The initial undertaking of evacuation was launched without a coordinated plan in the chaos of enemy bombardment. Nevertheless, set into motion on June 24, 1941, the evacuation operation proved to be one of the Soviet state’s most notable wartime achievements. By October, 1942, over 16 million Soviet citizens had been evacuated into the interior from territory that was home to approximately 40 percent of the population. It was also necessary to transport urgently needed military production capacity away from the industrialized western USSR. Evacuation priority was given to industrial factories and their workers, followed by families of Red Army officers, government authorities and children under the age of 15. In the chaotic process, local authorities often disregarded orders and fled with their own families instead of helping, while an egregious lack of transportation led to protracted, arduous journeys, often under enemy fire. Often acting upon contradictory and misleading information, people made their decisions to evacuate or stay. For many, however, evacuation was never an option, as the early Nazi conquests prevented escape.