A German soldier with an MG34 and gas mask in Russia-1941.
At around 01:00 on 22 June 1941, the Soviet military districts in the border area were alerted by NKO Directive No. 1, issued late on the night of 21 June.It called on them to "bring all forces to combat readiness," but to "avoid provocative actions of any kind".It took up to two hours for several of the units subordinate to the Fronts to receive the order of the directive,and the majority did not receive it before the invasion commenced.On 21 June, at 13:00 Army Group North received the codeword Düsseldorf, indicating Barbarossa would commence the next morning, and passed down its own codeword, Dortmund.At around 03:15 on 22 June 1941, the Axis Powers commenced the invasion of the Soviet Union with the bombing of major cities in Soviet-occupied Poland and an artillery barrage on Red Army defences on the entire front.Air-raids were conducted as far as Kronstadt near Leningrad, Ismail in Bessarabia, and Sevastopol in the Crimea. Meanwhile, ground troops crossed the border, accompanied in some locales by Lithuanian and Ukrainian fifth columnists.Roughly three million soldiers of the Wehrmacht went into action and faced slightly fewer Soviet troops at the border.
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