Order of the Day, No. 55
February 23, 1942
(Anniversary of the Foundation of the Red Army)
Comrades, men of the Red Army and Red Navy, commanders and political workers, men and women guerillas!
The peoples of our country meet the twenty-fourth anniversary of the
Red Army in the stern days of a patriotic war against fascist Germany,
which is brazenly and despicably encroaching upon the life and freedom
of our Motherland. Along the whole length of the huge front, which
stretches from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea, the men of the Red
Army and Navy are waging a bitter fight to drive the German-fascist
invaders from our country and safeguard the honour and independence of
This is not the first time that the Red Army has had to defend our
native land against enemy attack. The Red Army was created twenty-four
years ago to combat the troops of the foreign interventionist invaders
who were endeavouring to dismember our country and destroy her
independence. Young detachments of the Red Army, which entered war for
the first time, routed the German invaders at Pskov and Narva on
February 23, 1918. For this very reason February 23, 1918, was
proclaimed the day of the birth of the Red Army. Since then the Red
Army grew and gained strength in the struggle with the foreign
interventionist invaders. It successfully defended our country in the
battles with the German invaders in 1918 and drove them beyond the
confines of the Ukraine and Byelorussia. It successfully defended our
country in the battles with the foreign troops of the Entente in
1919-1921 and drove them too beyond the confines of our country.
The rout of the foreign interventionist invaders during the Civil War
secured the peoples of the Soviet Union lasting peace and the
possibility of peaceful construction. During those two decades of
peaceful construction there sprang up in our country socialist industry
and collective farming; science and culture flourished and the bonds of
friendship between the peoples of our country strengthened. But the
Soviet people never forgot the possibility of a fresh enemy attack on
our Motherland. Therefore, simultaneously with the development of
industry and agriculture, science and culture, the military might of
the Soviet Union was also growing. Certain lovers of foreign lands have
already felt this might on their own hides. The much-vaunted
German-fascist army is feeling it now.
Eight months ago fascist Germany perfidiously attacked our country,
grossly and basely violating the non-aggression pact. The enemy figured
that after the very first blow the Red Army would be routed and would
lose its ability to resist. But the enemy gravely miscalculated. He did
not take into consideration the strength of the Red Army, did not take
into consideration the solidity of the Soviet rear, did not take into
consideration the will of the peoples of our country to achieve
victory, did not take into consideration the unreliability of the
European rear of fascist Germany, did not take into consideration,
finally, the internal weakness of fascist Germany and its army.
In the first months of the war, as a result of the unexpectedness and
suddenness of the German-fascist attack, the Red Army was forced to
retreat and evacuate part of Soviet territory. But while retreating the
Red Army wore down the forces of the enemy and inflicted severe blows
upon him. Neither the men of the Red Army nor the peoples of our
country doubted that this retreat was but temporary, that the enemy
would be halted and then defeated.
In the course of the war the Red Army accumulated fresh vital strength,
was reinforced with men and equipment, and received fresh reserve
divisions to aid it. And the time came when the Red Army was able to
pass to the offensive in the main sectors of the huge front. Within a
short time the Red Army dealt the German-fascist troops one blow after
another, at Rostov-on-Don and Tikhvin, in the Crimea and at Moscow. In
violent battles near Moscow the Red Army routed the German-fascist
troops which had threatened to surround the Soviet capital. The Red
Army threw back the enemy from Moscow and is still continuing to press
him westward. The Moscow and Tula Regions as well as dozens of towns
and hundreds of villages of other regions temporarily captured by the
enemy have been completely freed from the German invaders.
The Germans now no longer have that military advantage which they
possessed during the first months of the war as a result of their
treacherous and sudden attack. The momentum of surprise and
unexpectedness, as a reserve of the German-fascist troops, has been
completely spent. This has put an end to that inequality in war
conditions which was created by the suddenness of the German-fascist
attack. From now on the outcome of the war will be decided, not by such
an adventitious element as surprise, but by permanently operating
factors: stability of the rear, morale of the army, quantity and
quality of divisions, equipment of the army, organizing ability of the
commanding personnel of the army. At this point one circumstance ought
to be noted: no sooner had the momentum of suddenness disappeared from
the German arsenal than the German-fascist army was confronted with
The German fascists consider their army invincible, asserting that in
single combat it would unquestionably smash the Red Army. At the
present time the Red Army and the German-fascist army are fighting in
single combat. More than that, the German-fascist army has the direct
support at the front of Italian, Rumanian and Finnish troops. The Red
Army, so far, has no similar support.
And what do we find? The vaunted German army is suffering defeat while
the Red Army has major successes to its credit. Under the powerful
blows of the Red Army the German troops are reeling back to the West,
sustaining huge losses in men and equipment. They hold on to every line
of defence, trying to defer the day of their rout. But the enemy’s
efforts are in vain. The initiative is now in our hands and the efforts
of Hitler’s loose and rusty war machine cannot check the pressure of
the Red Army. The day is not far distant when the Red Army, by its
powerful blows, will thrust back the brutal enemy from Leningrad and
sweep clear of him the towns and villages of Byelorussia and the
Ukraine, of Lithuania and Latvia, Esthonia and Karelia, will free the
Soviet Crimea, and the red banners will again fly victoriously over the
entire Soviet land.
It would, however, be unpardonable shortsightedness to rest content
with the successes achieved and to think that the German troops have
already been done for. This would be empty boasting and conceit
unworthy of Soviet people. It should not be forgotten that there are
still many difficulties ahead. The enemy is suffering defeat, but he is
not yet routed, still less is he finished off. The enemy is still
strong. He will exert his last forces in order to attain success. And
the more he suffers defeat, the more brutal he will become. Therefore
it is essential that in our country the training of reserves in aid of
the front should not be relaxed for a moment. It is essential that
ever-new military units should go to the front to forge victory over
the bestial enemy. It is essential that our industry, particularly our
war industry, should work with redoubled energy. It is essential that
with every day the front should receive ever more tanks, planes, guns,
mortars, machine-guns, rifles, automatic rifles, and ammunition.
Herein lies one of the basic sources of the strength and power of the Red Army.
But the strength of the Red Army does not consist only in this. The
strength of the Red Army rests, above all, in the fact that it is
waging, not a predatory, not an imperialist war, but a patriotic war, a
war of liberation, a just war. The Red Army’s task is to liberate our
Soviet territory from the German invaders; to liberate from the yoke of
the German invaders the citizens of our villages and towns who were
free and lived like human beings before the war, but are now oppressed
and suffer pillage, ruin and famine; and finally, to liberate our women
from that disgrace and outrage to which they are subjected by the
German-fascist monsters. What could be more noble, more lofty, than
such a task? Not one German soldier can say that he is waging a just
war, because he cannot fail to see that he is forced to fight for the
despoliation and oppression of other peoples. The German soldier has no
such lofty and noble aim in the war which could inspire him and of
which he could be proud. But, in contrast, any Red Army man can say’
with pride that he is waging a just war, a war for liberation, a war
for the freedom and independence of his Motherland. The Red Army does
have a noble and lofty aim in the war which inspires it to great
exploits. It is precisely this that explains why the patriotic war
brings forth among us thousands of heroes and heroines ready to go to
their death for the sake of the liberty of their Motherland.
Herein lies the strength of the Red Army.
And herein lies the weakness of the German-fascist army.
The foreign Press sometimes carries such twaddle as that the Red Army
pursues the aim of exterminating the German people and destroying the
German state. This, of course, is a stupid lie, and a senseless slander
against the Red Army. The Red Army has not and cannot have such idiotic
aims. The Red Army’s aim is to drive the German occupants from our
country and liberate Soviet soil from the German-fascist invaders. It
is very likely that the war for the liberation of Soviet soil will lead
to the exile or destruction of Hitler’s clique. We would welcome such
an outcome. But it would be ludicrous to identify Hitler’s clique with
the German people, with the German state. The experience of history
indicates that Hitlers come and go, but the German people and the
German state remain.
The strength of the Red Army lies, finally, in the fact that it does
not and cannot feel racial hatred for other peoples, including the
German people; that it has been trained in the spirit of equality of
all peoples and races, in the spirit of respect for the rights of other
peoples. The Germans’ racial theory and the practice of racial hatred
have caused all freedom-loving peoples to become enemies of fascist
Germany. The theory of race equality in the U.S.S.R. and practice of
respect for the rights of other peoples have caused all freedom-loving
peoples to become the friends of the Soviet Union.
Herein lies the strength of the Red Army.
And herein lies the weakness of the German-fascist army.
The foreign Press sometimes carries such twaddle as that the Soviet
people hate the Germans just as Germans, that the Red Army exterminates
German soldiers just as Germans out of hatred for everything German and
that therefore the Red Army does not take German soldiers prisoner.
That, of course is a similar stupid lie and senseless slander against
the Red Army. The Red Army is devoid of all sentiments of racial
hatred. It is devoid of such degrading sentiments because it has been
trained in the spirit of racial equality and respect for the rights of
other peoples. It should not be forgotten either that in our country
any manifestation of racial hatred is punished by law.
Of course, the Red Army has to destroy the German-fascist
occupationists inasmuch as they wish to enslave our Motherland; or
when, on being surrounded by our troops, they refuse to lay down their
arms and surrender. The Red Army annihilates them, not because of their
German origin, but because they want to enslave our Motherland. The Red
Army, like the army of any other people, has the right and is
duty-bound to annihilate the enslavers of its Motherland, irrespective
of their national origin. Not long ago the German garrisons in the
towns of Kalinin, Klin, Sukhinichi, Andreapol and Toropets were
surrounded by our troops, who offered them surrender and, in this case,
promised to spare their lives. The German garrisons refused to lay down
their arms and surrender. It is obvious that they had to be driven out
by force and that not a few Germans were killed. War is war. The Red
Army takes German soldiers and officers prisoner if they surrender, and
spares their lives. The Red Army annihilates German soldiers and
officers if they refuse to lay down their arms, and, arms in hand,
attempt to enslave our Motherland. Remember the words of the great
Russian writer, Maxim Gorky: “If the enemy does not surrender he must
Comrades! Red Army men and Red Navy men, commanders and political
workers, men and women guerillas! I congratulate you on the
twenty-fourth anniversary of the Red Army! I wish you complete victory
over the German-fascist invaders.
Long live the Red Army and Navy!
Long live the green and women guerillas!
Long live our glorious native land, its freedom and its independence!
Long live the great party of the Bolsheviks which is leading us to victory!
Long live the invincible banner of the great Lenin!
Under the banner of Lenin onward to the defeat of the German-fascist invaders!
People’s Commissar for Defence of the U.S.S.R.
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