Scorched Earth: The Soviet Concentration of TroopsViktor Suvorov (pseudonym) elaborated on the 1939 Soviet concentration of troops at the border with Germany: He used to work for the Joint Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces. As a high-ranking officer of the Soviet military secret service GRU, he was active as a Soviet diplomat in Western Europe. In 1978, he asked for political asylum in Great Britain. He called Hitler a rabid dog, a cannibal and a criminal. (I mention this only to show what his sympathies in fact are.)
Still, he is the author of the article "Who Was Planning to Attack Whom in June 1941, Hitler or Stalin?," Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies (RUSI), London, June 1985, pp. 50-55 and the book Ice-Breaker: Who Started the Second World War?. London:
Hamish Hamilton, 1990 (Russian: LEDOKOI: Istorija tak nazyvaemoj «velikoj otečestvennoj vojny» Kratij kurs.)
Excerpts from "Who Was Planning to Attack Whom in June 1941, Hitler or Stalin?":
p. 52: "'There were in fact 170 divisions in the 1st Strategic Echelon. Of these, 56 were already deployed directly on the frontier,' 114 were deployed further back in the frontier zone, but: 'On 12-15 June the order was given to the western military districts: all divisions stationed in the interior [of those military districts] are to be moved nearer to the state frontier'. The entire 1st Strategic Echelon now began its concentration directly in the border belt. To these 114 must be added the 69 divisions of 2nd Strategic Echelon which had either moved already or were preparing to do so. Thus, on the day of the famous TASS communique, the movement of 183 divisions was in train; the biggest troop movement by a single state in the history of civilisation; a movement right to the frontier itself and conducted with maximum secrecy and concealment."
p. 53: "But this explanation is not borne out by the facts. Troops preparing for defence bury themselves in the ground, dig trenches and anti-tank ditches, construct cover and barbed wire barricades. In the first instance this is done in the most likely avenues of enemy advance, across roads and behind river lines. But the Red Army did nothing of the kind. As has been recorded earlier, divisions were hidden in woods near the frontier in exactly the same way as were the German divisions before they made their surprise attack. 'The rifle troops could have occupied and completed defensive installations, but this was not done'."[39
"This failure to erect defensive works is all the more curious since, with the signing of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Treaty and the subsequent "partition" of Poland between the two states, Soviet and German forces now confronted each other across a common frontier with no "buffer state" between them. Moreover, while common prudence might have dictated the strengthening or at least the retention of the Stalin Line fortification along the old frontier, the opposite was happening. This powerful protective system was dismantled and, in many places blown up or earthed over; minefields were disarmed and over a distance of thousands of kilometres 'the barbed wire had been removed'. Partisan detachments which had been created in case these lands were occupied by the enemy, were disbanded; explosive charges were removed from thousands of bridges, railway stations and industrial complexes which had been prepared for destruction in case of invasion. In short, colossal efforts were made to destroy everything connected with defence. At the same time, while prior to the treaty's signature only divisions and corps had existed in the Soviet frontier districts, formed armies now began to assemble in the newly extended border zone. Between August 1939 and April 1941, the number of armies on the Soviet Western border increased from zero to 11. Three more joined them during May together with five airborne corps. If Hitler had not attacked first, Stalin would have had 23 armies and more than 20 independent corps facing him. This took place before general mobilisation."
p. 54: "The 1st Strategic Echelon which was forming up on the Soviet border in June 1941 was, by virtue of its organisational structure, deployment and military preparedness, clearly offensive in nature. So too was the 2nd Strategic Echelon which began its secret movement towards the German frontier on 13 June 194 1. Many Soviet marshals and generals do not acknowledge these facts directly and, of course, both echelons were overwhelmed in the German surprise attack and had perforce to fight defensively."
"It seems certain that the Soviet concentration on the frontier was due to be completed by 10 July. Thus, the German blow which fell just 19 days earlier found the Red Army in a most unfavourable situation – in railway wagons […and] stuck helpless in open fields."
"The more closely one studies Stalin's actions during this critical period the more apparent it becomes that they were not a reaction to Hitler's moves. Stalin acted according to his own plans, and these foresaw a full concentration of Soviet troops on the frontier by 10 July."
"Certain conclusions are incontrovertible. First, the mobilised divisions could not have returned to the distant districts from whence they came. Such a move again would have absorbed the entire resources of the rail network for many months and would have resulted in economic catastrophe. Secondly, these gigantic forces could not have been left to spend the winter where they were hidden. So many new divisions had been created and assembled in the frontal belt that many of them had already had to spend the winter of 1940-41 in dugouts. As early as 1940 there had been insufficient training centres and artillery and rifle ranges in the newly-acquired western frontier zone even for the existing divisions. Troops who cannot train rapidly lose the capacity to fight."
"In every major human complex endeavour there exists a critical moment at which events reach a point of no return. This moment for the Soviet Union fell 13 June 1941. After that day, masses of Soviet troops were secretly but inexorably moving towards the German border. Once 13 June had passed the Soviet leadership could no longer turn these troops back nor even halt them, for economic and military reasons. War became inevitable for the Soviet Union, irrespective of how Hitler might have acted. Finally, the composition and disposition of the forces in the frontier zone did not indicate that they were intended to remain there. Such features as the airborne corps in the first crust of the 'defences,' artillery units in the forward locations, the dismantling of the Stalin Line and the absence of any defence in depth or effort to construct one, do not point to the intention of maintaining any permanent defensive position along the border. If all this is viewed in the context of the Zhukov doctrinal framework outlined earlier, then it becomes clear that the only credible military intention which Stalin could have had was to begin the war himself in the summer of 1941."