Yuri Levitan - Stalin's "secret weapon"

On May 15, 1945, the last military report of the Soviet Information Bureau, a unique body created literally on the third day of the Great Patriotic War and, without any exaggeration, was one of the most powerful weapons used in it by our country, sounded on the radio.

"Soviet troops have completed receiving prisoners on all fronts ..." - these words summed up the four years of defeat and victory, grief and joy, hope and faith, which lived millions of Soviet people who fought on the front line and forged Victory in the rear. Employees of the Sovinformburo were both among the first and among the second.

"Moscow Says ..."

Without a doubt, the words in the headline, which invariably began all the front-line reports, announced on the radio and published in Soviet newspapers, have become one of the most recognizable and well-known signs of their time. As soon as they sound in any film, TV series or TV show, it immediately becomes clear to everyone that further we will talk about the Great Patriotic War. Indeed, as mentioned above, the decision to create a Soviet information bureau under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR was made on June 24, 1941. The enemy dealt an insidious and crushing blow, military operations did not unfold in the way that the absolute majority of Soviet citizens expected. All this in itself was disorienting, gave rise to confusion, and even frankly panic. In addition, the propaganda machine of the Third Reich, headed by Joseph Goebbels, worked, as they say, at full speed - disinformation and calls for the abandonment of resistance were not only broadcast by many enemy radio stations, but literally fell on the heads of our soldiers at the front and civilians in the front line with tons of false leaflets, the papers on which the Nazis did not spare.

All this needed to be effectively and urgently rebuffed - the leadership of the party and the country understood this perfectly. Aleksandr Shcherbakov, secretary of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and first secretary of the Moscow City Party Committee, who was “grounded” in ideology, headed the most important organ for the country in a time of difficult trials. Some sources ascribe to him the initiative to create the Sovinformburo. Perhaps it was so, but one way or another, the idea, as they say, was in the air and was implemented instantly.

For the vast majority of our fellow citizens, the Sovinformburo is associated mainly with front-line reports read out in the unique voice of Yuri Levitan. We will talk about this truly outstanding personality, but for now I would like to note that it was far from being limited to just promptly informing citizens about events at the forefront of this organization, whose staff from the moment of its formation included 80 people. In the structure of the Sovinformburo, in addition to the military, there were departments for both propaganda and counter-propaganda, international, translations and others. Special mention should be made of the literary department of the NIB, whose employees were such great Soviet writers as Konstantin Simonov, Alexey Tolstoy, Mikhail Sholokhov, Boris Polevoy, Alexander Fadeev and many others. Most of them did not work in cozy Moscow apartments or distant evacuation - they were periodically on business trips on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, sometimes paying for their reports and essays with their own lives, like Evgeny Petrov, co-author of our beloved Twelve Chairs and The Golden Calf ... German anti-fascist writers also collaborated with this department.

Also, the competence of the NIB included the work of five anti-fascist committees: all-Slavic, Jewish, Soviet youth, Soviet scientists and Soviet women. The Sovinformburo officially took up propaganda in foreign countries since 1944, when a corresponding unit was created in its staff, which had increased to more than 200 people. The word of Moscow was picked up and replicated by thousands of newspapers and magazines around the world, by dozens of radio stations in 23 states. This is how the Soviet Union told all mankind about its heroic struggle against Nazism, maintaining faith in Victory in the hearts of people.

Summaries at the cost of life

With all this, the main genre for the Sovinformburo, of course, were reports. They were broadcast daily in the time interval from 5 to 6 in the morning. The reading took place at a deliberately slow pace, with the letter-by-letter pronunciation of the name of each settlement, which was discussed in the message. This was done so that those who wrote down the reports word for word would not make mistakes - and this happened in a great many places, both at the front itself and on both sides of it. Further, all printed publications, without exception, published them on the front pages, employees of "information windows", and copyists of leaflets, were connected to the dissemination of information, which was most important for every Soviet person. It should be remembered that for such a report, posted on the territory occupied by the Nazis, there was only one retribution - death.

To this day, the archives and museum storerooms keep the reports of the Sovinformburo, diligently printed on notebook sheets, clearly still in children's, "school" handwriting. The word of truth, for which those who spread it were brutally tortured by the Nazi invaders ... Nevertheless, even the threat of torture and execution did not stop the partisans, underground workers, the most ordinary people who could not harm the enemy in anything other than spreading information that was mortally dangerous for him ... Yes, there was a serious problem in this matter - by the resolution of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR, adopted literally the day after the creation of the Sovinformburo, that is, on June 25, 1941, all radio receivers and radio transmitters in the hands of citizens, without exception, were subject to surrender to the authorities within five days.

This measure was supposed to complicate the activities of the Nazi agents as much as possible, with which, alas, at least the front line was at that time saturated to a very large extent. However, you can't really listen to reports without a receiver ... What to do - the decisions taken at the initial stage of the war, in a hurry and in the heat of the moment, were far from always fully balanced. That's just not for us to judge and blame those who received them. Be that as it may, taking away from our people what they categorically do not want to give is not an easy task. Firstly, there were one and a half million receivers for the entire USSR in 1941 - these are only "factory" ones, without "homemade products". Go and take away ... All the nonsense that “the NKVD was shooting behind the hidden receivers on the spot”, we will leave on our conscience the liberoid publications tirelessly giving birth to such lies. And, by the way, the actions to confiscate the radio receivers were carried out by the invaders in all the occupied territories, which means there was something to confiscate. Secondly, every Soviet pioneer knew how to assemble a simple detector receiver, which, according to the recollections of the Great Patriotic War contemporaries that have come down to us, was "headlong" enough to listen to the Sovinformburo. So they both accepted and listened, no matter what. And, by the way, what is still impossible not to recall - about the accusations that periodically sound against the leadership of the NIB and directly to Comrade Stalin that these reports were at first, when we had to retreat with bloody battles and leave city after city, were completely fake, not reflecting the real picture. Well, what can you say ... Yes, according to numerous testimonies, the Supreme Commander personally read and ruled practically every report of the Soviet Information Bureau. Yes, on some of them there was no "living space" left after that. What do you, excuse me, want? So that the Head of the Headquarters and GKOs with his own hands would contribute to the "spread of defeatist sentiments" ?! How did it end in the end? Winners are not judged, you know ...

Yuri Levitan - Stalin's "secret weapon"

But what exactly did not correspond to the truth in the programs of the Sovinformburo was precisely the words with which they began: “Moscow is speaking”! This was true only until October 13, 1941. After that, broadcasting from the capital became impossible for two reasons. First of all, especially technical - all the radio towers in it and its surroundings had to be hastily dismantled, since they were simply excellent landmarks for the Luftwaffe vultures rushing to Moscow. And it became more and more dangerous for NIB employees to work in the capital. This became clear after the air raid on July 22, 1941, when it turned out that one of the most important targets for the Nazi bombers was the Radio Committee, from where Yuri Levitan conducted his broadcasts.

According to some testimonies, the German archives contain a personal order from Goebbels - "to shut the mouth of Moscow radio!" Exactly 15 minutes after a high-explosive bomb hit the building of the Radio House, the broadcast exploded with the victorious howl of Nazi stations: “Our aces have destroyed the Bolshevik radio center! Levitan is dead! " The great announcer began broadcasting from a backup studio set up in the Central Telegraph building after about half an hour. Naturally alive and well. However, the most unpleasant moment in all that happened was a radio beacon later discovered by the NKVD officers on the roof of the Radio House, disguised there ahead of time by a sabotage group. It was becoming clear that the hunt had begun on Yuri Levitan, and the Germans got down to business with all seriousness. The announcer was assigned constant security from the best operatives and militants of Beria's department, the publication of any of his photographs and the disclosure of data on the location of the "object" were under the strictest ban. The NKVD even began to purposefully spread the most ridiculous rumors about Levitan's appearance, attributing to him "special signs" that he never had ...

I do not presume to assert how true the stories are that Hitler considered Yuri Levitan his "personal enemy number 1" and even appointed an absolutely fantastic reward for his head - either 100, or even 250 thousand Reichsmarks (according to various sources) ... Maybe stories of the wartime, but something like that, based on the above facts, took place. Moreover, the Nazis at first, as far as is known, dreamed of stealing the "main announcer Stalin" so that it was he who would later announce to the whole world about their victory over the Soviet Union. Well, with the victory they did not work out, as well as with the kidnapping, fortunately. But they really dreamed of killing Levitan. Located first in distant Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg), and after 1943 in Kuibyshev (now Samara), the studio and broadcasting station of the Sovinformburo were forced to broadcast their broadcasts through a whole network of repeaters so that the enemies in no case could find their exact location. All the work of their employees took place in the strictest secrecy. The danger persisted until the very end of the war ... There is another historical tale: allegedly to the question: "When will there be Victory?" Stalin once answered: "When Levitan will announce!" And so it happened - it was Yuri Levitan who informed the Soviet people about the capture of Berlin and the surrender of Nazi Germany. He also read out the last report of the Soviet Information Bureau in history. He really was Stalin's "secret weapon", who accidentally heard the voice of a young announcer in 1934, who read the editorial of "Pravda" during a nightly technical broadcast and from that time made a hitherto unknown guy "the main voice of the USSR." The Leader's flair for outstanding people was absolutely unmistakable ...

After the end of the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Information Bureau was by no means disbanded - on the contrary, its staff was almost doubled, and its status was significantly increased. The Sovinformburo was engaged in broadcasting and organizing extremely multi-level and multi-faceted propaganda of the Soviet Union, practically to the whole world - from the USA and Great Britain to the "countries of people's democracies." Iosif Vissarionovich was not going to stop there ... Khrushchev abolished the Soviet Information Bureau. Fortunately, he did not disperse it clean (as he did with many Stalinist projects), but allowed to create on its basis the APN - Press Agency "News". However, this is a completely different story. The Soviet Information Bureau has forever entered the memory of millions of our compatriots, as the voice of the Great Victory, which will sound forever.
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  1. steelmaker Offline steelmaker
    steelmaker 15 May 2021 11: 33
    This was done in order to prevent mistakes from those who wrote down the summaries word for word.

    When I started reading, I wanted to add these words to my comment later. But Alexander, as usual, approached his article responsibly. I laid out everything in detail and there is nothing to add.