Italo Balbo

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Italo Balbo (1930s)

Italo Balbo (born June 6, 1896 in Quartesana, Ferrara , † June 28, 1940 in Tobruk ) was an Italian fascist politician and aviation pioneer . As Minister of the Air Force (1929–1933) and Air Marshal , he was a central figure in the establishment of the Italian Air Force, the Regia Aeronautica . From 1934 to 1940 Balbo was Governor General of Italian Libya .


During the First World War he was an officer in the Alpini and received several awards. After the war he studied social sciences in Florence and then became a bank clerk in Ferrara.

Balbo (left) next to Mussolini (1923)

Before Mussolini came to power in October 1922, he joined the fascist party and, as a local group leader, organized the persecution of communists and socialists . He was already one of the party leaders during the march on Rome , in 1924 he became head of the fascist militia and in 1925 State Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Although Balbo had no idea about aviation , Mussolini appointed him Secretary of State for Aviation in 1926. He completed rapid pilot training and was the central figure in building the Italian Air Force. In 1929, when he was only 33, he became Minister of Aviation. He achieved fame thanks to his Atlantic crossings with large aircraft formations. In 1930 Balbo flew with 12  Savoia-Marchetti S.55 from Orbetello to Rio de Janeiro , in 1933 with 24 planes from Rome to New York and Chicago . In Chicago, Seventh Street was renamed Balbo Drive , and President Roosevelt invited him to dinner. Mussolini promoted him to air marshal . In this function he also had to do with the German Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring , with whom he made friends privately.

His success soon brought Italo Balbo a lot of envy and resentment. In 1934 he was transferred to Italian Libya , where he became Governor General . He tried to win settlers for the colony. After the German invasion of Poland , he vehemently opposed Mussolini's alliance with Hitler and advocated Italy's entry into the war on the side of Great Britain .

Balbo died on June 28, 1940 near Tobruk after his plane by friendly fire was shot down by the Italian air defense. To the present day, speculation continues that his shooting down - unlike officially announced - could not have been an accident.


On November 23, 1933, Balbo was awarded the Icelandic Order of the Falcon (Grand Cross).

See also

  • Via Balbia , coastal highway in Libya named after Balbo


  • Italo Balbo: La Centuria Alata. Mondadori, Milan 1933 (Also: Prefazione di Paolo Balbo. Introduzione di Gregory Alegi. Le Balze, Montepulciano 2005, ISBN 88-7539-059-2 ).
  • Italo Balbo: Stormi d'Italia sul mondo. Mondadori, Milan 1934.
  • Paul R. Corner: Il fascismo a Ferrara. 1915–1925 (= Biblioteca di cultura moderna. Vol. 766, ZDB -ID 980413-4 = Biblioteca di cultura moderna. Ricerca su partito, Stato e società civile nell'Italia fascista (1922–1945). Vol. 8). Laterza, Roma / Bari 1975.
  • Spencer di Scala: Italy. From Revolution to Republic. 1700 to the present. 3rd edition. Westview Press, Boulder CO 2004, ISBN 0-8133-4176-0 .
  • Emmy Goering: At my husband's side. Events and Confessions. Schütz, Göttingen 1967 (5th edition. Nation-Europa-Verlag, Coburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-920677-67-5 ).
  • Giordano Bruno Guerri: Italo Balbo (= Oscar Storia 169). Mondadori, Milan 1998, ISBN 88-04-45501-2 .
  • Saul Kelly: The Lost Oasis. The Desert War and the Hunt for Zerzura. The true story behind The English Patient. Westview Press, Boulder CO 2003, ISBN 0-8133-4103-5 .
  • Folco Quilici: Tobruk 1940. La vera storia della fine di Italo Balbo. Mondadori, Milan 2004, ISBN 88-04-53411-7 .
  • Claudio G. Segre: Italo Balbo. Una vita fascista. Il Mulino, Bologna 2000, ISBN 88-15-07633-6 .
  • Denis Mack Smith: Italy. A Modern History. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor MI 1959.
  • Blaine Taylor: Fascist Eagle. Italy's Air Marshal Italo Balbo. Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula MT 1996, ISBN 1-57510-012-6 .

Web links

Commons : Italo Balbo  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Joachim Käppner: 1941 - The attack on the whole world. Rowohlt, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-87134-826-6 , p. 120.
  2. More details and evidence in section it: Italo Balbo # L'ipotesi del complotto
  3. Database query on the website of the President of Iceland , accessed on July 6, 2020.