Foreign MilitariaItaly

43 Important Marshal's Baton presented to Rodolfo Graziani, Maresciallo d'Italia by the M.V.S.N. 1937/1938.

Marshal's baton of ivory with separately applied gold-set crosses of the House of Savoy and the Italian royal house.

A shield with the inscription "TE TENEO AFRICA" applied to the side of the shaft.

The pommels with sculpted depictions of Roman mythology, framed by laurel leaves worked in gold.

The finial of the upper pommel in gold with a gold medallion set in a lapis lazuli plate with the dedication "A RODOLFO GRAZIANI" framed by the symbolic knots of the House of Savoy.

The end of the lower pommel also made of gold and with a gold medallion set in a lapis lazuli plate with the dedication "LA M.V.S.N. A. XVI E.F." set in the symbolic knots of the House of Savoy. ( The year XVI of the Fascist Era runs from October 28 1937 to October 27, 1938 / Anno XVI E.F. 28 ottobre 1937 - 27 ottobre 1938)

The militia M.V.S.N. ( Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale) was the elite force of the Italian Fascist Party. This marshal's baton was presumably presented to Rodolfo Graziani on the occasion of his appointment as Viceroy of Ethiopia, or Maresciallo d'Italia, and the proclamation of the Fascist Empire.

The design of the baton is deliberately based on the tradition of the Roman Empire, whose successor Fascist Italy considered itself to be. Scenes similar to those on the pommel ends of the baton can be found on Trajan's Column in Rome.

A highly important object on the history of Italian Fascism and the person of Marshal Graziani of impressive craftsmanship and the finest goldsmith work.

A museum object of great rarity.

accompanied by appropriate international CITES documents.


Rodolfo Graziani, Marquis of Neghelli (* 11 August 1882 in Filettino, Province of Frosinone; † 11 January 1955 in Rome) was an Italian general and politician during the Italian Fascist period, holder of the title "Marshal of Italy" since 1936.

Graziani was best known for his campaigns in Africa before and during the Second World War and for his collaboration with the Third Reich as Minister of Defence of the Fascist Republic of Salò (R.S.I.).

During the 1920s and 1930s, Graziani played a key role in the Italian wars of expansion on the African continent, first during the Second Italian-Libyan War and then in the Abyssinian War. During the inter-war period as well as the early part of the Second World War, he held various commands and governorships in Italian East Africa and later Italian Libya.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Graziani led the unsuccessful Italian invasion of Egypt in 1940/41. From September 1943 to the end of April 1945, he was Minister of Defence of the Fascist Republic of Salò and Commander-in-Chief of the Republican Italian forces that continued to fight alongside Germany.

Rodolfo Graziani was supposed to become a priest at his father's request, but in the end the son decided on an officer's career. Since the path via the military academy of Modena remained closed to him, he first served as a temporary officer, among others with the 1st Regiment of the Granatieri di Sardegna in Rome.

From 1908, he served as a colonial officer in Eritrea, where he learned Arabic and Tigrinya, which would serve him well in his later career in Africa. In 1911 he was in danger of his life for a long time after being bitten by a poisonous snake.

In 1912, he took part as an infantry officer in the Italian-Turkish War, in which Libya and its two parts, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, were occupied by Italy and annexed as a colony of Italian Libya.

From 1915 onwards, he again took part in the First World War as an infantry officer. He distinguished himself on the Isonzo and later the Piave fronts and was subsequently promoted several times. In 1918, at the age of 36, he was promoted to the youngest colonel in the Italian army.

Arriving in Libya in October 1921 as the youngest colonel in the Italian army, Graziani was chiefly credited with the conquest of Tripolitania and also the occupation of Fessan in 1929/30. A counter-guerrilla specialist, he modernised the methods of desert warfare, relying not only on rapidly advancing formations with armoured vehicles supported from the air, but also on unrestrained brutality. Notorious for his fascist firmness of principle, Graziani made a reputation for himself as an "Arab butcher" and repeatedly ordered mass executions. After being appointed vice-governor of Cyrenaika by Mussolini in the spring of 1930, Graziani also set about "pacifying" the Libyan part of the country, following the tried and tested pattern.

From 1935 to 1936, Graziani took part in the Italian-Ethiopian War and commanded the units that attacked Abyssinia from Italian Somaliland. After the conquest of Harar, Mussolini appointed him Marshal of Italy and Marchese di Neghelli.

In 1937, he was appointed Viceroy of Ethiopia.

In November 1939, after the start of the Second World War, Mussolini appointed Graziani Chief of Staff of the Army and (after Air Marshal Italo Balbo's sudden death in mid-1940) also Governor General in Libya and thus Commander-in-Chief of Italian troops in North Africa.

Under Graziani's leadership, of the ten barely motorised divisions of the 10th Italian Army, four infantry divisions, together with a lightly armoured battle group, attacked Egypt and advanced as far as Sidi el Barrani, where they stopped because of supply problems and water shortages. For political reasons, Mussolini forbade the transfer of Italian motorised and armoured divisions from the Po Valley to North Africa until 1941, where they would have been the only viable forces in the region. Graziani's long experience in suppressing insurgencies and waging colonial wars had a major influence on his conduct of operations, although he did not fully realise that he had to conduct a European war in the African desert according to completely new criteria. The counterattack of the British armoured units against Graziani's unmotivated foot soldiers (→ Operation Compass) quickly led to the collapse of the 10th Army and the deployment of the German Afrika Korps under Erwin Rommel. The few motorised and armoured Italian units were also finally transferred to North Africa. Graziani returned to Italy in February 1941, where he was also relieved of his post as Chief of the Army General Staff. He was not given a command again until Mussolini's arrest in July 1943. Mussolini put him in charge of the Ministry of Defence in his residual fascist republic in northern Italy and in command of his troops. This fanned the resistance of the Resistenza; Italian society was deeply divided.

From his headquarters he commanded the Italian units fighting on the German side until the Allies had occupied large parts of northern Italy and resistance was hardly possible. Despite the hopeless situation, he did not think of capitulation until the end, but had those unwilling to fight executed. On 29 April 1945, one day after Mussolini was shot by partisans, Graziani surrendered to US troops in Milan. On the same day, as Marshal of Italy, he signed the Caserta Armistice together with SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Waffen-SS Karl Wolff as "Plenipotentiary General of the German Wehrmacht in Italy", making the surrender of all German and Republican Italian forces in the north of the country effective in the night of 2 to 3 May 1945.

In the early 1950s Graziani joined the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) and tried to help the fascist idea achieve a renaissance. After party quarrels, he withdrew into private life and died in Rome in early 1955.

On 11 August 2012, a mausoleum in honour of Graziani, built with subsidies from the region and the municipality, was inaugurated in Affile in the Lazio region in the Parco di Radimonte in the presence of neo-fascist citizens and the mayor Ercole Viri.

A truly magnificent and highly important historical object of the finest goldsmith's workmanship and high symbolic value for the era of Italian fascism.

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