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75th anniversary of the Fascist Invasion of Ethiopia

By Bruce Walker
Tigrai Online, October 22, 2013

October 2013 is the 75th anniversary of the Fascist Invasion of Ethiopia, an event which many would consider the real beginning of the Second World War.

If there is no real ideological spectrum, as I maintain in my book, Sinisterism, and if the world is divided into those of us who cherish ordered liberty and the Judeo-Christian moral values and those who seek to enslave others and debauch those values, then you expect people to behave in ways utterly inconsistent with an ideological spectrum.

That is precisely what happened in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.  Both Nazi Germany and militarist Japan opposed the Fascist invasion of Ethiopia.  In the spring of 1935, a German documentary film, Abyssinia Today, was widely distributed within the Third Reich and it was enthusiastically reviewed by German newspapers.  The documentary was highly sympathetic toward Haile Selassie and presented his rule as one of enlightenment and modernization.  At the same time, newspapers in the Third Reich printed articles ridiculing the Italian Army and predicting its defeat if it invaded Ethiopia.

While the British and French stopped arms from being shipped through their territories to the Ethiopians, the Nazis provided the Ethiopians with a vast amount of weapons and ammunition to fight the Fascist invader.  This included 16,000 rifles and 600 machine guns, as well as many submachine guns and hand grenades.  Japan also provided the Ethiopians with weapons to fight the Fascists.  This resulted in a counter-offensive in December 1935 successful enough for German and British military analysts to believe that Italy could not win in Ethiopia. 

Hitler personally ordered that the Ethiopians receive thirty anti-tank guns with armor-piercing shells and three German aircraft to fight the Fascists.  The Nazis continued to supply Ethiopian guerrillas even after the Fascist conquest of the nation, and it was not until three months after the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938 -- an action which happened only after the Fascists stopped supporting an independent Austria -- that Nazi Germany even recognized the Italian conquest of that nation.

If Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan had opposed Fascist Italy in its invasion of Ethiopia -- although each was on the notional "Far Right" of the ideological spectrum -- then one might expect that the Soviet Union -- the leader of the notional "far left" -- would have acted against the Fascists in Ethiopia.  But that is not what happened.

Although the Soviet Union formally condemned the invasion, the Soviets in practice supplied Italy with huge quantities of oil and war material, as authors at the time noted.  Max Eastman, a prominent American Communist who had seen the error of his ways, in 1941 observed:  "Stalin went right on supplying him [Mussolini] with oil."  Eugene Lyons, another repentant American Communist, the same year noted:  "[the Soviet Union] had continued to sell oil and grain to Italy while pretending to oppose Ethiopian aggression[.]"  Forty freighters carrying Soviet supplies of wheat, oil, coal, tar, oats, and timber reached Italy as the invasion began.

The cost of the Italian invasion to Ethiopian

Up to one million Ethiopians were massacred by aerial bombardment using chemical weapons, by execution, by hanging, by firing squads and by cross fiction. 35,000 of the victims died in concentration camps. Out of the total Ethiopians killed by the Italians, 24,000 patriots executed by Summary Courts. The fascist Italian army destroyed over 2,000 churches, 525,000 homes and killed 14 million domestic animals.

Ethiopian towns attacked with chemical weapons by fascist Italy

The name of the towns and date of the attack

  1. Tekkeze 22 Dec. 1935
  2. Amba Alaage 26 Dec. 1935
  3. Borena 31 Dec. 1935
  4. Sokota 10 Jan. 1936
  5. Mekelle 21 Jan. 1936
  6. Megalo Feb. 1936*a
  7. Weldia Road 27 Feb. 1936
  8. Qorem 16 Mar. 1936
  9. Ylanserer 17 Mar. 1936
  10. Qorem 17–18 Mar. 1936
  11. Yirga Alem 19–21 Mar. 1936
  12. Inda-mahoni 29–30 Mar. 1936
  13. Qorem 4–7 Apr. 1936

*a-The exact day was not available to the Ethiopian Government. Source: League of Nations, Letter, dated April 13th, 1936, from the Ethiopian Representative to the Secretary-General, 13 Apr. 1936, League of Nations Official Journal, Annex 1592, Apr. 1936, pp. 479–80.

The environmental damage was horrible and due to the indiscriminate use of mustard gas by the invading Italian army, extensive pollution to the countries’ forests, rivers and lakes was mind boggling.

The Italians didn’t stop on killing the people, poising, rivers and polluting the environment. Ordered by Benito Mussolini himself, the fascist invading army looted thousands of precious historical Ethiopian art facts including one of the gigantic stelaes of Axum from Tigrai. The Axumite stelaes are curved from a solid granite stone and adorned with the most exquisite curving. One of the massive stelae was cut in to three pieces and shipped to Rome.

These glorious obelisks did not only symbolize the bright civilization of the Axumite kingdom, they have especially religious significance to the Ethiopians since they are royal tomb stones of their emperors and kings.

The Italian invading army build up before the invasion

1.8 million infantry and mountain division soldiers in Eritrea and 220, 000 infantry soldiers in Somalia with 9,300 machine guns, 2,275 pieces of artillery, 795 tanks, and 595 aircraft.

The Ethiopian side build up

The Ethiopian army was about half million mostly untrained civilians armed with spears and swards. There were few who had rifles but they were very old and outdated. Despite the huge imbalance of power the Ethiopians fought back with amazing bravery and valor.

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