Stalin and Intelligence: Barbarossa and the Bomb
“Stalin and Intelligence: Barbarossa and the Bomb” in Jonathan Haslam and Karina Urbach, eds., Secret Intelligence in the European States System, 1918-1989. (Stanford University Press, 2014) 37-80.
In an unusually well-documented contribution on Russian secret intelligence, David Holloway posits reasons for Stalin’s unpreparedness in 1940-1941. This, it is fair to say, has long been an obsessive object of interest and study in Russia, because it made all the difference to the course of the war that followed from June 1941. Rather than rushing into moral judgments about the régime, Holloway instead takes a cool look at what information came in to Stalin and allows for the fact that not all the incoming intelligence data were consistent. And in respect of revelations about U.S. construction of the atomic bomb, Holloway shows that Stalin once again consciously distanced himself from the findings of the intelligence services in reaching a final judgment. Whereas in the former case, it nearly led to disaster; in respect of the latter, Stalin was undoubtedly correct.