22 June 1941 changed the direction of the Second World War. It also changed the direction of human history. Unleashing a massive, three-pronged assault into Soviet territory, the German army unwittingly created its own nemesis, forging the modern Russian state in the process. Thus, for most Russians, 22 June 1941 was a critical point in their nation's history. After the first day of 'Barbarossa' nothing would be the same again - for anyone. Now, for the first time in English, Russians speak of their experiences on that fatal Sunday. Apparently caught off guard by Hitler's initiative, the Soviets struggled to make sense of a disaster that had seemingly struck from nowhere. Here are generals scrambling to mobilise ill-prepared divisions, pilots defying orders not to grapple with the mighty Luftwaffe, bewildered soldiers showing individual acts of blind courage, and civilians dumbstruck by air raid sirens and radio broadcasts telling of German treachery.