Stalin in the Summer of 1941: A Drama in Three Acts

Eighty years ago, on 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. To mark this anniversary, we present a special lecture, “Stalin in the Summer of 1941: A Drama in Three Acts,” delivered by Professor Mark Edele (Hansen Chair in History).


This lecture asks how Stalin managed disaster in the summer of 1941. It reconstructs how the dictator tried to deal with the situation, how he improvised his response, and how, with the help of his leadership team, he took charge of the war effort.

The lecture is an edited excerpt from a longer article to be published by the Russian journal Neprikosnovennyi zapas as part of a special issue commemorating the start of the German-Soviet war of 1941–45. The focus of the larger essay is on the period between the German attack on 22 June and the Moscow panic on 16–17 October 1941. This lecture covers a shorter period, zooming in on the earliest days of the war. It observes up close Stalin’s behaviour between the German invasion on 22 June and a crisis of confidence the dictator suffered on 29 June.

Mark Edele’s book Stalinism at War: The Soviet Union in World War II will be published in September 2021.


Feature image via Wikimedia Commons.