March 16, 2017

1943. Chairman Kalinin Places Russian Railroad Lines Under Martial Law

Kalinin's Decree
"Soviet soldiers lead house-to-house fighting in the outskirts of Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany, in April of 1945" (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 16, 1943

(The Red Army is moving again in the Kuban. Last night's and this morning's communiqués have that old ring of victory which we became so familiar with during the winter offensive. Last night the Soviet forces in the Kuban captured one German point of support. Strong Axis forces attempted to restore their position but only succeeded in losing a couple of tanks, some guns, and a lot of men. The heavy spring rains and thaws are just about over in the Northern Caucasus, and the more the sun shines, the heavier the air fighting will become in the Kuban sack.)

Red Army airmen reporting back from Wednesday night's long-range bombing mission to Danzig and Königsberg say that they put a blizzard of high explosives and incendiaries square on their targets in these two important Nazi industrial and supply centers.

A special observer from the Soviet air command traveled with the planes that flew to Danzig. This officer said (the ack-ack here was particularly intense and spread in a wide circle around the city. However, all of the Russian planes got through, and fires and explosions were seen in several districts of the city.) Bombs hit a military target between the two canals that run through the center of the city. The district around the city hall also was hit, and bombs plastered the port area where there are large concentrations of oil.

The Königsberg attack, the third the city has had in the past six days, again smashed the city's power station and at the big Königsberg railroad junctions. Bombs also were dropped in the harbor district.

President Kalinin has signed a decree of the Supreme Soviet putting all railroad workers in Russia under martial law.

The decree said the move was taken to "eliminate the lack of discipline" among a small minority of railroad workers. The overwhelming majority, it said, are honestly and conscientiously fulfilling their duties. Then the decree added: "But it is impossible to admit that an undisciplined minority should frustrate the uninterrupted supply of the front."

This decree is the most far-reaching yet taken in Soviet industry since the war began. It puts all railroad lines under martial law for the duration. Stoppages, carelessness, persistent tardiness, and laziness—which are considered crimes in the Soviet Union during wartime—will in the future be subject for court-martial (by Red Army officials.)

(And upon conviction of a crime on the railroads, the worker is subject to dismissal from his job, after which he will be sent to the front to join special penalty brigades. In addition, executives of the railroad lines have the right to put a worker under "administrative arrests" for minor infractions for up to a period of twenty days.)

(This is a very severe and important law. However, you will notice it carries a "for the duration" provision and presumably will be repealed when the war ends. It's the way Russia has been fighting this war, and the government's severity on important questions is one of the reasons why she is winning.)