World War II: Early Fascist Aggressions--Ethiopia (1935)

Figure 1.--Here Ethiopian men and boys volunteer to enter the Ethiopian Army. The caption for this press photo taken in Harrar, Ethiopia on August 13, 1935. It read, "You're in the Army ???? Ethiopian Rookies. The unfinished ??? natives, untutored and undisciplined who have answered their country's call to arms in Ethiopia."

The world view changed in 1935 when Mussolini decided to invaded Ethiopia, using modern weapons, again including poison gas, to attack a largely unarmed country. The Ethiopins had defeated an Italian Army in 1896 and Mussoline was determined to redeem what he saw as a blot on the national honor. Marshal Pietro Badoglio commanded the Italian invasion force. He extensevly used poison gas. (The Allies in 1943 made a deal with Badoglio to overthrow Musolini.) The Italian Ministry of Defence did not admit until 1995 that poison gas had been used by the Italian Air Force. [Del Boca] The Italian invasion was widely condemned at the League of Nations more than 50 other countries. The invasion gave rise to world-wide indignation, but nor military support for Ethiopia. Criticism was especially heated in Britain which, still thinking about World War I, people were truly shocked by Italy's use of poison-gas as well as deliberate bombing of Red Cross hospitals and ambulances--especially the British Red Cross Unit. [Waley] The British pushed in the League of Nations for scantions. The French played lip service, but were more interested in Italaian support for their efforts to limit Hitler. An oil embargo which might have affected the Italian war effort was not approved, provably for that reason. [Davidson, p. 130.] The Italians were condenmed by the League of Nations and then walked out of the organization. Mussolinin was offened at this treatment. Hitler made it cleart that Germany symphithized.


Davidson, Eugene. The Unmaking of Adolf Hitler (Univesity of Missouri: Columbia, 1996), 519p.

Del Boca, Angelo. I gas di Mussolini. Il fascismo e la guerra d'Etiopia.

Waley, Daniel. "British Public Opinion and the Abyssinian War 1935-6".


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Created: 8:40 PM 2/5/2008
Last updated: 11:06 PM 5/13/2009