Italo Balbo was a leader of the Italian fascist government under Benito Mussolini in the 1920s and 30s. He is recognized by scholars as one of the most violent warlords of the Fascist movement.
Balbo is famous for having organized the “Black Shirts,” a murderous paramilitary gang. In the 1930s, Balbo received an audience with Hitler, and, in 1942, Hitler praised Balbo, saying Hitler’s “brown shirt might perhaps not have arisen without the black shirt.”
Balbo’s connection with Chicago was brief, leaving no lasting impact on the city. In conjunction with the Century of Progress World’s Fair held in Chicago in 1933, Balbo led a transatlantic flight, at that time an aeronautical innovation. Balbo spent a total of five days in Chicago.
When he returned to Italy, Balbo led an Italian invasion of North Africa. He died when his plane was shot down by friendly fire in 1940. There are no monuments to Balbo in Rome.