Speech at Celebration Meeting of the Moscow Soviet of Working People’s Deputies and Moscow Party and Public Organizations
November 6, 1943
By J. V. Stalin
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.
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.)