On the afternoon of 6th April 1943 , Mussolini by the last special train of real Duce. He was accompanied by German Ambassador in Rome , Mackensen , Italian Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Ambrosio and new Italian Foreign Minister Bastianini (Duce’s son in law Count Glezzo Ciano was sacked from Foreign Minister post and sent to Vatican as Ambassador in January 1943 along with another group of ministers during one of Mussolini’s regular "Changing of Guard) with a team of Italian Foregn Ministry experts.
The last summit meeting between Axis leaders was held in Salzburg a year ago in April 1942. The setting in Klessheim Castle was same but as German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop told his Italian collegue Bastianini on arrival , “much hapened since then” Behind this laconic understatemenmt lay the brutal unfaced fact that a decisive Axis victory could no longer be won. The hammer blows at Alamein , Torch and Stalingrad had marked the turning point of the conflict. The strategic initiative now lay at the hands of the enemy on all fronts and survival of Axis depended on basic revision of strategy. Thwe issue was stark there was no way Germany and Italy could go back to favorable balance of forces like 1940-1941 , the concept of Blitzkrieg was dead, the concept of a Second Front which had been derided by Axis leadership so far , now became a possibility in 1943 , the loss of all Italian North Africa and shrinking Axis foothold in Tunisia , brought the war close to the Italian mainland. The continued presence of Italy in Axis coalition depended on a decisive reinforcement by Germany on Mediterranean Theater and such a strategic revolution could only be achieved at the expense of Eastern Front either by staying on defensive at Ukraine or seeking a compromised oeace with Soviet Union. If that was achieved , an all out effort against Westetn Allies could lead a negotiated settlement with them that would leave something of Axis gains in Europe.
Such a stratregic analysis of war situation in the spring of 1943 was in general shared by both German and Italian circles with the cardinal exception of Hitler. The pervesive fear of total defeat had seeped into the leadership of both countries and the awareness that hope of salvation lay in the hands of uniquely in the personal prwstige Mussolini still had in the eyes of Hitler. For Italian diplomatic and military notables , only Mussolini could persuade him to consider the necessity of a strategic revolution by liquadating Eastern Front. Such was the significance of Salzburg meeting.