May 23, 2016

1943. The Little News from Russia

Little News from Moscow as Spring Approaches
Soviet Red Army women sniper team on the Eastern Front during World War II (source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

April 14, 1943

There's no big news here in the Soviet Union tonight. All of us here, from the government leaders in the Kremlin down to the correspondents in the Metropol hotel, are waiting for developments from North Africa.

(With the spring thaws bogging things down on the Russian front—after the Red Army's tremendous winter drive, the feeling here is that it's just about time someone else made history for a change. And it's exceedingly interesting to the Soviet Union that the American, British, and French troops in Tunisia have grabbed the opportunity.)

As I said, the news from Russia right now is pretty dull. Since neither Stalin nor Mr. Molotov nor Marshal Voroshilov rang me up to give me a story, I can't give you any big news. But I can give you some little news.

For example, I took off my long underwear today. My Soviet friends say I am rushing the season. It seems that the day when the entire nation molts its winter underwear is May 1. From the frigid breezes that have whistled around my goose-pimples, I'm beginning to understand why.

Another item of the little news from Russia tonight is that, if you walked down almost any street in Moscow, you could buy the season's first spring flowers. Actually, they're bouquets of pussy-willows tied in a bundle with sprigs of evergreen to set them off.

Everyone's been too busy to work on flower gardens this year, and outside of the dandelions, these pussy-willows will be the only early spring "flowers" around town.

(But the Moscow people are snapping them up. The Russians are long on flowers. It's a little pitiful the way they fight even to buy artificial ones when new batches are available in the stalls.)

The only other item of the little news from Moscow tonight is that the lady policeman who guards the door of the radio station has changed into summer uniform.

I thought that the coming of spring might soften her heart. However, she still makes me show my pass to get in the studio. She's seen me at least a hundred times. I've walked past her so many times she knows the pattern on all three of my neckties by heart.

But every time I try to get past that door, the militia girl makes me dig up that propusk [пропуск].

(It's beginning to become more clear to me how Russian women join the Red Army and become officers. I think our lady policewoman is brushing up her discipline so she can be a general some day.)