There are many photos of der Fuhrer and Il Duce, but this photo is unique. Taken in August 1944 by Heinrich Hoffmann, the photo depicts Hitler and Mussolini in their waning days. A year earlier, in June 1943, Mussolini lost a vote of confidence in Italy after confronted by his son-in-law, the army and the king. He was dismissed and arrested–but his arrest threw Italy into chaos, and an anarchy. A special German unit was dispatched by Hitler to rescue Mussolini. The rescue saved Mussolini from being turned over to the Allies, but by this time, Mussolini was in very poor health and wanted to retire. However, Hitler didn’t allow him to do so. In his villa in Lombardy, Mussolini was alone, distant and virtually a puppet of the Germans.
Hitler was not doing so good in that summer of 1944 either. In 1942, Germans lost the Battle of El Alamein, forever destroying Hitler’s plans to seize the Suez and the Middle East. The defeat in Stalingrad came in February 1943, followed by the Allied invasion of Sicily. Already beset with Parkinson’s disease, and syphilis, Hitler would suffer another ignominy: in July 1944, a confederate Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in Hitler’s Führer Headquarters, the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair) at Rastenburg, which injured his right arm. [Hitler was wearing a sling for his right arm in above picture].