There are two different versions behind this photo of Joseph Stalin. According to one of them, the photographer took it at 4:31 AM in June 1941, just half an hour after Germany attacked USSR. Some historians claim that this photo belongs to the editor of Komsomolskaya Pravda, who took it in the Kremlin that morning. They say that Joseph Stalin ordered to destroy a photo, but the cameraman saved it instead. We hardly believe this version as Stalin didn’t expect the german invasion, and there’s no single reason for him to stay in his Kremlin office until 4 AM. Also, there’s no way to explain what the newspaper editor was doing there so early.
Here’s why we’d instead stick to another theory behind this Joseph Stalin photo. This story also links the photo to the summer of 1941, but the later period, in August. USSR suffered an unseen defeat during the first months of WW2. In August, German forces were assaulting the city of Kyiv, which was very important for Soviet propaganda. The rumor has it that in this photo, Stalin just knew that german forces set their foot into the capital of Soviet Ukraine, Kyiv.
Anyhow, this photo captured Joseph Stalin while being visibly depressed. Nowadays, historians agree that the USSR planned to attack Germany first. Stalin didn’t have plan B, and the failures of the first couple of months are the best support for this theory. This photo just stilled the moment of the hardest moments in history for both Joseph Stalin and the soviet union. It’s a well-known fact that Stalin always cared about his appearance on the historical pictures. Photographers retouched images before any publication. We’ll never know why this photo of the depressed Stalin survived.