ON 22 JUNE 1941, THE COUNCIL OF THE SUPREME SOVIET imposed martial law over Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, White Russia, Karelia, Bessarabia, as well as over the territories of Archangel, Murmansk, Vologda, Leningrad, Kalinin, Ivanovo, Yaroslav, Ryazan-Smolensk, Tula, Kursk, Moscow, Voronezh, Orel, the Crimea, and Krasnodar. General mobilization was ordered in 15 military districts.
Partisan warfare was unleashed one week later. It was a prepared measure in violation of international law for which the Wehrmacht was unprepared. Furthermore, a “Service Regulation for the Partisan War” had been in effect in the Red Army since 1933. As early as January and February 1941, large scale partisan war games were held in various military districts of the Soviet Union by the “Society for the Encouragement of Defence” (Osowiachim), in which the civilian population also took part, as reported by the Army newspaper “Red Star”. Based on these experiments, the Soviet Communist Party created so-called “Destruction Battalions”, even prior to the beginning of the war. When an area was to be abandoned by the Red Army, these destruction battalions were systematically supposed to destroy all businesses, communications installations, medical installations, etc. of any military or commercial importance, and to being partisan warfare as soon as the front was overrun.