Il Duce Was Here (Mussolini on Display)
Yes, the epaulets on display here were worn on the uniform of Il Duce himself, Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy. He was not always a dictator, however.
Through the use of force, intimidation and pure outright politics he climbed to the top of the heap of the Italian fascist movement. In 1922 he reached the very top. In the March on Rome he and 30,000 of his “black shirts” quickly and surprisingly bloodlessly was handed control of the Italian government. On October 28, 1922 King Victor Emmanuel III signed the order making Mussolini the Prime Minister.
Over the course of the next few years he used the democratic system to set himself up as a dictator. Eventually granting the fascist one-party control of the country. Looking to flex his muscle in a world on the brink of war, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935. What proved to be an opening act in a decade of war. He took the chance to side with Germany as a member of the Axis powers.
Knowing that Italy was not completely prepared for a continental war in 1939 he hoped that Germany would be able to defeat France and England quickly. His forces would remain focused on North Africa. He was looking for a seat at the victory celebration without a lot of effort.
In 1943 the Allied invasion of Italy sort of blew up his plan. By 1945 he found himself deposed and on the run. Eventually, he was captured and executed by Italian partisans. An ignominious end for Il Duce, but maybe not ill deserved.