“We will remember the harsh autumn, the grinding of tanks and the reflection of bayonets …” – the words from the official anthem of Moscow – the song “My dear capital” – return us to the most significant pages of the battle unfolding in the suburbs of Moscow.
It was by a page, and not by some episode, that the military parade on November 7, 1941, on Red Square, to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, went down in history.
During Gorbachev’s “perestroika”, skepticism about that parade was circulated, to the assertion that it gave a new impetus to the resistance of the Soviet people to the German fascist invasion. “Usual Soviet propaganda,” snorted a well-known variety of publicists.
Yes, it was propaganda! However, not defeatist, but powerful, necessary for the closest rallying of power and people in repulsing the enemy. Propaganda that mobilized forces that the defenders of Moscow themselves were not aware of.
The beginning of November 1941 was not the best time for parades. Soviet troops had already withdrawn for four months, heavy defensive battles were fought on the near approaches to the capital. Many state institutions, the diplomatic corps were evacuated, in mid-October panic arose in Moscow, the population tried to leave the city. Rumors spread that Moscow was being prepared for surrender …
The authorities quickly suppressed the panic. A state of siege was declared in the capital. The lines of defense on the nearest approaches bristled with anti-tank hedgehogs, girded with ditches. General of the Army G.K. Zhukov, relying on the help of the Supreme Command Headquarters and the General Staff, organized a generally reliable defense. Fresh connections from Siberia and the Far East were in a hurry to Moscow.
And yet the enemy had a great advantage in manpower and equipment, he continued to push our fighters. Something was required that would clearly show the Soviet people – whether in an army overcoat, or in a worker’s quilted jacket – the unused strength of the Red Army. Would strengthen people in spirit, instill in them a firm hope that “every dog has his day”…
The last words are a quote from the order of the People’s Commissar of Defense I.V. Stalin, surrendered exactly one year later, on November 7, 1942, but the hope of a turning point at the front in our favor did not die even in the fall of 1941. It was powerfully fueled by the parade on Red Square.
At the end of October, Stalin discussed the situation at the front with General Zhukov several times. According to the commander of the Western Front, the enemy had suffered serious losses by that time, the Nazi troops were exhausted, they needed time to regroup their units. In the coming days, an enemy offensive could not be expected. At a meeting of members of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks on October 28, Stalin for the first time raised the issue of the possibility of holding a traditional military parade on November 7.
Preparations for the parade took place in the strictest secrecy. Serious fears were caused by the German aviation, which would undoubtedly have done everything to bomb the parade. An operation was undertaken to destroy enemy aircraft at airfields. More than a thousand sorties were made, 28 enemy airfields were bombed, Soviet pilots destroyed and damaged over 200 enemy aircraft these days.
The day before the parade, meteorologists reported that low clouds and heavy snow are expected on November 7, so that the Nazi aviation will not be able to show high activity. On the night before the parade, they uncovered and lit the Kremlin stars, removed the disguise from the Lenin Mausoleum.
For reasons of increased secrecy, the commanders of the military units were informed about the participation in the parade only late in the evening the previous day, at 23:00 on November 6.
The situation in the besieged city has made its own adjustments. The start of the parade was scheduled for 8 o’clock in the morning. The parade lasted for about half an hour.
The parade was hosted by Marshal S.M. Budyonny. After listening to the report of the head of the Moscow garrison, Lieutenant General P.A. Artemyev, he drove around the troops lined up in the square, greeted them. Contrary to tradition, it was not he who spoke from the rostrum of the Mausoleum, but the chairman of the State Defense Committee and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief I.V. Stalin. The words addressed to the soldiers and commanders of the Red Army who had frozen in the square sounded, which multiplied the effect of the parade in the besieged city: “The war you are waging is a war of liberation, a just war. Let the courageous image of our great ancestors – Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, Kuzma Minin, Dmitry Pozharsky, Alexander Suvorov, Mikhail Kutuzov – inspire you in this war! ” A gun salute burst from the Sofiyskaya embankment.
The ceremonial march was opened by the cadets of the 1st Moscow Red Banner Artillery School. With banners unfurled, infantrymen, anti-aircraft gunners, sailors, militia fighters marched along the main square of the country, under military marches. Then came the cavalry, the famous machine-gun carts, trucks with infantry, guns, tanks. In total, 28 467 people took part in the parade, 16 carts, 128 medium and high power guns, 160 tanks drove across the square.
Many combat units immediately went to the front. The report from Red Square was conducted by Vadim Sinyavsky, the whole world listened to this report. Hitler also heard him in his office. He ordered to urgently organize an air raid on Moscow, but not a single enemy aircraft reached Red Square. 34 German aircraft were shot down by the forces of the 6th Fighter Air Corps and anti-aircraft gunners of the Moscow Air Defense Forces.
And those writers who wrote about the military parade on November 7, 1941 on Red Square as “banal Soviet propaganda”, it is best to poke their noses into the publication in the English newspaper “News Chronicle”: “The organization in Moscow of the usual traditional parade at a time when hot battles are taking place on the outskirts of the city is an excellent example of courage and courage.”…
Not a single warring country that underwent fascist intervention during World War II followed the example of the Soviet Union, the example of Moscow. And this is another explanation of why Hitler’s blitzkrieg suffered a final collapse near the walls of the Soviet capital. And why is there so much historical truth in the words of Moscow’s official anthem: “And the enemy will never get your head bowed, my dear capital, my golden Moscow!”
Cover photo: “Military Album”
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