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On occasion of the German invasion, June 22nd, 1941


    On June 22nd, 1941, the day the Axis powers invaded the Soviet Union, not Joseph V. Stalin but Vyacheslav M. Molotov, Peopleís Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, delivered a speech by radio to the Soviet population, (see Speech 22-06-1941). The first days after the invasion, Stalin was in a state of deep disturbance, apathy and unbelief and only made himself heard publicly 11 days later, on July 3rd with the following speech on radio which was published in Pravda the same day. The speech has become legendary for Stalinís choice of words, for instance, he addressed his fellow countrymen as "brothers and sisters" and as "my friends" for the first time.

    Text of the speech

    Comrades! Citizens! Brothers and sisters! Soldiers of our army and navy!

    To you I turn, my friends.

    The treacherous military attack by Hitler-Germany on our motherland, which was launched on June 22nd continues. Despite heroic resistance by the Red Army and although the best divsions of the enemy and his best air force units have already been destroyed and have met their end on the battlefields, the enemy continues to advance and throws new troops into battle. Hitlerís forces have succeeded in conquering Lithuania, a considerable part of Latvia, the western part of Byelorussia and part of western Ukraine. The Fascist air force expands the range of its bombers and subjects Murmansk, Orsha, Mogilyow, Smolensk, Kiev, Odessa and Sevastopol to bombardments. A serious danger hangs over our motherland.

    How could it occur that our illustrious Red Army has surrendered a few towns and regions to the Fascist armies? Are the German-Fascist troops really as invincible as the bragging Fascist propagandamachine is relentlessly broadcasting?

    Of course not! History shows that invincible armies do not exist and have never existed. The army of Napoleon was thought to be invincible and yet it was defeated by respectively Russian, English and German troops. The German army of Kaiser Wilhelm was also considered invincible during the First Imperial War, yet it was defeated more than once by Russian and Anglo-French troops and ultimately destroyed by Anglo-French armies. The same should be said about the present Fascist German army of Hitler. This army has not yet faced any opposition worth speaking of on the continent of Europe. Only on our territory it has met noticable opposition. If as a result of this opposition the best divisions of the Fascist German army are defeated by the Red Army, then it means that Hitlerís Fascist army can just as well be defeated and will be defeated just like the armies of Napoleon and Wilhelm were defeated.

    As to the fact that part of our territory has nevertheless been captured by the German-Fascist troops, this has its origins mainly in the fact that the war of Fascist Germany against the U.S.S.R. was launched in favorable conditions for the German troops and unfavorable conditions for the Soviet troops. The armies of Germany, as the offending nation, had already been fully mobilised and the 170 divisions that were deployed by Germany against the U.S.S.R. and had been transferred to the frontier were already on full alert and waiting only for the signal to attack, whereas the Soviet forces still had to be mobilised and transferred to the borders. Of no small importance here was the situation that Fascist Germany unexpectedly and treacherously violated the non-aggression pact that she entered into with the U.S.S.R. in 1939, without taking into account that she would be branded as the aggressor by the entire world. It may be obvious that our peace loving nation never wanted to take the initiative towards dissolving the pact and could not have taken the road towards breach of faith.

    One may wonder: how could it have come about that the Soviet government has signed a non-aggression pact with such traitors and monsters like Hitler and Von Ribbentrop? Has the Soviet government made a mistake here? Of course not! A non-aggression pact is a treaty between two states. Such a treaty was offered to us by Germany in 1939. Could the Soviet Union reject such an offer? I think no peace loving nation can reject a peaceful arrangement with a neighbouring country, even when such a state is headed by monsters and cannibals such as Hitler and Von Ribbentrop. And that of course on one decisive condition: if the peaceful arrangement is neither directly nor indirectly detrimental to the territorial inviolability, independency and honour of that peace loving state. As we know, the non-aggression pact between Germany and the U.S.S.R. was indeed such a pact.

    What did we gain by a non-aggression pact with Germany? We have secured peace in our country for one and a half years and have taken the opportunity to prepare our forces for resistance, should Fascist Germany risk an attack on our country, notwithstanding the pact. This was a definite gain for us and a loss for Fascist Germany.

    What did Fascist Germany win and what did she lose by treacherously dissolving the pact and invading the U.S.S.R.? She has gained some advantages for her armies for a short period but suffered a loss in the political arena by portraying herself in the eyes of the world as a blood-thirsty aggressor. There can be no doubt that this short term military gain for Germany is just an episode, whereas the enormous political gain for the Soviet Union is a significant and long-term factor, based on which the Red Army will achieve military successes in the war against Fascist Germany.

    See here why our entire fearless army, the whole of our fearless navy, all falcons of our air force, all peoples of our nation, all the best people in Europe, America and Asia and ultimately also the best people in Germany will brand the treacherous actions of the Germanic Fascists and sympathise with the Soviet government, approve the actions of the Soviet government and recognise our cause is just, that the enemy will be defeated and that we must be victorious.

    In this war that was thrust upon us with violence our country is engaged in a life and death struggle against its most evil and most underhanded enemy - the Germanic Fascism. Our army heroically fights the enemy who is armed to the teeth with tanks and aircraft. The Red Army and the Red Navy, having overcome numerous problems, fight with selfsacrifice for every inch of Soviet territory. The main body of the Red Army, armed with thousands of tanks and air craft, swings into action. The gallantry of the soldiers of the Red Army is unsurpassed. Our resistance against the enemy increases in force and scope. The whole Soviet population stands up to defend our motherland together with the Red Army.

    What is required to take away the danger hanging over our motherland and what measures should be taken to destroy the enemy?

    Above all it is necessary that our people, the Soviet population recognise the full scope of the danger that threatens our country and free themselves of the spirit of unconcern, frivolity and peaceful build up, which was fully understandable in the period before the war but which is disastrous in present times when the situation has been changed drastically by the war. The enemy is cruel and unrelenting. His goal is the conquest of our territory, drenched with our sweat and the appropiation of our grain and our oil, harvested by our hard work. His goal is the re-establishment of the rule of landlords, the re-institution of Czarism, the destruction of the culture and the national government systems of the Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Uzbekians, Tatars, Moldavians, Georgians, Armenians, Azerbedjanians and the other free peoples of the Soviet Union; their Germanisation and their slavish submission to the princes and barons. Therefore it means life or death of the Soviet state, life or death of the peoples of the Soviet Union and it concerns the question whether the Soviet peoples remain free or will be subdued. It is imperative that the Soviet peoples understand this and will not remain careless, that they will pull together and base their work on a new military footing, giving no quarter to the enemy.

    Furthermore it is necessary that there shall be no place in our ranks for lamentors, panic mongers, cowards and deserters, that our people know no fear in battle and that they shall participate in our national war of liberation against the Fascist suppressors in a sacrificial spirit. The great Lenin, founder of our state, has said that the main characteristics of the Soviet people must be their courage and their gallantry, their fearlessness in battle and their willingness to fight the enemies of our motherland together with the population. It is necessary that millions and millions of soldiers of the Red Army, of our Red Navy and all peoples of the Soviet Union acquire these great characteristics of the Bolshevist.

    We must put all our labor efforts on a military footing immediately and make everything subordinate to the interests of the front and the destruction of the enemy. The peoples of the Soviet Union now see that the Germanic Fascism is possessed by an untamable wrath and hatred towards our motherland, which provides all workers with free labor and prosperity. The peoples of the Soviet Union must rise up to protect their rights and their territory against the enemy.

    The Red Army, the Red Navy and all citizns of the Soviet Union must defend every inch of Soviet territory, fight till the last drop of blood and show our towns and villages the manliness, the spirit of enterprise and the cleverness that are peculiar to our people.

    We must organise vast support for the Red Army, provide the army with additional re-inforcements for its ranks, provide the army with all the required equipment, the speedy progress of troop transports, arrange for war material and set up extensive care for the wounded.

    We must re-inforce the rear guard of the Red Army by making all our efforts subordinate to this goal, we must see to it that all industries intensify their activities, more rifles, more machineguns, more artillery pieces, more shells and more aircraft must be produced, we must organise the protection of factories, powerplants, telephone and telegraph lines and we must set up local air defences.

    We must wage a ruthless war against anyone who disturbs the rear guard, against deserters, panic mongerers, those spreading rumors; we must exterminate spies, saboteurs and enemy parachutists and we must achieve a speedy co-operation with our shock battalions. We must keep in mind that the enemy is sly, cunning and experienced in deceit and the spreading of false rumors. We have to take all this into account and not accept provocations. Anyone who thwarts the national defence by panicking and cowardice must be brought before a military tribunal immediately regardless of who or what he is.

    In case of a forced retreat by units of the Red Army all rolling railway stock must be taken away without leaving behind even a single locomotive, a single railway carriage, a single pound of grain or a single gallon of fuel for the enemy. Colchoz farmers must take away all their livestock and surrender the grain to the state to be transferred to rear areas. All valuable possessions that cannot be taken away, such as non-ferro metals, grain and fuel must absolutely be destroyed.

    In areas occupied by the enemy, partizan units must be established, motorised as well as on foot and sabotage groups must be formed to engage the hostile army,to unleash partisan warfare everywhere, to blow up bridges and roads, to disable telephone and telegraph lines and to set fire to woods, depots and convoys. In the occupied areas, an untenable situation must be created for the enemy and his henchmen, they must be persecuted and destroyed at each step and all their measures must be made to fail.

    The war against Fascist Germany cannot be considered a normal war. It is not only a war between two armies, it is also a great war of the entire population of the Soviet Union against the Fascist German troops. The goal of this Patriotic War of the entire population against the Fascist suppressors is not only to remove the danger that hangs over our country but also to help all European peoples that suffer under the rule of German Fascism. In this war of liberation, we will not stand alone. In this great war we will have at our disposal loyal allies in the form of European and American people, also including the German people that has been enslaved by the Hitlerian rebels. Our war for the freedom of our fatherland will blend in with the struggle of the European and American population for their independence, for democratic freedom. This will be a united front of people who promote freedom and oppose suppression or the threat of suppression by Hitlerís Facist armies. In this connection, the historical statement of the British Prime Minister, mister Churchill about aid to the Soviet Union and the declaration of the American government about its willingness to come to the aid of our nation are completely understandable and characteristic and cannot evoke anything else but feelings of gratitude in the hearts of the Soviet peoples.

    Comrades! Our forces are boundless. The arrogant enemy will soon experience this. Many thousands of laborers, colchoz farmers and members of the intelligentsia have already risen up to engage the invading enemy in battle in co-operation with the Red Army. Millions of citizens will rise up as well. The laborers of Moscow and Leningrad have already begun to establish a peopleís militia with thousands of members to support the Red Army. We must raise such peopleís militias in every city which is threatened by enemy invasion and we must call on all workers to commence the struggle in order to defend their freedom, their honour and their motherland with their bodies in our Patriotic War against Germanic Fascism.

    In order to quickly mobilise all forces of the Soviet people and to defend ourselves against the enemy who has treacherously invaded our country, a State Defence Committee has been established in whose hands the complete power of governemnt is concentrated. The Committee has begun its work and calls on the entire population to gather around the party of Lenin and Stalin and around the government to lend unselfish support to the Red Army and to the Red Navy in order to defeat the enemy and achieve victory.

    All our efforts in support of our heroic Red Army and our illustrious Red Navy.

    All efforts by the population for the destruction of the enemy.

    Forward, for our victory.


    Original name of the antidemocratic political movement in Italy under command of dictator ďIl DuceĒ Benito Mussolini. Mussolini was the leader of Italy from 1922 to 1943. Nowadays the term fascism is a much used term for antidemocratic political movements. Sometimes German national socialism is called fascism.
    Largest Soviet ground formation. It was attached to a certain area which gave its name to the units involved. For instance the Voronezh front.
    Armed incursion.
    non-aggression pact
    Agreement wherein parties pledge not to attack each other.
    Organisation of Former SS-members. Secret organization of and for former SS-members. Organised new identities and housing abroad after the war.
    Red Army
    Army of the Soviet Union.
    Resistance against the enemy. Often also with armed resources.
    Soviet Union
    Soviet Russia, alternative name for the USSR.


    The frontpagine of Pravda of July 3rd , 1941 with Stalins radio address Source: Public domain.
    Stalin delivering a speech Source: Public domain.


    Translated by:
    Arnold Palthe
    Article by:
    Auke de Vlieger
    Published on:
    Last edit on:
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