August 11, 2017

1943. Russian Civilians Contribute to the War Effort

Blast Furnace Victory
Militiamen at the Stalingrad Tractor Plant pass through ruins on their way to the front line (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

January 15, 1943

The story behind the Red Army's winter offensive is something more than white camouflaged infantry and tanks fighting their way through drifts of German bodies and snow-filled Axis pillboxes. It's the old story of production.

You would rather hear of the daring exploits of the United States Army than any other phase of the war. Russians feel the same way about it. Undeniably, there's more romance attached to pulling the trigger of a machine-gun than pulling the trigger of a chattering rivet hammer.

However, the Russians, I believe, realize more fully than anyone else the importance of the man behind the man behind the gun.

A good example was today's Moscow newspapers. The one story that took up more space than the account of any single battle at the front was the story of a blast furnace. The building of this furnace was accomplished in a mere seven months. Ordinarily blast furnaces for the smelting of iron take from twelve to eighteen months to build.

This furnace was built east of the Ural Mountains, one thousand miles from Moscow (in the big industrial district which has been developed out there.)

When the government started laying the foundation for this big furnace last May, it imported many workers from Russia's industrial centers in the west which had been captured by the Germans. (These men and women set up a tent city around the building site because there was no accommodation in the small town near which the furnace was to be built.)

As the work progressed, the nearby townspeople also came in on the job. Then someone started a competition. (The furnace became a sort of goal.) Whole families, including the kids, helped carry fire bricks. (Others dug pipelines. When the super-structure started going up, people got in each other's way trying to get things done.) Gangs which ordinarily would have been installing power lines after the towers were up began right away, putting in a cable here as soon as the emplacement was ready.

This furnace was almost built "simultaneously." The furnace was tapped for the first time yesterday, (and its first molten iron poured into ingots.)

Today this achievement was hailed in the Soviet press with almost the same enthusiasm as was the Red Army's capture of Mineralnye Vody and Velikiye Luki.

Reserves have been the secret behind the Red Army's winter offensive. This means reserves in industrial as well as manpower.

Today's "blast furnace victory" on the Ural front is in many ways just as important as today's victories by the Red Army in the Northern Caucasus and the Lower Don. It's the same in all the United Nations. Put these victories together, and they spell a quicker end to the war.