No. 263  NAI DFA Secretary's Files P12/8

Extract from a letter from Michael MacWhite to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin) (Personal and Confidential)

ROME, 23 January 1943

[matter omitted]
The Russian offensive because of its strength and violence as well as its efficient handling seems to have equally surprised both friend and foe.1 The courage and determination with which the Red Army fights is enough to astonish if not alarm the rest of Europe. Military critics agree that its chiefs have out-manoeuvred and out-witted the German High Command. For this, the Führer appears to be mainly responsible as he is said to have followed his intuition rather than the advice of his experienced officers. A year ago, he said it would be an insult to the German soldier to compare him with the Russian. Napoleon, too, underestimated the capacity of the Russian Generals and paid dearly for it.

Since the outbreak of hostilities, English diplomacy has been as subtle and successful as it had been vacillating and incompetent in the course of the previous decade. Although isolated in 1940 England is to-day far on the road towards isolating Germany. After the collapse of France she succeeded in diverting the German forces from the English Channel to Yugoslavia, Greece, Russia, Libya and Norway. The transfer of some thousands of Parachutists from the Pas de Calais to Crete must even be a cause of secret satisfaction.2 In coalition with the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. she has fanned into a flame the dormant hostility of the peoples subjugated by the Reich. She has sown alarm and distrust amongst Hitler 's military associates, so much so that, like Finland, the Balkan States are now loudly proclaiming the defensive nature of their campaigns and their abhorrence of Imperialistic designs. Turkey has been enticed into accepting military and other supplies under the 'lease and lend' arrangement and the Arab world has to some extent been placated. India seems to be about the only stumbling block. With the exception of Argentina, where a decision may soon be expected, all the Latin American Republics have broken off relations with the Axis and the neutrality of Spain would seem to be assured. This is a remarkable achievement and is largely attributed to the Experienced Statesmen who have replaced career diplomats in many of the leading countries.

[signed] M. MACWHITE

1 Presumably a reference to the ongoing Red Army winter counterattack against German forces that had begun in late November 1942 which led to the Soviets finally defeating the Germans at Stalingrad in February 1943 and later at Kursk in the summer of 1943.

2 A reference to the German airborne invasion of the island of Crete on 20 May 1941.

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