Joseph Stalin :: Speech at Celebration Meeting - 1942

Speech at Celebration Meeting of the Moscow Soviet of Working People’s Deputies and Moscow Party and Public Organizations

November 6, 1942

By J. V. Stalin

COMRADES! To-day we are celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the victory of the Soviet Revolution in our country. Twenty-five years have elapsed since the Soviet system was established in our country. We are now on the threshold of the next, the twenty-sixth year, of the existence of the Soviet regime.

At meetings in celebration of anniversaries of the October Soviet Revolution it is customary to pass in review the results of the work of the Government and Party organs for the past year. It is on these results for the past year, from November of last year to November of the current year, that I have been authorized to make a summary report to you.

The activities of our Government and Party organs during the past period proceeded in two directions: in the direction of peaceful construction and the organization of a strong rear for our front, on the one hand, and in the direction of carrying out defensive and offensive operations by the Red Army, on the other.

I. Organizational Work in the Rear

The peaceful, constructive work of our directing organs in this period consisted in shifting the base of our industry, both war and civilian, to the Eastern regions of our country; in the evacuation and establishment in their new places of the industrial workers and the equipment of the plants; in extending the sown areas and increasing the winter crop area in the east; and lastly in radically improving the work of our industries producing for the front and strengthening labour discipline in the rear, both in the factories and on the collective and state farms. It should be said that this was a most difficult and complex work of organization on a large scale on the part of all our economic and administrative People’s Commissariats, including our railways. However, we managed to overcome the difficulties. And now our factories, collective farms and state farms are indisputably, in spite of all the difficulties of war-time, working satisfactorily. Our war factories and allied enterprises are conscientiously and punctually supplying the Red Army with guns, mortars, aircraft, tanks, machineguns, rifles and ammunition. Our collective farms and State farms are likewise conscientiously and punctually supplying the population and the Red Army with foodstuffs and our industries with raw materials. It must be admitted that never before has our country had such a strong and well-organized rear.

As the result of all this complex organizational and constructional work not only our country but also the people themselves in the rear have been transformed. They have become more efficient, less slipshod, more disciplined; they have learned to work in war-time fashion and have come to realize their duty to the Motherland and her defenders at the front—the Red Army. Bunglers and slackers with no sense of civic duty are growing fewer and fewer in the rear. Organized and disciplined people, imbued with the sense of civic duty, are becoming more and more numerous.

But, as I have said, the past year was not only one of peaceful construction. It was at the same time a year of patriotic war against the German invaders who vilely and treacherously attacked our peaceful country.

II. Military Operations on the Soviet-German Front

As regards the military activities of our directing organs in the past year, these consisted in providing for offensive and defensive operations by the Red Army against the German-fascist troops. The military operations on the Soviet-German front in the past year may be divided into two periods: The first period was chiefly the winter period, when the Red Army, having beaten off the Germans’ attack on Moscow, took the initiative into its own hands, passed to the offensive, drove back the German troops and in the space of four months advanced, in places, over 400 kilometres (250 miles); and the second period was the summer period, when the German-fascist troops, taking advantage of the absence of a second front in Europe, mustered all their available reserves, pierced the front in the south-westerly direction and, taking the initiative into their own hands, in the space of five months advanced in places as much as 500 kilometres (300 miles).

Military operations in the first period, especially the successful operations of the Red Army in the Rostov, Tula and Kaluga areas, at Moscow and at Tikhvin and Leningrad, disclosed two significant facts. They showed, first, that the Red Army and its fighting cadres have grown into an effective force capable not only of withstanding the onslaught of the German-fascist troops, but also of defeating them in open battle and driving them back. They showed, secondly, that for all their staunchness, the German-fascist troops have such serious organic defects that, given certain favourable conditions for the Red Army, these may lead to the defeat of the German troops. It cannot be regarded as mere chance that the German troops, having marched in triumph through all Europe, and having smashed at one blow the French troops which had been considered first-class troops, met with effective military resistance only in our own country, and not only met with resistance, but were compelled, under the blows of the Red Army, to retreat more than 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the positions they had occupied, abandoning on their road of retreat an immense quantity of guns, machines and ammunition. This fact cannot be explained by winter conditions of warfare alone.

The second period of military operations on the Soviet-German front was marked by a change in favour of the Germans, by the passing of the initiative into the hands of the Germans, by the piercing of our front in the south-western direction, by the advance of the German troops and their reaching the areas of Voronezh, Stalingrad, Novorossisk, Pyatigorsk and Mozdok. Taking advantage of the absence of a second front in Europe, the Germans and their allies hurled all their available reserves to the front and, massing them in one direction—the south-western direction—created a largo superiority of forces and achieved a substantial tactical success.

Apparently the Germans are no longer strong enough to conduct an offensive simultaneously in all three directions, in the south, north and centre, as was the case in the early months of the German offensive in the summer of last year. But they are still strong enough to organize a serious offensive in one direction.

What was the principal objective of the German-fascist strategists when they started their summer offensive on our front? To judge by the comments of the foreign Press, including the German, one might think that the principal objective of the offensive was to capture the oil districts of Grozny and Baku. But the facts decisively refute this assumption. The facts show that the Germans’ advance on the oil districts of the U.S.S.R. is not their main aim but an auxiliary one.

What then was the principal objective of the German offensive? It was to outflank Moscow from the east, to cut it off from our rear in the Volga and Urals areas and then to strike at Moscow. The advance of the Germans southward towards the oil districts had an auxiliary purpose which was not only and not so much to capture the oil districts, as to divert our main reserves to the south and to weaken the Moscow front, so as to make it easier to achieve success when striking at Moscow. This, in fact, explains why the main grouping of German troops is now to be found not in the south but in the Orel and Stalingrad areas.

Recently an officer of the German General Staff fell into the hands of our men. A map was found on this officer showing the plan and time-table of the advance of the German troops. From this document it transpires that the Germans intended to be in Borisoglebsk on July 10 of this year, in Stalingrad on July 25, in Saratov on August 10, in Kuibyshev on August 15, in Arzamas on September 10 and in Baku on September 25.

This document completely confirms our information to the effect that the principal aim of the Germans’ summer offensive was to outflank Moscow from the east and to strike at Moscow, while the purpose of the advance to the south was, apart from everything else, to divert our reserves as far as possible from Moscow and to weaken the Moscow front so as to make it easier to strike at Moscow.

In short, the main aim of the Germans’ summer offensive was to surround Moscow and end the war this year.

In November of last year the Germans reckoned on capturing Moscow by a frontal attack, compelling the Red Army to capitulate, and thus achieving the termination of the war in the east. They fed their soldiers with these illusions. But, as we know, these calculations of the Germans miscarried. Having burnt their fingers last year in attempting a frontal blow at Moscow, the Germans conceived the intention of capturing Moscow this year, this time by an outflanking movement, and thus ending the war in the east. It is with these illusions that they are now feeding their duped soldiers. As is known, these calculations of the Germans also miscarried. As the result of chasing two hares—both oil and the encirclement of Moscow—the German-fascist strategists found themselves in a difficult situation.

Thus the tactical successes of the Germans’ summer offensive were not consummated owing to the obvious unreality of their strategic plans.

III. The Question of the Second Front in Europe

How are we to explain the fact that the Germans this year were still able to take the initiative of military operations into their hands and achieve substantial tactical successes on our front?

It is to be explained by the fact that the Germans and their allies succeeded in mustering all their available reserves, hurling them on to the eastern front and creating a large superiority of forces in one of the directions. There can be no doubt that but for these measures the Germans could not have achieved any success on our front.

But why were they able to muster all their reserves and hurl them on the eastern front? Because the absence of a second front in Europe enabled them to carry out this operation without any risk to themselves.

Hence the chief reason for the tactical successes of the Germans on our front this year is that the absence of a second front in Europe enabled them to hurl on to our front all their available reserves and to create a large superiority of forces in the south-western direction.

Let us assume that a second front existed in Europe, as it existed in the first World War, and that a second front diverted, let us say, sixty German divisions and twenty divisions of Germany’s allies. What would have been the position of the German troops on our front then? It is not difficult to guess that their position would have been deplorable. More than that, it would have been the beginning of the end of the German-fascist troops, for in that case the Red Army would not be where it is now, but somewhere near Pskov, Minsk, Zhitomir and Odessa. That means that in the summer of this year the German-fascist army would already have been on the verge of disaster. If that has not occurred, it is because the Germans were saved by the absence of a second front in Europe.

Let us examine the question of a second front in Europe in its historical aspect.

In the first World War Germany had to fight on two fronts in the west, chiefly against Great Britain and France, and in the east against the Russian troops. Thus in the first World War there existed a second front against Germany. Of the 220 divisions which Germany had then, not more than 85 German divisions were stationed on the Russian front. If to this we add the troops of Germany’s allies then facing the Russian front—namely, 37 Austro-Hungarian divisions, 2 Bulgarian divisions and 3 Turkish divisions—we get a total of 127 divisions facing the Russian troops. The rest of the divisions of Germany and her allies mainly held the front against the Anglo-French troops, while part of them performed garrison service in occupied territories of Europe.

Such was the position in the first World War.

What is the position now, in the second World War, in September of this year, let us say?

According to authenticated information which is beyond all doubt, of the 256 divisions which Germany now has, not less than 179 German divisions are on our front. If to this we add 22 Rumanian divisions, 14 Finnish divisions, 10 Italian divisions, 13 Hungarian divisions, 1 Slovak and 1 Spanish division, we get a total of 240 divisions which are now fighting on our front. The remaining divisions of Germany and her allies are performing garrison service in the occupied countries (France, Belgium, Norway, Holland, Yugoslavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc.), while part of them are fighting in Libya for Egypt against Great Britain, the Libyan front diverting in all 4 German divisions and 11 Italian divisions.

Hence, instead of the 127 divisions as in the first World War, we are now facing on our front no less than 240 divisions, and, instead of 85 German divisions, we now have 179 German divisions fighting the Red Army.

There you have the chief reason and foundation for the tactical success of the German-fascist troops on our front in the summer of this year.

The German invasion of our country is often compared to Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. But this comparison will not bear criticism. Of the 600,000 troops which began the campaign against Russia, Napoleon scarcely brought 130,000 or 140,000 as far as Borodino.

That was all he had at his disposal at Moscow. Well, we now have over 3,000,000 troops facing the front of the Red Army and armed with all the implements of modern warfare. What comparison can there be here?

The German invasion of our country is also sometimes compared to the German invasion of Russia at the time of the first World War. But neither will this comparison bear criticism. First, in the first World War there was a second front in Europe which rendered the Germans’ position very difficult, whereas in this war there is no second front in Europe. Secondly, in this war, twice as many troops are facing our front as in the first World War. Obviously the comparison is not appropriate.

You can now conceive how serious and extraordinary are the difficulties confronting the Red Army, and how great is the heroism displayed by the Red Army in its war of liberation against the German-fascist troops.

I think that no other country and no other army could have withstood such an onslaught of the bestial bands of the German-fascist brigands and their allies. Only our Soviet country and only our Red Army are capable of withstanding such an onslaught. (Loud applause.) And not only withstanding it but also overpowering it.

It is often asked: But will there be a second front in Europe after all? Yes, there will be; sooner or later, there will be one. And it will be not only because we need it, but above all because our Allies need it no less than we do. Our Allies cannot fail to realize that since France has been put out of action, the absence of a second front against fascist Germany may end badly for all freedom-loving countries, including the Allies themselves.

IV. Fighting Alliance of the U.S.S.R., Great Britain and the U.S.A. Against Hitlerite Germany and her Allies in Europe

It may now be considered indisputable that, in the course of the war imposed upon the nations by Hitlerite Germany, a radical demarcation of forces and the formation of two opposite camps have taken place: the camp of the Italo-German coalition and the camp of the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition.

It is equally indisputable that these two opposite coalitions are guided by two different and opposite programmes of action.

The programme of action of the Italo-German coalition may be described by the following points: racial hatred; domination of “chosen” nations; subjugation of other nations and seizure of their territories; economic enslavement of subjugated nations and plunder of their national wealth; destruction of democratic liberties; the institution of the Hitlerite regime everywhere.

The programme of action of the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition is: the abolition of racial exclusiveness; the equality of nations and the inviolability of their territories; the liberation of the enslaved nations and the restoration of their sovereign rights; the right of every nation to arrange its affairs as it wishes; economic aid to the nations that have suffered and assistance to them in achieving their material welfare; the restoration of democratic liberties; the destruction of the Hitlerite regime.

The effect of the programme of action of the Italo-German coalition has been that all the occupied countries of Europe—Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece and the occupied regions of the U.S.S.R.—are burning with hatred for the Italo-German tyranny, are doing all the damage they can to the Germans and their allies and are waiting for a favourable opportunity to take revenge on their enslavers for the humiliations and outrages which they are suffering.

In this connection, one of the characteristic features of the present moment is the progressively growing isolation of the Italo-German coalition and the depletion of its moral and political reserves in Europe, its growing weakness and disintegration.

The effect of the programme of action of the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition has been that all the occupied countries in Europe are full of sympathy for the members of this coalition and are prepared to render them all the help of which they are capable.

In this connection, another characteristic feature of the present moment is that the moral and political reserves of this coalition are growing from day to day in Europe—and not only in Europe—and that this coalition is progressively winning millions of sympathizers ready to join in the fighting against the Hitlerite tyranny.

If the relative strength of these two coalitions is examined from the standpoint of human and material resources, one cannot help reaching the conclusion that the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition has an indisputable advantage.

The question is: is this advantage alone sufficient for victory? There are occasions, as we know, when resources are abundant, but are expended so unwisely that the advantage is nullified. Obviously, what is needed in addition to resources is the capacity to mobilize these resources and the ability to make the correct use of them. Is there any reason for doubting the existence of such ability and such capacity on the part of the men of the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition? There are people who doubt this. But what grounds have they for their doubts? In the past the men of this coalition displayed their ability and capacity to mobilize the resources of their countries and to use them correctly for purposes of economic, cultural and political development. One asks: what grounds are there for doubting that men who have displayed capacity and ability in mobilizing and distributing resources for economic, cultural and political purposes will prove incapable of doing the same thing for purposes of war? I think there are no such grounds.

It is said that the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition has every chance of winning and would certainly win, if it did not have one organic defect which is capable of weakening and disintegrating it. This defect, in the opinion of these people is that this coalition consists of heterogeneous elements with different ideologies and that this circumstance will prevent their organizing joint action against the common enemy.

I think that this assertion is incorrect.

It would be ridiculous to deny the difference in the ideologies and social systems of the countries composing the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition. But does this preclude the possibility and expediency of joint action on the part of the members of this coalition against the common enemy who holds out the threat of enslavement for them? It certainly does not preclude it. More than that, the existence of this threat imperatively imposes the necessity of joint action upon the members of the coalition in order to save mankind from reverting to savagery and mediæval brutality. Is not the programme of action of the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition a sufficient basis for the organization of the joint struggle against Hitlerite tyranny and for the achievement of victory over it? I think that it is quite sufficient.

The assumption of these people is incorrect also because of the fact that it is completely refuted by the events of the past year. Indeed, f these people were right we should be observing a progressive mutual alienation of the members of the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition. Yet, far from observing this, we have facts and events indicative of progressive rapprochement between the members of the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition and their uniting into a single fighting alliance. The events of the past year supply direct proof of this. In July, 1941, several weeks after Germany attacked the U.S.S.R., Great Britain concluded with us an Agreement on “Joint action in the war against Germany.” At that time we had not yet any Agreement with the United States of America on this subject. Ten months later, on May 26, 1942, during Comrade Molotov’s visit to Great Britain, the latter concluded with us a “Treaty of Alliance in the war against Hitlerite Germany and her associates in Europe and of collaboration and mutual assistance after the war.” This Treaty was concluded for a period of twenty years. It marks an historic turning-point in the relations between our country and Great Britain. In June, 1942, during Comrade Molotov’s visit to the United States, the United States of America concluded with us an “Agreement on the principles applying to mutual aid in the prosecution of the war against aggression,” an Agreement representing an important step forward in the relations between the U.S.S.R. and the United States. Finally, one should mention so important a fact as the visit to Moscow of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Churchill, which established complete mutual understanding between the leaders of the two countries. There can be no doubt that all these facts point to a progressive rapprochement between the U.S.S.R., Great Britain and the United States of America, and to their uniting in a fighting alliance against the Italo-German coalition.

It follows that the logic of things is stronger than any other logic. There can be only one conclusion, namely that the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition has every chance of vanquishing the Italo-German coalition and undoubtedly will vanquish it.

V. Our Tasks

The war has torn aside all veils and laid bare all relationships. The situation has become so clear that nothing is easier than to define our tasks in this war.

In an interview with the Turkish general, Erkilet, published in the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriet, that cannibal Hitler said: “We shall destroy Russia so that she will never be able to rise again.” This seems clear, although rather ridiculous. (Laughter). We have no such aim as to destroy Germany, for it is impossible to destroy Germany, just as it is impossible to destroy Russia. But the Hitlerite State can and must be destroyed. (Loud applause.)

Our first task, in fact, is to destroy the Hitlerite State and its inspirers. (Loud applause.)

In the same interview with the same general, that cannibal Hitler went on to say: “We shall continue the war until there is no organized military force left in Russia.” This seems clear, though illiterate. (Laughter) It is not our aim to destroy all organized military force in Germany, for every literate person will understand that this is not only impossible in regard to Germany, as it is in regard to Russia, but it is also inexpedient from the point of view of the victor. But Hitler’s army can and must be destroyed. (Loud applause.)

Our second task, in fact, is to destroy Hitler’s army and its leaders. (Loud applause.)

The Hitlerite blackguards have made it a rule to torture Soviet prisoners of war, to kill them by the hundred and to condemn thousands of them to death by starvation. They outrage and murder the civilian population of the occupied territories of our country: men and women, children and old folk, our brothers and sisters. They have made it their aim to enslave and exterminate the population of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Baltic Republics, Moldavia, the Crimea and the Caucasus. Only villains and blackguards, devoid of all honour and fallen to the level of beasts, can permit themselves such outrages against innocent, unarmed people. But this is not all. They have covered Europe with gallows and concentration camps. They have introduced the vile system of “hostages”; they shoot and hang absolutely innocent citizens taken as “hostages” because some German beast was prevented from violating women or robbing ordinary people; they have turned Europe into a prison of nations, and this they call the “New Order in Europe.” We know who are be men guilty of these outrages, the builders of the “New Order in Europe”—all those newly baked governor-generals or just ordinary governors, commandants and sub-commandants. Their names are known to tens of thousands of tormented people. Let these butchers know that they will not escape responsibility for their crimes or elude the avenging hand of the tormented nations.

Our third task is to destroy the hated “New Order in Europe” and to punish its builders.

Such are our tasks. (Loud applause.)

Comrades, we are waging a great war of liberation. We are not waging it alone, but in conjunction with our allies. It will bring us victory over the vile enemies of mankind, over the German-fascist imperialists. On its banner is inscribed:

Long live the victory of the Anglo-Soviet-American fighting alliance! (Applause.)

Long live the liberation of the peoples of Europe from. Hitler’s tyranny! (Applause.)

Long live the liberty and independence of our glorious Soviet Motherland! (Applause.)

Execration and death to the German-fascist invaders, their State, their army, their “New Order in Europe”! (Applause.)

Glory to our Red Army. (Loud applause.)

Glory to our Navy. (Loud applause.)

Glory to our men and women guerillas! (Loud and prolonged applause. All rise.)