At 4:31 AM, an unauthorized photo taken of Stalin inside of the Kremlin shows the very moment he was informed that Germany had began their invasion of the Soviet Union. It was taken by Komsomolskaya Pravda, editor in chief. He was ordered to destroy it, but instead saved it. June 22,
By dawn on June 22, 1941, Timoshenko, Zhukov, and his deputy chief of the general staff, Vatutin, were receiving frantic communications from front commanders. All reported air attacks and requested orders. Timoshenko told Zhukov to telephone Stalin.
Stalin heard his report and proposal to order troops to retaliate. There was a long silence during which Zhukov could hear the sound of his breathing on the line. Then Stalin ordered him and Timoshenko to come to the Kremlin and to tell Poskrebyshev to summon the members of the Politburo.
At 4:30 a.m., all were assembled in Stalin’s office. He stood by the table, his face white, with an unlit pipe in his hand. He was visibly shaken.
Molotov hastened into the room from a meeting with the German ambassador. He reported that Germany had declared war.
Stalin sank into his chair and sat in silence. This was one of the most shattering moments in his whole life. He had used every means at his disposal to avert this war. He had desperately willed it to be delayed at least until the following spring. He thought he had succeeded, but he had failed. Armaments were beginning to flow to the armed forces from the defense industries, and the intensive training programs were bringing daily improvements in discipline and efficiency. Six months would have made a vast difference.