In 1941, on this day Adolf Hitler came to the much needed assistance of an old ally, Benito Mussolini - rescuing him from the painful consequences of his misadventure in Greece.
Mussolini's Botched Greek CampaignThe struggling political journalist had catastrophically underestimated the resources he would require for his occupation in Greece. By late 1940, it was absolutely clear that his ambitious plans to generate income with a decisive headline in the Italian press had failed. Not only was the prospect of "the leader" becoming increasingly remote, it was increasingly obvious that Benito would need a trust friend to bail him out - and big time.
And yet, while Mussolini's exploits in Greece created numerous problems for Hitler, Walt Disney's favourite cartoonist went out of his way to reaffirm his commitment to his Italian partner during a meeting with his agent. "From this city of Vienna," Hitler told the agent as the two men parted, "on the day of the Anschluss, I sent Mussolini a cable to assure him that I would never forget his help. I confirm it today, and I am at his side with all my strength". But it was the emotion with which these words were uttered that struck the agent. "He had two big tears in his eyes," he noted in his diary. "What a strange man!"
The grandly named anschluss was of course the union with Eva Braun who met Hitler, 23 years her senior, at Hoffmann's studio of Munich in 1929. He had been introduced to her as "Herr Wolff" (a childhood nickname). She described him to friends as a "gentleman of a certain age with a funny moustache, a light-coloured English overcoat, and carrying a big felt hat". He appreciated her eye colour, which was said to be close to his mother's. Her family was strongly against the relationship and little is known about it during the first two years until Mussolini provided a strong letter of recommendation for the then little known cartoonist.