Murphy provides details that prove "beyond any reasonable doubt," as he puts it, that the Soviet services filed alarming reports about German intentions early and often. From Berlin, a source code-named Ariets reported on September 29, 1940, that Hitler intended to "resolve problems in the east in the spring of next year." Maj. Gen. Vasily Tupikov, the Soviet military attaché in Berlin, backed up his source and later confirmed the redeployment of large numbers of German troops from the western to the eastern front. From Bucharest, the Soviet military mission reported on March 26, 1941: "The Romanian general staff has precise information that in two or three months Germany will attack the Ukraine. The Germans will attack the Baltic states at the same time . . . "
Stalin reacted by ridding himself of Ivan Proskurov, the head of military intelligence who had consistently refused to buckle to his pressure to deliver better news. His replacement, Filipp Golikov, began relying on reports from his officers who picked up German disinformation, which dismissed all talk of an invasion of Russia as "English propaganda." When Golikov felt obliged to pass along a report from his Prague station that the Germans would attack in the second half of June, it landed back on his desk with Stalin's note in red ink: "English provocation! Investigate!"
In keeping with that sentiment, Stalin was determined to honor his trade commitments with Germany, and his country provided huge amounts of oil, wood, copper, manganese ore, rubber, grain, and other resources to keep the German military machine well stocked. He seemed genuinely to believe that he could convince Hitler of his good intentions by such craven behavior. In the words of Nikita Khrushchev: "So while those sparrows were chirping, 'Look out for Hitler! Look out for Hitler!' Stalin was punctually sending the Germans trainload after trainload of grain and petroleum."
As Murphy spells out, Stalin also ignored reports directly from the border regions of large German troop concentrations, and ordered his soldiers not to open fire on German aircraft that were routinely violating Soviet airspace to stage brazen reconnaissance missions. On April 5, 1941, border troops received the order that, in the case of any confrontation, they should "strictly see to it that bullets do not fall on German territory." Instead of recognizing all the signs of German preparations for what they were, Stalin--convinced that he couldn't trust anyone, especially his spies who must have been doing someone else's bidding--closed himself off more and more, and refused to allow his generals to put their troops on a war footing. He was also happy to keep arresting anyone who questioned his policies, dispatching them to his legions of executioners and torturers.
Murphy's book should put to rest the myth that Stalin was a great tactician, the brilliant savior of his country. Before he saved it, he almost destroyed it, when he had every opportunity to prepare his troops for the worst and at least limit their losses. In the end, 27 million Soviet citizens perished during "The Great Patriotic War." Of those, there's no telling how many could have been saved if the country had been led by someone who was willing to listen to the "sparrows," and to renounce the use of terror against his own people--at least for the duration of their epic struggle.