinformation exercises of top political and military leaders, diplomats, and intelligence agencies. Germany's strategic surprise depended on Stalin's conviction that the two nations would settle their differences through diplomatic means and on his expectation of a conference with Hitler in the near future. Furthermore, until the moment the panzer divisions crossed the border, Hitler fueled Stalin's misconception that Germany would never risk a two-front war. Caught in a web of mistaken convictions and disinformation, Stalin lost at his own game.

(1995) 319 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-988-5
Paper $27.00

Table of Contents

1. Perceptions and Deceptions
2. War and Rumors of War
3. Echoes
4. Imperialist Provocation and Disinformation
5. Stalin: Officially at the Helm
6. The Ultimate Deception
7. Nakanune: On the Eve
8. To the Bitter End
Bibliographical Note

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-988-5
paper $27.00