In July 1940, Filip Ivanovich Golikov, who would prove to be one of Stalin's most loyal lieutenants, became chief of the main intelligence directorate (glavnoe razvedivatel'noe upravlenie, or GRU). He replaced Gen. Lt. I. Iv. Proskurov, a thirty-three-year-old air force officer. Proskurov was a former favorite of Stalin's who had been awarded the gold star of a Hero of the Soviet Union for his exploits in Spain ( Akhmedov 1984, 127). Proskurov was one of the last of what Beriia referred to as "the band of Berzin" in a report to Stalin written on the eve of the German attack. Ian Karlovich Berzin, who had headed the GRU for eleven years, had also been the chief Soviet military adviser to the Spanish Republican Army in 1936 and 1937. He returned to head the GRU again from July until he was repressed in November 1937 ( SVE 1976, no.6, 453). There followed a series of arrests that removed the experienced leadership of the GRU as the Soviet Union prepared to face its sternest tests.
The substance of Beriia's report to Stalin was that Golikov was complaining about the Soviet ambassador to Berlin and one of his military attaches who was reporting that Hitler had concentrated 170 divisions on the Soviet western border. Beriia added that he and his people constantly kept in mind Stalin's wise forecast that Hitler would not attack the Soviet Union in 1941 ( Portugal'skii 1994, 141).
Golikov, who was forty years old at the time, was born in a village in Kurgan Oblast in western Siberia. He joined the Red Army in 1918 and attended a military-agitators course in Petrograd. Most of his early career in the Red Army was spent in political officer as-