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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: March 2013

7 - Weathering the storm


‘Wait, for I'll return, defying every death’ (Konstantin Simonov)

For all the problems Army Group Centre was confronting on the road to Moscow, from the Soviet perspective it became evident by the second week of October that the Soviet capital would soon be on the front line. Stalin was so concerned at the inexorable advance of German forces that on 15 October he ordered the evacuation of the government to Kuibyshev some 2,500 kilometres east of Moscow. There were also orders issued to begin dismantling and transporting major industrial enterprises to the east, while those that could not be saved, including some 1,119 educational, administrative and industrial institutions, were to be fitted with explosives and prepared for destruction. Such measures, however, should not be understood as an abandonment of Moscow. There was certainly no intention of surrendering the city, only salvaging what could be saved and denying the rest to the Germans. There is no greater symbol of Stalin's determination to defend Moscow than his decision to remain in the Kremlin even after the evacuation orders had been issued. Many have claimed this decision galvanised resistance within the Red Army, inspiring hopes that the city could in fact be saved and elevating Stalin to the status of a front-line commander. It was in the fighting before Moscow that the popular rallying cry ‘Stalin is with us!’ was born.

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