J. V. Stalin
COMRADES, men of the Red Army and the Red Navy, commanders and political instructors, men and women guerillas, men and women workers, men and women peasants, people engaged in intellectual work, brothers and sisters on the other side of the front, in the rear of the German-fascist troops, who have temporarily fallen under the yoke of the German oppressors!
On behalf of the Soviet Government and our Bolshevik Party I greet and congratulate you on the day of the First of May.
Comrades! This year the peoples of our country meet the International May Day under the conditions of the patriotic war against the German-fascist invaders. The war has laid its imprint on every aspect of our life. It has laid its imprint also on this day, on the festival of May First. The working people of our country, mindful of the war situation, have renounced their holiday rest in order to pass this day in intense work for the defence of our country. Living at one with our fighters at the front, they have turned the festival of May First into a day of toil and struggle in order to afford the front the greatest possible assistance and supply it with more rifles, machine-guns, guns, mortars, tanks and aircraft, ammunition, bread, meat, fish and vegetables.
This signifies that in our country front and rear constitute a single indivisible fighting camp, ready to overcome any difficulties on the road to victory over the enemy.
Comrades! More than two years have elapsed since the German-fascist invaders plunged Europe into the abyss of war, subjugated the freedom-loving countries of the European continent—France, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece—and began to suck out their blood for the enrichment of the German bankers. More than ten months have elapsed since the German-fascist invaders basely and perfidiously attacked our country, plundering and devastating our villages and cities, outraging and murdering the peaceful populations of Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, Moldavia. For more than ten months the peoples of our country have been waging a patriotic war against the brutal enemy, defending the honour and freedom of their Motherland. During this period of time we have had the opportunity of obtaining quite a good view of the German-fascists, of grasping their real intentions, of learning their true face, not from verbal declarations, but from the experience of the war, from facts known to all.
Who then are they, these enemies of ours, the German-fascists? What kind of people are they? What does the experience of the war teach us on this point?
It is said that the German-fascists are nationalists safeguarding the integrity and independence of Germany against encroachments on the part of other states. This is, of course, a lie. Only liars can assert that Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Greece, the Soviet Union and other freedom-loving countries had been encroaching on the integrity and independence of Germany. In reality the German fascists are not nationalists but imperialists, who seize foreign countries and suck their blood in order to enrich the German bankers and plutocrats. The leading German-fascist, Göring, is himself, as is well known, one of the leading bankers and plutocrats, exploiting dozens of factories. Hitler, Göbbels, Ribbentrop, Himmler and other rulers of present-day Germany are the watchdogs of the German bankers, who place the interests of the latter far above all other interests. The German army is a blind tool in the hands of these gentlemen, and is called upon to shed its blood and alien blood, and to cripple itself and others, not in the interests of Germany, but for the enrichment of the German bankers and plutocrats.
This is what the experience of the war tells us.
It is said that the German-fascists are socialists who endeavour to defend the interests of the workers and peasants against the plutocrats. This is, of course, a lie. Only liars can assert that the German fascists, who have instituted slave labour in factories and restored the system of serfdom in the villages of Germany and the subjugated countries, are defenders of workers and peasants. Only insolent swindlers can deny that the system of slavery and serfdom established by the German fascists is of profit to the German plutocrats and bankers and not to the workers and peasants. In actual fact the German-fascists are reactionary serf-owners, and the German army an army of serf-owners, shedding its blood for the enrichment of the German barons and the restoration of the power of the landlords.
This is what the experience of the war tells us.
It is said that the German-fascists are the bearers of European culture, waging war for the dissemination of this culture in other countries. This is, of course, a lie. Only professional swindlers can assert that the German-fascists, who have covered Europe with gallows, who are pillaging and outraging the peaceful population, who are setting fire to and blowing up cities and villages, and destroying the cultural values of the peoples of Europe, can be bearers of European culture. In actual fact the German-fascists are the enemies of European culture, and the German army is an army of mediæval obscurantism, called upon to destroy European culture for the sake of implanting the slaveholders’ “culture” of the German bankers and barons.
This is what the experience of the war tells us.
Such is the face of our enemy, unmasked and exposed to the light by the experience of the war.
But the experience of the war is not confined to these conclusions. The experience of the war shows in addition that during the war important changes have taken place both in the situation of fascist Germany and her army, and in the situation of our country and the Red Army.
What are these changes?
It is undoubtedly true, in the first place, that fascist Germany and its army have become weaker during this period than they were ten months ago. The war has brought the German people great disillusionments, the sacrifice of millions of human victims, starvation and impoverishment. The end of the war is not in sight, but the reserves of man-power are giving out, oil is giving out, raw materials are giving out. The German people are becoming more and more aware of the inevitability of Germany’s defeat. The German people realize with growing clarity that the only way out of the situation that has arisen is the liberation of Germany from the adventurist Hitler-Göring clique.
The Hitlerite imperialists have occupied vast territories in Europe, but they have not broken the will to resistance of the European peoples. The struggle of the enslaved peoples against the regime of the German-fascist highwaymen is beginning to assume general scope. Sabotage at war plants, the blowing up of German ammunition stores, the wrecking of German troop trains and the killing of German soldiers and officers have become everyday occurrences in all the occupied countries. All Yugoslavia and the German-occupied Soviet areas are swept by the flames of partisan warfare.
All these circumstances have led to a weakening of the German rear, which means the weakening of fascist Germany as a whole.
As to the German army, despite its stubbornness in defence it has become much weaker than it was ten months ago. Its old and experienced generals, such as Reichenau, Brauchitsch, Todt and others, have either been killed by the Red Army or cashiered by the German-fascist ruling clique. Its seasoned officer corps has in part been exterminated by the Red Army, and in part become demoralized as a result of the plunder and outrages against the civilian population. Its rank and file, seriously weakened in the course of the military operations, is receiving fewer reinforcements.
Secondly, there is no doubt that during the period of the war to date our country has become stronger than it was at the beginning of the war. Not only friends, but even enemies, are compelled to admit that our country is to-day more united and more firmly rallied round its Government than ever before, that the rear and the front of our country are united in a single fighting camp which is firing at the same target, that the Soviet people in the rear are supplying our front with ever-increasing numbers of rifles and machine-guns, mortars and guns, tanks and aircraft, provisions and ammunition.
As regards the international connections of our Motherland, they have recently grown and gained strength as never before. All freedom-loving peoples have united against German imperialism. Their eyes are turned to the Soviet Union. The heroic fight which the peoples of our country are waging for their freedom, honour and independence evokes the admiration of all progressive humanity. The peoples of all freedom-loving countries look to the Soviet Union as a force capable of saving the world from the Hitlerite plague. Among these freedom-loving countries, the first place is occupied by Great Britain and the United States of America, with which we are bound by ties of friendship and alliance, and who are rendering our country ever-increasing military assistance against the German-fascist invaders.
All these circumstances are evidence of the fact that our country has become much stronger.
Finally, there is no doubt that during the period of the war to date the Red Army has become better organized and stronger than it was at the beginning of the war. One cannot regard as accidental the universally known fact that, after a temporary retreat caused by the treacherous attack of the German imperialists, the Red Army managed to achieve a turn in the course of the war and passed from active defence to a successful offensive against the enemy troops. It is a fact that thanks to the successes of the Red Army, the patriotic war has entered on a new period—the period of liberation of Soviet lands from the Hitlerite scum. True, the Red Army undertook the accomplishment of this historic task under the difficult conditions of a grim winter with heavy snowfalls; but nevertheless it achieved great successes. Having taken the initiative in military operations into its own hands, the Red Army inflicted a number of serious defeats on the German-fascist troops and compelled them to clear a considerable portion of Soviet territory. The invaders’ plans to make use of the winter for a respite and for strengthening their position on their line of defence suffered a fiasco. In the course of its offensive the Red Army has annihilated vast numbers of the enemy’s man-power and vast quantities of his equipment, has captured no small quantity of the enemy’s equipment and compelled him prematurely to expend reserves brought up from deep in the rear and intended for the spring and summer operations.
All this is evidence of the fact that the Red Army has become better organized and stronger, that its officer cadres have become steeled in battle, and that its generals have become more experienced and far-sighted.
A radical change has also taken place in the rank and file of the Red Army.
The complacency and heedlessness in the attitude towards the enemy which were observed among Red Army men during the first months of the patriotic war have disappeared. The atrocities, plunder and outrages perpetrated by the German-fascist invaders against the civilians and Soviet prisoners-of-war have cured our men of this ailment. The Red Army men have become more envenomed and more ruthless. They have learnt to hate the German-fascist invaders in earnest. They have realized that one cannot defeat an enemy without having learnt to hate him heart and soul.
There is no more idle talk about the invincibility of the German troops, such as took place at the beginning of the war and which served to conceal fear of the Germans. The famous battles at Rostov and Kerch, at Moscow and Kalinin, at Tikhvin and Leningrad, in which the Red Army put the German-fascist invaders to flight, have convinced our men that this idle talk about the invincibility of the German troops is a fable invented by fascist propagandists. The experience of the war has convinced our fighting men that the so-called courage of the German officer is something highly relative, that the German officer displays courage when he is dealing with unarmed war prisoners and with the peaceful civilian population; but his courage deserts him when he is confronted with the organized might of the Red Army. Remember the popular saying: “A hero when facing sheep but himself a sheep when faced by a hero.”
Such are the conclusions to be drawn from the experience of the war against the German-fascist invaders.
What do they imply?
They imply that we can and must continue to smite the German-fascist invaders until their final extermination, until the final liberation of Soviet soil from the Hitlerite blackguards.
Comrades! We are waging a patriotic war, a war of liberation, a just war. We have no such aims as the seizing of foreign lands, the subjugation of foreign peoples. Our aim is clear and noble. We want to free our Soviet soil of the German-fascist blackguards. We want to free our brothers the Ukrainians, Moldavians, Byelorussians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Esthonians and Karelians from the shame and humiliation to which they are subjected by the German-fascist blackguards. To achieve this aim we must smash the German-fascist army and exterminate the German occupationists to a man, so long as they do not surrender. There is no other way.
We can do this and we must do this at any cost.
The Red Army possesses everything that is necessary for the realization of this lofty aim. Only one thing is lacking—the ability to utilize to the full against the enemy the first-class equipment with which our Motherland supplies it. Therefore the task of the Red Army, of its men, its machine-gunners, its artillerymen, its mortar crews, its tankmen, its fliers and cavalrymen, is to study the art of war, to study assiduously, to master their arms to perfection, to become expert at their jobs and thus learn to defeat the enemy for certain. Only in this way can one learn the art of defeating the enemy.
Comrades, Red Army men and Red Navy men, commanders and political instructors, men and women guerilla fighters!
Greeting you and congratulating you on this First of May, I order:
1. The men of the rank and file to study their rifles to perfection, to become plasters of their arms, to hit the enemy without fail, just as our glorious snipers, the exterminators of the German occupationists, are hitting them!
2. Machine-gunners, artillerymen, mortar crews, tankmen and fliers to study their arms to perfection, become experts at their jobs, to hit the German-fascist invaders point-blank until their final extermination.
3. Commanders of all units—to learn to perfection the art of co-ordinating the various branches of the service, to become expert in the art of commanding troops, to show the whole world that the Red Army is capable of fulfilling its great mission of liberation!
4. The entire Red Army—to make 1942 the year of the final rout of the German-fascist troops and the liberation of the Soviet land from the Hitlerite blackguards!
5. Men and women guerillas—to intensify partisan warfare in the rear of the German invaders, destroy the enemy’s communications and transport facilities, to destroy the headquarters and equipment of the enemy, and not to spare any cartridges against the oppressors of our Motherland!
Under the invincible banner of the great Lenin—forward to victory!
People’s Commissar of Defence of the U.S.S.R.