The situation looked perilous in the Soviet capital, with an army of only around 500,000 facing nearly two million German troops. Only at the last moment had Stalin decided not to evacuate the Soviet government from Moscow. Yet in in his speech to celebrate the anniversary of the revolution Stalin declared himself to be optimistic:
Can there be any doubt that we can and are bound to defeat the German invaders?
The enemy is not so strong as some frightened little intellectuals imagine. The devil is not so terrible as he is painted. Who can deny that our Red Army has time and again put the vaunted German troops to panic flight? If we judge, not by the boastful utterances of the German propagandists, but by the actual position of Germany, it will be easy to understand that the German fascist invaders are now on the brink of disaster.
Hunger and poverty reign in Germany today; in the four months of war Germany has lost four and a half million men; Germany is losing blood, her reserves of man-power are giving out, the spirit of indignation is spreading not only among the peoples of Europe who have fallen under the yoke of the German robbers, but also among the German people themselves who can see no end to the war.
The German robbers are straining their last efforts. There can be no doubt that Germany will be unable to stand the strain for long. Another few months, another half-year, perhaps another brief year, and Hitler Germany is bound to burst beneath the weight of its crimes.
On the the 7th November the annual military parade through Red Square commemorating the revolution went ahead as usual. It was a highly symbolic moment suggesting that things were not as desperate as they might otherwise seem. In fact the tanks and troops taking part in the parade were marched straight through Moscow and on to the the defensive lines on the outskirts of the city.
But there were disasters elsewhere. On the 7th November the Soviet hospital ship Armenia loaded with 5,000 wounded from the the southern front and, it is now believed, a further 2000 evacuees, left the Crimea. She was sunk by a Heinkel III torpedo bomber in the Black sea. It was probably the worst single maritime disaster of the whole war. There were only eight survivors.