This historic speech was given by Iosif Stalin at the darkest hour, when the enemy was at the gates of Moscow. The speech and the parade marked the turning point of the war. In many ways it is prophetic, but it also has references to the immediate past, which are important to understand.
Knowing this text will be important for the context of two translations that I intend to publish on and after the Victory day.
The complete text in Russian can be read here.
Comrade fighters of the Red Army and the Red Navy, commanders and political instructors, labourers, collective farmers, workers of intellectual work, brothers and sisters in the rear of our enemy, temporarily fallen under the yoke of the German brigands, our glorious partisans, destroying the rear of the German invaders!
On behalf of the Soviet government and our Bolshevik party I greet and congratulate you on the 24th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
Comrades! It is in difficult conditions that we have to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the October revolution today. The treacherous attack of the German brigands and the war imposed on us have created a threat to our country. We temporarily lost a number of regions, and the enemy found themselves at the gates of Leningrad and Moscow. The enemy counted on the fact that after the first blow our army would be scattered, our country would be brought to its knees. But the enemy cruelly miscalculated. Despite temporary setbacks, our Army and our Navy are heroically repelling the enemy’s attacks throughout the entire front, inflicting heavy damage on them, and our country – our entire country – has organized itself into a single military camp in order to carry out the defeat of the German invaders together with our Army and our Navy.
There were days when our country was in an even more difficult situation. Remember 1918, when we celebrated the first anniversary of the October revolution. Three-quarters of our country was then in the hands of foreign interventionists. Ukraine, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East were temporarily lost to us. We had no allies, we had no Red Army – we had only just begun to create it – there was not enough bread, not enough weapons, not enough uniforms. 14 states then oppressing on our land. But we were not discouraged or dispirited. In the fire of war we then organized the Red Army and turned our country into a military camp. The spirit of great Lenin inspired us then to war against the interventionists. And to what result? We defeated the interventionists, regained all the lost territories and achieved victory.
Our country is much better off now, than it was 23 years ago. Our country is now many times richer in industry, food, and raw materials, than it was 23 years ago. We now have allies who hold a united front with us against the German invaders. We now have the sympathy and support of all the peoples of Europe who have fallen under the yoke of Hitler’s tyranny. We now have a wonderful Army and a wonderful Navy, which are actively defending the freedom and independence of our country. We do not have a serious shortage of food, weapons, or uniforms. Our entire country, all the peoples of our country, are supporting our Army and our Navy, helping them to defeat the invading hordes of German fascists. Our human resources are inexhaustible. The spirit of the great Lenin and his victorious banner inspire us now for the Patriotic war just as they did 23 years ago.
Can there be any doubt that we can and must defeat the German invaders?
The enemy is not as strong as some frightened intellectuals portray it. The devil is not so terrible as they paint him. Who can deny that our Red Army has more than once turned the vaunted German troops into a stampede? If we judge not by the boastful statements of the German propagandists, but by the actual situation of Germany, it will not be difficult to understand that the German-fascist invaders are facing a catastrophe. In Germany now there is hunger and poverty, after 4 months of war Germany lost 4 and a half million soldiers, Germany is bleeding, its manpower depleted, the spirit of outrage has gripped not only the peoples of Europe fallen under the yoke of the German invaders, but also the German people themselves, who can not see the end to the war. The German invaders are straining their last strength. There is no doubt that Germany cannot stand such a strain for long. A few more months, another six months, perhaps a year – and Hitlerite Germany must burst under the weight of its crimes.
Comrades fighters of the Red Army and the Red Navy, commanders and political workers, partisans! The whole world looks at you as a force capable of destroying the predatory hordes of the German invaders. The enslaved peoples of Europe, who have fallen under the yoke of the German invaders, look upon you as their liberators. The great mission of liberation has fallen upon you. Be worthy of this mission! The war you are waging is a war of liberation, a just war. Let the courageous image of our great ancestors – Alexander Nevsky, Dimitri Donsky, Kuzma Minin, Dimitri Pozharsky, Alexander Suvorov, Mikhail Kutuzov – inspire you in this war! Let the victorious banner of the great Lenin enlighten you!
For the utter defeat of the German invaders!
Death to the German occupiers!
Long live our glorious Motherland, her freedom, her independence!
Under the banner of Lenin – forward to victory!
— Pravda. November 8, 1941
Below is the video of the parade, including the speech: