Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
15th February, 2016
On the 3rd of July 1941, Stalin addressed the nation by radio, beginning his speech with the following words: “Comrades! Citizens! Brothers and sisters! Fighters of our army and Navy! I turn to you, my friends! The treacherous military attack of Hitlerite Germany on our Fatherland begun on June 22nd, and continues.”
Stalin did not hide his excitement, he was telling the truth, strengthening the faith in the coming victory. “Despite the heroic resistance of the Red Army, despite the fact that the best divisions of the enemy, and the best part of his aviation is already defeated and have found their grave on the battlefields, the enemy continues to push forward, throwing new forces to the front.
Hitler’s troops were able to capture Lithuania, a considerable part of Latvia, the Western part of Belarus and part of Western Ukraine. Fascist aviation expanded parts of the actions of their bombers, bombing Murmansk, Orsha, Mogilev, Smolensk, Kiev, Odessa and Sevastopol. Our Homeland is in serious danger.
How could it have happened that our glorious Red Army surrendered to a number of fascist troops in our cities and neighborhoods? Are the German fascist troops really invincible forces, or tirelessly trumpeted by the boastful fascist propagandists? Of course not! History shows that there are no invincible armies and never was… The same should be said about the current Nazi army of Hitler.
This army had not yet met serious resistance on the continent of Europe. Only on our territory has it met serious resistance. And if, as a result of this resistance, the best divisions of the German fascist army are broken by our Red Army, it means that Hitler’s fascist army can be defeated and will be defeated, defeated like the armies of Napoleon and Wilhelm”.
Next, Stalin analyzed the reason for the temporary success of Nazi Germany, the advisability of concluding a non-aggression Pact in 1939, saying that Germany, having broken the Covenant, had exposed “itself in the eyes of the world as a bloody aggressor… That’s why all of our valiant army, our whole valiant Navy, all our pilots – the falcons, all the people of our country, all the best people in Europe, America and Asia, finally, all the best in Germany – condemns the treacherous acts of German fascists… and see that our cause is right, that the enemy will be defeated, that we must win.
Due to the effect of the imposed war, our country has entered into deadly combat with our worst and cunning enemy – German fascism… What is required in order to eliminate the danger hanging over our country, and what measures need to be taken in order to defeat the enemy?
First of all it is necessary that our people, the Soviet people, understood all depths of danger which threaten our country, and are released from complacency, from carelessness, from the moods of peaceful construction quite clear in pre-war time, but are harmful now when war radically changed the situation.”
Stalin explained the goals of the enemy, urged to stop being carefree, to mobilize themselves and reorganize all their work on a new war footing, “Who knows no mercy to the enemy,” to prevent whining, cowardice, scaremongering and desertion.
“The people of the Soviet Union must rise to defend their rights, their land against the enemy. Red Army, Red Navy and all citizens of the Soviet Union must defend every inch of Soviet soil, fight to the last drop of blood for our towns and villages, to show courage, initiative and gumption inherent in our people”, – said Stalin.
Furthermore, Stalin spoke of aid for the Red Army’s wounded, the strengthening of the rear, aid to our fighter battalions in their struggle with saboteurs, enemy parachutists, about the necessity to hijack the entire working train tracks, not to leave the enemies valuable property, food, fuel, steal all the cattle, the creation of guerrilla groups, on the nature of our wars as wars of “national Patriotism” and liberation, that “we will have loyal allies”, the transfer of all power for the completeness of the state, creating the State defense Committee, about the need for all people to unite around the party and the government for the defeat of the enemy, to win.
At the end of the speech, Stalin addressed the people with slogans such as “All our forces – in support of our heroic Red Army and our glorious Red fleet! All the power of the people – to defeat the enemy! Forward, to our victory!”.
People believed in their strength and power, in the victory. They believed in Stalin like he was their own father. Researcher O.A Platonov writes: “In fact, in his address to the nation, Stalin outlined the nation-wide programme to fight the enemy. Its simple and accessible language allowed us to convey many of the essential tasks of war to the hearts and minds of many Russian people. The moral value of his performance was huge. The words “Our cause is just, the enemy will be defeated” became the main slogan of the great Patriotic war. Firmness and confidence in victory inspired the Russian people”.
Remembering the impact of Stalin’s speech on July 3, 1941 on the Soviet people, the poet and writer S.V Mikhalkov wrote: “Today, whether we want to admit it or not, it was his speech, which started with the words “Brothers and sisters!”, in 1941, that aroused unprecedented enthusiasm among people of all ages. They went to the recruiting stations to volunteer. They had faith in the word – great faith, if it was pronounced by a reputable person. And the fact that Stalin was for millions an authoritative person, it can be denied only by stupidity or by malice”. But today they write about both the evil intentions of Stalin, and about the rout of our troops in the summer of 1941.
The great Patriotic war flared up, absorbing the new territory of the USSR. On the 26th of September 1941, reports informed the German high command about the victory at Kiev. It was said that they captured 665,000 people, captured 3,718 guns and 884 tanks.
Earlier these Goebbels quotes were not highlighted, but with the beginning of Perestroika they started coming through the historical works and even school books. Russian historians denied those reports, indicating that before the Kiev operation in the South-Western front there were 677,085 persons. At the end of the operation, only in the military formations which could avoid the encirclement and could retreat the battles to rear boundaries, totalled 150,541 persons.
When you consider that the troops of the southwestern front during the fierce fighting, which lasted almost all of September, suffered heavy losses, a large number of troops escaped the encirclement, a large part of the enemy broke through the ring, then the number the Germans could have taken prisoner near Kiev is no more than 50,000 people.
The troops of the southwestern and Bryansk fronts actually stopped the offensive of G. Guderian in Romny, but the tank fire from the Kremenchug bridgehead from the secretly concentrated four German tank divisions meeting Guderian had decided the outcome of the battle of the southwestern front at Kiev in favor of the German troops.
The Germans won the battle of Kiev by halting their offensive in the Moscow area and deploying Guderian’s tank divisions South of Kiev. Vasilevsky wrote about the Kiev defensive battle: “The enemy has achieved success at a high price. The Red Army in the fierce battle defeated the ten divisions of the enemy personnel. They lost over 100,000 soldiers and officers. Losses for the enemy continued to grow. For more than a month the Soviet troops had kept the “Center” army group in the Kiev area. It was very important for the preparation of the battle of Moscow”.
The Kiev defensive battle lasted from 7th July to 26th September 1941. Our troops near Kiev were killed. The Wehrmacht had never seen such resistance in any of the wars unleashed by Germany. Hitler’s favourite field Marshal, von Bock, wrote: “Kiev is a brilliant success. But as the Russians stood unbroken in front of me, and standing, I don’t know whether they will be able to be broken”.
After the fall of Kiev, it became harder to keep the defense of Odessa, which for 73 days fought 18 German and Romanian divisions, but only on October 16th did our units leave the city in an orderly manner.
The Germans did not give rest to Crimea, from which our air force could destroy the Romanian oil fields. Therefore, on 18th October, German troops began an offensive, and by the middle of November, occupied the territory of Crimea, except for the city of Russian glory – Sevastopol. In 1941, Sevastopol proved to be too much for the Germans. The Red Army and Black Sea fleet defended the city for 250 days, from 30th October 1941 to 4th July 1942.
The battle of Smolensk lasted from 10th July to 10th September 1941. It was one of the reasons for the change of the plan of “Barbarossa”. The battle of Smolensk, which covered up to 650 kilometers and a depth of 250 kilometers of the front, foiled Hitler’s plan of a lightning war against the USSR.
The Soviet troops inflicted heavy losses on the “Center” army group. During the Second world war the German troops were first forced onto the defensive on the main line. In addition, thanks to the Smolensk battle, the Nazi command did not dare to throw a 3rd Panzer group to attack Leningrad. The battle of Smolensk, and the battle near Kiev, allowed the Soviet command to gain time to prepare the defense of Moscow and the subsequent defeat of the enemy in the battle of Moscow 1941–1942.
The Smolensk and Kiev battle proceeded at the same time, and they can be called a single operation, temporarily halting the offensive of the fascist hordes on Moscow. The most distinguished military units in the battle of Smolensk were awarded the title of Guards. These were the first Guard compounds in the Red Army.
In the Elninsky operation, which took place in the period of the battle of Smolensk, our troops who did not have advantages in numbers but were superior to the enemy in number of artillery pieces, on 30th August 1941 went on the offensive, breaking through the German defense, releasing the city of Yelnya, defeating one motorized and seven infantry divisions of the Wehrmacht, eliminating Elninsky ledge that threatened the left wing of the Western front, pushing the Germans behind the Desna river, freeing a large area of native land and capturing many prisoners.
Like the battle of Smolensk, on 10th July the battle for Leningrad began. On this day, German troops began the assault on Leningrad. We barely had enough forces to defend the city. Our troops failed to prevent the severing of Leningrad from the land territory of the USSR, but also were not allowed to close the encirclement of the German armies.
To stop the Germans on the outskirts of Volkhov river, Volkhov hydroelectric power station near Tikhvin, Stavka allocated four divisions to help, of which 20,000 soldiers were immediately airlifted and the rest – from the Ladoga naval flotilla. This fact specifies that our army had firm management on both the planes and ships of the military flotilla on Lake Ladoga.
Our war was sacred. Blessed are the soldiers who died in the war, and holy are the winners who returned home from the front, saints are the workers who forged arms in the rear. Europe has been at war with Russia for over 7 centuries, but are unable to defeat Russia in battle – “mysterious Russian souls” appear for Europe as something more than they can chew. And all the European Nations were in Hitler’s army, except Serbs and Greeks, and even the British sat out on their Islands. And they killed our men, women, children.
Hitler and the German General staff theoretically calculated correctly: the German army would quickly break the Soviet army at Leningrad and Kiev and join the armies advancing on Moscow. But he did not realize that before him would not be Europe, but the heroic Russia. In this case the experience of the war in Europe was not beneficial, but instead was detrimental for Germany.
To be continued…