The PNF, or National Fascist Party, was founded in 1921 with Benito Mussolini as leader. Fascism was based upon nationalism and the idea that modern Italy was the heir to the Roman Empire. Mussolini’s desire to restore the Roman Empire ultimately led him and the country on the path to war, which was only made worse by his Pact of Steel with Nazi Germany and its aims for territorial expansionism through conquest.
By 1936, the tensions between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany reduced and relations became friendlier, which led Mussolini to create a racial program in Italy. Mussolini’s ambitions went beyond this, however, especially after Germany’s invasion of France. In wanting his own share in the spoils of war, Mussolini declared war on France after it had become clear that they were almost defeated. Having defeated the Ethiopians in 1935 and after enjoying a minor success in France, his war ambitions expanded and led to a series of military setbacks and disasters that ultimately made Mussolini the junior partner with Nazi Germany and eventually led to regime collapse in 1943 and later his demise.
The objects in the Italian collection represent the fascist state and Mussolini’s desires to return Italy to its former glory. Military artifacts as well as objects pertaining to the Fascist Party and the crown highlight the Fascist Party’s connections to some of the long-standing institutions of Italy.
WWII-era Alpini Officer Hat
c. 1940s Felt, rayon, gilt wire Fascist Italy
WWI Victory Medal
1918 Bronze Fascist Italy
c. 1942 Nickel, bronze Fascist Italy
Kingdom of Italy/Kingdom of Sardinia Flag
c. 1940s Cotton Fascist Italy
M33 Helmet Shell
N.D. Steel Fascist Italy
Captured Artillery Captain Uniform
c. 1940s Wool, artificial silk, wood, brass Fascist Italy
Black Shirt PNF Uniform
N.D. Cotton, wood, brass Fascist Italy
Engineer Officer Uniform
N.D. Cotton, wool, brass, velvet, aluminum Fascist Italy