The Italians had been a late-comer to African colonization, and by the 1930s Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was eager to seize any opportunity to gain a foothold on the continent and demonstrate Italy’s rising power. Italy had fought the Ethiopians before: after seizing control of Somaliland in the 1880s, they attempted to establish a protectorate over the Ethiopian empire in 1895 and were decisively defeated. Four decades later, Mussolini was determined to make Italy a colonial power in Africa through Ethiopia. Branching out from their base in Somaliland, the Italians began encroaching on Ethiopian territory, building a fort at the Wal Wal oasis well inside Ethiopian territory, leading to a skirmish that led to the deaths of 150 Ethiopians in December 1934. The Wal Wal incident, and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia that followed in the spring of 1935 proved the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations. Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie appealed emphatically and repeatedly to the League to enforce the regulations, particularly Article X regarding aid to member states to defend against external aggression. The League’s response was weak, imposing sanctions on Italy in November of 1935 only to lift them by the following July. By the spring of 1936, the Ethiopian military was defeated and Selassie was driven into exile in England. The Italians won control of the Ethiopian kingdom, but their colonial control of the region would be relatively short-lived. Mussolini entered WWII on the side of the Axis powers in 1940 and Selassie returned to Ethiopia in 1941 to lead the resistance against the Axis powers in Africa, who were forced to surrender their positions in North Africa in 1943. Haile Selassie returned to power as the emperor of Ethiopia. When Italy formally surrendered to the Allied powers in 1947, they were compelled to sign a treaty of peace which included a formal recognition of Ethiopia’s independence and a promise to pay reparations of $25 million.
Mussolini’s Statement on the Abyssinian question in the Italian Senate, 14 May 1935
Signor Mussolini on his Policy, 1 August 1935
Mussolini’s Statement to the Fascist Assembly, 1 August 1935
Emperor Selassie’s statement to the assembly, 12 August 1935
Ethiopia: Notice to the League of Nations of Impending Mobilization, September 1935
Mussolini’s Speech to the League of Nations, 21 September 1935
Mussolini’s Announcement of the war in Ethiopia, 2 October 1935
Ethiopia: Proclamation of General Mobilization, 3 October 1935
Haile Selassie: Protest to the League of Nations, November 1935
Haile Selassie: Statement to the Ethiopian Officers, 20 November 1935
Ethiopia: Proclamation for further mobilization, 21 January 1936
Haile Selassie: Proclamation to the People of Ethiopia, 13 April 1936
Haile Selassie’s Appeal to the League of Nations, 30 June, 1936
Mussolini’s Statement on the Abyssinian question in the Italian Senate, 14 May 1935 Top
Source: Keesing’s Record of World Events. Vol. II, May, 1935 Abyssinian, Italian, page 1652. Accessed 17 April 2012 from http://www.keesings.com
Rumours of a diplomatic representation by Britain and France to be made in Rome must be denied categorically at once. No such step has been taken, and in the present state of Italo-Franco-British relations it is very probable that there will not be one even in the future
Meanwhile, a word of heartfelt thanks must be addressed to those who seem preoccupied in a more than brotherly manner about our military efficiency According to these people, it would be weakened by an eventual conflict in East Africa. We can answer these disinterested persons who consider our prestige indispensable to Europe that we are of exactly the same opinion.
But to be quietly present in Europe we need to have our shoulders quite safe In Africa. East Africa is about 2, 500 miles from Rome if it is a question of Eritrea, and almost double if it is a question of Somaliland. The Government must be far seeing and prepared.
But I wish to add at once, and in the most solemn and explicit manner, that we shall send all the soldiers we think necessary, and that nobody may arrogate to himself the unbearable role of arbiter as to the character and volume of our precautionary measures.
Outside Italy nobody may Judge such delicate questions our history has a dramatic, angulnary and unforgettable experience in this respect. I wish to be reprimanded tomorrow for excess and not for deficiency, when the security of our colonies and the life of even one of our soldiers, white or native, is at stake.
With regard to the diplomatic development of the quarrel, we have not refused to speak with representatives of the Ethiopian Government, we have already communicated to Addis Ababa our readiness to nominate two representatives for the commission of conciliation.
But it is our duty neither to create nor to spread illusion given Ethiopia’s extensive armaments, the advanced state of her mobilisation, and. above all, the state of mind at Addis Ababa, especially among the smaller chieftains who are hostile to any arrangement whatsoever with Italy.
As to Europe and the deplorable sudden eventualities which might come about, I wish to reassure the Senate that we will keep under arms as long as necessary the conscripts of the years 1911, 1913 and 1914, plus one class, that of 1912, in reserve and ready.
With, 800, 000 men under arms and an additional 200, 000, reservists of the 1912 conscript class, who would be called to the colours if needful, Italy could put 1, 000, 000 soldiers in the field.
Supported by these combined land sea and air forces, we shall continue to practice a policy of strong-willed collaboration clear and concrete, with all European Powers, major and minor, far and near, with the aim of realizing that equilibrium and understanding without which the world and our continent would be cut adrift. Our military establishment, to which we are devoting, and will continue to devote, our most confident care, threatens nobody, but ensures peace.
Signor Mussolini on his Policy, 1 August 1935 Top
Source: Times (London). “Signor Mussolini on his Policy: Security in Africa.” 1 August 1935, p. 14
It is a fact that states that slavery exists in Abyssinia and that Abyssinia did not keep her pledge to abolish it. But it is not for that reason that Italy is preparing herself for action. The abolition of slavery will be only a consequence of the Italian policy. Nor is an essential argument the question of race. First of all, the Abyssinians are not negroes; they consider themselves Semites. Besides, Fascism would never raise the race question. Not even civilization is the object that Italy has in view. Civilization, too, will be only a consequence of the Italian policy.
The essential arguments, absolutely unanswerable, are two: the vital needs of the Italian people and their security in East Africa. The former of these arguments was admitted by the British Foreign Secretary himself. The second is a decisive one. In 1928 Italy signed a treaty of friendship with Abyssinia, and Abyssinia, behind such a treaty, started the organization of her army. But, instead of entrusting such organization to Italy, she chose Swedish and Belgian officers. In 1931 thousands of Abyssinians were mobilized in the Ogaden region on the Italian frontier. The same thing happened in 1911 during the Tripoli war and during the Great War. It is evident that the strategical situation of Italy, precarious as it is in normal times, would become dangerous if Italy were engaged in Europe.
The solution of the problem can be only totalitarian. Any action of expansion or any protectorate must be accompanied by military measures. Italy is the only judge of her security in East Africa. Put in military terms, the Italo-Abyssinian problem is simple and logical. It admits with Geneva, without Deneva, against Geneva, but one solution.
Mussolini’s Statement to the Fascist Assembly, 1 August 1935 Top
Source: Times (London). “Signor Mussolini on his Policy: Security in Africa.” 1 August 1935, p. 15
There must be no misunderstanding upon this centuries-old task which I assign to this and future generations of Italian. There is no question of territorial conquests – this must be understood by all both far and near – but of a natural expansion which ought to lead to a collaboration between Italy and the peoples of Africa, between Italy and the nations of the Near and Middle East.
[Italy, he went on, could above all civilize Africa, and her position in the Mediterranean gave her this right and imposed this duty on her.]
We do not intend to demand privileges and monopolies, but we do ask and wish to obtain from those who have made good, who are satisfied, who wish to keep their possessions, that they should not take pains to block on all sides the spiritual, political, and economic expansion of Fascist Italy.
Emperor Selassie’s statement to the assembly, 12 August 1935 Top
Source: Keesing’s Record of World Events. Vol. II, August 1935, Abyssinian, Italian, page 1754. Accessed 17 April 2012 from http://www.keesings.com
The Emperor of Abyssinia on Aug. 12 in an address to an assembly of ministers, dignitaries and Journalists said:
“The dancer of war is becoming more and more grave. Nevertheless, Abyssinia still cherishes great hopes for a pacific solution to the regrettable conflict which has arisen between her and Italy.
We are confident that the States members of the League of Nations and all those, great and small, who do not belong to it, will interest themselves in the grave situation in which Abyssinia is placed at the present time and will bring their contribution to Justice and equity.
It has taken great nations time to reach the advanced position which they hold-to-day. In order that Abyssinia may attain this degree, we are convinced of the necessity for friendly collaboration with all nations which, without prejudice of race or religion, are ready to accord her their frank and loyal assistance.
Ethiopia renews her faith in the League of Nations, in the heart of which right, justice, and equality stand move all considerations, and her faith in all nations which make a contribution to maintain peace. The Paris meeting of August 10, in which Ethiopia is not taking part—is a strengthening of the bonds of peace.
Ethiopia places her hope especially in England and France.
We know these two Governments desire to collaborate with other States of the world to maintain peace. We express the sincere hope that the efforts of these two Powers will be crowned with success.
If, however, the efforts of nations and those we are making are in vain, and if diabolical force prevails, bringing about a war which spreads unhappiness and misery on human beings, Ethiopia will uprise, her Emperor at the head, and her people, whose heroism is well known, confident in Divine aid, will defend themselves against the invader to the last drop of their blood, protecting themselves in the natural fortresses, the mountains and deserts, which the Lord has given her.”
Ethiopia: Notice to the League of Nations of Impending Mobilization, September 1935 Top
Source: Keesing’s Record of World Events. Vol. II, September 1935, Abyssinian, Italian, page 1809. Accessed 17 April 2012 from http://www.keesings.com
The Emperor of Abyssinia sent a telegram to the President of the Council of the League of Nations, reading as follows:
“Firmly devoted to. peace, we shall continue to collaborate with the Council in the hope of a peaceful solution under the Covenant.
But we must draw the most serious attention of the Council to the increasing gravity of the menace of Italian aggression by the continual dispatch of reinforcements and other preparations, despite our pacific attitude.
We must ask the Council to take as soon as possible all Measures of precaution against Italian aggression, for the time has come when we would be failing in our duty if we delay longer the general mobilisation which we have in mind.
This will not affect our earlier orders to keep troops at a distance from the frontier, and we renew our determination. always to collaborate closely with the Council.”
Mussolini’s Speech to the League of Nations, 21 September 1935 Top
Source: Haile Selassie. 1994(1966). My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress, Volume II. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press. (p. 5)
The fact that the whole world conspired against Italy was an irrational act. And there is something that those who live in Britain should know. That is the fact that the so-called League of Nations is an empty and defunct machine when it comes to the dispute between Ethiopia and Italy. Italy’s glorious deed will be recorded only when the dispute between Italy and Ethiopia is settled outside the confusion of the League of Nations. I have dismantled the government of Ethiopia. The representatives of a vanquished country should not be present in the Geneva assembly. We have not forgotten that the League levied an unprecedented punishment on the Italian people. We will not forget it in the future It [the League] intended to decimate the people, the households, and children by starvation. It also attempted in vain to obstruct the efforts of our military, which was on a civilizing mission. It did not succeed, however…[since] the League… was confronted by the formidable unity of the Italian people, which is ready to sacrifice anything and is able to fight even against fifty-two countries. Hereafter, it should not be necessary to involve the League of Nations in the remaining political efforts to bring peace. In 1935 AD we concluded an agreement with France. While an expansion of the agreement along the path of genuine friendship was being considered, the issue of sanctions came about. We were a bit disappointed at the sanctions. When this happened the winter was just beginning. The winter passed. Spring came. Our victory came with the spring. Yet the sanctions remained strictly in force. Two months after we entered Addis Abeba, the sanctions were still in force. France was still referring to the old records of the League and continued to believe that the previous government of the Lion of Judah was alive. However, except in the records of the League, the truth is that, due to our victory, the emperor’s government has expired.
Mussolini’s Announcement of the war in Ethiopia, 2 October 1935 Top
Source: A.J. Barker. 1968. The Civilizing Mission. New York: The Dial Press. (p.142)
Black Shirts of the Revolution! Men and Women of all Italy! Italians scattered throughout the world, over the hills and beyond the seas: Hear me!
A solemn hour is about to strike in the history of our country. Twenty million people fill, at this moment, all the squares of Italy. The history of man has never known such a sight. Twenty million people, with one heart, one will, one decision alone. This manifestation ought to show the world that Italy and Fascism are a single entity, perfect, absolutel, unalterable. Only crass idiots, ignorant of Italy in 1935, the thirteenth year of the Fascist Era, could believe otherwise.
For many months the wheel of destiny, under the impulse of our calm determination, has been moving toward its goal; now its rhythm is faster and can no longer be stopped. Here is not just an army marching toward a military objective, but a whole people, forty-four million souls, against whom the blackest of all injustices has been committed – that of denying them a place in the sun. When in 1915 Italy mixed her fate with that of the Allies – how much praise there was from them, how many promises! But after a common victory, which cost Italy six hundred and seventy thousand dead, four hundred thousand mutilated, and a million wounded, at the peace table these same Allies withheld from Italy all but a few crumbs of the rich colonial loot. We have waited for thirteen years, during which time the egoism of these Allies has only increased and suffocated our vitality. We have waited patiently for redress in Ethiopia for forty years. Now – enough!
At the League of Nations, instead of recognizing this, there is talk of sanctions. Until I am proved wrong, I refuse to believe that France…or the people of Great Britain, with whom we have never quarreled, would risk throwing Europe into catastrophe to defend a country in Africa well known to be without the least shade of civilization. To economic sanctions we will reply with our discipline, with our sobriety, our spirit of sacrifice!
To military sanctions we shall reply with military measures! To acts of war we shall reply with acts of war!
But let it be said at the start, in the most categorical way, that we will do everything possible to avoid this colonial conflict flaring up into a European war. But never, as in this historical epoch, has the Italian people shown so well the quality of its spirit and the strength of its character. And it is against this people, people of poets, of saints, navigators, that they dare to speak of sanctions. Proletarian and Fascist Italy…on your feet!
Ethiopia: Proclamation of General Mobilization, 3 October 1935 Top
Source: A.J. Barker. 1968. The Civilizing Mission. New York: The Dial Press. (p.144)
The conflict between Italy and our country, which has now lasted for almost a year, started at Walwal on 5 December 1934. Our soldiers…were attacked, in our territory…Italy demanded reparations and apologies…..When, after much resistance on Italy’s part, we were able, thanks to our perseverance and the effects of the League of Nations Council, to bring this difference before the arbitrators, they unanimously recognised that we were guiltless of the fault Italy imputed to us. But Italy, which for a long time has shown an unconcealed desire to acquire our country, now prepares to attack us…The hour is grave. Arise, each of you. Take up arms, and rush to the defence of your country. Rally to your chiefs; obey them with single purpose, and repel the invader. May those who are unable because of weakness and infirmity to take an active part in this sacred quarrel, help us with your prayers. The opinion of the world has been revolted by this aggression against us. God be with us all. All forward for your Emperor and for your country!
Haile Selassie: Protest to the League of Nations, November 1935 Top
Source: Haile Selassie. 1976. My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress, Volume I. London: Oxford University Press. (p. 255)
It is in conformity with the covenant that the government which is in breach of the covenant should be requested by the League: ‘Please accept, together with executive control, the major part of the attacked party’s territory as well as the remaining part – under cover of the League of Nations’? While it is the unshakable truth that it is the enemy’s wish to destroy completely the party that has been attacked – as the General Council well knows – is the country which has fulfilled the charter and which is the victim of wrongdoing to be asked by the League to abandon her defence against the powerful enemy who is opposed to her right of freedom and self-government and, for the sake of world peace, to agree to accept her attacker? Is the attacked country to abandon hope of finding a saviour and to nurse the fear of betrayal by the League, thinking that it will really desert us? This matter which is the main problem for future international relations among peoples, whatever their appearance, their race, or their power may be – ought it not, first of all, to come up before the League and to be examined openly with full freedom and before the eyes of the whole world?
Haile Selassie: Statement to the Ethiopian Officers, 20 November 1935 Top
Source: Haile Selassie. 1976. My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress, Volume I. London: Oxford University Press. (p. 243)
Since the Italian Government has for forty years now set out to destroy Ethiopia’s freedom by aggression, you heroes who are alive now and who were present at that time and those of you who were not at Adwa but whose fathers had been there, they have shown their heroism by shedding their blood and they have saved their country’s freedom and their patrimony from the hands of the enemy. Now the Italian Government is preaching to its people to avenge that battle which it lost forty years ago, claiming that in Ethiopia the army was a spent force and that, therefore, they would fight us without difficulty. The Italian Government has begun the war to make you who did not die share the fate of those who did, to destroy your freedom by abasing the well known bravery of Ethiopia’s sons which is recorded in world history, to invade your patrimony and your houses, to acquire as slaves your old parents, to make exiles of your sons, and to reckon Ethiopia’s heroes as if they did not exist, and to attack with its army in the north and in the south. All the governments of the world, being aware of Italy’s violent onslaught upon Ethiopia, are our supporters. While Italy believes that Ethiopia’s heroes have ceased to exist and persists in discounting those who do, the important thing is that it is your duty to revive your valour by defeating the hostile attack launched against your generation and against Ethiopia and by victoriously driving out from our land our enemies who have taken it by violence. Man has not been created to be everlasting. His end is death which severs him from this world. This death may come early or late, but for all mankind it is inescapable. It is man’s name alone that remains as a memorial until the world, which appears to hover beyond the grave, passes altogether.
When this our enemy fought us at Adwa, forty years ago, Ethiopia’s brave men beat him victoriously; hence their names will remain unforgotten, mentioned forever, not only yours who are alive but even theirs who were lost there. It is the main source of pride for the present generation. Again, even for a young man, as the enemy attacks him robbing him of his country and his patrimony and carrying his family into exile, it is the death that comes upon him in battle which is indeed his greatest wish and source of pride.
Even the hen will struggle to save her chicks from the vulture. This being so, do recognize that it is proper for a man to fight with the enemy, however many thousands of times the latter may surpass him in knowledge and strength!
Since death is thus in the end ineluctable for mankind, how great will be your honour if you lose your life fighting the invading enemy to establish an inextinguishable reputation, to prevent aged parents, wife and children, being exiled and, while today they live in dignity in their free country of Ethiopia, if that liberty were to be destroyed, to prevent them sinking into humiliation and this their dignity being lost. Your glorious name will endure, being praised by your children and your families and being recalled by world history. We have been aware for some time of our enemy’s intention to carry through this plan of aggression and We, your Emperor, ruling you in time of peace, have told you of Our resolve to shed Our blood being amidst you in time of war. Thus We are now with you.
Since you know about the multitude of different instruments of war the Italians have been accumulating, they cannot cause you much injury. The thing which is called “aeroplan” is intended to cause shock by the noise of the bombs it drops and to weaken the heart, but other useful things it does not do. While present-day modes of warfare may not cause you much damage, it is necessary to follow the advice We have given you through your respective officers, so as to enable you to attack your enemy. In order to defend your country’s independence, We shall not deprive you of Our support to lighten your burdens in terms of money and provisions in all your difficulties which you may encounter in this place at which you are stationed. And now, lest any kind of trouble should befall the kinsmen and families of the heroes who have laid down their lives, while carrying out their duty, for the honour of their country and their families, We shall protect them as Emperor and father. We have, therefore, instructed Our military representatives that their names should come before Us in writing, through their respective commanding officers. We are forever with you until Our life expires.
Ethiopia: Proclamation for further mobilization, 21 January 1936 Top
Source: Haile Selassie. 1976. My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress, Volume I. London: Oxford University Press. (p. 245)
The Lion of Judah has prevailed.
Haile Sellassie I Elect of God
King of Kings of Ethiopia.
People of Our country of Ethiopia! Italy has incited a quarrel, broken a contract, violated frontiers and, while disregarding completely treaties which she herself had voluntarily signed and which the League of Nations had approved, initiated destruction by battering peaceful cities, by annihilating children, women, and the aged, by burning churches, by indiscriminately killing with bombs members of the international Red Cross who are helping Ethiopians and Italians without distinction, and by dropping smoke gas which is prohibited by law. And as if this were not enough, you have yourselves seen and heard her attempts in every way possible to drop down – fighting by distributing mendacious pamphlets – words of lies and deceit to shatter the peace in the country and to stir up trouble among ourselves. And there is no-one who is not sad and resentful about this matter, among foreigners even – let alone our own people.
When an enemy soldier wanted to take and rape a woman living in a town undefended by Our Tigrean army, she pierced his heart with his own dagger and disarmed him. When she came to us, the Ethiopian people, men and women alike, were known to be burning with rage at the violence committed by Italy.
Old men, men and women, you who are unable to go to war, help me with sympathy and with your money as you have done up to now. While we resist our aggressive and violent enemy, we find in the attack that has come upon us, and even in death, an inestimable recompense in the scales of history and before God.
Our God has proved that he is with us by the strength which he has manifested in Our army which has so far gone out to war. Our enemies, while unsuccessful by force of rifles alone, have not managed to shake the heart or change the mind of Our brave troops, even when those enemies attempted it by intimidating us with concealed weapons and by dropping gas smoke. Up to now Our army has resisted Our enemy with strength and has pushed forward.
As We told you when the war began, with the Ethiopian people united, We set out determined to defend ourselves until the last drop of blood is shed and to share the trials in the midst of Our army; of this not only the Ethiopian people but the whole world is convinced.
Now then, you who are natives of Ethiopia, I will give provisions to you who have none and I will give arms to you who have none; hence stay mustered and registered on the front of each province, and remain prepared to go to war under the army commander I will announce to you.
Haile Selassie: Proclamation to the People of Ethiopia, 13 April 1936 Top
Source: Haile Selassie. 1976. My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress, Volume I. London: Oxford University Press. (p. 287)
The Lion of Judah has prevailed.
Haile Sellassie I Elect of God
King of Kings of Ethiopia.
Men of my country of Ethiopia: While We are stationed at one place only, together with Our army, our enemy has come upon us not only on one side but distributed over some eight directions. the fighting and mutual enmity between our peasants and soldiers has become a source of great harm to Our country and to Our people. As Our attacker has been striving to destroy Ethiopia’s independence, setting fire to churches, uprooting inherited land, and debasing our religion, we have sent an army to Tambien and Maqalle, and We Ourselves have been toiling, entering into the slaughter to the extent that God has enabled Us. But because it is only by fighting for many days that we shall be able to repulse our enemy’s might and because We have become convinced that by staying in one place for a long time soldiers and peasants get into mutually hostile positions and fights, on account of looting, which are injurious to Our people, We are now marching towards Shoa to wage the great battle in a province in which there are ample supplies.
Do not believe it to be the truth when the enemy who has now invaded us distributes to you some pamphlets making his message appear agreeable. You have heard with your own ear and seen with your own eye the violence and iniquity he is now committing even upon our churches, priests, monks, and women. As he has come against us determined to extinguish our descendants and to pass our inheritance to his son, it is well known how even a thorn, let alone a human being endowed with intelligence, can cause trouble by hurting him who stumbles upon it at its habitat. So when he enters your land, attack him who camps or marches upon it with all the means at your command; go about your land and fight wherever you are, lest your country and your land be violated. But if it causes you difficulty to work while remaining on your land, then come to where We are and We shall give you your livelihood for yourself and your dependants; so fight in company with Us for your country, your inherited land, and for your religion. Since our enemy has risen up to extinguish Ethiopia’s future generation, whether rich or poor, he assembles the people, in whichever district he enters, only to exterminate them with machine-guns; you will be convinced of this if you ask what happened in Tambien and Adwa. Even the gentry who submitted to his command he arrested and carried away, without any wrongdoing whatever being found against them. Therefore, whether you fight or do not fight, death is bound to come to you. That I tell you this is not to my advantage or to deceive you; it is in fact for your own benefit, As I know for sure that afterwards there will catch up with you contrition that cannot be forgotten and loss that cannot be made good, believe what I tell you without doubting it, for I have made God the witness that I make known to you that which I know myself.
Haile Selassie’s Appeal to the League of Nations, 30 June, 1936 Top
Source: Keesing’s Record of World Events. Vol. II, July 1936, Abyssinian, Italian, page 2173. Accessed 17 April 2012 from http://www.keesings.com
“I, Halle Selassie, I, Emperor of Ethiopia, am here to-day to claim that justice which is due to my people and the assistance promised to it eight months ago when 50 nations asserted that an aggression had been committed. None other than the Emperor can address the appeal of the Ethiopian people to these 50 nations.
It is my duty to inform the Governments assembled in Geneva of the deadly peril which threatens them by describing to them the fate which has been suffered by Ethiopia. It is not only upon warriors that the Italian Government has made war, it has above all attacked populations far removed from hostilities. Towards the end of 1935 Italian aircraft hurled upon my armies bombs of tear gas. Their effects were but slight. The soldiers learned to scatter. The Italian aircraft then resorted to mustard gas. Barrels of liquid were hurled upon armed groups, but this means also was not effective. The liquid affected only a few soldiers, and barrels upon the ground were themselves a warning to troops and to the population of the danger.
It was at the time when the operations for the encircling of Makale were taking place that the Italian Command followed the procedure which it is now my duty to denounce to the world. Special sprayers were installed on aircraft so that they could vaporize over vast areas of territory a fine death-dealing rain. Groups of nine, 15, and 18 aircraft followed one another so that the fog issuing from them formed a continuous sheet. It was thus that as from the end of January, 1936, soldiers, women, children, cattle, rivers, lakes, and pastures were drenched continually with this deadly rain.
In order to kill off systematically all living creatures, In order more thoroughly to poison waters and pastures, the Italian Command made its aircraft pass over and over again. That was its chief method of warfare. The very refinement of barbarism consisted of carrying ravage and terror into the most densely populated parts of the territory. The object was to scatter fear and death over a great part of the Ethiopian territory. These fearful tactics succeeded. Men and animals succumbed. The deadly rain that fell from the aircraft made all those whom it touched fly, shrieking with pain.”
The Emperor then reminded the Assembly of the various stages of the Ethiopian drama.
“The Italian provocation,” said the Emperor, “was obvious and he had not hesitated to appeal to the League of Nations Unhappily for Ethiopia this was the time when a certain Government considered that the European situation made it imperative at all costs to obtain the friendship of Italy. The price paid was the abandonment of Ethiopian independence to the greed of the Italian Government. This secret agreement, contrary to the obligations of the Covenant, had exerted a great influence over the course of events.”
After narrating the further course of events the Emperor continued:—
“I ask the 52 nations not to forget to-day the policy upon which they embarked eight months ago and on the face of which I directed the resistance of my people against the aggressor whom they had denounced to the world In December, 1935, the League Council made it quite clear that its feelings were in harmony with hundreds of millions of people who in all parts of the world had protested against the proposal to dismember Ethiopia. It was constantly repeated that there was not merely a conflict between the Italian Government and Ethiopia but also a conflict between the Italian Government and the League of Nations, and that is why I personally refused all proposals to my personal advantage made to me by the Italian Government if only I would betray my people and the Covenant of the League of Nations. I was defending the cause of all small peoples who are threatened with aggression.
The Ethiopian Government never expected other Governments to shed their soldiers’ blood to defend the Covenant when their own immediate personal interests were not at stake. Ethiopian warriors asked only for means to defend themselves. On many occasions I have asked for financial assistance for the purchase of arms. That assistance has been constantly refused me.
I assert that the problem submitted to the Assembly to-day is a much wider one than the removal of sanctions. It is not merely a question of the settlement of Italian aggression. It is collective. It is the very existence of the League of Nations It is the confidence that each State is to place in international treaties, it is the value of promises made to small States that their integrity and their independence shall be respected and ensured. It is the principle of the equality of States on the one hand or, otherwise, the application laid down upon small Powers to accept the bonds of vassalship In a word, it is international morality that is at stake. Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other.
God and history will remember your judgment. It is my painful duty to note that the initiative has to-day been taken with a view to raising sanctions. Does this initiative mean in practice the abandonment of Ethiopia to its aggressor? Placed by the aggressor face to face with the accomplished fact, are States going to set up a terrible precedent of bowing before force? Representatives of the world. I have come to Geneva to discharge in your midst the most painful of the duties of a Head of a State. What reply shall I have to take back to my people?”