January 5, 2017

1943. The Looming Summer Offensive on the Eastern Front

"Kicking the Axis Forces Out of Russia as Soon as Possible"
A wounded German prisoner of war taken at the Battle of Stalingrad, January 1943 (source)
The parentheses indicate text that did not pass Soviet censors for military security or propaganda reasons.

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

CBS Moscow

March 31, 1943

The Soviet press this morning is giving big play to the Anglo-American offensive in North Africa, devoting about one-third of its foreign section under big headlines to the Allied advance in Tunisia. All of the major papers took occasion to print detailed maps of the African battle area—the first war maps to be printed in the Russian newspapers since the Red Army's winter offensive ceased its advance in the Ukraine.

This news also has been broadcast throughout the country by Russian radio stations. The second-most important foreign war story is the bombing of Berlin, Germany and Western Europe.

This is the best news in Russia this morning and it's making the Russian people feel pretty good about it.

This morning's communiqué again announced no changes on the Soviet front last night. There were some skirmishes on several sectors of the Kuban. In the middle Donets sector major activity was in the air, where flying weather has been good for the past several days.

Meanwhile, the most popular subject of conversation here in the Soviet Union is the impending summer campaigning. Russia has as many armchair generals and military quarterbacks as any country in the world—maybe more. The Russian people know their Red Army as well as an American baseball fan knows the Yanks, or a college student knows his football team.

The summer battle prospective boils down to two simple facts. Hitler cannot afford to sit on his present battle lines and expand his diminishing military energy by defensive action. This would allow the Soviet command to a mass overwhelming strength against him. The experience at Stalingrad is a clear demonstration of what happens when he neglects the massing of Soviet reserves.

The other fact is that the Red Army is committed to kicking the Axis forces out of Russia as soon as possible. This time factor—"as soon as possible"—depends upon a number of things. It demands massing of supplies and reserves to replace the losses of the Soviet winter offensive. It demands re-consolidation of the home front, both in the matter of food production and the increased production of war weapons.

This morning's editorial in the newspaper Pravda shed a faint glimmer of light as to what Russia expects this summer. The editorial said:

"We must not forget for one minute that hard, heavy fighting is ahead against the ferocious and still powerful enemy. During the four months of offensive fighting, the Red Army dealt heavy blows to the Hitlerians. The enemy suffered serious defeats but is not yet vanquished. (The Germans are desperately trying to take the initiative. There is no place in our ranks for carelessness or self-delusion.) We must stubbornly and patiently perfect the fighting training for our troops and even better prepare the fighting reserves now going to the front."

The Russian and German armies at the present time are now stripping for summer activity. The army which gets its coat off first will strike the first blow.