Given below are snippets of the early days of the invasion. All the pictures have been taken by German soldiers.
New testimony and documentary evidence can now reveal that Stalin was seriously considering suing for peace and had even organised a 'getaway' train to take him to safety as German guns started pounding Moscow. His decision to stay and fight was a crucial turning point in the war.
A horse cart gets bogged down in the slush. The Russian terrain was a German enemy. So was the climate.
A Russian plane lies broken. That was Russia in late 1941.
HITLER INVADES RUSSIA (Source: BBC)
The Germans invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, and looked poised to take Moscow by October that year. With the benefit of hindsight, popular opinion has labelled Hitler as virtually insane for invading the Soviet Union, but at the time many people - including those influential in both Britain and America - thought his decision was a sound one. Indeed, Hitler came much closer to pulling off his grand plan than the Soviet Union was ever prepared to admit.
German soldiers get a shoe-shine.
BRUTAL HITLER, BRUTAL STALIN.
Stalin and Hitler were together responsible for the leitmotiv of ruthless brutality that prevailed throughout the hostilities between Russia and Germany. During the Battle of Moscow, in which 8,000 Soviet citizens were executed for perceived cowardice, the Russian armies were forced to stand their ground, despite perishingly cold conditions of 43 degrees below freezing.
To prevent his soldiers deserting the front line around the capital, Stalin ordered special 'blocking detachments' to shoot all deserters. The Soviet leadership also instructed Soviet partisans operating in the countryside to kill anyone whom they believed was disloyal. This resulted in an effective carte blanche for partisans to abuse their power and extract whatever they wanted from helpless villagers.
A report from one partisan division shows that rape, killings and beatings were commonplace. To make villagers' lives still more hellish, in some areas, particularly the occupied Ukraine, nationalist partisans (as opposed to Soviet partisans), who were bent on freedom from the Soviet regime, also started up their own brutal operations in the countryside. Villagers were now faced with violence from three different fighting forces.
Russians did not suffer only from their own side. Nazi rule over the territories they captured from Russia was draconian. Erich Koch, Reich Commissar of occupied Ukraine stated that the 'lowliest German worker is a thousand times more valuable' than the entire population of the Ukraine. Starvation was widespread, with Soviet civilians forced to eat dogs - until the dog supply ran out and people were forced to turn to rats, crows and birch bark. In the Ukrainian town of Kharkov, which was administered by the German army, 100,000 people died of starvation and disease.
A Russian village burns
THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE SUFFERED
The German army, faced with an ever growing partisan threat, became increasingly comprehensive in their view about what constituted a partisan. One army document lists 1,900 partisans and their 'helpers', killed by the Germans in one action. But only 30 rifles and a handful of other weapons were found with them - more than 90% of those killed by the Germans had no guns.
And yet people still managed to survive. Inna Gavrilchenko tells how lucky she was to get a job in a slaughter house during the occupation of Kharkov. It gave her access to blood, which she smuggled out and cooked into a 'blood omelette'.
German planes have blown away this train.
German soldiers killed in action.