The Churchill-Stalin Conference


By W. AVERELL HARRIMAN, President Roosevelt's Representative to Russia

Delivered at Russian War Relief Society Dinner, Hotel Commodore, New York City, September 9, 1942

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 749-750.

DURING the past eleven months, I have made two trips to Moscow—that courageous capital of the unconquerable Soviet Union—at the direction of the President. I feel that it is a part of my duty to give my countrymen a picture of what I have seen and heard in Russia at war. We know only too well how much the war in Russia affects us.

Every day the Russian armies are destroying some of the strength of our enemies. Therefore battles on the Russian front have a direct bearing on the sacrifices we will have to make and on the length of the war itself.

On my recent trip with the Prime Minister of England from which I have just returned, I was particularly anxious to get a comparison with what I had observed on my visit a year ago. I participated with Churchill last month in long talks with Stalin. And again I was impressed by Stalin's blunt and clear way of expressing his view of the situation, which he as a realist understands so well. Again I was able to talk freely with military and civil officials and in other ways gain information.

Grim Confidence Cited

As last year, I found today everywhere evidence of the same determination among the Russian people and their leaders to fight on regardless of the loss of life, regardless of sacrifice and suffering. And in spite of the present odds against them, I found a grim confidence in the ultimate outcome—victory, and destruction of the Nazi invaders. The Russians are determined to fight to the finish—they ask and give no quarter—it is either death to the invader or death to themselves.

This unshaken confidence is based on two fundamental things—confidence in themselves—confidence in their determination to fight on, in their resources of manpower to fight and to produce weapons, in the unconquerable vastness of their country, and, finally, their faith in their Allies, and particularly in the United States—in us. Their hope springs from us.

And so, wherever the line may be as a result of their offensive actions or of their being driven back, we will find them fighting with indomitable will. They will fight on alone with their own resources if need be, but they will fight on with even more strength and courage if we give effective aid. They feel sure that at some time, early they hope, we will be fighting the Germans on another front and we will thus divert some of the weight of the German striking power.

Factories Moved from Front

In the meantime, they have carried out plans to make it possible for them to fight on, no matter how the war goes.

Last year in Moscow, I was told of the program of moving their munitions production behind the Urals. I was told factories were being transplanted as far as 2,000 miles from the Ukraine into the heart of Siberia.

Members of my mission saw for themselves factories where each piece of machinery was tagged and numbered, fastened to the concrete only by bolts, ready to be moved at moment's notice to safety. And the key workers went with their machines, traveling in the same box-car, living for days in hardship, ready to set up their machines in buildings erected in the meantime at the new location. These Russian workmen consider themselves, and rightly, as much a part of the battle as the soldiers.

These plans that I observed last year for moving military production to safety have since become largely an accomplished fact.

In spite of the loss of territory and of industrial cities, the war production has been maintained to a remarkable extent, and, in fact, in some cases increased. Also new mines have been opened up. New oil wells drilled. New lands have been cultivated to take the place of the Ukraine granary. Yes—they have planned well for a long and hard struggle. They admit no obstacle to interfere with the carrying out of their plans. The leaders have shown ingenuity and have directed well the spirit and energies of the Russian people. Naturally the new production is not all in balance and it is easy to understand their critical need of certain equipment and raw materials which we and the British can and must get through to them.

In Russia, it is truly total war.

Women in Fields Have Rifles

On our way to Moscow, our planes flew low and women were seen working in the fields with rifles slung over their shoulders ready to take their toll of parachutists if they dropped within range. This is a part of the Russian organization for civilian defense.

En route to Moscow I visited Persia, now Iran. This is one of the gateways through which we are delivering supplies to Russia. Included in these supplies are much needed trucks. The Russian drivers who come down to take overthe trucks and drive them into Russia, are wounded soldiers, men not strong enough to take their place at the front. These men, weak in body but strong in spirit, are driving our trucks with their priceless cargo of raw materials and food over the scorching deserts and the rough mountain passes into the heart of Russia. There are cases where exhaustion has resulted in fatal accidents, but the truck convoys go on in an endless flow.

In Moscow last winter, there were times when the only food available was black bread—a sustaining diet—at least for a short time—if your stomach can stand it. It contains all the food value and vitamins of the whole grain. In the late Winter, however, some of our lard arrived and was distributed to the people. The government told the people that this much needed fat had come from the United States and it was greatly appreciated. The lard was not wasted for cooking—they now had something to spread on their bread. The Russian people regarded this food as physical evidence of our desire and our ability to help them. It was confirmation of their faith in us.

I cannot predict where the line of the front will be this Winter or next Summer, but I can assure you there will be tough fighting—tough for the Germans and their satellite allies.

Stresses Need of Medicine

So much depends on factors beyond prediction. How much will we be able to divert the enemy on other fronts? Will we fully occupy the Japs or will they be free to attack in Siberia? How much will the British, with our help, occupy the Axis resources in the Middle East? How much assistance will we be able to get to the Russians in supplies they need so badly of planes, tanks, guns and vital raw materials and food to keep up the strength of these fighting people?

We learned at Bataan the weakening effect of shortage of food. I can assure you that every ounce of food we can get through will add a pound of strength to the Russian people.

Every ounce of medical supplies which you of the Russian War Relief are able to send, will help save some useful life and help the recovery of some individual to go back to his duty. And they make intelligent use of what we send. We saw in Moscow a huge, modern, finely equipped laboratory staffed with several hundred bacteriologists and chemists developing and producing many things including serum against typhus. Our doctors told us there was no better equipped or more scientifically organized laboratory in the

world. This is but one of the many spread throughout the nation.

Russian Planes Praised

Science and invention are harnessed to help in the struggle. Our air officers tell us Russian-built airplanes are modern and effective. Their pilots are well-trained and they make good use of the planes they obtain from the British and from us. Their airmen are engaging much of the strength of the German Air Force and taking a toll of planes and crews that Germany will never be able fully to replace.

In Moscow last month I participated for hours in the discussion of the war between Stalin and Churchill, the leaders of two of our greatest Allies. Stalin is the son of a Georgian cobbler—Churchill the descendant of an old and distinguished British family and an American mother. It would be difficult to find two men more different in origin. Each was brought up in widely different schools of political and economic concept.

But today they both have just one objective—the destruction of the tyranny that threatens the independence of their countries. Neither will turn from his task. Both have the same burning hatred of Hitler and all he stands for.

This transcends the past and forms a basis for mutual confidence. We have reason to rejoice that these two men find a common purpose, a purpose that is common to our President and common to us. I heard these two men express in their own words their faith and hope in the President and in the United States—hope for the ultimate victory, hope for a reconstructed world which will bring peace and happiness to all the people of this earth.

Sees United States Lucky in Allies

We have reason to be thankful that these two nations have produced strong and resolute leaders. These talks have brought Stalin and Churchill closer together, the Russian and British people closer together, have strengthened the ties of our Allies. We are fortunate to have them as Allies.

And so the Russian people look to us in their supreme moment of trial. Our task is clear—maximum effort at all sacrifice to give them in every way quick and increasing material aid, and also continued assurance that their faith in us is well founded. What we Americans send them, not only strengthens their power to fight, but it gives them visible proof that the people of the United States are with them in this war. It is a pledge that we are fighting with them to the ultimate victory—a pledge that we will redeem.