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Early days of the invasion

MARTINA CARR: Of course, the Germans did attack the Soviet Union and moved very quickly inside Soviet territory. There was a moment – after the first week of the war - that Stalin disappeared from the Kremlin and seemed to hide briefly at his dacha. Was this because he believed the Germans might win the war?

KIRILL ANDERSON: Every politician has to take into account different variants of the possible outcome of an event, so I believe Stalin did think about this possibility as well. Especially since there is a mention in Molotov’s memoirs when he quotes Stalin from one of those days when Stalin said – ‘Lenin had left us a great legacy and we lost it all’ – well he said it in quite a rude way. So yes – of course he could think that way. And as far as his absence in the Kremlin is concerned, he was quite mistrustful towards his comrades and he could be thinking that they wanted him to step down. He was quite mistrustful. It also looks like he felt he had made a mistake. He believed the war would be postponed and I think he found his own mistakes quite hard to take. He didn’t admit them but he felt guilty. You know the saying - 'It is better to make a mistake than to do nothing’.

MARTINA CARR: The Germans were moving very quickly and in October it looked like Moscow itself was in danger.  The Soviet leadership was ready to evacuate from Moscow but Stalin himself made a decision to stay. How important was this decision at the time?

KIRILL ANDERSON: Well, I saw an original draft of the document declaring the state of siege of Moscow in October 1941.  Stalin himself made several changes to the draft of the document and at the end there was a written note on it saying that ‘Comrade Stalin will stay in Moscow for the time being’. If Stalin were to leave Moscow, it would be something of a psychological defeat and he understood that very well, in the same way as he understood that his presence in Moscow would be great stimuli to those who were defending the city. And plus it gave him the right to demand from them a determination to defend the city to its very end.