As with any great calamities there are first “ups” before the “downs”. Hitler’s war on Russia was no different. This was seen in 1942-3 when his mighty armies fought like supermen of the Aryan legends before being forced back in humiliation by the awesome determination of the Soviet people.
During this time Hitler grew increasingly unstable. His mental condition was being called into question by those close to him and his military commanders had given up hope on ever convincing Hitler of embracing strategies which involved tactical retreat, fall back, or surrender. He was so immersed in his fantasy world that he believed himself to know better than the combined wisdom of his Chief of Staffs.
This revealed in his fixation of Stalingrad. Devoting large amounts of forces to first take several oil rich regions he at the last minute diverted the forces intended to take the Caucuses and changed the plan to taking both Stalingrad and the Volga. His reasoning being that with the fall of Stalingrad the surrounding areas would falter.
Needless to say his conception of warfare overstretched his already drawn forces and defeat loomed imminent. Soviet counteroffensives racked the German lines and though Hitler’s generals were given strict orders to stand form and fight to the last man, necessity of the situation gave weight to reality resulting in hundreds of surrenders.
This only infuriated Hitler and in his semi-mad state of mind warped the nature of the Russian war with the extermination of the Jews. Believing that with the cleansing of Jewry would come victory in the East (and indeed the whole world) Hitler descended into pure insanity. This state of mind resulted in cryptic orders to erect mass-murder camps.
His orders followed to a “T” the camps were built and thousands of Jews recently rounded up and deported, were forced into death camps to fates all but certain. While undertaking with the utmost subtly the existence of such places quickly spread among the bureaucratic strata culminating with several camp inspectors so horrified at what they saw within the camps they began plotting against the Fuhrer.
Meanwhile tings on the military front only deteriorated further: defeats in Africa, failed offensives in Russia, and invasion of Italy compounded matters in the extreme. This pressure culminated most spectacularly in Italy where his ally, Mussolini, was arrested by oppositional forces after a parliamentary coup.
Determine to save his friend and salvage whatever petty remnants of self-respect possible, Hitler ordered that Mussolini be rescued from his prison hotel. To do so he ordered gliders to land just outside his hotel and ferociously overwhelm the guards thereby freeing him in a grand manner. The operation went better than expected, with the only casualties being ten wounded from a glider crash. Mussolini and Hitler reunited in Prussia where after imposing his will on Mussolini managed to concede from him his return to politics; he was to become the supreme ruler of fascism in Italy and direct loyal Italians to assist the German soldiers as they fought the Allied landings.
While Mussolini was far from ready to accept this role, and indeed only wished to retire to a quiet life of dignity, he was threatened by Hitler who promised that unless he cooperated Italy would be placed under German occupation. Mussolini had little choice in the matter. He accepted Hitler’s terms in the same manner a P.O.W accept scraps of food.