Italy's World War II dictator Benito Mussolini makes a brief return to center stage Wednesday and Thursday when incredible artifacts of his political thinking and Nazi rescue hit the auction block.
Alexander Historical Auctions is offering an ornate "presentation sword" Mussolini owned that includes an engraving of words from philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli that ended up driving his own punishing political theory. The words: "CUM PAROLE NON SE POSSONO DEFENDERE LI STATI" (IT IS NOT WITH WORDS THAT ONE MAINTAINS GOVERNMENTS).
The auctioneer said the sword is over three feet long and has an ornate silver handle. "Either side of the handle has a full standing figure of two Roman figures, one a legionnaire holding a gold sword and shield and labeled 'VIGOR' on a small brass plate beneath, the other a woman in headdress with two hands resting upon the top of a gold Roman fasci and with the mounted plaque reading, 'IUSTIA' (Justice) beneath," said the auction writeup.
It is expected to sell for $12,000-15,000.
How to bid at Alexander Auctions.
The history is rich. The auctioneer wrote that Mussolini was exiled to a mountain resort, discovered by SS commando Otto Skorzeny. Skorzeny was ordered by Adolf Hitler to rescue his pal and planned a daring raid with gliders.
"On Sep. 12th, 1943, the approaching gliders crash landed on terrain even steeper and rockier than expected. As the Italian carabinieri ran for cover, Skorzeny bolted for the hotel and found Mussolini who cried out: 'I knew my friend Adolf wouldn't desert me.' The two piled into a small German reconnaissance plane, greatly overloading it and nearly causing a crash on take-off, but the party made it to Rome and then Prussia where Skorzeny was promoted and awarded the Knights Cross. Not a single shot was fired during the entire operation," said Alexander's write-up of the watch the dictator gave Skorzeny.