February 2, 2016, is the 73rd Anniversary of the victory of the battle for Stalingrad. Articles from TML Weekly in 2013 discussed its significance on the occasion of the 70th anniversary.
The Battle of Stalingrad
Peoples of the world gratefully acknowledge the victory of Stalingrad’s right to be
February 2, 2013, the 70th Anniversary of the victory of the battle for Stalingrad
TML Weekly Editorial, February 2, 2013 – No. 5
TML sends its most heartfelt congratulations to all the descendants of those who fought and defeated the German Nazi invaders and other European barbarians who attacked Stalingrad August 23, 1942. The fidelity, heroism and sacrifices of the defenders of the city will never be forgotten. Their victory over fascist aggression has become an integral part of humanity’s modern outlook of conscious organized resistance in defence of the rights people have by virtue of being human.
The assault on Stalingrad was central to the German imperialist frenzied thirst to carve out a military Empire with blood, tears, terror, the theft of peoples’ land and resources, enslavement of working people, defence of class privilege and monopoly right, and smashing of the right to be. The incoherent Hitlerite ideology of racism and anti-communism became a cover for the desire of German monopolies to dominate the world. Using the industrial might of conquered states throughout Europe and the collaboration of the monopolies and their political representatives of occupied France and elsewhere, the German monopolies believed enslavement of the peoples of the Soviet Union and theft of their land and raw material were all that was missing to conquer the world. The 1941 invasion was an attempt to deprive the Soviet peoples of their land and right to be, their right to choose their own economic system and way of political governance, and bring them under the domination of German monopolies and their Nazi political thugs. The conquering of Stalingrad and the people of the Volga River in the heart of Russia was seen as a key to seizing and holding all of the Soviet Union and exploiting the riches of Mother Volga and beyond.
The Soviet peoples and their Communist Party and Red Army led by the incomparable Joseph Stalin were determined to resist the trampling of their rights and dignity and the abuse and exploitation of their socialist Motherland. The organized people of Stalingrad and the country’s Red Army were at the centre of the defence of the industrial city during that tumultuous period from August 23, 1942 until the remaining German invasion forces attacking the city surrendered February 2, 1943.
Not one step back!
As the invaders were massing over one million soldiers and thousands of tanks, artillery pieces and planes on the Russian steppe west of Stalingrad, the leader of the socialist Motherland, Joseph Stalin, vowed that this was as far east as the criminals would go. “Not one step back!” became the battle cry of Stalingrad.
In the forefront of the organized resistance were the units of the Red Army and Workers’ Militia. The Workers’ Militia fortified every factory and workplace so that even after being bombed, any attempt of the invading force to occupy the facility would be repulsed. Students and community members young and old were organized and armed to fight to defend their city and the rights of all. Only the very young and infirm were evacuated east across the Volga. The Urban Committee of Defense, headed by the Secretary of the Stalingrad Communist Party Regional Office declared, “Dear comrades! Stalingrad citizens! Bloody Hitlerites have torn their way to sunny Stalingrad and to the great river Volga. Stalingrad citizens! Let us not allow the Germans to desecrate our native city. Let us rise as one to protect our beloved city, homes, and families. Please leave your homes and build impregnable barricades on every street. Let us make each quarter, each house, each street an unassailable fortress . Everyone to the barricades! All those who can carry a rifle must protect their native city and homes!”
The organized Soviet forces upholding their popular will to defend their rights and the justness of their cause created a calm atmosphere even when confronted with what the entire world said was the most deadly and powerful imperialist army ever amassed. Through conscious acts of organization and resistance, the defenders of the city overwhelmed all panic and hint of capitulation. “Not one step back!” was on everyone’s lips.
Immediately following the arrival of the invaders and their initial attack, the Red Army and organized units of workers and residents began powerful counterattacks to wear down the imperialist aggressors. Within a little over five months, the supposedly invincible German military attacking Stalingrad with the most advanced weapons on the ground, air and river had been decimated and was approaching collapse. By February 2, the Red Army had gained superiority in the air and its ground forces had surrounded the remnants of the German Sixth Army, which surrendered in shame and infamy. The organized peoples of the Soviet Union and Stalingrad had defended their right to be and smashed the invading imperialists!
With such colossal German losses of soldiers and war materiel, a new quality emerged in favour of the people; the imperialist aggressors became the hunted. The anti-fascist war entered its victorious denouement.
Defence of rights
The significance of the victory of Stalingrad and the war against fascism is found in the defence of rights. It proved that in the modern era, the security of the people lies in the organized defence of the rights of all. No matter how powerful the usurper of rights may appear, conscious acts of organized resistance can eventually deprive the antagonist of the power to deprive the people of the rights they possess by virtue of being human.
Twenty years following the victory of Stalingrad, in March of 1963, the anti-imperialist youth and students’ movement the Internationalists led by Hardial Bains was formed in Vancouver. The Internationalists was the proud inheritor of the communist legacy of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and the spirit and victory of Stalingrad and the anti-fascist war.
The formation of the Internationalists was necessary to settle scores with modern revisionism that has betrayed the victory of Stalingrad, the event that ushered in the period of the affirmation of rights in opposition to the barbarism of imperialist aggression and colonialism.
The revisionist betrayal of the victory at Stalingrad reveals its infidelity to the defence of rights and its cowardice in the face of U.S. imperialism, the greatest enemy of rights since World War II and a far more powerful, dangerous and devious aggressor than German Nazi imperialism ever was. To give U.S. imperialism free rein to deprive the peoples of the world their rights tramples on the legacy of Stalingrad and the memory and living history of the people’s victory in their anti-fascist war for the right to be.
“Not one step back!” in the present demands conscious acts of organized resistance in defence of the rights of all. It requires a working class organized as one class with one program to defend its rights and the rights of all. The victory in the battle for Stalingrad inspires the working class and its allies to mobilize themselves and unite as one with one program, determined and organized to defend their rights no matter how powerful U.S. imperialism and its flunkies may appear.
The affirmation of Stalingrad’s right to be in the face of German aggression proved that with organization and resistance a new quality can emerge more powerful than the anarchy, violence and abuse of rights of even the most dominant imperialist. For this to occur in the present, the working class and its allies must step up their mobilization and conscious organizing work to defend the rights of all against the attacks of U.S. imperialism and its global sycophants.
Historic turning point of the World War II
By DOUGAL MACDONALD
The turning point of the Second World War was the historic Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad, which ended on February 2, 1943. Four months before the victory, in October 1942, the Nazi armies stood barely 120 km from Moscow, had broken into Stalingrad and had entered the foothills of the Caucasus. The Soviet Union faced 257 enemy divisions of 10,000-15,000 troops each, of which 207 were German. But even in those dire days, the Soviet army and people, led by Stalin, found the strength to check the enemy and deal an answering blow. Soon they turned the tide. The Soviet troops went over to the offensive and inflicted new, powerful blows on the Germans, first at Stalingrad, then at Kursk.
Soviet snipers during the Battle of Stalingrad. (RIA Novosti)
The Battle of Stalingrad began on July 22, 1942, with heavy bombing by the Luftwaffe. The German ground attack was led by the German 6th Army and the German 4th Panzer (tank) Army, backed up by Romanian, Italian, Hungarian, and Croatian troops. Bitter fighting raged for every inch of every street, factory, house, basement and staircase. The Soviets had converted apartment blocks, factories, warehouses, homes and office buildings into strongholds bristling with machine guns, anti-tank rifles, mortars, mines, barbed wire, snipers, and small units of submachine gunners and grenadiers prepared for house-to-house combat. After three months of slow advance, the Germans finally reached the river banks of the ruined city. Nevertheless, the fighting continued as fiercely as ever. The battles for the Red October Steel Factory, the Dzerzhinsky tractor factory and the Barrikady gun factory became world-famous.
On November 19, 1942, the Red Army unleashed their counteroffensive, Operation Uranus. The attacking Soviet units shattered the Romanian units which held the northern flank of the German 6th Army. On November 20, a second Soviet offensive attacked points south of Stalingrad held by Romanian forces, overrunning the enemy positions almost immediately. Soviet forces then raced west in a pincer movement and met two days later near Kalach, sealing the ring around Stalingrad. About 290,000 German and Romanian troops were now surrounded inside the cauldron. Soviet forces consolidated their positions around Stalingrad, and fierce fighting to shrink the pocket began. The Germans suffered huge losses in men and equipment but Hitler ordered them not to surrender. Finally, on January 31, German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus and his staff surrendered. Three days later, on February 2, 1943, the remaining German troops surrendered. After the battle was over, 147,200 bodies of killed German officers and men and 46,700 bodies of killed Soviet officers and men were found and buried.
In a February 23, 1943, speech, U.S. General Douglas McArthur declared:
“[Never] have I observed such effective resistance to the heaviest blows of a hitherto undefeated enemy, followed by a smashing counterattack which is driving the enemy back to his own land. The scale and grandeur of the effort mark it as the greatest military achievement in all history.”
Hailing the huge contribution of the Soviet army and people to the defeat of fascism, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt stated in speech on July 28, 1943: “The world has never seen greater devotion, determination, and self-sacrifice, than have been displayed by the Russian people and their armies under the leadership of Marshall Joseph Stalin.” The influential U.S. newsmagazine, Time, had already declared Stalin their “Man of the Year’ for 1939 and 1942 and he appeared on the cover on January 1, 1940 and January 4, 1943. On January 4, 1943, Time also published an article praising the Soviet wartime accomplishments, æJoseph Stalin: Die But Do Not Retreat.Æ
Stalingrad, which signified the decline of the German-fascist army, was soon followed by the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in history. It ended August 23 with the rout of the two main groups of the attacking German-fascist troops, and in Soviet troops passing over to a counter-offensive, which subsequently turned into the powerful Red Army summer offensive. The Battle of Kursk was the last futile attempt of the Germans to carry out a big summer offensive and, in the event of its success, to recoup their losses. The Red Army not only repulsed the German offensive at Kursk, but itself passed over to the offensive and, by a series of consecutive blows, in the course of the summer period hurled the German-fascist troops back beyond the Dnieper. From its victory in the Battle of Kursk, the Soviet Red Army went on to liberate most of Ukraine in the autumn of 1943, marching into Kiev on November 6.
After Stalingrad and Kursk, the Red Army never let the initiative out of its hands. Throughout the summer of 1943, its blows became harder and harder, its military mastery growing with every month. The Soviet troops won big victories, and inflicted one defeat after another on the German troops. During the last six months of the Second World War, the Red Army, on its relentless advance from the borders of the Soviet Union to Berlin, fought a series of decisive battles in Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia and into Germany itself. The Hitlerites were driven steadily backward until the final demise of the Third Reich in Berlin on May 9, 1945. On that day, the anti-fascist forces of the world with the Soviet Union and communists of all lands at the head of the Resistance Movement declared victory over the Hitlerite Nazis who had to acknowledge defeat and declare unconditional surrender.
Images from the Historical Memorial Complex to the Heroes of the Stalingrad Battle, located at Mamayev Hill, in Volgograd (the present-day name of Stalingrad). Overlooking the main part of the city, Mamayev Hill was the main chain in the system of defence of the Stalingrad front. It also turned out to be the key position in the fight for the banks of the Volga River where fierce battles took place during the last months of 1942. (mamayevhill.volgadmin.ru)
Stalingrad and modern day treachery
The historic Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad during the Second World War bore huge significance for the world’s people and played a key role in the defeat of the Hitlerite Nazis. At the same time, the imperialists have never ceased their attempts to distort and downplay the great victory by churning out various falsified accounts of the battle. One of the more recent examples isStalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-43 by English historian Anthony Beevor (1999). This “masterpiece of historical research” and “definitive account” is nothing but a thinly disguised attack on the Soviet Union and Stalin based on repeating the falsifications of history created by the Nazis and taken up by the U.S. imperialists and their allies after the war. It would serve well as a piece of Nazi propaganda.
Soviet soldiers at the Red October Steel Factory during the battle of Stalingrad.
Beevor deliberately attempts to downplay the historic significance of the Battle of Stalingrad by declaring right at the beginning of his book that Stalingrad was “of no strategic importance.” This “master” historian dismisses as of “no importance” a city of 500,000 people that was the third largest industrial city of the Soviet Union and which produced over a quarter of the Soviet Union’s tractors and vehicles, as well as tanks, guns, and weapons. The Stalingradsky, Barrikady and Kransy Oktybar tractor factories were the main suppliers of the T-34 tanks that subsequently won the Battle of Kursk, guns, and other war materiel for the Red Army. Stalingrad was also the site of key industrial centres such as the Lazur Chemical plant as well as the surrounding collective farms. Further, Stalingrad was on the Volga River, the main commercial waterway of the Soviet Union. Finally, Stalingrad was the stepping stone in the Caucasus Mountains wherein lay vast oil resources which the Nazis wanted to capture and to deny to the Soviet Union.
Aside from his historical distortions, Beevor makes a number of statements in his book that clearly reveal where his sympathies lie. Significantly, he never hails the significance of Stalingrad in the great victory over Nazism, as the world’s people did. Instead, his book is full of Nazi-loving phrases like, “Luftwaffe pilots dispatched their enemy ‘mit Eleganz,'” “the suntanned young fighter pilots” and “the magical vision of an aerial Teutonic knight in shining armour.” He praises the Nazi military, speaking of their “legendary” and “brilliant” generals, coming from the “best families.” By “best families” he means the arch-reactionary Junker landowners who were some of Hitler’s strongest supporters. Of course he cannot answer the question as to how his “brilliant” Nazi butchers were ignominiously defeated by what he refers to as Stalin’s “succession of obsessive miscalculations.” This would be the same Stalin who led the Soviet Union to a victory that U.S. General Douglas MacArthur called “the greatest military achievement in all history.”
Wreckage of a downed German fighter in Stalingrad.
Instead of attacking the Nazis, as would anyone with an ounce of anti-fascist sentiment, Beevor attacks those who fought the Nazis. He portrays the Soviet population as welcoming the Nazis, dismisses the achievements of the Soviet Army, caricatures the Soviet generals and, of course, virulently attacks the leadership and character of Joseph Stalin, who led the Soviet Union to victory over the Nazis. Not surprisingly, one of his “sources” is British police agent and later CIA agent, Robert Conquest, whose life is dedicated to fabricating anti-Soviet propaganda. Also significant is what Beevor omits from his book. He says nothing about the millions of Soviet people executed by the Nazis and nothing about the Nazi enslavement of the Soviet people. These catastrophic events are of no consequence to him.
Beevor’s book is one more example of how, as part of their attack on everything progressive, the U.S. imperialists and their minions continue to deliberately falsify the history of the Second World War by rehabilitating the Nazis and attacking the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin. The objective behind these falsifications is to groom and egg on the fascist forces in the present, to give them every support to organize against the people in the here and now. Working people should not take this falsification campaign with folded arms because its object is not simply to falsify the historical past but to falsify the truth about the historical present so as to condone the Nazi use of violence to smash the political movement of the people for their empowerment in the present. Such deliberate attempts to cause a disaster for the working class and people must be resolutely opposed.
1. In 2002, Beevor published a historical falsification of the fall of Berlin where he “commemorated” the defeat of Nazism and the liberation of the world’s people by slandering the Red Army. In 2005 he published The Mystery of Olga Checkova with the main purpose of falsely trying to equate pre-war Soviet Union with Nazi Germany. The cover of the book features his “heroine,” who starred in Third Reich films, sitting with Adolph Hitler.
Who said what
The following selected quotations illustrate how the Anglo-Americans hailed and recognized the significance of the historic Soviet victory at Stalingrad, February 1943. The first quotation is pre-Stalingrad but is included because it characterizes the man who led the victory, Joseph Stalin.
“It was an experience of great interest to me to meet Premier Stalin …It is very fortunate for Russia in her agony to have this great rugged war chief at her head. He is a man of massive outstanding personality, suited to the sombre and stormy times in which his life has been cast; a man of inexhaustible courage and will-power and a man direct and even blunt in speech, which, having been brought up in the House of Commons, I do not mind at all, especially when I have something to say of my own. Above all, he is a man with that saving sense of humour which is of high importance to all men and all nations, but particularly to great men and great nations. Stalin also left upon me the impression of a deep, cool wisdom and a complete absence of illusions of any kind. I believe I made him feel that we were good and faithful comrades in this war –but that, after all, is a matter which deeds not words will prove.” – Sir Winston Churchill, Speech to the British House of Commons, September 8, 1942.”We do not make a balance sheet of items like these [note: munitions sent to the Soviet Union] any more than we can ever compute in such terms the defence and victory of Stalingrad or the debt we and the whole world owe to Russia for its wonderful and outstanding achievement in the common cause.” – Sir Kingsley Wood, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Speech to the British House of Commons, April 12, 1943
“Now after the victory on the Volga the outcome of the war is beyond any doubt!” – English writer H.G. Wells
“As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of America I congratulate you on the brilliant victory at Stalingrad of the armies under your Supreme Command. The one hundred and sixty-two days of epic battle for the city which has forever honoured your name and the decisive result which all Americans are celebrating today will remain one of the proudest chapters in this war of the peoples united against Nazism and its emulators. The commanders and fighters of your armies at the front and the men and women, who have supported them in factory and field, have combined not only to cover with glory their country’s arms, but to inspire by their example fresh determination among all the United Nations to bend every energy to bring about the final defeat and unconditional surrender of the common enemy.” – Letter from U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Joseph Stalin, February 5, 1943
“On behalf of the people of the United States I want to express to the Red Army on its twenty-fifth anniversary our profound admiration for its magnificent achievements unsurpassed in all history. For many months in spite of many tremendous losses in supplies, transportation and territory the Red Army denied victory to a most powerful enemy. It checked him at Leningrad, at Moscow, at Voronezh, in the Caucasus and finally at the immortal battle of Stalingrad the Red Army not only defeated the enemy but launched the great offensive which is still moving forward along the whole front from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The enforced retreat of the enemy is costing him heavily in men, supplies, territory and especially in morale. Such achievements can only be accomplished by an army that has skillful leadership, sound organization, adequate training and above all determination to defeat the enemy no matter what the cost in self-sacrifice. At the same time I also wish to pay tribute to the Russian people from whom the Red Army springs and upon whom it is dependent for its men, women and supplies. They, too, are giving their full efforts to the war and are making the supreme sacrifice. The Red Army and the Russian people have surely started the Hitler forces on the road to ultimate defeat and have earned the lasting admiration of the people of the United States.” – Letter from U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Joseph Stalin, February 23, 1943
“The scale and grandeur of the Russian effort mark it as the greatest military achievement in all history. – General Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Supreme Allied Commander of Southwest Pacific.
“We and our allies owe and acknowledge an ever-lasting debt of gratitude to the armies and people of the Soviet Union.” – Frank Knox, U.S. Secretary of the Navy
“History knows no greater display of courage than that shown by the people of the Soviet Union.” – Henry L. Stimson, U.S. Secretary of War
Speech by Joseph Stalin at Celebration Meeting of Moscow Soviet of Working People’s Deputies and Moscow Party and Public Organizations
Comrades: To-day the people of the Soviet Union are celebrating the 26th Anniversary of the great October Socialist Revolution. For the third time our country is marking the anniversary of her people’s revolution in the conditions of the Patriotic War.In October 1941, our Motherland lived through hard days. The enemy was approaching the capital and he encircled Leningrad from the land. Our troops were compelled to retreat. It demanded enormous efforts by the army and the exertion of all the forces of the people to check the enemy and deal him a serious blow before Moscow.
By October 1942, the danger to our Motherland had become even greater. The enemy stood then barely 120 kilometres (75 miles) from Moscow, had broken into Stalingrad and had entered the foothills of the Caucasus. But even in those grave days the army and the people did not lose heart, but steadfastly endured all trials. They found in themselves the strength to check the enemy and deal him an answering blow. True to the behests of the great Lenin, they defended the achievements of the October Revolution without sparing their strength or their lives. As is well known, these efforts of the army and the people were not in vain.
Soon after the October days of last year, our troops went over to the offensive and inflicted new, powerful blows on the Germans, first at Stalingrad, in the Caucasus and in the area of the middle reaches of the Don, and then, at the beginning of 1943, at Velikie Luki, before Leningrad and in the area of Rzhev and Vyazma. Since then the Red Army has never let the initiative out of its hands. Throughout the summer of this year its blows became harder and harder, its military mastery grew with every month. Since then our troops have won big victories, and the Germans have suffered one defeat after another. However hard the enemy tried, he still failed to gain any success of the least importance on the Soviet-German front.
I. A Year marking a radical turn in the course of the war
The past year, from the 25th to the 26th anniversaries of the October Revolution, marked a turn in the Patriotic War. It was a turning-point above all because in this year the Red Army for the first time in the war succeeded in carrying through a big summer offensive against the German troops, and under the blows of our forces the German-fascist troops were compelled hurriedly to give up territory seized by them, not infrequently saving themselves from encirclement by flight and abandoning on the battlefield huge quantities of war material, stores of armaments and ammunition and large numbers of wounded officers and men.
Thus, the successes of our summer campaign in the second half of this year continued and crowned the successes achieved in our winter campaign at the beginning of this year. Now, when the Red Army, developing the successes of the winter campaign, has inflicted a mighty blow on the German troops in the summer, it is possible to consider as finally dead and buried the fairy tale that the Red Army is incapable of conducting a successful offensive in summer. The past year has shown that the Red Army can advance in summer just as well as in winter.
In the course of the past year, as a result of these offensive operations, our troops succeeded in fighting their way forward from 500 kilometres (312 miles) in the central part of the front and up to 1,300 kilometres (812 miles) in the south (applause), liberating nearly 1,000,000 square kilometres (390,000 square miles) of territory, i.e., almost two-thirds of the Soviet soil temporarily seized by the enemy, while the enemy troops were being thrown back from Vladikavkaz to Kherson, from Elista to Krivoi Rog, from Stalingrad to Kiev, from Voronezh to Gomel, from Vyazma and Rzhev to the approaches of Orsha and Vitebsk.
Having no faith in the stability of their past successes on the Soviet-German front, the Germans already, over a long period, built powerful defence zones, particularly along the big rivers. But in this year’s battles neither rivers nor powerful fortifications saved the Germans. Our troops shattered the German defences, and in only three months of the summer of 1943 skilfully forced four important water barriers — the Northern Donets, Desna, Sozh and Dnieper. I do not even mention such barriers as the German defences in the area of the river Mius, west of Rostov, and the defences in the area of the river Molochnaya, near Melitopol. At present the Red Army is successfully battering the enemy on the other side of the Dnieper.
This year marked a turning-point also because the Red Army was able in a comparatively short time to grind down the most experienced veteran cadres of the German-fascist troops, and at the same time to steel and multiply its own cadres in successful offensive battles in the course of the year. In the battles on the Soviet-German front during the past year, the German-fascist Army lost over 4,000,000 officers and men, including not less than 1,800,000 killed. Moreover, during this year the Germans lost over 14,000 planes, over 25,000 tanks and not less than 40,000 guns.
The German-fascist army to-day is not what it was at the outbreak of the war. Whereas at the outbreak of the war it had sufficient numbers of experienced cadres, now it has been diluted with newly baked, young, inexperienced officers whom the Germans are hurriedly throwing on to the front, as they have neither the necessary reserve of officers, nor the time to train them.
Altogether different is the picture presented to-day by the Red Army. Its cadres have grown and become steeled in successful offensive battles during the past year. The numbers of its fighting cadres are growing and will continue to grow, since the existence of the necessary officer reserve gives it time and opportunity to train young officer cadres and promote them to responsible posts.
It is characteristic that instead of the 240 divisions which faced our front last year, of which 179 divisions were German, this year the Red Army front is faced by 257 divisions, of which 207 divisions are German. The Germans, evidently, count on compensating for the lowered quality of their divisions by increasing their number. However, the defeat of the Germans during the past year shows that it is impossible to compensate for deterioration in the quality of divisions by increasing their number.
From the purely military point of view, the defeat of the German troops on our front by the close of this year was predetermined by two major events: the battle of Stalingrad and the battle of Kursk. The battle of Stalingrad ended in the encirclement of a German Army 300,000 strong, its rout and the capture of about one-third of the encircled troops. To form an idea of the scale of the slaughter, unparalleled in history, which took place on the battlefields of Stalingrad, one must realize that after the battle of Stalingrad was over, 147,200 bodies of killed German officers and men and 46,700 bodies of killed Soviet officers and men were found and buried. Stalingrad signified the decline of the German-fascist army. After the Stalingrad slaughter, as is known, the Germans were unable to recover.
As for the battle of Kursk, it ended in the rout of the two main groups of the attacking German-fascist troops, and in our troops passing over to a counter-offensive, which subsequently turned into the powerful Red Army summer offensive. The battle of Kursk began with the German offensive against Kursk from the north and south. This was the last attempt of the Germans to carry out a big summer offensive and, in the event of its success, to recoup their losses.
As is well known, the offensive ended in failure, the Red Army not only repulsed the German offensive, but itself passed over to the offensive and, by a series of consecutive blows, in the course of the summer period hurled the German-fascist troops back beyond the Dnieper.
While the battle of Stalingrad heralded the decline of the German-fascist army, the battle of Kursk confronted it with disaster. Finally, this year marked a turning-point because the successful Red Army offensive radically aggravated the economic and military political situation of fascist Germany, and confronted her with a profound crisis.
The Germans counted on carrying out in the summer of this year a successful offensive on the Soviet-German front, to redeem their losses and to bolster up their shaken prestige in Europe. But the Red Army upset the Germans’ calculations, repulsed their offensive, itself launched an offensive and proceeded to drive the Germans westwards, thereby shattering the prestige of German arms.
The Germans counted on prolonging the war, started building defence lines and “walls,” and proclaimed for all to hear that their new positions were impregnable. But here again the Red Army upset the calculations of the Germans, broke through their defence lines and “walls,” and continued successfully to advance, giving them no time to drag out the war.
The Germans counted on rectifying the situation at the front by means of “total” mobilization. But here, too, events upset the Germans’ calculations. The summer campaign has already eaten up two-thirds of the “totally” mobilized. However, it does not look as if this circumstance has brought about any improvement in the position of the German-fascist army. It may prove necessary to proclaim yet another “total” mobilization, and there is no reason why a repetition of such a measure should not result in the “total” collapse of a certain state. (Loud applause.)
The Germans counted on retaining a firm hold on the Ukraine in order to avail themselves of Ukrainian agricultural produce for their army and population, and of Donbas coal for the factories and railways serving the German army. But here, too, they miscalculated. As a result of the successful Red Army offensive the Germans lost not only the Donbas coal, but also the richest grain-producing regions of the Ukraine, and there is no reason to suppose that they will not also lose the rest of the Ukraine in the very near future. (Loud applause.) Naturally, all these miscalculations could not but worsen, and in fact did radically worsen, the economic and military-political position of fascist Germany. Fascist Germany is passing through a profound crisis. She is facing disaster.
II. Nation-wide assistance to the front
The successes of the Red Army would have been impossible without the support of the people, without the self-sacrificing work of the Soviet people in the factories and workshops, collieries and mines, transport and agriculture. In the hard conditions of war the Soviet people have proved able to ensure for their Army everything at all necessary and have incessantly perfected its fighting equipment. Never during the whole course of the war has the enemy been able to surpass our Army in quality of armaments. At the same time our industry has given the front ever-increasing quantities of war equipment.
The past year marked a turning-point not only in the trend of military operations but also in the work of our home front. We were no longer confronted with such tasks as the evacuation of enterprises to the east and the switching of industry to production of armaments. The Soviet State now has an efficient and rapidly expanding war economy. Thus all the efforts of the people could be concentrated on increase of production and further improvement of armaments, particularly tanks, planes, guns and self-propelled artillery. Here we achieved big successes. The Red Army, supported by the entire people, has received uninterrupted supplies of fighting equipment, rained millions of bombs, mines and shells upon the enemy and brought thousands of tanks and planes into battle. One has every ground for saying that the self-sacrificing labour of the Soviet people in the rear will go down in history side by side with the Red Army’s heroic struggle and the unparalleled feat of the people in defence of their Motherland. (Prolonged applause.)
Workers of the Soviet Union, who in the years of peaceful construction built up our highly developed, powerful socialist industry, have during the Patriotic War been working with intense zeal and energy to help the front, displaying true labour heroism. Everyone knows that in the war against the U.S.S.R. the Hitlerites had at their disposal not only the highly developed industry of Germany, but also the rather powerful industries of the vassal and occupied countries. Yet the Hitlerites have failed to maintain the quantitative superiority in military equipment which they had at the beginning of the war against the Soviet Union. If the former superiority of the enemy as regards number of tanks, planes, mortars and automatic rifles has now been liquidated, if our army to-day experiences no serious shortage of arms, ammunition and equipment, the credit for this is due, in the first place, to our working class. (Loud and prolonged applause.)
The peasants of the Soviet Union, who in the years of peaceful construction on the basis of the collective farm system transformed a backward agriculture into an advanced agriculture, have displayed during the Patriotic War a high degree of awareness of the common national interest unparalleled in the history of the country-side. By self-sacrificing labour to help the front, they have shown that the Soviet peasantry considers the present war against the Germans to be its own cause, a war for its own life and liberty.
It is well known that as a result of invasion by the fascist hordes, our country was temporarily deprived of the important agricultural districts of the Ukraine, the Don and the Kuban. And yet our collective and State farms supplied the army and the country with food without any serious interruptions. Of course, without the collective farm system, without the self-sacrificing labour of the men and women collective farmers, we, could not have coped with this most difficult task. If in the third year of the war our army is not experiencing a shortage of food, and if the population is supplied with food and industry with raw materials, this is evidence of the strength and vitality of the collective farm system, of the patriotism of the collective farm peasantry. (Prolonged applause.)
A great part in helping the front has been played by our transport, primarily by railway transport, and also by river, sea and motor transport. As is known, transport is the vital means of connecting the rear and the front. One may produce large quantities of arms and ammunition, but if transport does not deliver them to the front on time they may remain useless freight as far as the front is concerned. It must be said that transport plays a decisive part in the timely delivery of arms and ammunition, food, clothing and so on to the front. If in spite of war-time difficulties and a shortage of fuel, we have been able to supply the front with everything necessary, the credit goes in the first place to our transport workers and office employees. (Prolonged applause.)
Nor does our intelligentsia lag behind the working class and peasantry in their aid to the front. The Soviet intelligentsia is working with devotion for the defence of our country, continually improving the Red Army’s armaments and the technology and organization of production. It helps the workers and collective farmers to improve industry and agriculture, advances Soviet science and culture in the conditions of war. This is to the honour of our intelligentsia. (Prolonged applause.)
All the peoples of the Soviet Union have risen as one in defence of their Motherland, rightly regarding the present Patriotic War as the common cause of all working people irrespective of nationality or religion. By now the Hitlerite politicians themselves see how hopelessly stupid were their calculations on discord and conflict among the peoples of the Soviet Union. The friendship of the peoples of our country has withstood all the hardship and trials of the war and has become tempered still further in the common struggle of all Soviet people against the fascist invaders. Herein lies the source of the strength of the Soviet Union. (Loud and prolonged applause.)
As in the years of peaceful construction, so in the days of war, the leading and guiding force of the Soviet people has been the Party of Lenin, the Party of the Bolsheviks. No other Party has ever enjoyed, or enjoys, such prestige among the masses of the people as our Bolshevik Party. And this is natural. Under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, the workers, peasants and intelligentsia of our country have won their freedom and built a Socialist society. In the Patriotic War the Party has stood before us as the inspirer and organizer of the nation-wide struggle against the fascist invaders. The organizational work of the Party has united and directed all the efforts of the Soviet people towards the common goal, subordinating all our forces and means to the cause of defeating the enemy. During the war, the Party has increased its kinship with the people, has established still closer links with the wide masses of the working people. Herein lies the source of the strength of our state. (Loud and prolonged applause.)
The present war has forcefully confirmed the well-known statement of Lenin to the effect that war is an all-round test of a nation’s material and spiritual forces. The history of war teaches that only those states withstood this test which proved stronger than their adversaries as regards the development and organization of their economy, as regards the experience, skill and fighting spirit of their troops, as regards the fortitude and unity of the people throughout the whole course of the war. Ours is just such a State.
The Soviet State was never so stable and unshakable as now, in the third year of the Patriotic War. The lessons of the war show that the Soviet system is not only the best form of organizing the economic and cultural development of the country in the years of peaceful construction, but also the best form of mobilizing all the forces of the people for resistance to the enemy in war time. Soviet power, established 26 years ago, has transformed our country within a short historical period into an impregnable fortress. The Red Army has the most stable and reliable rear of all the armies in the world. Herein lies the source of the strength of the Soviet Union. (Loud and prolonged applause.)
There is no doubt that the Soviet State will emerge from the war even stronger and even more consolidated. The German invaders are ruining and devastating our land in an endeavour to undermine the power of our State. To an even greater extent than before, the offensive of the Red Army has exposed the barbarous, bandit character of the Hitlerite army. In districts seized by them, the Germans have exterminated hundreds of thousands of our peaceful civilians. Like the mediæval barbarians of Attila’s hordes, the German fiends trample down our fields, burn down our towns and villages, demolish our industrial enterprises and cultural institutions. The Germans’ crimes are evidence of the weakness of the fascist invaders, for only usurpers who themselves do not believe in their victory would behave in this way. And the more hopeless the position of the Hitlerites becomes, the more viciously do they rage in their atrocities and plunder. Our people will not forgive the German fiends for these crimes. We shall make the German criminals answer for all their misdeeds. (Loud and prolonged applause.)
In the areas where the fascist cut-throats have temporarily held sway, we shall have to restore demolished towns and villages, industry, transport, agricultural and cultural institutions, and create normal living conditions for the Soviet people delivered from fascist slavery. Work is already in full swing for the restoration of economy and culture in areas liberated from the enemy. But this is only the beginning. We must completely eliminate the consequences of the rule of the Germans in areas liberated from German occupation. This is a great, national task. We can and must cope with this difficult task within a short time.
III. Consolidation of the Anti-Hitlerite coalition and disintegration of the Fascist bloc
The past year has marked a turning-point not only in the Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, but also in the whole world war. The changes which have taken place during this year in the military and international situation have been to the advantage of the U.S.S.R. and the Allied countries friendly to it and detrimental to Germany and her accomplices in the plundering of Europe.
The victories of the Red Army have had results and consequences far beyond the limits of the Soviet-German front. They have changed the whole further course of the world war and acquired great international significance. The victory of the Allied countries over the common enemy has come nearer, while relations among the Allies and the fighting partnership of their armies, far from weakening, have, contrary to the expectations of the enemy, become stronger and more consolidated. The historic decisions of the Moscow Conference of representatives of the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States of America, published recently in the Press, are eloquent testimony of this. Now the united countries are filled with determination to strike joint blows against the enemy which will result in final victory over him.
This year the Red Army’s blows at the German-fascist troops were supported by the military operations of our Allies in North Africa, in the Mediterranean Basin and in Southern Italy. At the same time the Allies subjected and are still subjecting important industrial centres of Germany to heavy air bombing and thus considerably weakening the enemy’s military power. If we add to all this the fact that the Allies are regularly supplying us with various armaments and raw materials, it can be said without exaggeration that, by doing all this, they have considerably facilitated the successes of our summer campaign. Of course, the present operations of the Allied armies in south Europe cannot yet be regarded as a second front. But still it is something in the nature of a second front. Obviously, the opening of a real second front in Europe, which is not far off, would considerably hasten victory over Hitlerite Germany and still further consolidate the comradeship-in-arms of the Allied countries.
Thus, the events of the past year show that the anti-Hitlerite coalition is a firm union of the peoples and rests on a solid foundation. By now it is obvious to everybody that, by unleashing the present war, the Hitlerite clique has led Germany and her satellites into a hopeless impasse. The defeats of the fascist troops on the Soviet-German front and the blows of our Allies at the Italy-German troops have shaken the whole edifice of the fascist bloc, and it is now crumbling before our very eyes. Italy has irrevocably dropped out of the Hitlerite coalition. Mussolini can change nothing, for he is in actual fact a prisoner of the Germans. Next comes the turn of the other participants of the coalition. Finland, Hungary, Rumania, and the other vassals of Hitler, discouraged by Germany’s military defeats, have now finally lost faith that the outcome of the war will be favourable to them and are anxious to find a way out of the quagmire into which Hitler has dragged them. Now that the time has come to answer for their plundering, Hitler-Germany’s accomplices in plunder, but recently so obedient to their master, are now in search of a favourable moment to creep away unnoticed from the robber band. (Laughter.)
When they entered the war, the partners in the Hitlerite bloc counted on a rapid victory. Already beforehand they had decided on who would receive what — who would got the puddings and pies, who would get the bruises and black eyes. Of course they intended the bruises and black eyes for their adversaries and the puddings and pies for themselves. But now it is clear that Germany and her flunkeys will get no puddings and pies, but will have to share the bruises and black eyes. (Laughter and applause.) Foreseeing this unattractive prospect, Hitler’s accomplices are now racking their brains to find a way out of the war with as few bruises and black eyes as possible. (Laughter.)
Italy’s example shows Hitler’s vassals that the longer they postpone their inevitable break with the Germans and allow them to lord it in their states, the greater the devastation in store for their countries, the greater the sufferings their peoples will have to endure. Italy’s example also shows that Hitlerite Germany has not the least intention of defending her vassal countries, but intends to convert them into a scene of devastating war, if only she can stave off the hour of her own defeat. The cause of German fascism is lost, and the sanguinary “New Order” it has established is approaching collapse. In the occupied countries of Europe an outburst of the people’s wrath against the fascist enslavers is developing. Germany’s former prestige in the countries of her allies and in the neutral countries is lost beyond recovery; and her economic and political ties with neutral states have been undermined.
The time is long past when the Hitlerite clique made a great noise about the Germans winning world domination. Now as is known, the Germans have other matters than world domination to worry about. They have to think about keeping body and soul together. (Laughter and applause.)
Thus, the course of the war has shown that the alliance of the fascist states did not and does not rest on a reliable foundation. The Hitlerite coalition was formed on the basis of the predatory, rapacious ambitions of its members. As long as the Hitlerites were gaining military successes, the fascist coalition appeared to be a stable association. But the very first defeats of the fascist troops resulted in the actual disintegration of the bandit bloc.
Hitlerite Germany and her vassals stand on the verge of catastrophe. The victory of the Allied countries over Hitlerite Germany will put on the agenda the important questions of organizing and rebuilding the state, economic and cultural life of the European peoples. The policy of our Government on these questions remains constant. Together with our Allies, we must:
(1) Liberate the peoples of Europe from the fascist invaders and help to rebuild their national States, dismembered by the fascist enslavers – the peoples of France, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Greece and other States now under the German yoke, must once more become free and independent;
(2) grant the liberated peoples of Europe the full right and freedom to determine their own form of government;
(3) adopt measures to ensure that all the fascist criminals responsible for the present war and the sufferings of the people, should bear stern punishment and retribution for all the crimes perpetrated by them no matter in what country they may hide;
(4) establish such an order in Europe as will completely exclude the possibility of fresh aggression on the part of Germany;
(5) establish lasting economic, political and cultural collaboration among the peoples of Europe, based on mutual confidence and mutual assistance for the purpose of restoring economic and cultural life destroyed by the Germans.
The Red Army and the Soviet people during the past year have achieved great successes in the struggle against the German invaders. We have achieved a radical turning-point in the war in favour of our country, and the war is now proceeding to its final climax. But it is not the habit of Soviet people to rest satisfied with their achievements, to exult over their successes. Victory may elude us if complacency appears in our ranks. Victory cannot be won without struggle and effort. It is achieved in fighting. Victory is now near, but to win it there must be a fresh strenuous effort, self-sacrificing work throughout the rear and skilful and resolute actions of the Red Army at the front. It would be a crime against the Motherland, against the Soviet people who have fallen temporarily under the fascist yoke, against the peoples of Europe, languishing under German oppression, if we failed to use every opportunity of hastening the enemy’s defeat. The enemy must not be allowed any respite. That is why we must exert all our strength to finish off the enemy.
The Soviet people and the Red Army clearly see the difficulties of the forthcoming struggle. But to-day it is already clear that the day of our victory is approaching. The war has entered the stage when it is a question of completely expelling the invaders from Soviet soil and liquidating the fascist “New Order in Europe.” The time is not far off when we shall completely expel the enemy from the Ukraine and Byelorussia, from the Leningrad and Kalinin Regions, and liberate from the German invaders the peoples of the Crimea, Lithuania, Latvia, Esthonia, Moldavia and the Karelo-Finnish Republic.
Comrades! For the victory of the Anglo-Soviet-American fighting alliance! (Applause.)
For the liberation of the peoples of Europe from the fascist yoke! (Applause.)
For the complete expulsion of the German fiends from our soil! (Applause.)
Long live our Red Army! (Applause.)
Long live our navy! (Applause.)
Long live our gallant men and women guerillas! (Applause.)
Long live our great Motherland! (Applause.)
Death to the German invaders! (Loud and prolonged applause. All stand.)