Yemelyan Yaroslavsky 1941

The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet People

Author: Yemelyan Yaroslavsky;
Written: 23 June 1941;
First published: 1941 in Pravda as Великая отечественная война советского народа ;
Translated: by Anton P.


June 22, 1941 will go down in history as the beginning of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet people against Nazi Germany, which carried out a predatory attack on the Soviet Union. The 200 million Soviet people, as one, are rising to fight against the robbers who invaded our home. In the struggle against countless enemies, the peoples of the USSR created their free and powerful homeland. With a heroic struggle and hard work, they conquered this fatherland, defending it with their breasts. From the blood and filth of the first imperialist world war, from the incredible devastation of the civil war, the Soviet people raised their homeland to unprecedented heights, they turned a previously backward country into a mighty and advanced country. This struggle was led by the great party of Lenin and Stalin.

The history of the Russian people and other peoples of the USSR knows amazing examples of heroism, self-sacrifice, steadfastness in the struggle both in the distant past centuries and in our days. Everyone knows how bravely the Russian people fought during the Battle of the Ice on April 5, 1242, when the “knights-dogs” of the Livonian Order – the distant predecessors of today’s fascists – were defeated, how, according to Marx, these “scoundrels” were thrown out, expelled from the Russian land.

The history of the Russian people knows the Patriotic Wars, when the people in a great impulse swept aside the enemy armies, whose leaders claimed world domination. In 1812, the Russian people defeated the greatest of the generals – Napoleon, forcing him to flee from Russia with the pitiful remnants of his defeated army. All the people then rose up against the enemy. Peasant men and women armed themselves to drive out the enslavers. And the army, which passed through the whole of Europe, asserted its domination in Syria, Egypt, the Mediterranean Sea – this army was defeated in battles by the glorious Russian commanders Kutuzov, Bagration and others. It was defeated in the Patriotic War, in which millions of peasants took part.

None of us has forgotten and will not forget the atrocities of the German imperialists against the people during the period of intervention, when German troops occupied Ukraine, Belarus and other territories and regions, from where they were driven out by the armed people, by the Red Army.

We must do everything that is required of us by the historical situation, everything that is required by our duty to our homeland, to the working people of the whole world, so that this predatory attack of the fascists is not only met with a worthy rebuff, but would lead to their complete defeat.

The Soviet government did everything in its power and ability to prevent war. While the war had already covered half the world, the Soviet government did everything to keep the peace. All the conditions of the agreement concluded between the USSR and Germany, the Soviet government observed and carried out with complete conscientiousness. But at the same time, it closely followed all the suspicious preparations and steps of the German fascist government, which proclaimed through Hitler that the goal of the war for Germany was to establish the hegemony of fascism in Europe and required all states and peoples of Europe to recognize the fascist “new order.” And this “new order” is expressed, as you know, in the incredible brutal persecution and enslavement of the working class, the working masses of entire countries and peoples, not to mention that Germany itself has been turned into an endless concentration camp. The bloodthirsty fascist rulers of Germany, who enslaved the French, Czechs, Poles, Serbs, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Greece and other peoples, carried out a predatory attack on our homeland. The Soviet people cannot and will not allow the boot of German fascism to trample on our sacred Soviet land, reclaimed by the people in the struggle against the exploiters, against the Tsar, landowners and capitalists, watered with the sweat and blood of the people.

Germany is drawing Finland and Romania into this war against the Soviet people. The Finnish White Guards, together with the fascist executioners of Germany and the Romanian boyars, want to enslave our sacred Soviet land. Woe to them! For, having risen in an indestructible, powerful impulse, the 200 million people of the Soviet Union will sweep these executioners off the face of the earth, crush these centers of fascist infection to the end in order to ensure peace for the peoples and the possibility of their independent existence.

During the civil war, the Soviet people waged a patriotic war against the interventionists who wanted to wipe our state off the ground. Now again we are waging a new great patriotic war.

But then, in 1918, we were weak, we had no experience, we had just created the Red Army. Now the mighty Soviet state stands fully armed, having accumulated tremendous power and experience, having created a great community of the peoples of the USSR. And this patriotic war will be waged by the people knowing that their cause is a just cause.


The enemies of the USSR tried in vain with blood, fire and iron, an economic blockade, provocative raids, slander and lies to destroy the young Soviet republic.. When we reread the pages of the history of the civil war, we see images of countless, often nameless heroes of the war against foreign invaders, against White Guard generals. Before us are the heroes of Perekop, the heroes of the war against papal Poland, the images of the glorious generals of the civil war who gave their lives for the cause of the working people: Chapaev, Shchors, Lazo, Parkhomenko and many, many others. And the heart is filled with pride for our Soviet homeland, for our revolution, for our Bolshevik party, for the heroic Soviet people who raised such glorious and courageous sons. The civil war created an unprecedented mass heroism in the history of mankind, raised millions of patriots who showed unparalleled dedication in defending the fatherland of the working people. Then the situation was very difficult. But in hunger and cold, in the greatest need, the country of Soviets, led by Lenin and Stalin, found the strength to crush the counter-revolution, throwing out the invaders.

Millions of working people know what backwardness, what patriarchalism the Soviet regime has overcome, and they are rightfully proud of its greatest successes. The Stalinist five-year plans made our country the most advanced, powerful and socialist power. The Soviet patriot loves his homeland, because the USSR is the only country in the world where the exploitation of man by man has been uprooted, where the working masses are freed from the yoke of exploitation.

The peculiarity of today’s Soviet society, unlike any capitalist society, is that there are no more antagonistic, hostile classes in it, the exploiting classes have been liquidated, and the workers, peasants and intelligentsia that make up Soviet society live and work on the basis of friendly cooperation ... While capitalist society is torn apart by irreconcilable contradictions between workers and capitalists, between peasants and landowners, which leads to the instability of its internal situation, Soviet society, freed from the yoke of exploitation, does not know such contradictions, is free from class conflicts and presents a picture of friendly cooperation between workers, peasants, intelligentsia. On the basis of this community, such driving forces as the moral and political unity of Soviet society, the friendship of the peoples of the USSR, and Soviet patriotism developed.” (Stalin)

How could the Soviet people not love this country, which they created anew, which they won from the exploiters, from the parasites! How not to love the people and not defend with all their strength the country of Soviets, which the people themselves defended with their breasts, with the blood of their sons! How can the Soviet people not love this country, where, for the first time in the history of mankind, they, as masters, can create a new, wonderful, joyful life, when with their hands and their labors the great dreams and hopes of the best fighters of mankind, the most cherished dreams and hopes of millions of working people of all the world are realized!

The best expression of Soviet patriotism is the words of Comrade Stalin: “If every step I take in my endeavor to elevate the working class and strengthen the socialist state of this class were not directed towards strengthening and improving the position of the working class, I should consider my life purposeless.

Precisely because millions of people grew up in the Soviet state, for whom the welfare of the people, raising their material and cultural level, and protecting their homeland are the vital matters of their lives, this is precisely why our homeland has grown so immeasurably in a quarter of a century. This is where the pathos of socialist construction in the USSR, unprecedented in the world, comes from, that is why everywhere – at construction sites of the Soviet industry and at factories that strengthen the power of our homeland, on collective farm fields and in laboratories, in air flights and in the polar silence of the Arctic, in any work and every day, the sons and daughters of the Soviet people are showing and will be showing the same massive heroism as their sons, fathers and brothers show at the front, on land, in the air, at sea and under water. The force that drives a great people to build grandiose canals, to drain swamps, to develop the national economy, this power will show itself in battle with the enemy. Every Soviet citizen knows that in a quarter of a century the country of the Soviets has deployed its immense forces. That is why we will all respond as one to the enemy who dared to encroach on our sacred land, who is trying to hinder us in our great construction, for all of us, Soviet people, are patriots of our homeland.

We have something to defend. And there exists no such force that could make us deviate from the path charted by the great party of Lenin-Stalin, indicated to us by the Soviet government. The time has come when our moral and political unity will find the most complete, vivid, worthy expression: we will carry out the order of the Soviet government ̶“to repulse the predatory attack and expel the German troops from the territory of our homeland” as we carried out all the military decisions of the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet government. And the enemy will be convinced very soon that we can deliver crushing blows on him. The 200 million people know well what they are fighting for.


An unprecedented moral and political unity of the entire Soviet society has been ensured in our country. The Soviet system of state is based on the liberation of the working people from the yoke of exploiters; it is based on equality and fraternal commonwealth of all the peoples of the USSR. The Soviet patriot is proud that he is an implacable enemy of the exploitation of man by man, an enemy of the inequality of peoples, an enemy of the deadly, man-hating fascist theories, an enemy of racial and national inequality and oppression. Our strength lies in our factories and plants, in our collective farm system, our strength lies in Soviet culture, in Soviet science. Soviet patriotism is an expression of the people’s love for the new state, which raised millions of people from oblivion, filled their lives with wonderful new content, revealed such bright, such immense horizons, comprehended the struggle of all past generations and showed that it was not without reason that there were efforts, suffering, sacrifices in blood.

It is pleasant and joyful to know,” said Comrade Stalin at the VIII Extraordinary All-Union Congress of Soviets, “that the blood plentifully shed by our people was not in vain, that it yielded its results. This arms our working class, our peasantry, our working intelligentsia spiritually. It moves forward and raises a sense of legitimate pride.

In this self-confidence, in an atmosphere of ardent Soviet patriotism, love for their homeland, wonderful Soviet cadres are growing, new scientists are growing, blazing new paths, breaking old norms, glorified aeronauts and heroes of wonderful flights are growing. They will still show themselves, these falcons of the Soviet aviation! Undaunted fighters for the prosperity of their homeland on the labor front, the Stakhanovists have grown up. They will expand their labor activity even more in enterprises, collective farms and state farms, and will set work even more clearly in each sector. Workers in factories, collective farmers in the fields, discussing Comrade Molotov’s speech, commit to double production. And we have no doubt that they will definitely do this, that the Soviet people will show what kind of force they can deploy when it comes to their vital interests.

Remember,” Friedrich Engels said back in 1845, “what miracles were performed by the enthusiasm of the revolutionary armies from 1792 to 1799, which fought only for an illusion, for an imaginary fatherland, and you will have to understand how strong an army must be, which is fighting not for an illusion, but for reality.

The Red Army of the USSR is fighting not for an illusion, not for an imaginary fatherland, but for its dearly beloved, glorious Soviet homeland, created and conquered by heroic efforts, by the struggle of the entire Soviet people.

A member of “such a society in the event of war,” Engels said, “must defend the real fatherland, the real hearth. He, therefore, will fight with enthusiasm, with steadfastness, with courage, before which the mechanical training of the modern army must scatter like straw.” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Works, vol. III, p. 278)

Today the day has come when the feelings and energy of Soviet patriots will be embodied in a stream breaking all barriers, when the war will give rise to mass heroism at every step, the readiness of the Soviet people to make any sacrifices, to overcome any obstacles in order to defend any country, to give it the opportunity to grow and grow because

The land
that I
and half-alive nursed,
where you
stand up with a bullet,
lie down with a rifle,
where you
pour a drop with the masses –
with such
you will go
to life,
to work,
to a holiday
and to death!
(V. Mayakovsky, “Good”)


It was not easy for the Soviet state in a capitalist environment, where the principle of naked force reigns, to defend the opportunity to conduct an independent, peaceful policy.

A Soviet citizen can never forget that the peaceful policy of the Soviet state was possible only because the Soviet government relied and is still relying on the mighty forces of the armed people, on the invincible forces of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army.

It was not easy to create this Red Army in a country devastated by the first imperialist and civil wars. But the people did not spare anything to create this army, so they created a powerful force that guarded their independence and the ability to work peacefully for two decades. The peoples of the USSR know well and will never forget what deeds these generations carried out to safeguard the integrity and independence of the USSR. They have not forgotten how they fought against the German and other invaders who tormented the living body of our homeland.

The possibility of peaceful labor of the peoples of the USSR was ensured by the heroic struggle of the Red Army, by its formidable invincible strength. It was this force that provided the USSR with a lasting peace. It stopped the hand of the imperialists, who were preparing more than once an attack on the USSR. It was the Red Army who rebuffed the Finnish White Guards in 1939-40, and who will finish the rout of these White Guards now that the White Guards have raised their criminal hand and, together with the German fascists, are robberly attacking the peaceful land of the Soviets. This army brought liberation to the peoples of Western Ukraine and Western Belarus, Bessarabia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. It has shown more than once unprecedented examples of heroism. With the cry “For the Motherland, for Stalin!” fighters, commanders and political workers of the Red Army have gone and will go into battle for Soviet power, for honor, for freedom. The same mass heroism well known to the enemies since the civil war, is now moving the soldiers of the Red Army with renewed vigor and will make them an all-crushing military onslaught.

Comrade Stalin always taught that the Soviet people should be in a state of mobilization readiness. The war did not take us by surprise. We vigilantly watched what was happening on the other side of the Soviet borders, and the Red Army of the USSR would fulfill its civic duty.

And we know:

The enemy will be defeated, victory will be ours!

When the session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted the budget for 1941 and approved appropriations for defense, the whole country was proud that it could provide such significant costs to strengthen the military power of the USSR.

The citizens of the Soviet Union have proved that they are ready to help the Soviet state in every way. The recently ended subscription to the state loan showed that the Soviet people are ready to render the warmest help to the state in strengthening its might. The loan was largely closed, and there is no doubt that the peoples of the USSR will continue to do everything necessary so that the Red Army does not need anything for the successful fulfillment of its tasks. For this it is necessary to put everything at the service of the army: the efficient work of the entire industry, the mobilization of all its forces, especially the industry working for defense; the accurate and coordinated work of transport, which plays a huge role during the war; the collective, organized Stakhanovist work on collective farm fields and state farms; the persistent, purposeful work of all scientists in the country, engineers, technicians, writers, art workers; the persistent and equally determined schooling; the mastering by the entire population of knowledge of military affairs, a minimum of sanitary service, chemical and air defense; the strictest discipline; increased labor productivity; increased revolutionary vigilance; readiness for self-sacrifice. Could there be anything higher, more vital, more sacred for a Soviet patriot than to devote all his strength to the defense of the Soviet fatherland, so that he could say together with Vladimir Mayakovsky:

I praise the Fatherland
that is now,
but three times more
the one that will be.

There is not and cannot be anything higher for a Soviet patriot than concern for the Red Army. The Red Army itself fosters the amazing properties of Soviet patriotism: here this patriotism is subjected to the most effective, lively test, here real Soviet revolutionary combat discipline, courage, heroism, resourcefulness, fearlessness, mutual assistance are being forged, a closely-knit combat collective is being forged here, preparing for the greatest self-sacrifice. The Red Army is an army of a new type defending the interests of workers. It was tempered in the fire of the revolution, in the civil war. Its esteem is immeasurable in the eyes of the people, because it is flesh of the flesh, blood of the blood of the people. Nowhere else is there more love of peoples for the army and its deeply popular commanding staff, as in our country. Soviet industry supplies this army with the most advanced modern military equipment.

We all must, as one, feel like soldiers of the Red Army. “Our entire people should now be united as never before. Each of us must demand from ourselves and from others discipline, organization, dedication, worthy of a real Soviet patriot. To meet all the needs of the Red Army, Navy and aviation, to ensure victory over the enemy.” (Speech on the radio by Comrade Molotov).

On the scales of history, the sum of dozens of peoples of Europe, Asia and others is weighed. The fate of not only the peoples of the USSR, but also other peoples depends on the outcome of the great war that has now begun. Conscious of the greatest historical responsibility, each of us will give all our energy, our will, our knowledge and, if necessary, our life to defeat the enemy. And the sooner this victory will be, the more complete it will be, the more closely we will rally the great family of the peoples of the USSR around our Soviet government, around our great, glorious Communist Bolshevik Party, around the wise leader, the head of the Soviet government, Comrade Stalin.