Sergei A. Kondrachev
Before entering into the main subject of this chapter, I wish to say that we, the veterans of the Soviet and Russian secret services, more than anybody else feel the whole depth of the tragedy the peoples of our country have lived through before the war and in the first post-war years. I say before the war, but if we go into the history of our country, we also register a wide use of punitive practices by secret services in the Russian Empire as far back as Ivan the Terrible. However, historical precedent cannot serve as justification for later abuses and there is no limit to our condemnation of punitive practices where security services were involved by decision of supreme authority. In all, nearly 24,000 officers and functionaries of special services were the victims of their own government, most of them losing their lives.
The situation in the Soviet Union before the war caused many foreign and especially German diplomats and intelligence officers to misjudge developments and conclude that the Soviet Union could not withstand an attack of the German army and would collapse within a few weeks. In the Russian archives are copies of the reports written by able German diplomats such as the minister counsellor of the German Embassy in Moscow, Gustav Hilger, who drew the attention of the German general staff to the weakness of Soviet agriculture and industry. This was certainly true in substance, but not concerning the possible consequences. The war efforts displayed by my compatriots demonstrated the ability of the people to mobilize their inborn forces