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Order of the Day, No. 95February 23, 1943
Comrades, Red Army men and Red Navy men, commanders and political workers, men and women guerillas!
To-day we are celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the formation of the Red Army.
A quarter of a century has passed since the Red Army was created. It was created for struggle against foreign invaders who endeavoured to enslave our country. February 23, 1918, the day when detachments of the Red Army utterly routed the troops of the German invaders near Pskov and Narva, was proclaimed the birthday of the Red Army. In 1918-21, in stubborn struggle against foreign invaders, the Red Army defended the honour, freedom and independence of our Soviet Motherland, defended the right of the peoples of our country to build their life in the way the great Lenin had taught.
During two decades the Red Army protected the peaceful constructive labour of the Soviet people. The peoples of our country never forgot the encroachments of foreign invaders on our land, and spared no effort to strengthen the might of the Red Army, supplied it with first-class war equipment, and lovingly reared cadres of Soviet warriors.
The Red Army is an army of defence of peace and friendship among the peoples of all countries. It was created not for the conquest of foreign countries, but for the defence of the frontiers of the Soviet country. The Red Army has always respected the rights and independence of all peoples. But in June, 1941, Hitlerite Germany treacherously attacked our country, in ruthless and base violation of the Treaty of Non-Aggression, and the Red Army found itself compelled to march to defend its Motherland against the German invaders and to oust them from our country.
Since that time the Red Army has become an army of life-and-death struggle against the Hitlerite troops, an army of avengers of the outrages and humiliation inflicted by the German-fascist blackguards on our brothers and sisters in the occupied districts of our country.
The Red Army meets the twenty-fifth anniversary of its existence at a decisive moment in the patriotic war against Hitlerite Germany and her vassals—the Italians, Hungarians, Rumanians, Finns. For twenty months the Red Army has been waging an heroic struggle, without parallel in history, against the invasion of the German-fascist hordes.
In view of the absence of a second front in Europe, the Red Army alone bears the whole burden of the war. Nevertheless, the Red Army has not only held its own against the onslaught of the German-fascist hordes, but has become in the course of the war the terror of the fascist armies. In the hard battles of the summer and autumn of 1942, the Red Army barred the way to the fascist beasts. Our people will remember for all time the heroic defence of Sevastopol and Odessa, the stubborn battles before Moscow and in the foothills of the Caucasus, in the Rzhev area and before Leningrad, the battle at the walls of Stalingrad, the greatest in the history of war. In these great battles our gallant Red Army men, commanders and political workers covered the standards of the Red Army with undying glory and laid the firm foundation for victory over the German-fascist armies.
Three months ago the troops of the Red Army began their offensive at the approaches to Stalingrad. Since then the initiative in military operations has remained in our hands and the pace and striking power of the offensive operations of the Red Army have not weakened. To-day, in hard winter conditions, the Red Army is advancing over a front of 1,500 kilometres (950 miles) and is achieving successes practically everywhere. In the north, near Leningrad, on the central front, at the approaches to Kharkov, in the Donets Basin, at Rostov, on the shores of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, the Red Army is striking blow after blow at the Hitlerite troops.
In three months the Red Army has liberated from the enemy the territory of the Voronezh and Stalingrad regions, the Checheno-Ingush, North Ossetian, Kabardino-Balkarian and Kalmyk Autonomous Republics, the Stavropol and Krasnodar Territories, the Cherkess (Circassian), Karachaisu and Adygeisu Autonomous Regions and almost the whole of the Rostov, Kharkov and Kursk Regions. The mass expulsion of the enemy from the Soviet country has begun.
What changes have taken place during these three months? Whence these serious reverses of the Germans? What are the causes of these reverses?
The balance of forces on the Soviet-German front has changed. The fact is that fascist Germany is becoming more and more exhausted and weaker while the Soviet Union is deploying its reserves more and more and becoming ever stronger. Time is working against fascist Germany. Hitlerite Germany, which forces the war industry of Europe to work for her, until recently enjoyed superiority in equipment over the Soviet Union, above all in tanks and aircraft. It was here that she had the advantage. But in twenty months of war the situation has changed. Thanks to the self-sacrificing labour of working men and women, engineers and technicians of the war industry of the U.S.S.R., the production of tanks, planes and guns has increased in the course of the war.
During this period on the Soviet-German front the enemy has suffered enormous losses in war material, particularly in tanks, planes and guns. In three months of the Red Army’s offensive in the winter of 1942-43 alone, the Germans lost over 7,000 tanks, 4,000 planes, 17,000 guns and large quantities of other arms.
Of course, the Germans will try to make good these losses, but this will not be so easy to do, as the enemy will require no little time to make up for these enormous losses in war material. And time does not wait.
When Hitlerite Germany began the war against the U.S.S.R. she enjoyed numerical superiority in troops already mobilized and ready for battle as compared with the Red Army. It was here that she had the advantage. In twenty months, however, the situation has changed in this sphere also. In defensive and offensive battles, the Red Army, since the beginning of the war, has put out of action about 9,000,000 German-fascist officers and men, of whom no less than 4,000,000 were killed on the battlefield.
The Rumanian, Italian and Hungarian armies hurled by Hitler on to the Soviet-German front have been completely routed. In the last three months alone the Red Army has routed 112 enemy divisions, killing more than 700,000 men and taking over 300,000 prisoners.
The German Command will certainly make every effort to make good these tremendous losses. But, first, the weakness of the German army is the shortage of man-power reserves, and consequently it is not known from what sources these losses will be replaced. Secondly, even supposing that, by hook or by crook, the Germans are able to scrape together the necessary number of men, it will require no little time to assemble and train them. And time does not wait.
The Hitlerite army entered the war against the Soviet Union with almost two years’ experience of conducting large-scale military operations in Europe, applying the most modern means of warfare. The Red Army, in the initial stages of the war, naturally had not yet had, and could not have had, such military experience. It was here that the German-fascist army had the advantage. In twenty months, however, the situation has changed in this sphere.
In the course of the war the Red Army has become a seasoned army. It has learned to smite the enemy for certain, taking into account both his weak and strong points, as is demanded by modern military science. Hundreds of thousands, millions of Red Army men have become masters of their weapons—rifles, sabres, machine-guns, artillery, mortars, tanks, aircraft, and sappers’ equipment. Tens of thousands of Red Army commanders have mastered the art of commanding troops. They have learned to combine personal daring and courage with skill in directing their troops on the battlefield, having discarded foolish and harmful linear tactics and having firmly adopted the tactics of manœuvre.
It cannot be considered an accident that the Red Army Command not only liberates Soviet soil from the enemy but does not let the enemy leave our soil alive, carrying out such important operations as the encirclement and annihilation of enemy armies which can well serve as examples of military art. This is undoubtedly a sign of the maturity of our commanders. There can be no doubt that only the correct strategy of the Red Army Command, and the flexible tactics of our commanders who execute it, could have resulted in such an outstanding fact as the encirclement and annihilation at Stalingrad of an enormous picked army of Germans, numbering 330,000 men.
In this respect, things are far from well with the Germans. Their strategy is defective because, as a general rule, it under-estimates the strength and possibilities of the enemy and over-estimates its own forces. Their tactics are hackneyed, for they try to make events at the front fit in with this or that article of the regulations. The Germans are accurate and precise in their operations when the situation permits them to act as required by the regulations. That is where their strength lies. They become helpless when the situation becomes complicated and ceases to “correspond” to this or that article of the regulations, but calls for the adoption of an independent decision not provided for in the regulations. It is here that their main weakness lies.
Such are the causes which determined the defeat of the German troops and the successes of the Red Army during the past three months.
It does not follow from this, however, that the Hitlerite army is done for and that it now only remains for the Red Army to pursue it to the western. frontiers of our country. To think so would be to indulge in unwise and harmful self-delusion. To think so would be to over-estimate our own strength, to under-estimate the strength of the enemy and to adopt an adventurist course. The enemy has suffered defeat, but he is not yet vanquished. The German-fascist army is now going through a crisis as a result of the blows received from the Red Army, but this does not mean that it cannot recover. The struggle against the German invaders is not yet ended—it is as yet only developing and flaring up. It would be stupid to suppose that the Germans will give up even a kilometre of our soil without fighting.
The Red Army has before it a grim struggle against a perfidious, cruel and still strong enemy. This struggle will require time, sacrifices, exertion of our forces and the mobilization of all our potentialities.
We have begun the liberation of the Soviet Ukraine from German oppression, but millions of Ukrainians still languish under the yoke of the German enslavers. The German invaders and their vassals still lord it in Byelorussia, Lithuania, Latvia, Esthonia, in Moldavia, in the Crimea, in Karelia. The enemy armies have been dealt powerful blows, but the enemy has not yet been vanquished. The German invaders are resisting furiously, are launching counter-attacks, are striving to cling to their defence lines, and may embark on fresh adventures. That is why there can be no place for complacency, carelessness or conceit in our ranks.
The whole Soviet people rejoices in the Red Army’s victories. But the Red Army men, commanders and political workers should firmly remember the precepts of our teacher Lenin. “The first thing is not to be carried away by victory and not to get conceited; the second thing is to consolidate one’s victory; the third thing is to finish off the enemy.”
In the name of the liberation of our country from the hated enemy, in the name of final victory over the German-fascist invaders – I order:
(1) Indefatigably to perfect military training and to strengthen discipline, order and organization throughout the Red Army and Navy.
(2) To deal stronger blows against the enemy troops, to pursue the enemy indefatigably and persistently, without allowing him to consolidate himself on defence lines. To give him no respite by day or night, to cut his communications, to surround his troops and annihilate them if they refuse to lay down their arms.
(3) To fan brighter the flames of guerilla warfare in the rear of the enemy, to destroy the enemy’s communications, to blow up railway bridges, to frustrate the transport of enemy troops and the supply of arms and ammunition, to blow up and set fire to army stores, to attack enemy garrisons, to prevent the retreating enemy from burning down our villages and towns, to help the advancing Red Army heart and soul and by all possible means.
In this lies the guarantee of our victory.
Comrades, Red Army men and Red Navy men, commanders and political workers, men and women guerillas! On behalf of the Soviet Government and our Bolshevik Party, I greet you and congratulate you on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Red Army.
Long live our great Motherland!
Long live our glorious Red Army, our valiant Navy, our brave men and women guerillas!
Long live the Party of Bolsheviks, the inspirer and organizer of the Red Army’s victories!
Death to the German invaders!
J. V. Stalin