Hitler’s Luftwaffe Adjutant, Nicholas von Below records in his diaries that February and March 1942 were a relatively quiet period.
Hitler spent time with his newly appointed Armaments Minister, Albert Speer. Speer was his favourite architect, with whom Hitler indulged his fantasies to remodel German cities on a massive scale – he had been appointed Armaments Minister after Todt had been killed in an air accident in February. Now that the war was set to be a prolonged one the German war machine took on a new priority.
At the same time Hitler spent time planning the new offensive in Russia that would be launched as soon as the weather improved. He no longer wanted to take Moscow – the objectives that he now set the Wehrmacht were the oilfields in the far south east of the Soviet Union. If they could seize these then the Russians would be in desperate straits whilst Germany would have the fuel to continue the war as it pleased.
Hitler returned to Berlin for Heldengedenktag [Memorial day] on March 15th. It was becoming vitally important for him again to influence opinion with his speeches. in this discourse he described the fierceness of the Russian winter and the enormous difiiculties which our soldiers had had to overcome.
But he praised the German fighting men, who, despite the violence of the enemy and the severe weather, had helped to keep the front solid. Full of reverence – and this seemed to me to be no empty pathos – he spoke of the fallen, who had not sacrificed their lives for Germany in vain.