20 MARCH 1942, Page 1

Hitler Explains

In the speech he made in Berlin last Sunday Hitler had much to explain. The Russian armies which he claimed to have annihilated last autumn are still fighting and giving a good account of themselves. Moscow did not fall, and the oil of the Caucasus was not reached. Instead the German armies have been forced back, and have been using up important reserves in this unexpected and deadly winter warfare. Hitler made the most of the deep penetration of Russian territory last year, but now explains that behind the " annihilated " Russian forces were further fresh masses, thus admitting that his enemy was able to keep available unused reserves of trained troops. As to the failure to reach Moscow and the Caucasus, the reason he gives for that is that winter set in weeks earlier than it ought to have done—an explanation which does not account for the disastrous German defeat at Rostov, which was the beginning of the change of fortune. He admits the severity of the struggle which has been going on throughout the winter, and speaks more respectfully about the power of the " Bolshevik colossus," but postpones its

" annihilation " till next summer. But the date of his final victory is given with less confidence than formerly, for he thinks it necessary to steel his audience to carry on the war until " the assurance of a permanent peace " has been won. It is likely enough that a peace offensive will precede his military offensive which, as his propagandists have been stating, may not begin till May or even June.