861.415/68: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Thurston) to the Secretary of State

163. The local paper33 of February 23, received last evening, published the lengthy order of the day issued by Stalin as Commissar for Defense on the occasion of Red Army Day. The order may be characterized as a general summary of the war propaganda line taken by the Soviet press for the past several months. It is noteworthy that it contains no reference to Russia’s allies or to material assistance being given to the Soviet Union by the United States and Great Britain. Stalin emphasized the direct support which the Germans are receiving at the front from Italian, Rumanian and Finnish troops and stated that for time being the Red Army does not enjoy similar support. The order lists no Soviet victories beyond those which have been announced in the past, but contains the statement that “not far off is the day when the Red Army by a powerful blow will hurl the brutal enemy back from Leningrad, will cleanse the cities and villages of White Russia, the Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Karelin of them, and will liberate the Soviet Crimea, and Soviet flags will again wave victoriously over all Soviet soil”. The order Contains no allusion to the possibility of a German spring offensive, although it remarks that the enemy is still strong and will exert every effort to gain successes.

Three paragraphs in the latter portion of the order are of special interest. These refer to foreign press “chatter” to the effect that the Red Army has as its aim the annihilation of the German people and the destruction of the German state. Such statements are described as foolish and a “stupid slander” against the Red Army, which “does not and cannot have such idiotic aims”. The Red Army is said to have as its aim on the other hand, the expulsion of the occupying German forces from the Soviet Union and the liberation of Soviet soil from the “German Fascist aggressors”. Stalin stated that it is very probable that the war for the liberation of Soviet soil will result in the exile or annihilation of Hitler’s clique and that such a result would be welcomed, but that it would be ridiculous to identify Hitler’s clique with the German people and the German state. “History shows that Hitlers come and go but the German people and the German state remain.” He went on to say that the Red Army is free of any feeling of [Page 417] racial hatred, contradicting further statements alleged to have appeared in the foreign press in the sense that the Soviet people hate the Germans for being Germans. The Red Army is stated to have been trained in a spirit of racial equality and of respect for the rights of other peoples. It does, however, annihilate the occupiers who refuse to surrender because they wish to enslave the Fatherland. If they surrender they are taken prisoner and their lives spared.

The same paper carries an article by Kalinin in honor of Red Army Day which consists largely of an appeal for greater war efforts by the Soviet civilian population. He refers to the possibility of a spring offensive by stating that Hitler, not having anything to boast about, is threatening to take revenge by a new offensive in the spring. “We will exert every effort to disrupt these plans of Hitler also.”

A striking feature of Red Army Day has been the absence of the expected announcement concerning the recapture of cities and towns by the Red Army. It is further noticeable that no summary of the results of 8 months of war was attempted by Stalin on this occasion as might also have been expected.

  1. Volzhskaya Kommuna.