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The Man. In his birch-paneled office within the dark-towered Kremlin, Joseph Stalin (pronounced Stal-yn), an imponderable, soberly persistent Asiatic, worked at his desk 16 to 18 hours a day. Before him he kept a huge globe showing the course of campaigns over territory he himself defended in the civil wars of 1917-20. This time he again defended it, and mostly by will power. There were new streaks of grey in his hair and new etchings of fatigue in his granite face.* But there was no break in his hold on Russia and there was long-neglected recognition of his abilities by nations outside the Soviet borders.
The problem for Stalin the statesman was to present the seriousness of the plight of Russia as an ally to Western leaders long suspicious of Stalin and his workers' State. Stalin, who had every reason to expect the city named for him to fall shortly after its heroic siege began on Aug. 24, desperately wanted aid from his allies. Stalin the politician made these desires the hope of the Russian people. He made them think that a continental second front had been promised to them, and thereby strengthened their will to hang on.
For his armies Stalin coined the slogan Umeraite No Ne Otstupaite (Die, But Do Not Retreat). It had been shown at Moscow that a strongly fortified city can be held as a strong point against attack by mechanized forces. Stalin chose to make Stalingrad another such point. While Germans and Russians were booting each other to death in the bomb-pocked streets, Stalin was organizing the winter offensive which burst into the Don basin with the fury of the snowstorms that accompanied it.
To keep his home front intact, Stalin had only work and black bread to offer. He added a promise of victory in 1942 and called to his people to sacrifice collectively to preserve the things they had built collectively. Children and women foraged in the forests for wood. A ballerina canceled one performance because she was stiff from chopping wood. Production norms were increased, apartments went unheated, electricity was turned off four days a week. At year's end the Russian children had no new toys for the New Year's celebration. There were no red-cloaked wooden replicas of Dyed Moross (Granddad Frost). There was no smoked salmon, no pickled herring, no goose, no vodka, no coffee for the grownups. But there was rejoicing. The Rodina (Motherland) had been saved for the second time in two years and now victory and peace could not be too far off.
The trek of world dignitaries to Moscow in 1942 brought Stalin out of his inscrutable shell, revealed a pleasant host and an expert at playing his cards in international affairs. At banquets for such men as Winston Churchill, W. Averill Harriman and Wendell Willkie, Host Stalin drank his vodka straight, talked the same way. He sent Foreign Minister Viacheslav Molotov to London and Washington to promote the second front and jack up laggard shipments of war materiel. In two letters to Henry Cassidy of the A.P., Stalin shrewdly used the world's headlines to state the Russian case for more aid.
Stalin did not get his continental second front in 1942, but when a new front was opened in North Africa he publicly approved. On the 25th anniversary of the Bolshevist Revolution, Stalin, in his big state speech of the year, reviewed the past and for the future struck the note of statesmanship.