15 APRIL 1943, Page 1

The New Axis Propaganda

Hitler-and Mussolini, accompanied by their leading Ministers and their Chiefs of Staff, doubtless had a good many pressing matters to talk about in the four days they spent together last week. The immediate military situation is likely to have been their first concern, since Mussolini sees his homeland threatened with the prospect of invasion at a time when his best troops have been swallowed up in North Africa and many of the remainder are scattered in the Balkans or in France. There is also the problem of the evacuation of Tunisia and the possible use of the Italian fleet. But Hitler's anxieties are related to a far larger area. The threats of invasion are directed not towards Italy alone, but to Southern France or the Balkans or his coast-line farther north, while the peril from the east is constant. There are quislings who are beginning to wonder whether they have backed the right horse and desperate elements among oppressed populations who only await the signal to rise. Hitler needs all the support he can get from Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and Finland, and is intent upon reassuring his collaborators in France and other occupied territories. Hence the reports issued of his meeting with Mussolini and the propaganda that has flowed from it have been directed to non-German elements in Europe whose help he now wants or whose fears he hopes to allay. No paean of triumph is now sung, no boasts of German supremacy or demands for more living-room. Hitler's cry is now " backs to the wall" in defence of European civilisation against aggressors and the common aim of the Axis Powers to preserve the tights of nations.

We are back to a defence of the New Order against the attacks of Bolshevik barbarians and Anglo-American plutocracies. German dominance, with all the racial blood and toil nonsense, goes back into cold storage. It is a change that has some psychological significance; though its power to convince any of the enslaved populations can be little above nil.