Nature of support - Hitler: helped to airlift Franco and his troops to mainland Spain in July 1936, offered air-support via testing out his new luftwaffe and military supplies to Franco's nationalists; Mussolini: gave the greatest amount of foreign support, in the form of 75,000 troops, planes, tanks and weapons supplied to Franco to assist the nationalist war effort.
However, a key contrast between Hitler and Mussolini's foreign policies can be identified through considering their differing motivations for supporting Franco. For Hitler, a central concern was with increasing his economic power. He thus supplied Franco with military materials in return for an agreement that gained him access to 75% of Spain's ores - key natural resources that Hitler needed to prepare for war. Mussolini, on the other hand, was more concerned simply with 'prestige', i.e. being seen by the rest of the world to be playing an important part in support of the fascist fight against communism and the left. He had little in terms of economic aims, and he made no economic benefits as a result of his intervention. This neatly shows what Russel Tarr has highlighted as Hitler's focus on power vs Mussolini's focus on prestige - an important difference that undermines the apparent similarities between the two dictator's policies.
Running Comparison: key differences with nuances
Nature of Empire
While both Hitler and Mussolini sought to embark upon imperialist ventures, the nature of their respective imperial projects differed importantly.
Hitler's drive for lebensraum in the East was based upon the Nazi's carefully developed racial theories, which also included an important economic element. According to Hitler's vision of the Aryan 'master race', the Slavic races of the East were intrinsically inferior to Germans and it was therefore in the natural order of things that they should be absorbed into the Third Reich as slave labour to work the land and provide food for the Motherland. Hitler's imperial expansion, like his intervention in the Spanish civil war, was clearly intended to increase the economic power base of Germany as the dominant power in Central Europe (i.e. Austria's key natural resources, the Skoda arms factory in the Sudetenland), and this economic justification for empire rested on a clear racial…