5 - Italy in Ethiopia: the Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935–1940  pp. 109-143

Italy in Ethiopia: the Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935–1940

By Ivan Arreguín-Toft

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We are valiant formations

Of indomitable warriors

Carrying the flags

Into Eastern Africa.

The symbol of glory,

Of peace and civilization

Will be made to shine once more

By the Italic Victory …

Slavery and barbarity

Are doomed to vanish

The very moment

The Roman eagles appear …

From an Italian marching song in the Abyssinian campaign

We flung ourselves on the machine-gun nests to clear them out, we hurled ourselves against the enemy artillery. We held firm against their bombs and their containers of mustard gas. We put their tanks out of action with our bare hands. We cannot reproach ourselves with any taint of cowardice. But against the invisible rain of deadly gas that splashed down on our hands, our faces, we could do nothing. Yet I say again that we have no cause to be ashamed: we could not “kill” this rain.

Haile Selassie

The war between fascist Italy and Ethiopia began on 2 October 1935. Italy was the strong actor by a wide margin. It was a sharp conventional engagement between a well-armed and well-supplied yet poorly led Italian army, and the poorly armed and poorly supplied Ethiopian army. By May of 1936, the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, had fled, and the Italians marched triumphantly into Addis Ababa, the capital. Yet the war did not then end. It continued as a guerrilla war from 1936 to 1940, when Britain joined the fight.


Reference Title: References

Reference Type: reference-list

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