By ANA TOLE V. BAIKALOIT It is at the moment a real service to the country to cast a rather more critical eye than does the national press on the state of Soviet Russia. We recall the tragic effects both in England and France of the failure to be objective about the internal state of France at the beginning of the war.
In totalitarian Russia it is particularly hard to get at the truth, hut the news about the internal situation that oozes through the severe Soviet censorship is not wholly encouraging.
We are told. of course, about numerous resolutions which are voted " unanimously " at workers' meetings. These resolutions, as usual, are couched in extremely enthusiastic and servile language. But it would be a great mistake to accept them at the face value, as frank and genuine expression of the Russian public opinion.
NO FREE PRESS IN RUSSIA By past experience we know that all these resolutiorts are drawn hys the Communists acting under the direct orders of the Polit-Bureau, that their voting is not accompanied by free discussion, and that no one dare to vote against them.
As there is no free and independent press in Soviet Russia, as all the ineetinss are strictly controlled by Ihe Party; and as no opposition allowed to function, it is extremely difficult to appreciate ,arcurately the mood of the country and to learn what is taking place behind the screen of the Governmentinspired propaganda.
There is only one reliable method of finding truth about conditions in • 'Russia, namely to note the subjects which are not mentioned in the official announcements and to read the motives which prompt the Government to promulgate their decrees.
One of the subjects about which Soviet Press and radio and the foreign correspondents resident in Moscow, are singularly reticent, is the food situation in towns and industrial =ties, This reticence, sampled with the knowledge that the railways, already terribly congested, are working exclusively for military purposes, must give anyone who knows something about the stringency of the food situation in Soviet Russia in peacetime some anxiety.
July has always been a critical month in the U.S.S.R. as far as food supplies are concerned. The stocks of the previous year's crop were usually exhausted, and the new crop was not gathered yet. It is also known that during the Soviet-Finnish war the bread supplies in Moscow and other big cities at one time bloke down owing to the difficulties of transport. But the Finnish
war was it child's play in comparison with the scope of the present military operations.
The restoration of the old Communist system of political commissars attached to every army and navy unit. is a very disquieting sign. Ii shows, firstly, that Stalin is not quite sure about the army's morale, and, secondly, that he is not intending to abandon the methods by which he maintained himself in power.
STALIN'S MILITARY TALENT Another disturbing fact is the assumption. by Stalin of fa responsibility for the supreme command of all Russian armed forces. 11 is difficult to account for this step. No man, however physically fit and mentally capable, can run the State and command the argues in the field at the same time.
Besides, Stalin's military talent is questionable. He has had no military training, and his experience during the Civil War never extended to the actual direction of large scale operations. He held the post of a political commissar attached to the army staff, and never commanded the troops in the battles.
The strength of the Russian resistance has surprised the world, but it would be dangerous to build too rosy hopes on it. The best hope lies not in Russia, but in Germany where disorganisation may be rapidly becoming serious owing to the sustained Russian resistance.