Last month a monument was built in Affile, for
, who conducted chemical warfare against Marshall Rodolfo Graziani in 1935-1940. The mayor of the town justified his action claiming that an international war tribunal did not condemn the fascist Ethiopia . Marshall
Mussolini and his Marshalls Badoglio and Graziani as criminals who ducked international justice through cunning diplomacy. The Ethiopians support their argument by citing the case where In 1942 Ethiopia declared war on Italy, Germany and . The Ethiopians quote the acclamation they got when they declared war on the Axis powers by Japan President as follow: ''..by virtue of this historical declaration the first nation to be freed from the yoke of Axis oppression has joined forces with those of the United Nations in this great struggle to preserve the freedom of mankind.'' ( Roosevelt Cables) One year after Roosevelt Ethiopia declared war on the Axis powers, in 1943 Marshall Badoglio signed unconditional surrender and declared war on Germany, on a former friend and succeeded to duck the type trials not only for himself but also for other fascist party henchmen like Nuremberg . The Ethiopians regret that the allied powers did not stick to international standard when they embraced their former fascist enemies as allies without consulting Marshall Rodolfo Graziani , which had earlier joined the rank of the allies. Ethiopia
The other Ethiopian argument for Italian fascist party and government war crime was based in the unjustifiable reason for Italian fascist party and government for reverting to chemical warfare against international conventions, which both parties were signatories.
Mussolini in his letter on December 28, 1935 to identified the reason for reverting to chemical warfare as follow: Marshall Badoglio
''Given the enemy system of combat, I have authorized ……. the use even on a vast scale of any gas and flamethrowers.''
What was the enemy (Ethiopian) system of combat which
Mussolini referred above? Leul Ras Kassa the Ethiopian commander in the Northern war front, in his interview with , the French anthropologist and writer, explained what Marcel Griaule Mussolini considered the ''enemy system of combat'' as follow
''At the battle our soldiers threw away their rifles and unleashed their swords and combated the enemy in hand to hand fight. Eve though most think this type of hand to hand combat as an outdated tactic it has proved effective in modern warfare. We succeeded to defeat the Italians in all the battles conducted in the northern warfront.'' (Laketch pp 56/7)
The third argument on the Ethiopian side for considering the fascist
Marshalls and fascist party as war criminals is the millions of victims who perished with the chemical warfare by what referred as ''special liquid''. A recent document prepared by Marshall Graziani Marshall Graziani, acquired by the Library of Congress ( August 29, 2012) read as follow: Bridget Conley
''Essential condition for the succeeding of the Operation: (….) the free use of special-liquid bombs and shells in order to inflict maximum losses on the enemy, and above all to effect his complete collapse of morale''
What was that special liquid which was delivered first as artillery shells and bombs dropped from aircraft? These shells and bombs were extensively used during the Battle of Tembein where the Ethiopians were victorious. After the Battle of Tembien the ''special liquid'' was not delivered as bomb and shells from artilleries and airplanes but was sprayed from airplanes equipped with sprayers. The ''special liquid wiped out the whole armies and the surrounding communities when it was sprayed from the air.
''Thick fog falls like rain sprayed over us and the surrounding country was engulfed in fire. The brownish liquid ate the flesh of the soldiers. It was difficult even to mention the number of people who perished. The Ethiopian heroic soldiers died without leaving their assigned positions. Mules, cows, sheep and wild animals throw themselves into cliffs and died.(Laketch p 66/68)
The ''special liquid''
Marshall Graziani recommended and later put in use was also described by , the Alesandro Del val born Cuban, who participated in the war on the Ethiopian side, in his book titled ''The Red Lion''. He identified the liquid as one that ate the flesh of the soldiers to the bone. He vividly drew pictures of dead Ethiopian warriors carrying sword in their hand their bones protruding without flesh. Texas
From the above descriptions it could be fairly assumed that different kinds of ''special liquids'' were used during the first two years of the war. In some testimonials the liquid was brownish and made inflammable not only to poison and kill but also to be ignited by flamethrowers and create napalm bomb effect and burn any living thing in the area. The Ethiopians argue that such kinds of retaliatory measure against a smaller army who dared to take the fight to hand to hand sword duel is a war crime.
The fourth argument from the Ethiopian side to consider
Mussolini, Badoglio and Graziani as war criminals was the civilian and military causality of the chemical warfare which add up to a million. This number is more than ten fold than the causality caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and . The Italian military intelligence estimated the personnel facing the five hundred thousand Italian personnel, equipped with all the modern armaments of artillery, tanks, airplanes and modern rifles was about four hundred thousand ill equipped Ethiopian soldiers along with three hundred thousand mostly female and unarmed civilians helping in preparing food, fetch water and care for their relative soldiers. The Ethiopians claim that all the seven hundred thousand were poisoned and burned while Nagasaki Leul Ras Kassa and survived with only their bodyguards. Leul Ras Seyoum Mengesha
After the Ethiopian armies and the civilians were all poisoned, burned and dead the Italian pilots flew nearer to the ground and mowed the dead bodies of the civilians and the military personnel and were photographed as demonstration of the valor of fascist armies. (
) Leuel Ras Kassa
The Ethiopians claim that the victims add up to a million soldiers and civilians. They add to the above 700,000 victims an estimated one hundred thousand Eritrean Italian soldiers who changed side in the middle of the battle and joined their Ethiopian brothers during the Battle of Tembien where the Ethiopians were victorious. Later as they were preparing to move to Makale and then
were sprayed by the ''special liquid''. In addition to these the hundreds of thousands civilian population of Tigray and Ogaden in the warfronts and other areas all over Ethiopia who were subjected to shells and bombs of the ''special liquid'' during the patriotic struggle of the five years period are added to the numbers of the victims. Asmara
What could be considered the fifth argument from the Ethiopian side for considering the party and government of fascist
Italy as war criminals was the reviving of the barbaric tradition of ancient . Rome Leul Ras Kassa with his interview with told him how Fascism revived the old barbaric tradition of crucifying many captured young civilians and soldiers . (Laketch ) Marcel Griaule
The Ethiopians consider the demoniac nature of fascism also a war crime. Ethiopians demonstrate through witnesses and numerous pictures. There are pictures which the Italian black shirts took and sent to their lovers and wives which showed them with severed heads of Ethiopian soldiers and civilians in front of them or carried on their necks as if a wreath of flower. Fascism, the Ethiopians argue, dehumanized the Italians too and thus should be considered as a crime against the Italian people too.
The sixth argument on the Ethiopian side is the massacred thirty thousand
residents ordered by Addis Ababa . The Graziani massacre of over thirty thousand Marshall Graziani Addis Ababa residences is vividly and beautifully recorded by in his book published by the Addis Ababa University Press. Campbell
The Ethiopian argue citing the above points that
Mussolini, Badoglio and Graziani and the fascist party be brought to justice. The Ethiopians claim that the allied powers were of similar view prior to the cunning diplomacy of . They quote Marshall Badoglio President speech when Roosevelt Mussolini tried to duck international justice though a similar type of ploy. At that time President of the Roosevelt is on record as follow: USA
Mussolini came to the reluctant conclusion that the jig was up. He could see the shadow of the long arm of justice; but he and his fascist gangs will be brought to book and punished for their crimes against humanity. No criminal will be allowed to escape by the expedient of resignation. So our terms to Italy are still the same as our terms to Germany and ; unconditional surrender.'' Japan
Ethiopians believe that Italy has illustrious children who excelled in arts, science and battles unlike the feeble and cowardice of Mussolini, Marshalls Pietro Badoglio, Graziani and the numerous black shirts infront of a lesser number of army personnel which was armed with sword and outdated rifles. It would be better to rename the monument for the illustrious anti-fascist fighters of
The writer is a historical novelist writing about the Second Ethio-Italian War. He published ''Adabay'' in Amharic and ''Trying Times'' in English. You could contact the writer through his e-mail address: