In January 1934, Hitler began his appease-and-attack campaign by signing a ten-year nonaggression pact with Poland, which boasted an army far larger than Germany's. This allowed Hitler to appear as a peacemaker while giving him time to secretly rearm his nation.
Later that year, Hitler visited Mussolini — one of his idols — for the first time, but the meeting didn't go well. Mussolini didn't particularly care for Hitler (he thought the German leader was mad and referred to him as a buffoon behind his back), and the two dictators parted without agreeing to anything significant. Soon after, Hitler angered Mussolini further with a failed attempt to place a puppet regime in Austria after the assassination by Viennese Nazis of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, who was one of Mussolini's most valued allies. However, Hitler was able to publicly and successfully disavow his role in Dollfuss's killing — even though he was a primary instigator — and continued to court Mussolini as an ally. Two years later, the two men formed the Rome-Berlin Axis, which set the stage for war in Europe.