December 27, 2018

1943. Soviets Warn of Pending Summer Fighting on the Eastern Front

The Situation on the Russian Front
Paratroopers of the Black Sea Fleet navigate through a wire obstacle during the liberation of Novorossiysk, September 16, 1943 (Photo by Aleksey Mezhuyev – 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

May 18, 1943

President Roosevelt's special envoy to Russia, former ambassador Joseph Davies, is expected to arrive in Moscow either today or tomorrow. Mr. Davies reached Kuybyshev last night. As yet there has been no definite information here as to the purpose of his visit. The only thing we in Moscow know about the Davies mission is that he did not travel all this way merely for the ride.

The Soviet-German front was comparatively quiet again last night. Down in the Kuban, the Nazi forces have attempted a series of counterattacks but thus far have failed to pull off anything that even looks like an offensive.

Front dispatches say that these German counterattacks, however, are being made with ever increasing forces—both on the sector northeast of Novorossiysk and in the Lower Kuban river area. At Lysychansk, at the eastern end of the Donets river line, the Red Army is digging in after crossing the river and capturing important defensive positions.

(The Germans failed to push the Russians back even though they threw in substantial numbers of tanks and infantry.) Now the fighting as settled down to a 24-hour exchange of artillery, rifle, and machine gun fire. (This sector appears to be the most volatile of any front north of the Kuban. It is likely that we'll be hearing of more fighting in this area.)

Another of those warnings to the Red Army and the Russian people about the pending summer fighting appears again in today's Red Star. It's about the sixth such warning to be published in the Soviet press in the past ten days. The newspaper says "the thunder of battles will be roaring soon which will require the greatest courage and energy from the Red Army. We still have to shed no small quantity of blood in order to rout the Hitlerians . . . Not one inch of native soil must be given to the enemy if he attempts to attack. Every village and house must become a fortress and bastion of defense . . ."

This is the kind of talk we heard during the early days of the war and during the defense of Stalingrad.

These warnings are designed to make the entire nation conscious of the situation at the front—a situation which, because of military security, cannot be described in detail. However, it is well to note that these press warnings make no mention of plans for the Red Army.

While it is necessary to warn people of possible military action by the enemy, the home front does not need to be told of offensive action by their own forces.

So in considering the situation on the Russian front, you must also consider the possibilities of a Red Army offensive. Such a move by the Russians is not ruled out. However, the tone of the official press the past two weeks has given absolutely no hint that such an offensive is developing.

This is Bill Downs returning you now to CBS in New York.