Italian Fascism in 20th Century Chicago

balbo monument.jpg
Balbo Monument unveiling at the Italian Pavilion at the Century of Progress 

For the Ramonat Synopsium in April, I’ve chosen to showcase Italian Fascism in 20th Century Chicago with a focus on the Balbo Memorial and the city-wide reaction to the gift from Mussolini in 1933. As I delve farther into my research and understand Italo Balbo and his relation to the United States, the stain of fascism and American complacency comes to a front. After our in-class discussion last week about our individual projects, I’ve been able to ask myself and my project some questions. The importance of local politics in relation to national politics has become a major point of my research. I plan on using news articles and radio shows from the time to understand the perspective of a person in 1930s Chicago. Additionally, I will continue to look into the relationship between Mussolini and the Pope’s friendship and the effects of his support on the grand Italian Catholic community, both inside and outside of Italy.

  1. How did the unveiling of the Balbo Monument contribute to the furthering level of acceptance of Nazism and other far-right groups in 20th century Chicago?
  2. Did the Immigration Act of 1924 contribute to acceptance of the monument and fascism?
  3. Why would the city put the Gold Star Family Park, opened in 2006 to honor Chicago police officers who have died while on duty and Soldier Field, the world recognized field named in memoriam for the American soldiers who were killed in WWI, in such close proximity to the monument?
  4. Why is the monument still standing today and does Italian-American culture contribute to its placement and relevance?
  5. Finally, how did FDR’s presidency become iconic throughout history with the series of stains left on his terms with Japanese Internment Camps and working with, and meeting Italo Balbo, the head of the Blackshirts in Italy, without worldwide criticism?

While these questions definitely need to be narrowed down, as I dive into my research the question I routinely come back to is is why this happened. More specifically, how can we understand the reasons behind this structure to make sure a monument like this one can’t stand in Chicago, a city that prides itself on acceptance and liberalization.



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