In 1937 Italian forces occupying the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa began a three day campaign of killings which left thousands of Ethiopian civilians dead. Alex Last has been speaking to Ambassador Imru Zelleke, who witnessed the massacre as a child. The violence began after a grenade attack wounded Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, the man appointed by Mussolini to govern Ethiopia. Italian forces had invaded the country in 1935 as Mussolini tried to expand Italian colonial territories in East Africa. Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia, then called Abyssinia, was forced into exile. Ethiopia was a member of the League of Nations, but despite appeals, Western powers refused to intervene to stop the Italian invasion.
The massacre is known in Ethiopia by it’s date in the Ethiopian calendar,Yekatit 12.
Photo: The arrival of an Italian official in Italian-occupied Addis Ababa. The slogan on the banner reads: ‘To whom does the empire belong? Duce! Duce! To ourselves!’ (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)