The Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-41)

In back alleys and old book shops in Ethiopia, you can occasionally stumble across old gems. A recent example I found was "The Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-41) Genesis Ordeal Victory", published by the Ministry of Information in 1975. It is a 28-page pamphlet that includes a large set of images. For a historian, the pamphlet is interesting not only for the historical content from a Ethiopian perspective, but also the time period in which is was written and published. The publication documents the struggle against Italian occupation, from the perspective of the government of Ethiopia, and documents the crimes committed by the Italians. 

It states: "From start to finish, the Fascist forces waged the campaign with total disregard for the rules of war established by the diverse international conventions to which Italy was a party. Red Cross camps were deliberately bombed and incendiary devices showered on fleeing refugees. Prisoners of war, whether captured in battle or wounded or incapacitated, were executed on the spot. Torture, mutiliation [sic], skinning and castration were commonly employed. Whole families were locked in their dwellings and burnt alive. Some suspects were beheaded, others tied to lorries and dragged along till the corpse became utterly unrecognizable - still others thrown overboard from planes in flight. The most terrible atrocity of all was the widespread and indiscriminate use of poison gas. Whole areas suspected of harbouring resistance units were sprayed promiscuously - destroying all living things and polluting crops, rivers and lakes." (p. 17)

One comment is reminiscent of many made after the Rwandan genocide: "It is not to be contested that the majority of the peoples of the world - even most individual members of the League [of Nations] - were fully sympathetic with Ethiopia. But in the end, delay and procrastination, empty rhetoric and opportunism, above all the duplicity of the major European powers prevailed." (p. 23)

Social Movements and Market Transformations
Resistance and Decolonization

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