Friday, April 13, 2018

July 3, 1941: Stalin Speaks

Thursday 3 July 1941

Joseph Stalin's speech 3 July 1941
Remarks of Joseph Stalin, 3 July 1941.
Eastern Front: On 3 July 1941, after disappearing from public view for ten days, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin gives a radio speech. It is a remarkable event in the history of the Soviet Union. It is one of the most dramatic and influential speeches of the 20th Century because it produces results that change the history of the world. As British newsman Alexander Werth writes, for the first time Stalin speaks to the country as if his listeners are his friends. Listeners can hear the clink of Stalin's glass as he takes occasional sips and marvel at his very thick Georgian accent. It is as if Stalin is sitting at the table with you, explaining the tragedy that has befallen the country and asking personally for your help.

The gist of the speech is that the entire Soviet Union must engage in total war. On a tactical level, Stalin advocates that his "brothers" and "sisters" adopt "Guerilla tactics." He admonishes "We must not leave … a single kilogram of grain or a single liter of petrol to the enemy." He summarizes the strategic situation quite honestly, one of the few times the Soviet government gives a clear picture of the situation throughout the war:
Hitler's troops have succeeded in capturing Lithuania, a considerable part of Latvia, the western part of White Russia, a part of the western Ukraine. The Fascist air force is extending the range of the operations of its bombers and is bombing Murmansk, Orsha, Mogilev, Smolensk, Kiev, Odessa, Sevastopol.
However, the speech touches on themes that go far beyond the tactical or even strategic.
Thus the issue is one of life or death for the Soviet state, for the peoples of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; the issue is whether the peoples of the Soviet Union shall remain free or fall into slavery. The Soviet people must realize this and abandon all heedlessness; they must mobilize themselves and reorganize all their work on new, war-time lines, when there can be no mercy to the enemy.
Stalin concludes with a populist call to "the people" - unheard of in the Soviet state to date:
The State Committee of Defense has entered in its functions and calls upon all our people to rally around the party of Lenin-Stalin and around the Soviet government so as self-denyingly to support the Red Army and Navy, demolish the enemy and secure victory. All our forces for support of our heroic Red Army and our glorious Red Navy. All the forces of the people—for the demolition of the enemy! Forward, to our victory!
The results of Joseph Stalin's speech will become clear as we continue our review of the days of World War II.

German soldiers recovering a fallen StuG III assault gun in the Pruth River 3 July 1941
German soldiers recovering a fallen StuG III assault gun in the Pruth River, 3 July 1941 (Federal Archives, Bild  B 145 Fig. F016207-0008).
In the Far North sector, General Dietl's Army of Norway 3rd Mountain Division establishes a bridgehead across the Litsa River on the way to Murmansk in Operation Silver Fox. The Soviets quickly send reinforcements to the area and stop any further German penetration. Further south, the Operation Arctic Fox advance toward Salla bogs down, largely due to the inexperience of the German SS-Infantry Kampfgruppe Nord division. The Germans call for reinforcements from southern Finland and ask the Finns to mount a flank attack on the Soviet defenders to free up their front, but this will take several days to organize.

In the Army Group North sector, Field Marshall von Leeb's troops continue attacking the Stalin Line with 4th Panzer Group. The Soviet defenders manage to hold their positions through great sacrifices.

On the Army Group Center Front, the panzers of General Walter Model's 3rd Panzer Division of Panzer Group 2 reach the Dneipr River at Rogachev southeast of Minsk despite determined Soviet counterattacks. There is some confusion on the German side, with local commanders determined to move forward while Hitler's 29 June "stop" order technically remains in place. Field Marshal von Bock supports Generals Guderian and Hoth against Army Commander von Brauchitsch, and the panzers continue eastward past Minsk.

Soviet troops taken prisoner at Bialystok 3 July 1941
Some of the 290,000 Soviet troops taken prisoner at Bialystok. 3 July 1941 (Hermann, Federal Archives, Bild 101I-006-2212-30).
Behind the front, General Hoth's 3rd Panzer Group helps infantry troops to subdue the large Soviet Bialystok pocket west of Minsk. Ultimately, 290,000 Soviet troops and 2500 tanks surrender.

Soviet Colonel Yakov Grigorevich Kreizer, commander of the elite 1st Moscow Motor Rifle Division, attacks the bridgehead established by General Guderian's 2nd Panzer Group at Borisov (near Lipki). The attack is spotted before it arrives by Luftwaffe reconnaissance. The attack is sharp and vicious but fails. Guderian's 18th Panzer Division in the bridgehead is aided in planning its defense by intercepts of Soviet communications made "in the clear" - not in code - and also by Luftwaffe reconnaissance. The Soviets have a success of sorts, getting the remnants of 4th and 13th Armies across the Dneipr, but all of the Soviet armies are battered an no longer worthy of the name. Marshal Timoshenko orders the 21st Army forward to hold the river line, which the Germans are unable to cross before nightfall.

In the Army Group South sector, the main action is in Soviet Moldavia, where Romanian 3rd and 4th Armies and German 11th Army continue their offensive. The Soviets attempt some counterattacks, but they barely slow the Germans.

Soviet Naval Air unit 402 IAL, based at Idritsa in Russia and commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel P. Stefanovsky, goes into action with its new MiG-3 fighters for the second straight day with outstanding results. It destroys six more Luftwaffe planes, as it did on the 2nd. The unit has as its adjutant an aerobatic champion, Major K. A. Gruzdev, who devises special strategies for the unit's pilots such as picking an altitude where the new MiG-3 fighters enjoy a performance advantage over the Bf 109s. Gruzdev quickly develops into one of the top aces in the Red Air Force.

Wilhelm Pruller writes in his diary, published after the war as "Diary of a German Soldier," about the general German tactics used at this stage of the war. The panzers use the road network to push east, "Without securing the land lying to the right and left of the road." This means that uncounted numbers of Soviet troops are left behind the Wehrmacht spearheads hidden in gullies and forests. Pruller's unit is in Kamionka. Early in the morning, Pruller's unit encounters and wipes out a force of Russian cavalry hiding in a ravine by using artillery. Later, a Soviet tank (apparently a KV) drives alone into town from the north carrying a large party of Soviet soldiers armed with pistols. The tankers are just trying to make it back to Soviet lines, but they have to get through the German-held town. The tank makes it through Kamionka and across a bridge almost to safety before German artillery finally destroys it. The Germans find that some of the soldiers on the tank were women - they all were burned alive.

British troops under fire near Damascus 3 July 1941
British troops under fire near Damascus, 3 July 1941.
Syrian/Lebanon Campaign: The main action in Syria switches today from Palmyra, which fell to the British on 2 July, to northeastern Syria. General William "Bill" Slim of Iraq Command controls 10th Indian Infantry Division plus the 2/8th Gurkha Rifles from 20th Indian Infantry Brigade. Based in Haditha, its goal is to advance westward toward Aleppo, and Slim's forces so far have not met much opposition.

The 2/10th Gurkha Rifles attacks Deir ez-Zor from the south-west at 09:00. They take the garrison by surprise and seize important bridges intact. Other Gurkha Rifles then advance from the southeast and clear the town against heavy Vichy French air attacks. By 15:30, Deir ez-Zor is in British hands, with the British capturing booty of five aircraft, nine guns, and 50 trucks. However, the defending Syrian troops hurriedly take off their uniforms and blend into the civilian population, evading capture. Only about 100 prisoners are taken.

Vichy France sends more aerial reinforcements for Syria from Tunis. They take the northern route via Brindisi, Italy, and Athens. Today, 21 Dewoitine D.520 fighters of No. 3 Squadron, 2nd Fighter Grup (GD II/3) land at Rhodes, their last stop before entering the battle zone.

Jewish forced laborers unloading German ammunition at Isbica railway station 3 July 1941
Jewish forced laborers unloading German ammunition at Isbica railway station (15 km north of Zamosc, Poland), 3 July 1941 (Paris, Hans Joachim, Federal Archives, Bild 146-1994-027-33).
European Air Operations: The Luftwaffe makes a rare daylight raid on Great Britain, attacking Land's End in southwestern England. The attack fails, however, when the bombs fail to explode. Many British observers conclude that the Luftwaffe has so many defective bombs because slave laborers in German factories are secretly sabotaging their ordnance.

During the day, RAF Fighter Command conducts two Circus missions to Hazebrouck. The RAF loses two Spitfires in the first mission and four in the second to JG 2 and JG 26, most near St. Omer.

During the night, RAF Bomber Command attacks Essen (90 bombers) and Bremen (68). Bombing accuracy is terrible, and the entire area around Essen is hit (including Bochum, Dortmund, Duisburg, Hagen, and Wuppertal).

During the RAF night raids, at 01:00, Luftwaffe night fighter pilot Oblt. Reinhold Knacke of 2./NJG 1 destroys a British Whitley bomber and a Hampden bomber.

Luftwaffe Major Wilhelm Balthasar, Kommodore of JG 2, is shot down and killed. He had 47 victories. His replacement is Oblt. Walter Oesau.

Following a recent air battle in which he shot down five Soviet bombers, Werner Mölders, now serving on the Eastern Front as Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 51, is awarded the Swords to his Knight's Cross from the hand of Adolf Hitler.

East African Campaign: The Italian garrison at Debra Tabor surrenders. In addition, Free Belgian troops under the command of Major-General Auguste Gilliaert surround General Pietro Gazzera's army of about 7000 men at Saio in the south Ethiopian Highlands. The Belgians also attack Dembidollo in Galla-Sidamo.

A funeral in Zăicani, Rîșcani, Moldova 3 July 1941
A funeral in Zăicani, Rîșcani, Moldova, 3 July 1941. Note German soldier on horseback watching as others carry the coffin behind a priest (Federal Archives, Bild B 145 Fig. F016207-0029).
Battle of the Baltic: Finnish submarine Vetehinen uses its deck gun to attack 4100-ton Soviet ship Vyborg north of Stenskaar. The Viborg gets away for the time being (sunk on 3 July by submarine Vesikko).

Soviet Navy transport Imanta hits a mine off Suursai. The master manages to beach the ship before it sinks, but it is a total write-off.

German naval trawler KOL-72 hits a mine and sinks at Kołobrzeg, Poland.

Soviet motor torpedo boat No. 12 is lost somewhere in the Baltic of unknown causes.

The Soviets scuttle freighter Everiga at Pyarnu rather than allow it to be captured by the advancing Germans.

Battle of the Atlantic: U-69 (Kptlt. Jost Metzler), on its third patrol out of Lorient and operating southwest of the Canary Islands, sinks 2918-ton British freighter Robert L. Holt at 06:50. The Robert L. Hold happens to be the ship of Commodore Vice-Admiral N.A. Wodehouse of recently dispersed Convoy OB-337. It is an unusual encounter because the U-boat is out of torpedoes, so Metzler decides to surface and use his deck gun. This proves to be a risky decision when the armed freighter fires back, which Metzler probably wasn't expecting. Ultimately, U-69 fires 102 high explosives and 34 incendiary rounds from the deck gun, along with 220 rounds from the 20mm anti-aircraft gun and 400 rounds from its MG 34 machine gun. There are 49 deaths. This is the final success of U-69 on this eventful patrol, which has seen it almost bring the United States into the war six months earlier than would be the case with its sinking of US freighter Robin Moor.

British 86-ton drifter Receptive hits a mine and sinks in The Swale near Uplees. There is one death.

Royal Navy 82-ton auxiliary ship Rosme hits a mine and sinks off Foulness Island.

Convoy SL-80 departs from Freetown bound for Liverpool.

Royal Navy minesweeper HMS Rothesay (Commander Alaster A. Martin) is commissioned.

U-577 (Kapitänleutnant Herbert Schauenburg) is commissioned, U-265 and U-521 are laid down.

Jews being forced to carry ammunition by German troops near Zamość, Izbica 3 July 1941
Jews being forced to carry ammunition by German troops near Zamość, Izbica, 3 July 1941 (Paris, Hans Joachim, Federal Archives, Bild 146-1991-014-08).
Battle of the Mediterranean: Royal Navy submarine HMS Upholder torpedoes and sinks 5870-ton Italian freighter Laura Cosulich east of Calabria.

Spanish 308-ton freighter Felipe Crespi hits a mine and sinks off Genoa, Italy.

Off the Libyan coast east of Tobruk, Italian submarine Malachite spots light cruiser HMS Phoebe making a sweep in the company of light cruiser HMAS Perth and three destroyers. Malachite fires a torpedo, but misses.

British submarine HMS Osiris makes it to Malta with 70 tons of bulk petrol.

Danish/US Relations: Expanding the recent "Consulate War" between the US, Germany, and Italy, Denmark leaps into the fray by demanding that the US evacuate its consular staff by 15 July. In general, these expulsions are a bad thing for the Allies, as the US consulates behind the Reich lines can provide valuable intelligence to Great Britain.

Kennedy family friend, Stanley Rogers "Stan" Resor 3 July 1941
"Kennedy family friend, Stanley Rogers "Stan" Resor (with a towel draped around his head, and one foot on a pair of water skis), stands on a dock at Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota, during the Fourth of July holiday; Gaspard d'Andelot "Don" Belin sits in the stern of a docked boat at left." This photo was taken circa 3 July 1941. Resor goes on to serve in Europe, wins the Silver Star and Bronze Star, and serves as Secretary of the United States Army from 1965 to 1971. (John F. Kennedy Presidential Libary and Museum).
Soviet Military: All men aged 16-60 and women aged 18-50 are mobilized, with very few exceptions.

British Military: The Handley-Page Halifax Mk II makes its maiden flight. It features improved Merlin 22  engines, a more streamlined nose, a four-gun Defiant-type dorsal turret, and some minor structural improvements.

Bell P-39C Aircobra fighter planes arrive at RAF Colerne, the first of 675 ordered by the British Purchasing Commission. They will serve with RAF No. 601 Squadron. RAF pilots, however, take an immediate dislike to the planes once they find that the rate of climb and performance at altitude is lacking.

Romanian Government: Romanian leader Ion Antonescu reveals his thinking during an address at the Ministry of Internal Affairs:
We find ourselves at the broadest and most favorable moment for a complete ethnic unshackling, for a national revival and for the cleansing of our people of all those elements alien to its spirit.
Holocaust: In Tallinn, Estonia, the Soviet NKVD shoots prominent politician Friedrich Akel. The Soviets imprisoned Akel in October 1940 but apparently preferred to shoot him rather than evacuate him with the rest of the retreating Soviet population. His wife Adele Karoline Tenz already has been deported.

The Sporting News- Detroit All-Star Game Issue 3 July 1941
July 3, 1941, The Sporting News- Detroit All-Star Game Issue- All-Stars & Briggs Stadium Cover. The game is scheduled for 8 July 1941.
American Homefront: Eleanor Roosevelt publishes a column with the United Feature Syndicate, Inc. entitled "My Day, July 3, 1941." In her column, she simply describes her thoughts during the day and philosophizes about "modern life." Among her thoughts today are the plight of "underprivileged youngsters," including "above all, our young Negro people," whom she feels are not getting enough recreation. She encourages people to send soldiers "packages of small luxuries, and even of necessities."

Future History: Gloria Rachel Bloom is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gloria grows up and becomes a lawyer, becoming interested in women's issues. Using her married name of Gloria Allred, she goes on to become a prominent attorney in California who is still active at the time of this writing.

 Wylie Walker Vale is born in Houston, Texas. He becomes a top endocrinologist who discovers the stress hormone.

July 1941

July 1, 1941: US TV Broadcasting Starts
July 2, 1941: MAUD Report
July 3, 1941: Stalin Speaks
July 4, 1941: Pogroms in Eastern Europe
July 5, 1941: Germans on Schedule
July 6, 1941: Australians Attack Damour
July 7, 1941: US Marines in Iceland
July 8, 1941: Flying Fortresses In Action
July 9, 1941: British Take Damour
July 10, 1941: Sword and Scabbard Order
July 11, 1941: Cease-fire in Syria and Lebanon
July 12, 1941: Anglo/Russian Assistance Pact
July 13, 1941: Uprising in Montenegro
July 14, 1941: Katyusha Rocket Launchers in Action
July 15, 1941: Smolensk Falls
July 16, 1941: Stalin's Son Captured
July 17, 1941: Heydrich Orders Mass Executions
July 18, 1941: Twin Pimples Raid
July 19, 1941: V for Victory
July 20, 1941: The Man Who Wouldn't Shoot
July 21, 1941: Moscow in Flames
July 22, 1941: Soviet Generals Executed
July 23, 1941: Secret Plan JB 355
July 24, 1941: Operation Sunrise
July 25, 1941: US Naval Alert
July 26, 1941: Italian E-Boat Attack on Malta
July 27, 1941: MacArthur Returns
July 28, 1941: Auschwitz Exterminations
July 29, 1941: Rescue From Crete
July 30, 1941: Raid on Petsamo and Kirkenes
July 31, 1941: Final Solution Order


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