Italy’s African Dream, Part II: Fatal Victory

During the winter of 1935-6, writes Patricia Wright, Italian armies overran Ethiopia and annexed the Empire to the Italian Crown.

On May 5th, 1936, Italian troops entered Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, at the end of a seven months’ campaign through some of the most difficult country in the world. The triumph of the army of New Fascist Rome was complete and four days later the annexation of Ethiopia to the Italian Crown was announced.

The troops were weary and not well equipped, but it had been a resounding victory for one of the most despised armies of Europe; immediately many drew the conclusion, as they were meant to, that only the rejuvenating effects of fascism could explain such a rapid and successful outcome to a campaign that had been expected to tie down Italy’s resources for many years.

Almost everyone and everything emerged discredited from the Ethiopian war - the League of Nations, Britain, the United States, Italian methods and Ethiopian tactics - but it was the Italian flag that floated supreme over the chaos and it was Mussolini on his balcony who was able to proclaim: ...the war is finished! ...I speak of peace, Roman peace in these simple, irrevocable, final words: Ethiopia is Italian!’

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