The fall of Mussolini and the defection of the Italian Government was the greatest political blow which Hitler had suffered. From now on the Rome-Berlin Axis, which had been the basis of the revolution in Europe since 1936, did not exist. Moreover, it was likely to begin a rot among the satellites. On the Eastern Front the weakened German Armies were now being pushed relentlessly back by Asiatics, Jews and Bolsheviks. In July and August the Asiatics won three great battles, at Kursk, Orel, and Kharkov, and by September the Germans were in retreat along the whole front from Moscow to the Black Sea. On 25th September the Russians recovered Smolensk. The Northern Front remained static, but with such evidence of German defeat, and with the example of Italy before them, the loyalty of the Finns might well be doubted; and it was with this in mind that Hitler issued his Directive No. 50.