J. V. Stalin

Order of the Day, No. 16

February 23, 1944

COMRADES, Red Army men and Red Navy men, sergeants, officers and generals, men and women guerillas!

The peoples of our country meet the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Red Army in the midst of historical victories of the Soviet troops over the German-fascist troops.

For over a year the Red Army has been conducting a victorious offensive, battering the armies of the Hitlerite invaders and sweeping them off Soviet soil. During this period the Red Army successfully carried out the winter campaign of 1942-43, won the summer battles of 1943 and developed the victorious winter offensive of 1943-44. In these campaigns, without parallel in the history of wars, the Rod Army made a fighting advance to the west of up to 1,700 kilometres (1,060 miles) at some points, and cleared the enemy from nearly three-quarters of the Soviet territory he had seized.

In the course of the present winter campaign the Red Army has liquidated the powerful German defences along the whole course of the Dnieper from Zhlobin to Kherson, and thereby upset the German calculations on the successful conduct of a protracted defensive war on the Soviet-German front.

In three months of the winter campaign our gallant troops have won most important victories in the Ukraine west of the Dnieper, completed the liberation of the Kiev, Dniepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye regions, liberated the entire Zhitomir region and almost the whole of the Rovno and Kirovogi ad regions, as well as a number of districts of the Vinnitsa, Nikolayev, Kamenetz Podolsk and Volynia regions. By resolute actions the Red Army liquidated the attempts of the German counter-offensive in the Zhitomir, Krivoi Rog and Uman areas. The Soviet troops arranged a new Stalingrad for the Germans west of the Dnieper by surrounding and wiping out ten German divisions and one brigade in the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky area.

A great victory has been won by the Soviet troops at Leningrad. Our troops broke up the enemy's powerful system of permanent, deeply echeloned fortifications, routed a strong grouping of German troops, and completely freed Leningrad from the enemy’s blockade and barbarous shellings. The Soviet warriors are completing the clearing of the fascist fiends from the Leningrad and Kalinin regions, and have set foot on the soil of Soviet Esthonia.

The mass expulsion of the occupationists from Soviet Byelorussia is in progress. The Gomel and Polessye regions have been almost completely liberated, as well as a number of districts of the Mogilev and Vitebsk regions.

In the unfavourable conditions of the present winter, having overcome the enemy’s powerful defensive zones, our troops in three months of the winter campaign have cleared the invaders from about 200,000 square kilometres (78,125 square miles) of Soviet soil. The Red Army has recaptured from the enemy over 13,000 inhabited localities, including 82 towns and 320 railway stations. Millions more Soviet citizens have been delivered from fascist captivity. Important agricultural and industrial areas with very rich resources of iron ore and manganese have been restored to our Motherland. The Germans have lost these economically important areas, to which they clung so desperately.

By now it must be obvious to everyone that Hitlerite Germany is irresistibly heading for catastrophe. True, conditions for the prosecution of war are more favourable for Germany in the present war than during the last World War, when from the very beginning to the end of the war she waged a struggle on two fronts. However, the great drawback for Germany is the fact that in this war the Soviet Union has proved to be much stronger than the old Tsarist Russia was in the last war. In the first World War six Great Powers—France, Russia, Britain, U.S.A., Japan and Italy—fought on two fronts against the German bloc. In the present war Italy and Japan went over to Germany’s side, Finland joined the fascist bloc, Rumania, who in the last war fought against Germany, changed camps. Moreover, Germany’s main forces are still operating on one front, against the Soviet Union. History shows that Germany has always won wars when she fought on one front, but that she lost the war when she was forced to fight on two fronts. In the present war Germany, though fighting with her main forces on one front against the U.S.S.R., has nevertheless not only proved unable to score victory, but has been placed on the verge of disaster by the powerful blows of the armed forces of the Soviet Union. If the Soviet Union, fighting single-handed, has not only withstood the onslaught of the German war machine, but also inflicted decisive defeats on the German-fascist troops, all the more hopeless will be the situation of Hitlerite Germany when the main forces of our Allies join action, and a powerful and growing offensive of the armies of all the Allied States develops against Hitlerite Germany.

The German-fascist brigands are now tossing about in search of ways to save themselves from disaster. Again they have jumped at “total” mobilization in the rear, although Germany’s man-power resources are depleted. The fascist ringleaders make desperate attempts to provoke discord in the camp of the anti-Hitler coalition and thereby to drag out the war. Hitlerite diplomats rush from one neutral country to another, striving to establish contacts with pro-Hitler elements, hinting at the possibility of a separate peace now with our State, now with our Allies. All these subterfuges of the Hitlerites are doomed to failure, as the anti-Hitler coalition is founded on the vital interests of the Allies who have set themselves the task of smashing Hitlerite Germany and her accomplices in Europe. It is this very community of basic interests that leads to the consolidation of the fighting alliance of the U.S.S.R., Britain and the U.S.A., in the progress of the war.

The hour of the final reckoning for all the crimes committed by the Hitlerites on Soviet soil and in the occupied countries of Europe is drawing near.

The victorious offensive of the Red Army became possible thanks to the new labour exploits of the Soviet people in all branches of our national economy. The working people of the Soviet Union buttressed the summer victories of the Red Army on the fronts with new production victories in the rear.

Our industrial workers fulfil before the scheduled time and exceed the programmes fixed by the State, put new factories, blast furnaces and power stations into commission. In the liberated districts they restore at an unparalleled speed the industry demolished by the invaders. The heroic efforts of the working class further strengthen the military-material base of the Red Army, and so hasten the hour of our final victory.

The Soviet peasantry supplies the State with food for the Army and for the cities, with raw materials for industry. It renders self-denying support to the Red Army.

The Soviet intelligentsia render direct and leading aid to the workers and peasants in developing production and in meeting the Red Army’s requirements.

The working people of the liberated districts every day extend their aid to the Red Army—their liberator—and add the output of their factories and agriculture which they are restoring to the general stream of front-bound supplies.

There is no doubt that in the future, too, by its heroic labour and by the exertion of all its efforts, the Soviet people will ensure the uninterrupted growth of the productive forces of the country for the earliest and final rout of the German-fascist invaders.

The creation of new army formations in the Union Republics, which has been prepared by the fighting companionship of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. in the patriotic war and by the entire history of our State, will further strengthen the Red Army and will add new fighting forces to its ranks.

Comrades, Red Army men, Red Navy men, sergeants, officers and generals! Comrades, men and women guerillas!

In the great war of liberation for the freedom and independence of our Motherland, you have displayed miracles of heroism. The Red Army has achieved a decisive turn in the course of the war in our favour, and now marches confidently towards final victory over the enemy. The enemy suffers one defeat after another. However, he has not yet been smashed. Seeing the approaching doom and the inevitability of retribution for all the monstrous crimes they have committed on our soil, the Hitlerite bandits resist with the fury of doomed men. They hurl into battle their last forces and reserves, cling to every metre of Soviet ground, to every advantageous line.

For this very reason, no matter how great our successes, we must, just as before, soberly appraise the enemy’s strength, be vigilant, not permit self-conceit, complacency or heedlessness in our ranks. As yet, there has been no instance in the history of war of the enemy jumping into the abyss of his own accord. To win the war one must lead the enemy to the abyss and push him into it. Only shattering blows steadily growing in weight can crush the resistance of the enemy and bring us to final victory. With this end in view, it is necessary to continue to perfect the battle training of our fighters and the military skill of the commanders of our Army. The duty of the Red Army is to raise its military art daily to a higher level, constantly and carefully to study the enemy’s tactics, skilfully and opportunely to see through his cunning ruses, to counter enemy tactics with our more perfect tactics. It is necessary that the battle experience and the achievements of the foremost Guards units and formations of the Red Army should become the common property of all our troops, that the whole Red Army, all its officers and men, learn to batter the enemy according to all the rules of modern military science.

Comrades, Red Army men and Red Navy men, sergeants, officers and generals, men and women guerillas!

Greeting and congratulating you on the 26th Anniversary of the Red Army, I order:

(1) All rank and file and sergeants—infantrymen, mortar gunners, artillerymen, airmen, tankmen, sappers, signallers and cavalrymen—to continue untiringly to perfect your battle skill, to make full use of our splendid military equipment, to batter the enemy as our glorious Guardsmen batter him, to carry out with precision the orders of the commanders, to strengthen discipline and order to enhance organization.

(2) Officers and generals of all arms—to perfect the art of leading troops, tactics of manœuvre, the co-ordination of all arms in the course of battle, to apply more boldly and widely the experience of the leading Guards units and formations in combat practice, to raise to a higher level the efficiency of the work of headquarters and of army rear establishments, to improve and develop our reconnaissance to the utmost.

(3) The entire Red Army—with skilful combination of fire and manœuvre, to breach the enemy defences in their full depth, to give the enemy no respite, opportunely to liquidate enemy attempts to stern our offensive by counter-attacks, skilfully to organize the pursuit of the enemy, to prevent him from evacuating his war material, to envelop the flanks of the enemy troops by bold manœuvre, to break into the enemy rear, surround enemy troops, split them up and wipe them out if they refuse to lay down their arms.

(4) Men and women guerillas—to give increased aid to the Red Army, to raid enemy headquarters and garrisons, to harass the enemy rear, to destroy his communications and liaison, to deprive him of the opportunity of bringing up reserves.

(5) To mark the great victories won by the armed forces of the Soviet State during the course of the past year, to-day, February 23, on the occasion of the 26th Anniversary of the Red Army, at 18.00 o’clock, the gallant troops of the Red Army will be saluted with 20 artillery salvoes in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Dniepropetrovsk, Gomel, Rostov.

Glory to our victorious Red Army!

Glory to Soviet arms!

Glory to our valiant men and women guerillas!

Long live our great Soviet Motherland!

Long live our All-Union Communist Party, the inspirer and organizer of the great victories of the Red Army!

Death to the German invaders!

J. Stalin
Supreme Commander-in-Chief
Marshal of the Soviet Union