Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seventy Years Since Nazi Invasion of the USSR (a Soviet resource)

Russian version of this post is here

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, a tragic date deeply ingrained in the minds of Russians – 22 June 1941 (it was a Sunday).

The war left a huge legacy of literature, songs, music and graphic art. I have mentioned before (here) an important resource, the web-site Soviet Music (, which was recently reorganised to let visitors use it by historical periods (only the Russian language side of the site, the English language side is classified by theme). Its primary purpose is to preserve the original versions of Soviet patriotic songs, but it also contains records of speeches by war-time Soviet leaders and numerous posters. The Great Patriotic War section is here.

All files are free to download (read terms and conditions for limitations) and the full collection is available (for sale) on disc. 

Here is the link to the speech made on 22 June by the commissar for foreign affairs Vyacheslav Molotov. You can hear the nervousness, a shade of distress in his voice. It is also interesting that Molotov separates 'the German people, german workers' from the Nazi rulers. This internationalist motif was later drowned in the drumming up of nationalist, anti-German rhetoric. Molotov also evokes the patriotic theme, mentioning the invasion of Napoleon in 1812.

Stalin did not speak until 3 July. The closing words of Molotov's speech: 'Ours is a just cause. The enemy will be routed. Victory will be ours' are associated with Stalin, but they are in the middle of his speech and not as rhetorically stressed as in Molotov's version. They are in a subordinate clause, inside a bigger sentence. The confident 'Victory will be ours' ("Победа будет за нами") also appears in a slightly less powerful variation 'we will have to/must win' ("мы должны победить").

Molotov's text is here and Stalin's text is here.

This a YouTube video with Molotov's speech:

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