December 9, 2016

1943. Fireworks and Salutes in Moscow as the Fighting Continues

Moscow Salutes as Italy Falls
"Soviet troops move near the German sign for Stalino, the former name for Donetsk in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region," September 8, 1943 (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

September 11, 1943

It was a quiet night in Moscow tonight. The Russian communiqué for a change did not proclaim a sensational victory—but this does not mean there were none.

For example, in the drive west from Stalino, the Russian troops advanced from six to seven miles. They took 70 inhabited points. In the Central Ukraine, Russian troops moved from three to six miles towards Kiev. They took 20 inhabited points.

Another 60 populated points were taken in the Bryansk salient, and a lot of them you can't even find on the map.

What I'm trying to say is that, despite the apparent lack of what we call "big" news, the Red Army's advance is continuing. A lot of these unknown inhabited points might be, for individual groups of Russian soldiers, battles as bitter and bloody as the fighting that separate units did for Stalingrad. You don't need a special communiqué to die—you also don't need a special communiqué to capture an inhabited point.

The fall of Italy is the most discussed news in Russia tonight. On the subway and in the streetcars and buses, people discuss the events in Southern Europe.

The people in Russia are wondering whether this is going to develop into a Second Front. No one is speculating, but with the German occupation—or what the Nazis call occupation—of Rome and other major cities north of the Allied landings, people are beginning to wonder. However, the Second Front is still the number one military question uppermost in all minds, no matter how the Italian offensive develops.

Meanwhile, people here in Moscow come home from work each night and wonder whether they will see any fireworks. In some neighborhoods they have watched certain stations where these fireworks are set off, and they can see supply trucks coming in late in the evening. Thus the word spreads that some new fireworks have arrived in such-and-such district and that a new "prekasz" is due from the Kremlin.

In fact, the whole process has become so common in the last few days that they are saying to their daughters who go out for an evening's stroll, "Remember, Galya, you must be home just after the salute."