Josip Broz Tito
Date: November 26, 1942
Source: Tito: Selected Speeches and Articles, 1941-1961 pp. 36-39; originally published in Collected Works, Book I, pp. 97-101
Published: Naprijed, 1963
Transciption/HTML Markup: Mike B. for MIA, 2015
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2015). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Comrades, brothers and sisters, delegates of the Anti-Fascist Council of People's Liberation of Yugoslavia!
I welcome you on behalf of Supreme Headquarters, on behalf of the fighting men, commanders and political commissars of our heroic People's Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia. (Applause and cries of “Long live our Army!”)
I consider it a great honour that the opportunity has offered itself for me to welcome you here today at this historic assembly, after the great and tough and bloody struggle which our people have had to wage during the past eighteen months.
I open this historic assembly of the Anti-Fascist Council of People's Liberation of Yugoslavia, and I should now like to say a few words to you.
The result of the long, tough, and bloody struggle — an unequal struggle, because we went into battle almost barehanded — the result of this struggle is that today we have the opportunity to meet here, to create an instrument, a body which together with the Supreme Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia, and together with the people's liberation committees, will be the backbone of our struggle; it will organise the home front, it will organise our devastated country economically and politically — in so far as such a thing can be done in these circumstances — in order that we may bring this bitter struggle to a victorious conclusion.
Comrades, we have no possibility of setting up a legal government, because international relations and conditions do not permit it as yet. But, comrades, we have a right to one thing, — namely: we have the right in these critical circumstances to set up a political body, a political instrument, to rally the people's masses, to rally our people and conduct them, together with our heroic Army, into the new battles ahead of us, battles that will be exceedingly bitter. We have no authorities in our territory with the exception of our people's liberation committees which have been set up by the people themselves. We do not recognise the various fascist puppet governments, and that is precisely why, here in this land, in our own land, soaked with the blood of the best sons of our people, we have to create conditions in which our people can — in such circumstances as the present — contribute their utmost to the People's Liberation Struggle. While we were a small Partisan Army and had only small Partisan detachments, the requirements were not so great. Today those small Partisan detachments have become a mighty People's Liberation Army which is not merely the equal of, but is superior to, the enemy in stamina and morale, in spite of the enemy's technical superiority. And so it is that the requirements are very much greater than before when every village, district, or community was able to feed its own fighting men. It is necessary to organize the authority, the political power, which will be able to mobilize, to make use of all the latent power possessed by our people and to canalise it in one general direction, — into the battle against the criminal fascist invaders, and against their allies, the traitors in our midst — the Ustashi, the Chetniks, and others.
I am happy to see here today the best sons of our people, patriots, true representatives of our people who have been steeled in this bitter and bloody struggle. They are no longer, as was once the case, representatives selected by canvassers; they are men who have grown in this superhuman struggle out of the very heart of the people, men who have gone into battle prepared to lay down their lives. I am happy to see here today what is really the flower of our nation.
Comrades, a heavy burden, a great responsibility, falls upon our Anti-Fascist Council of People's Liberation of Yugoslavia. We possess, so to speak, nothing. We have only the weapons which we captured with the blood of our best fighting men. Our country is devastated; our people are enduring terrible sufferings and misery, hungry, naked, barefooted, exposed to the bestial terror of the Chetniks, the Ustashi, and the invader. But we have one thing, — the unswerving firmness and faith of our afflicted people that victory will be theirs. (“Hear, hear!” Applause). Our morale is high, not only the morale of our Army — which has astonished the whole world — but also the morale of the people. Just look at the burnt down villages. Nearby, in the freezing cold, in shacks or under the open sky, in the woods beside a fire, you can see peasants and their wives; but they do not bewail their fate, — they say: “Dear brothers, fight! We are prepared to give our last crust if it will help you to beat our common enemy.” That is a kind of morale that is rarely seen, something that the Yugoslav peoples can be proud of.
It is only natural that the organism which we are creating here, which has grown up from below, should bear a heavy responsibility and have a huge task to fulfil. Our Army needs clothing — and we have no factories. Our Army needs footwear — and we have no boot factories. Our Army needs weapons — and we have no arms factories. Our Army needs food. All these things fall upon this great forum which our people have created as the nucleus of their authority. I think there is no one among you who is afraid of these hard tasks and great responsibilities. I think you are all prepared to sacrifice everything in the coming struggle which promises victory to our arms. We have done battle and will continue to do battle with the enemy in spite of his superiority in arms. (Shouts of approval.) Hand in hand with you, comrades, who are the representatives of our peoples, our Supreme Headquarters will easily be able to surmount all the difficulties that lie ahead. Today we accept these difficulties, and overcome them, more easily than six months ago. Today the prospect is clear — it's as clear as the sun that victory is on the side of the Allies. (Applause). The hitlerite and other fascist bands are today suffering defeat after defeat. The heroic Red Army (“Long live the Red Army!” Applause.) has been delivering deadly blows to the German fascist hordes and to Hitler's satellites (“Down with them!” ). Stalingrad, the fortress of the whole of progressive humanity, has been defended. Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers have perished in this and earlier offensives, beneath the walls of this city-of-flint. (“ Long live the defence of Stalingrad! Long live the defenders of Stalingrad!”) The hitlerite fascists hurl themselves in every direction, like wild beasts in a cage; but there is no hope for them. In their death throes they will perhaps try to wreak their rage upon the weaker, occupied countries, upon the occupied nations, but we can tell them that in Yugoslavia they will have a really tough time. (“ Hear, hear!”) Today we have an Army; today we have arms, everything from rifles to field guns. We can measure up to them all right. You may rest assured that their power in our country is not sufficient to realise and put into practice their diabolical intentions, i.e. to destroy us. We have never lost faith, and today least of all do we doubt that victory is ours. (Applause.)Consequently, at this moment, when the hearts of all subjugated peoples are beating with joy as they see the inevitable defeat of the fascist beasts, we go forward, boldly and full of hope and faith, to meet all the difficulties awaiting us, convinced that by working together and fighting together we shall carry our long struggle and our sufferings to a triumphant close. (“Hear, hear!” Applause.)
Finally, I should like to emphasise that all that we have achieved so far in our struggle is in some measure due to our great Slav brothers the Russians and all the peoples of the Soviet Union. (“Hurray! Long live the Soviet Union!”) A deep faith in the strength and might of the Soviet Union, in the strength and might of the Red Army, was the sustenance that supported us while we were surmounting all the difficulties that we have had to face in the past eighteen months.
I wish you, the great national forum, the Anti-Fascist Council of People's Liberation of Yugoslavia, every success in your future work for the welfare of our peoples, for the welfare of our valiant People's Liberation Army, and in the interests of the unity of all the nationalities in Yugoslavia, for that is the foundation which is now being built, the foundation of brotherhood, unity, and concord, which no one will ever be able to destroy. (“Hear, hear!” Applause.)This historic assembly is proof of the unity of our peoples, Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Moslems, and others, regardless of their faith and nationality; and it is, at the same time, a guarantee that progress is being made in creating a better and happier future for our people. (“Hear, hear!” Applause.)
Long live our great Ally the Soviet Union!
Long live the heroic Red Army!
Long live our Allies — Britain and America!
Death to fascism — Freedom to the people!