On 28th July, 1942, Joseph Stalin – as People’s Commissar of Defence – signed Special Order No. 227. Under its familiar name of ‘ни на шаг назад’ (Ni Na Shag Nazad!) or ‘Not One Step Backwards!’ This single act is said to have sent a wave of strength through ALL the Soviet Armed Forces, and marked the start of a new confidence throughout the Red Army! In-part, this important speech reads:
‘Every Commander, soldier, and political worker must understand that our resources are not unlimited… After losing the Ukraine, Belorussia, the Baltic, the Don Basin, and other areas we now have a much smaller territory, fewer people and factories, less grain and metal. We have lost more than 70 million persons, over 800 million pud (14.5 million tones) of grain per year, and more than 10 million toms of metals per year. We no longer have superiority over the Germans either in manpower reserves or in grain stocks. In retreat farther is to cast oneself and the Homeland into ruin. Every clod of earth we give up strengthens the enemy and weakens our defence and our nation. Not s single step backward! Such must be our highest purpose now!’
The situation in the USSR was dire to say the least! The Nazi Germans had managed to resist or smash every Red Army attempt to ‘breakout’ of the defensive and push the invaders back! Every Soviet Red Army offensive had cost hundreds of thousands of Russian lives and all had failed as the Hitlerites regrouped and pushed forever onward into the Soviet hinterland! Soviet casualties have always been a point of debate – as the Nazi Germans were also pursuing a policy of ‘genocide’. To be taken into account are those soldiers and civilians killed by the Nazi Germans in battle and during pogroms, those wounded in battle and maimed during pogroms, those taken as Prisoners of War and those civilians kidnapped from their homes and deported en masse as ‘slave labour’. This trend of ‘giving way’ to Hitlerite aggression had to stop – and Stalin provided the impetus!
Earl F Ziemke & Magna F Bauer: Moscow to Stalingrad – Decision in the East, Military Heritage Press, (1988), Page 361