Moscow, February 23, 1942
Information Bulletin, Embassy of the U.S.S.R., Washington, D. C.
Following is the text of the Order of the Day issued on Red Army Day, February 23, 1942 by Joseph Stalin, People's Commissar of Defense and Chairman of the State Defense Committee of the U.S.S.R.
COMRADES, RED ARMY AND RED NAVY MEN, COMMANDERS AND POLITICAL WORKERS, GUERRILLAS-MEN AND WOMEN:
The peoples of our country celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Red Army in stern days of patriotic war against fascist Germany, which is insolently and basely encroaching upon the life and freedom of our motherland.
Along a tremendous front, from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea, Red Army and Red Navy men are fighting fierce battles to drive the German fascist invaders from our country and safeguard the honor and independence of our motherland.
It is not the first time that the Red Army has had to defend our native land from enemy attack. The Red Army was created 24 years ago to fight the troops of foreign interventionist invaders who strove to dismember our country and destroy its independence.
Young detachments of the Red Army-which was taking part in a war for the first time-inflicted utter defeat on the German invaders at Pskov and Narva on February 23, 1918. For this reason the day of February 23, 1918 was proclaimed the birthday of the Red Army.
After that the Red Army grew and gained strength in the struggle against the foreign interventionist invaders. It safeguarded our native land in battles with the German invaders in 1918 and drove them from the Ukraine and Byelorussia. It protected our native land in battles with foreign troops of the Entente from 1918 to 1921 and drove them from our country.
The defeat of the foreign interventionist invaders in time of civil war secured to the peoples of the Soviet Union a lasting peace and the possibility of peaceful constructive work. A socialist industry and a collective agriculture grew up in our country. Science and culture flourished. The friendship of the peoples of our native land grew strong.
But the Soviet people never forgot the possibility that our enemies make a fresh attack on our country. Therefore, simultaneously with the development of industry and agriculture, science and culture, the military strength of the Soviet Union grew also. Certain questers after foreign lands have felt this strength on their own hides. The much advertised German fascist army is feeling it now.
Eight months ago fascist Germany treacherously attacked our country, crudely violating a treaty of non-aggression. The enemy expected that at the very first blow the Red Army would be routed and would lose the ability to resist. But the enemy badly miscalculated. He did not realise the power of the Red Army, did not realise the strength of the Soviet rear, did not realize the unreliability of fascist Germany's European rear, and lastly did not realise the internal weakness of fascist Germany and its army.
In the first months of the war, as a result of the unexpectedness and suddenness of the German fascist attack, the Red Army was forced to retreat and evacuate part of our territory. But, while retreating, it wore down the enemy forces and dealt them heavy blows. Neither the Red Army men nor the peoples of our country doubted that this retreat was temporary, that the enemy would be checked and then defeated.
As the war progressed, the Red Army accumulated fresh, vital strength. It was reinforced with men and equipment. It received fresh reserve divisions to assist it.
There came a time when the Red Army was able to take the offensive in the principal sectors of the tremendous front. Within a short time the Red Army dealt the German fascist troops one blow after another-at Rostov-on-Don and Tikhvin, in the Crimea and at Moscow.
In the violent battles at Moscow, it defeated the German fascist troops which threatened to encircle the Soviet capital. The Red Army threw the enemy back from Moscow and continues to push him westward. The Moscow and Tula Regions have been completely freed from the German invaders, as have dozens of towns and hundreds of villages in other regions temporarily seized by the enemy.
Now the Germans no longer possess the military advantage which they had in the first months of the war by virtue of their treacherous and sudden attack. The momentum of unexpectedness and suddenness which constituted the reserve strength of the German fascist troops has been fully spent.
Thus, the inequality in the conditions under which the war is conducted, created by the suddenness of the German fascist attack, has been eliminated. Henceforward the issue of the war will not be decided by such a secondary factor as suddenness, but by such constantly operating factors as the strength of the rear, the morale of the army, the quantity and quality of the divisions, the armament of the army, the organizational abilities of the army commanders.
One circumstance should be noted in this connection: no sooner did the German arsenal lose the weapon of suddenness than the German army was confronted with catastrophe.
The German fascists consider their army invincible, asserting that man for man it can undoubtedly defeat the Red Army. At present the Red Army and the German fascist army are fighting on equal terms, man for man. Moreover, the German fascist army is directly supported at the front by the troops of Italy, Rumania, and Finland. The Red Army so far has no such support. And what happens? The much lauded German army is suffering defeat while the Red Army is scoring important victories.
Falling back westward under the powerful blows of the Red Army, the German troops are suffering tremendous losses in manpower and equipment. They are clinging to every fold of ground to postpone the day of their utter defeat. But the enemy's efforts are in vain.
The initiative is now in our hands, and the efforts of Hitler's loose and rusty machine cannot check the Red Army's onslaught. The day is not distant when the Red Army's powerful blows will drive the enemy from Leningrad, clear him from the towns and villages of Byelorussia and the Ukraine, from Lithuania and Latvia, from Estonia and Karelia, will free Soviet Crimea, and the red banners will again fly victoriously over the whole Soviet land.
It would, however, be unpardonably nearsighted to rest content with the success achieved and to believe that we have already finished with the German troops. This would be empty boasting and conceit unworthy of the Soviet people. It must not be forgotten that there are still many difficulties ahead.
The enemy is suffering defeat, but he has not yet been routed and still less finished off. He will exert the last remnants of his strength to attain success. And the more defeats he suffers, the more furious he will become.
It is therefore necessary that the training of reserves to assist the front should not relax in our country for a single minute.
It is necessary that fresh army units should go to the front one after another to forge victory over the bestial enemy.
It is necessary that our industry, especially our war industry should work with redoubled vigor.
It is necessary that the front should receive daily increasing quantities of tanks, planes, guns, trench mortars, machineguns rifles, automatic rifles and ammunition.
This is one of the Red Army's main sources of strength and might. But it is not the Red Army's only source of strength. The Red Army's strength lies above all in the fact that it is not waging a predatory imperialist war, but a patriotic war, a war of liberation, a just war.
The Red Army's task is to free our Soviet territory from the German invaders, to free from the yoke of the German invaders the residents of our villages and towns, who were free and lived like human beings before the war and now are oppressed and suffer pillage, ruin and famine, and lastly to free our women from the disgrace and outrage to which they are subjected by the German fascist fiends. What could be nobler and loftier than this task?
No single German soldier can say that he is waging a just war, because he cannot dare to say that he is forced to fight in order to plunder and oppress other peoples. The German soldier lacks a lofty, noble aim in the war which could inspire him and in which he could take pride. On the contrary, the Red Army man can proudly say that he is waging a just war, a war for liberation, a war for the freedom and independence of his motherland.
The Red Army pursues a noble and lofty war aim, which inspires it to heroic feats. This, properly speaking, explains why the patriotic war brings forward thousands of heroes and heroines in our country, ready to face death for the freedom of their motherland. This is a source of strength to the Red Army. This is also a source of weakness to the German fascist army.
Occasionally the foreign press engages in prattle to the effect that the Red Army's aim is to exterminate the German people and destroy the German state. This is, of course, a stupid lie and a witless slander against the Red Army. The Red Army has not and cannot have such idiotic aims. The Red Army's aim is to drive out the German occupants from our country and liberate Soviet soil from the German fascist invaders.
It is very likely that the war for the liberation of the Soviet land will result in ousting or destroying Hitler's clique. We should welcome such an outcome. But it would be ridiculous to identify Hitler's clique with the German people and the German State. History shows that Hitlers come and go, but the German people and the German State remain.
Lastly, the strength of the Red Army lies in the fact that it does not and cannot entertain racial hatred for other peoples, including the German people, that it has been brought up in the spirit of the equality of all peoples and races, in the spirit of respect for the rights of other peoples.
The German's racial theory and their practice of racial hatred have brought about a situation in which all freedom-loving peoples have become enemies of fascist Germany. The theory of race equality in the U.S.S.R. and the practice of respect for the rights of other peoples have brought about a situation in which all freedom-loving peoples have become friends of the Soviet Union. This is a source of strength to the Red Army. This is also a source of weakness to the German fascist army.
Sometimes the foreign press engages in prattle to the effect that the Soviet people hates the Germans just because they are Germans, because it hates everything German, and that therefore the Red Army does not take German soldiers prisoner.
This is, of course, a similar stupid lie and witless slander against the Red Army. The Red Army is free of feelings of racial hatred. It is free of such humiliating feelings because it has been brought up in the spirit of racial equality and respect for the rights of other peoples. Besides, one should not forget that in our country any manifestation of racial hatred is punished by law.
Certainly the Red Army must annihilate the German fascist occupants, since they wish to enslave our motherland, and when, being surrounded by our troops, they refuse to lay down their arms and surrender, the Red Army annihilates them not because of their German origin but because they wish to enslave our motherland. The Red Army, like the army of any other people, is entitled and bound to annihilate the enslavers of its motherland, irrespective of their national origin.
Recently the German garrisons stationed in Kalinin, Klin, Sukhinichi, Andreapol and Toropets were surrounded by our troops, who offered to let them surrender and promised to spare their lives. The German garrisons refused to lay down their arms and surrender. It is clear that they had to be driven out by force and not a few Germans were killed. War is war.
The Red Army takes German soldiers and officers prisoner if they surrender, and spares their lives. The Red Army annihilates German soldiers and officers if they refuse to lay down their arms and when they attempt, arms in hand, to enslave our motherland. Recall the words of the great Russian writer Maxim Gorki. "If the enemy does not surrender, he is annihilated."
Comrades, Red Army and Red Navy men, commanders and political workers, guerrillas-men and woman:
I congratulate you on the 24th anniversary of the Red Army. I wish you complete victory over the German fascist invaders.
Long live the Red Army and Navy!
Long live the guerrillas, men and women!
Long live our glorious motherland, its freedom and independence!
Long live the great Party of the Bolsheviks, leading us to victory!
Long live the invincible banner of great Lenin!
Under Lenin's banner, onward to defeat the German fascist invaders!
(Signed People's Commissar of Defense)