October 19, 2015

1943. Moscow, the City Where Hitler's Dream Ended

Quentin Reynolds from Moscow



This report was cabled to CBS New York by Quentin Reynolds, a war correspondent for Collier's magazine, in April 1943. Due to poor atmospheric conditions Reynolds' broadcast was unable to get through, and his report was read on air by Bob Trout on the CBS World News Roundup. The text is transcribed from the cablegram itself and has been reformatted from telegraph style. Because this has been taken directly from Reynolds' transcript as he wrote it, it differs slightly from the audio above.

Quentin Reynolds

Moscow

April 11, 1943
I am speaking from Moscow—the city where Hitler's dream ended.

Some day the historians will immortalize a small suburb of Moscow called Khimki. You can get on a streetcar in front of the Kremlin and be in Khimki within half an hour. Khimki sprawls there on the outskirts of Moscow; just another suburb like many others. But Khimki will live forever, because it was here in October 1941 that Hitler's dream ended. His army was battering at the gates of Moscow then, and one day a German tank penetrated as far as obscure Khimki. That tank and the German soldiers in the tank died, and the Nazi dream of Russian conquest died too. Hitler never was able to get that close to the Kremlin again.

I was in Moscow then, and the city was unafraid but grim, and no smiles were seen on the men and women who walked the streets of Moscow. Moscow was fighting with her back to the wall, and she knew it. But she fought back, just as London once fought back, and the faith and courage of her sons and daughters were rewarded. Now I have returned to this city of courage. The nearest German is two hundred miles away, and Moscow is confident that soon that distance will be increased.
Moscow is not overconfident or falsely optimistic, but Moscow is no longer the grim place it was in 1941. Today the streets are thronged with soldiers on leave. Each night the opera is crowded with men in uniform and with factory workers. The people of Moscow have been at war now for nearly two years, but they are neither weary nor have they been weakened.

When you come here directly from New York as I did, it is impossible not to notice the great contrast. A month ago I was annoyed because sometimes in New York I had to walk a few blocks before getting a taxi cab. Here in Moscow there are no taxi cabs, no private cars at all, and no transportation except streetcars and subway. Mostly we walk. Gasoline, oil, and rubber are too precious to use for anything except war purposes. The dim-out in New York annoyed us all a bit. Here in Moscow there is complete blackout, and you don't go out at night unless it is absolutely necessary.
When I left New York some people were grumbling because of the food rationing. Here in Moscow you can get one slice of butter a day, one lump of sugar a meal, and of course steaks, roast beef, and chops, as we know them at home, do not exist. When I left home people were worrying because whiskey and gin were scarce and it was difficult to obtain a vintage wine. Here in Moscow one is very lucky to get an occasional glass of vodka. There is nothing else. Moscow is making teetotalers out of even the American correspondents.
We have a midnight curfew in Moscow. The streets must be kept clear in the event that the German bombers come. Each of us has one electric light bulb in his room, no more. Electric power is needed for war purposes. We seldom have hot water in Moscow. The power and the fuel are needed to run factories. New York is really not so badly off after all.

But no matter what the privations, none here grumbles. Even now people at home have the tendency to let the army fight the war. Moscow knows that armies alone can't win wars. Here every civilian knows that this is his war, and he is doing something about it. Yesterday I stood on the embankment of the river. Spring has come to Moscow and opened the veins of the river, and the ice has been swept away by the swift current. Here on the embankment was a group of schoolchildren, about fifty of them. None was older than twelve, and a third of them were girls. They were drilling with wooden guns. A Red Army man marched them up and down the embankment giving crisp orders, and the youngsters marched smartly, went through the manual of arms skillfully. These children of Mars drilled for an hour and they were released. They went hurrying away—but not to baseball diamonds or playgrounds. Moscow is at war. Each child has a war job.

I've heard people in New York grumble about the servant problem. Here in Moscow only the very old and the very young can be released for domestic service. Housewives with husbands and sons at the front have to do their own marketing, cooking, and housework, and take care of the babies besides. When school is dismissed and the drilling is over these schoolkids help. They mind babies, they help with dishes, they run errands, they scrub floors. They are organized into what they call "The Pioneers," much like our Boy Scouts. They work hard, these children who have no time to play, but they are happy. Each child has heard his mother and father say a hundred times, "This is your war too." And each child makes it his war. Every civilian in Moscow has made it his war. Perhaps New York can learn something from this city of courage.