World War II (detail from Pearl Harbor photo)

Fascist Italy

Mussolini became dictator of Italy in 1925 with dreams of restoring the glory days of the Roman Empire. Beyond a blustering propaganda campaign, his military gains were limited to seizing easy targets: Ethiopia in 1936 and Albania in 1939. In 1940, as the German blitzkrieg spread across Europe, Mussolini allied himself with Hitler and opened a self-described “parallel war” in the Mediterranean. He dispatched ill-prepared Italian forces to North Africa and Greece, hoping that an eventual German victory would enable Italy to claim these territories for itself.

Benito Mussolini dreamed of building a modern Roman Empire by conquering the Mediterranean
Italian flag