Monday, March 18, 2013


I was intrigued to note that on this day in 1940, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met at Brenner Pass in the Alps and agreed to form an alliance against France and the UK.  As Americans we hear about the various meetings undertaken by different combinations of the Allied powers to develop war aims and forge strategic agreements.  The Atlantic Conference in 1941; Casablanca in 1943; Yalta in 1945--common names, all.  But Brenner Pass?  I'd always wondered how it was that the Axis powers became the Axis powers.  I knew the story of Germany and Italy's Tripartite Pact with Japan later in 1940, but how was it that Hitler and Mussolini decided to work together?  Now I guess I know.  I wonder how widely this history is taught in German and Italian schools, as I know that in the case of Germany, at least, an almost institutionalized practice of apology for the nation's Nazi past has been central to the country's post-war healing process.

Fun fact to know and tell: Benito Mussolini was named after mid-19th century Mexican president Benito Juarez!  Why, I am not sure, but he was.

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