I’m still not convinced however, I’ll reply to a few of your points below further:
Germany desperately needed the Russian oil by 1943 (as well as Russian grain which I will discuss further below). That they failed to take the Caucasus during this time was their last realistic chance at victory, IMO. However, had they taken the oil wells, but with the Russians destroying them in the process as was quite likely, would the Germans be able to restore the flow of oil in sufficient time? It might take months, even years to rebuild the necessary infrastructure in the best of circumstances, let alone during a brutal war. The German industry was already hard pressed to supply the necessary armaments and did not have a great deal of experience with oil industry in the first place. I think they would not have been able to do this.
The same idea goes for the chromium, vanadium, etc., though this would be less difficult for the Germans to accomplish (or mitigate as you also suggest) than the oil problem.
While Germany might have been able to supply an equivalent amount of money, material and engineers to work on their atomic program, there simply were much fewer top nuclear physicists in all Europe than existed in the US. Consequently, it would have probably cost more and taken longer than the US program for this reason alone. I have no doubt they could have eventually done it, but I don’t see how they develop nuclear weapons before the allies developed a delivery system that could get through their defenses.
The German V-2 was a technological marvel, but other than size, no more advanced than the rockets being built by Dr. Goddard. After the war, when Dr. Goddard was able to examine a captured V-2, he was convinced the Germans had stolen his work. And the Germans might have because most of his designs were on file in the US patent office, available for public viewing (which the Germans did prior to the war). I think had the Americans wanted to (and Dr. Goddard certainly did) they could have built a superior rocket in a couple months and have it mass-produced in six. As the A-bombs designs at that time were quite heavy, it might have taken longer than that to build a nuclear capable rocket…but how much longer?
Alternatively, the Allies could have either copied the German jets to enable a delivery system, or devise other means (boats/submarines? special ops?) to deliver these weapons.
In addition, I consider the German attack on Russia to be about food as well as oil The Ukraine was the breadbasket of Europe, and helped the Germans tremendously in 1943. But food was scarce in 1944 and onward. Partly this was due to Russian recovery of territory. But it was also because the Ukraine was normally not sufficient by itself to feed Germany (the year of the capture of Ukraine by the Germans was one of the best years for Ukrainian agriculture as the weather was nearly perfect). Of course, the poor treatment of the Ukrainians by the Germans did not lend itself to helping this problem either. In order to assure itself of adequate food, I think the Caucasus (the next logical food source) was needed.
Mussolini (and many others) thought the war all but won by Germany - hence the quote you post. From that starting point, with his political views and territorial aspirations, declaring war was an easy decision.
When you say “at this day and age” I think you mean with the largely pro-facist Italian mindset of 1940? So ignoring hindsight and my own morality?
The Italian ones are new to me, only because they were never discussed. However there are plenty of records of the ones in action during the Phillipines and South Pacific Campaigns (JFK, etc.) which gave them plenty of heroic press.
Along similar lines: General Joseph E. Johnston, who had surrendered his forces to General William Tecumseh Sherman in the last days of the Civil War, died just a few weeks after Sherman. He had attended Sherman’s funeral and had kept his hat off during the proceedings (despite the cold and rainy weather) as a sign of respect to his former adversary; he caught a cold as a result, and it developed into pneumonia.
True Marc. I also remembered that they, too, were born in the same month. Was February, actually, but 13 years apart. Funny.