Iosif Stalin, Radio Address to the Soviet People. July 3, 1941
Translated by James von Geldern
After weeks of silence following the German invasion, in which confused Soviet commanders and citizens awaited the word of their Leader, Stalin gave the following address over Soviet Radio. His invocation of Soviet citizens as his “Brothers and Sisters” was to set the tone for solidarity that held up throughout the difficult following few years.
Comrades! Citizens! Brothers and sisters! Men of our Army and Navy! I am addressing you, my friends!
The perfidious military attack on our motherland begun on June 22 by Hitler Germany is continuing. In spite of thc heroic resistance of thc Red Army, and although the enemy’s finest divisions and finest air-force units have already been smashed and have met their doom on the field of battle thc enemy continues to push forward, hurling fresh forces into the attack. Hitler’s troops have succeeded in capturing Lithuania, a considerable part of Latvia, the western part of Byelorussia, and part of the Western Ukraine. The fascist air force is extending the range of operations of its bombers, and is bombing Murmansk, Orsha, Mogilev, Smolensk, Kiev, Odessa and Sevastopol. A grave danger hangs over our country.
How could it have happened that our glorious Red Army surrendered a number of our cities and districts to the fascist armies? Is it true that the German-fascist troops are invincible, as is ceaselessly trumpeted by boastful fascist propagandists? Of course not! History shows that there are no invincible armies and never have been. Napoleon’s army was considered invincible but it was beaten successively by Russian, English and German armies. Kaiser Wilhelm’s German army in the period of the first imperialist war was also considered invincible, but it was beaten several times by the Russian and Anglo-French forces and was finally smashed by the Anglo-French forces. The same must be said of Hitler’s German-fascist army today. This army had not yet met with 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 finest divisions of Hitler’s German-fascist army have been defeated by our Red Army, it means that this army too can be smashed and will be smashed, as were the armies of Napoleon and Wilhelm.
As to part of our territory having nevertheless been seized by German fascist troops, this is chiefly due to the fact that the war of fascist Germany on the USSR began under conditions favorable for the German forces and unfavorable for the Soviet forces. The fact of the matter is that the troops of Germany, as a country at war, were already fully mobilized, and the 170 divisions hurled by Germany against the USSR and brought up to the Soviet frontiers were in a state of complete readiness, only awaiting the signal to move into action, whereas the Soviet troops had still to effect mobilization and to move up to the frontiers.
Of no little importance in this respect is the fact that fascist Germany suddenly and treacherously violated the non-aggression pact she concluded in 1939 with the USSR, disregarding the fact that she would be regarded as the aggressor by the whole world. Naturally, our peace-loving country, not wishing to take the initiative in breaking the pact, could not have resorted to perfidy. It may be asked: how could the Soviet Government have consented to conclude a non-aggression pact with such treacherous fiends as Hitler and Ribbentrop? Was this not an error on the part of the Soviet Government? Of course not! Non-aggression pacts are pacts of peace between two states. It was such a pact that Germany proposed to us in 1939. Could the Soviet Government have declined such a proposal? I think that not a single peace-loving state could decline a peace treaty with a neighboring state, even though the latter was headed by such fiends and cannibals as Hitler and Ribbentrop. But that, of course, only on one indispensable condition, namely, that this peace treaty does not infringe either directly or indirectly on the territorial integrity, independence, and honor of the peace-loving state. As is well known, the non-aggression pact between Germany and the USSR was precisely such a pact.
What did we gain by concluding the non-aggression pact with Germany? We secured our country peace for a year and a half and the opportunity of preparing its forces to repulse fascist Germany should she risk an attack on our country despite the pact. This was a definite advantage for us and a disadvantage for fascist Germany. What has fascist Germany gained and what has she lost by treacherously tearing up the pact and attacking the USSR? She has gained certain advantageous positions for her troops for a short period, but she has lost politically by exposing herself in the eyes of the entire world as a bloodthirsty aggressor. There can be no doubt that this short-lived military gain for Germany is only an episode, while the tremendous political gain of the USSR is a serious and lasting factor that is bound to form the basis for the development of decisive military successes of the Red Army in the war with fascist Germany.
That is why our whole valiant Army, our whole valiant Navy, all our falcons of the air, all the peoples of our country, all the finest men and women of Europe, America and Asia, finally all the finest men and women of Germany, condemn the treacherous acts of the German fascists and sympathize with the Soviet Government, approve the conduct of the Soviet Government and see that ours is a just cause, that the enemy will be defeated, that we are bound to win.
By virtue of this war which has been forced upon us, our country has come to death grips with its most malicious and most perfidious enemy- German fascism. Our troops are fighting heroically against an enemy armed to the teeth with tanks and aircraft. Overcoming innumerable difficulties, the Red Army and Red Navy are self-sacrificingly disputing every inch of Soviet soil. The main forces of the Red Army are coming into action armed with thousands of tanks and airplanes. The men of the Red Army are displaying unexampled valor. Our resistance to the enemy is growing in strength and power. Side by side with the Red Army, the entire Soviet people is rising in defense of its native land.
What is required to put an end to the danger hovering over our country, and what measures must be taken to smash the enemy?
Above all, it is essential that our people, the Soviet people, should understand the full immensity of the danger that threatens our country and abandon all complacency, all heedlessness, all those moods of peaceful constructive work which were so natural before the war, but which are fatal today when the war has fundamentally changed everything. The enemy is cruel and implacable. He is out to seize our lands watered with our sweat, to seize our grain and oil secured by our labor. He is out to restore the rule of the landlords, to restore Tsarism, to destroy the national culture and the national state existence of the Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Lithuanians, Letts, Estonians, Tatars, Uzbeks, Moldavians, Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanians and the other free peoples of the Soviet Union, to Germanize them, to convert them into slaves of the German princes and barons. Thus the issue is one of life or death for the Soviet State, of life or death for the peoples of the USSR; the issue is whether the peoples of the Soviet Union shall remain free or fall into slavery.
The Soviet people must realize this and abandon all heedlessness, they must mobilize themselves and reorganize all their work on new, wartime lines, when there can be no mercy to the enemy. Further, there must be no room in our ranks for whimperers and cowards, for panic-mongers and deserters. Our people must know no fear in the fight and must selflessly join our patriotic war of liberation, our war against the fascist enslavers. Lenin, the great founder of our State, used to say that the chief virtue of the Bolshevik must be courage, valor, fearlessness in struggle, readiness to fight together with the people against the enemies of our country. This splendid virtue of the Bolshevik must become the virtue of the millions and millions of the Red Army, of the Red Navy and of all the peoples of the Soviet Union.
All our work must be immediately reconstructed on a war footing, everything must be subordinated to the interests of the front and the task of organizing the demolition of the enemy. The peoples of the Soviet Union now see that there is no taming German fascism in its savage fury and hatred of our country, which has insured all working people labor in freedom and prosperity. The peoples of the Soviet Union must rise against the enemy and defend their rights and their land.
The Red Army, the Red Navy and all the citizens of the Soviet Union must defend every inch of Soviet soil, must fight to the last drop of blood for our towns and villages, must display the daring, initiative and intelligence that are inherent in our people. We must organize all-round assistance to the Red Army, insure powerful reinforcements for its ranks and the supply of everything it requires, we must organize rapid transport of troops and military freight, and extensive aid to the wounded.
We must strengthen the Red Army’s rear, subordinating all our work to this cause. All our industries must be put to work with greater intensity to produce more rifles, machine guns, artillery, bullets, shells, airplanes; we must organize the guarding of factories, power stations, telephone and telegraph communications, and arrange effective air-raid protection in all localities. We must wage a ruthless fight against all disorganizers of the rear, deserters, panic-mongers, rumor-mongers, we must exterminate spies, diversionists and enemy parachutists, rendering rapid aid in all this to our destroyer battalions.
We must bear in mind that the enemy is crafty, unscrupulous and experienced in deception and the dissemination of false rumors. We must reckon with all this and not fall victim to provocation. All who by their panic-mongering and cowardice hinder the work of defense, no matter who they are, must be immediately hailed before the Military Tribunal.
In case of forced retreat of Red Army units, all rolling stock must he evacuated, the enemy must not he left a single engine, a single railway car, not a single pound of grain or gallon of fuel. Collective farmers must drive off all their cattle and turn over their grain to the safekeeping of State authorities for transportation to the rear. All valuable property, including non-ferrous metals, grain and fuel, which cannot he withdrawn, must be destroyed without fail. In areas occupied by the enemy, guerrilla units, mounted and foot, must be formed, diversions groups must be organized to combat the enemy troops, to foment guerrilla warfare everywhere, to blow up bridges and roads, to damage telephone and telegraph lines, to set fire to forests, stores and transports. In the occupied regions, conditions must be made unbearable for the enemy and all his accomplices. They must he hounded and annihilated at every step, and all their measures frustrated.
This war with fascist Germany cannot he considered an ordinary war It is not only a war between two armies; it is also a great war of the entire Soviet people against the German-fascist forces. The aim of this national war in defense of our country against the fascist oppressors is not only elimination of the danger hanging over our country, but also aid to all European peoples groaning under the yoke of German fascism. In this war of liberation we shall not be alone. In this great war we shall have loyal allies in the peoples of Europe and America, including the German people who are enslaved by the Hitlerite despots. Our war for the freedom of our country will merge with the struggle of the peoples of Europe and America for their independence, for democratic liberties. It will be a united front of peoples standing for freedom and against enslavement and threats of enslavement by Hitler’s fascist armies.
In this connection, the historic utterance of the British Prime Minister Mr. Churchill, regarding aid to the Soviet Union and the declaration of the United States Government signifying its readiness to render aid to our country, which can only evoke a feeling of gratitude in the hearts of the peoples of the Soviet Union, are fully comprehensible and symptomatic.
Comrades! Our forces are numberless. The overweening enemy will soon learn this to his cost. Side by side with the Red Army, many thousands of workers, collective farmers and intellectuals are rising to fight the enemy aggressor. The masses of our people will rise in there millions. The working people of Moscow and Leningrad have already commenced to form vast popular levies in support of the Red Army. Such popular levies must he raised in every city which is in danger of enemy invasion, all the working people must be roused to defend our freedom, our honor, our country, in our patriotic war against German fascism.
In order to insure rapid mobilization of all the forces of the peoples of the USSR, and to repulse the enemy who has treacherously attacked our country, a State Committee of Defense has been formed in whose hands the entire power of the State has been vested. The State Committee of Defense has entered on its functions and calls upon all our people to rally around the Party of Lenin-Stalin and around the Soviet Government so as self-denyingly to support the Red Army and Navy, demolish the enemy and secure victory.
All our forces-for the support of our heroic Red Army and our glorious Red Navy!
All forces of the people-for the demolition of the enemy!
Forward, to our victory!
Source: Soviet War Documents: USSR Information Bulletin Special Supplement. Washington: Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 1943.