The 25th Anniversary of the Founding of the Red Army
|Food rations in Moscow in 1943|
(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
February 22, 1943
In the factories and mills, shops and homes throughout the one-sixth of the earth's surface which comprises the Soviet Union, the Russian people today are preparing for tomorrow's twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Red Army.
(In America, we don't have any exact counterpart to this Russian celebration.) Tomorrow will not be an official holiday in Russia. The factories will carry on as usual. The stores will be open.
There probably will be no parades or public demonstrations.
But this year, for reasons every German soldier on the Eastern Front can confirm, Red Army Day is an event of international importance. And every Soviet citizen, from Joseph Stalin down to the most insignificant factory worker and collective farmer, is going to take time out to drink a toast to the fighting man of Russia.
Premier Stalin usually marks such occasions by (speech or) a special order of the day. There has been no official indication up to the present moment that Stalin will (make a speech or) issue such an order of the day.
(Any word from Mr. Stalin at the present moment would be of worldwide importance.) However, it is well worth watching for.
(However, whether Premier Stalin makes a speech or issues an order of the day or not, factories and schools and shops will wind up their preparations for the twenty-fifth anniversary. Special meetings and progress will be held in the schools. The factories have organized meetings for both the day and night shifts. Russian soldiers, sailors, and airmen are in great demand to speak at these meetings.)
(At Stalingrad and Kharkov and Leningrad, up in the Urals and way out in Siberia, people have put up banners on which are written the government's official slogans commemorating the day.)
(This custom of issuing official slogans is a strange one to Americans. Our slogans sort of spring up spontaneously, such as "Remember the Maine" or "Remember Pearl Harbor" and such.)
(The Central Committee of the Communist Party yesterday issued 49 slogans for Red Army day. They honored all branches of the army, navy, and air force, as well as the workers and farmers and intelligentsia.)
Since today is George Washington's birthday, (I asked a Russian schoolboy if he had ever heard of America's first president. He answered my right away. "Of course," he said. "George Washington was the man who led your revolution—like Lenin led ours.")
Teachers in history classes of Russian schools probably will mention that 211 years ago today America's first president was born. However, Russian schoolchildren won't be paying too much attention to America's holiday. They are too interested in their own celebrations tomorrow. For weeks, the schoolkids have been preparing tobacco pouches, writing letters, collecting such presents as bars of soap, pencils and paper, needles and bread and other gifts to send to the front.
The letters that the Russian kids write to the soldiers usually congratulate the men on the 25th anniversary and urge them to continue the stuffing out of the Germans. And often the letters end up with a promise that, as a token of appreciation, the schoolchildren will see that they make better grades and stop whispering in classrooms.
That's the way Russian kids feel about their soldiers at the front.