The Great Patriotic War began

22 June 1941

On June 22, 1941 at 4 a.m. without any declaration of war, after the artillery and aviation training, the essential Wehrmacht forces and German allies’ troops (about 190 divisions) started a sudden powerful offensive along the western frontier of USSR from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea.

Kiev, Riga, Kaunas, Ventspils, Liepaja, Siauliai, Vilnius, Minsk, Grodno, Brest, Baranovichi, Babruysk, Zhitomir, Sevastopol and many other cities and town, railway joints, airdromes, naval bases of USSR had suffered the bombardments. Also had been bombarded frontier posts and the regions of the Soviet troops’ dislocation near the border. At 5-6 a.m. the Nazi German troops crossed the USSR national frontier and continued the offensive far inland. Only an hour and a half after the offensive beginning, the German ambassador in the Soviet Union count Werner von Schulenburg made a declaration of war to USSR.

At 12:00 o’clock all the radio stations of the Soviet Union broadcasted the official communication about the attack of fascist Germany against our country. The communication, made by the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs V. M. Molotov on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Soviet government, stated that the attack of the fascist Germany against the USSR was the unparalleled treachery in the history of the civilized nations.

The official communication was followed by the broadcast of the Order by the Supreme Soviet of USSR Presidium on mobilization of citizens liable for call-up of born in the period of 1905-1918. On June 23 the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander in Chief headed by People’s Commissar for Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. Timoshenko was founded.

In the course of frontier battles and during the initial stage of war (before the middle of July) the Red Army had lost killed and wounded 850 000 men; 9 500 guns, over 6 000 tanks and about 3 500 aircrafts had been destroyed; about 1 million people had been taken prisoners. The German Army had occupied a significant part of the country. It had advanced 300-600 km inland having lost 100 000 men killed, almost 40% of tanks and 950 aircrafts destroyed. However the plan of Blitzkrieg, according to which the German commandment intended to capture the European part of the USSR in a few months, failed.

On July 13, 1992 under the order of the RF Supreme Council Presidium the day of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War was declared the Memory Day of the Fatherland defenders.

On June 8, 1996 the Russian President announced the day of June 22 the Day of Memory and Sorrow. On this day the national flags are lowered all around the country, entertainment events and programmes cancelled. The Day of Memory and Sorrow is also marked in Ukraine and Belorussia which were the first to suffer the strike of Nazi, and other states of the CIS.


Lit.: 1941 год – уроки и выводы. М., 1992; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Анфилов В. А. Начало Великой Отечественной войны (22 июня – середина июля 1941 года). Военно-исторический очерк. М., 1962; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Библиотеки – свидетели Победы: [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Гальдер Ф. Военный дневник. Ежедневные записи начальника Генерального штаба Сухопутных войск 1939–1942 гг. Т. I. М., 1968. Из содерж.: 22 июня 1941 года (воскресенье). 1-й день войны; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Жуков Г. К. Воспоминания и размышления. В 2 т. Т. 1. Гл. 10. Начало войны. М., 2002; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Нота Министерства иностранных дел Германии от 21 июня 1941 года [Электронный ресурс] // Победители – Солдаты Великой войны. 2005–2018. URL:; Я помню: [Электронный ресурс]. URL:


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

The Great Victory Memory : [digital collection];

June (starting June 22) // World War II in archival documents (collection of digitized archival documents, film and photo materials): [digital collection];

1941: documents and materials: to the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. Т. 1. St. Petersburg, 2011;

1941: documents and materials: to the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. Т. 2. St. Petersburg, 2011.