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As Robin D. Kelley indicates, the invasion of Ethiopia also encouraged AfricanAmerican participation against Spanish fascism.


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Beverly Allen and Mary Russo, eds. Barker, P. Hulme, and M. Iversen, eds. Martin Press, Del Boca, Gli Italiani in Africa orientale, vol. On the resort to the universal idea of Rome of which Italians were depositary as a legitimation of colonial expansion, see the still valuable and dense work by Federico Chabod, Storia della politica estera italiana dal al Bari: Laterza, 14 introduction , — The geographical limits of Italian control over Ethiopia after the declaration of the Italian empire are delineated by Harold G.

A valuable example of the theoretical debate on multiculturalism in a supranational Europe is Tariq Modood and Pnina Werbner, eds. It is enough to remember that not even a single organic study on the reconquest of Libya — exists, nor are any available that deal with the organization of this colony or the creation of the Italian empire of Ethiopia and its brief and tormented life.

But it turns out that this book constitutes an authentic turning point in studies of Italian colonialism. The study of Italian colonialism did not enjoy great favor in the postwar period, especially compared to other events of Italian national history that 17 18 angelo del boca have attracted extraordinary, and in some cases even exaggerated, attention.

The reasons for this lack of interest in a phenomenon that is certainly not marginal—it involved the nation for almost eighty years—are numerous and have not yet been deeply investigated. The main reason for this neglect, in my opinion, is the behavior of the ruling class.

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This debate would have shed light on the positive and the negative aspects of the colonial period, the values to be preserved, and the myths and legends to be packed away in the attic. It would also have ended the many useless and bothersome polemics, starting with the controversy concerning the use of gas in Ethiopia and ending with the myth of the good-hearted Italians Italiani brava gente.

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Nothing of the sort happened. The postwar Italian governments not only eluded their obligations to clarity but actively impeded the emergence of truth. The supporters of this corpus claimed to intend to provide an assessment of the Italian presence in the colonies of Eastern and Northern Africa. But then, what could be expected from the committee that managed this work?

The work produced by this committee— paradoxically instituted by the antifascist Giuseppe Brusasca— could only be evasive on the one hand and hagiographic on the other. The operation of the committee, conducted so arbitrarily, unavoidably led to the silencing or even to the confutation of the many mistakes and crimes committed during the wars of conquest, from the very high price myths, suppressions, denials, defaults 19 paid by the subjected populations, to the attempt to deprive them of their own cultural and national identities, or even, as in Cirenaica, to their physical elimination.

Campbell and Degife Gabre-Tsadik 79 — This group includes those who participated in the campaigns to reconquer Libya —32 , in the operations against the Somali guerrillas of Migiurtinia —32 , in the war against Ethiopia —36 , and in the failed attempt to crush the resistance movement of Ethiopian partisans — Meanwhile, for some of them a process of rehabilitation is going on, thanks to some complaisant and factitious biographers.

In this general climate characterized by absolution of colonial faults and rehabilitation of the protagonists of the African enterprises, the main colonial diplomatic and military archives have been utilized for decades almost exclusively by the old colonialist lobby. This lobby is certainly not intent on denouncing the wrongdoings of Italian colonialism.

And, although there were plenty of memoirs and diaries produced in the same period, they generally tend to cultivate deformed and mythical visions of the colonial events. Their works have inaugurated new research methods and offered new interpretations of Italian colonialism. They constitute, moreover, an initial, healthy antidote to the common repression of Italian colonial faults. However, these are still partial results, even if they are noteworthy ones. To begin, Italy did not lag behind any other colonial power in exercising violence against the indigenous populations.

It needs to be added that Italy was not particularly concerned about improving the living conditions of the administered populations.

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But in this sterile antihistorical battle, the politicians did not have the support of public opinion, nor certainly that of the United Nations Rossi ; Del Boca 3— Ethiopia immediately reacquired its independence under Haile Selassie. Libya became a sovereign state in and had King Idris es-Senussi as its monarch. Eritrea obtained autonomy and was federated with Ethiopia in Only Somalia was assigned to Italy with a ten-year trusteeship.

This mandate was of very little consolation to Italian politicians if one considers that Somalia was and still is one of the poorest and most backward countries of the world, and that the task of leading it toward self-government in such a short period of time appeared extremely arduous and risky. Reconciliation was hindered by a ruling class that was pressured heavily by the colonialist lobby and that, as I said, was promoting rather than preventing the repression of colonial faults.

But the peace accord of was clear.

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Italy replied by arguing that the bill was too high and failed to take into consideration the huge investments made in Ethiopia. The two countries negotiated for a decade and ended up agreeing on the sum of ten and a half billion lira in , the year of the signing of the agreement on reparations Del Boca vol. The artworks and religious objects purloined between and 22 angelo del boca were returned incompletely in dribs and drabs. In fact, only what was in possession of the Italian state was returned to Ethiopia, except for some goods I will deal with later.

Not a single object of the huge booty taken by Badoglio, Graziani, Teruzzi, and other generals, governors, and party leaders was ever returned. Afterwards, after Ethiopia regained its freedom, the imperial government demanded the restitution of the monument in , coinciding with the signing of the peace accord between Italy and the Allies. A second request was formulated in by the Ethiopian ambassador in Rome, Emanuel Abraham. In the Ethiopian parliament pressured the emperor to refuse an invitation to go to Italy before the restitution of the obelisk had taken place.

Rome replied to all Ethiopian demands either by simply refusing them or by advancing unacceptable proposals, like that of transferring the monument to Naples, leaving to the Ethiopians the full cost of transporting it back to Axum. The reply to the interpellation, signed by the undersecretary to foreign affairs, Carmelo Azzara, was a masterpiece of ambiguity and hypocrisy whose only goal was to temporize in the hope that the Ethiopians would one day get tired of asking for the restitution of the ill-gotten obelisk.

The Dini government put an end to all the obstacles and sent the undersecretary of foreign affairs, Michele Scammacca, to arrange the logistics of the restitution of the monument with the Ethiopian authorities. But Figure 1. Inauguration of the Axum obelisk in Rome, Meanwhile in Ethiopia, where celebrations of the centennial of the Adwa victory over the Italians were about to begin, the new procrastination provoked sullenness and protests, so much so that on February 15, , the Ethiopian parliament passed a resolution by which the restitution of the obelisk was asked for once again.

Even some Italians were taking initiative.

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In an interrogation addressed to the ministers of foreign and cultural affairs, two parliamentarians of Rifondazione Comunista, Giovanni Russo Spena and Giovanni De Murtas, demanded to know what was preventing the enforcement of article 37 of the peace accord. Greeting the head of the Ethiopian state, Negasso Gidada, who was ending his visit in Italy, Scalfaro assured him that the obelisk would return to Ethiopia, and as soon as possible.

We are now in the summer of and the monument is still towering in front of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. What is the reason for this failure? Is there anybody in Rome who might provide a believable answer? In the last ten years, Libya too has been putting pressure on the Italians to recognize its right to reparations of some sort. Italy certainly owes a great debt, both moral and material, to the Libyan people, who have suffered the same wrongs as the Ethiopians.

One hundred thousand tragic stories occurred between and After the inception of the Italian-Turkish war, in which the Turkish participated as allies of the Ottomans, the expeditionary force led by General Carlo Caneva distinguished itself by its ruthlessness. It responded to the Arab rebellion of Sciara Sciat with thousands of summary executions and massive deportations. Following the Peace of Ouchy , with the Turkish out of the picture, the Libyans were left alone to oppose the Italian penetration of their country.

The Arab resistance lasted twenty years. In order to crush it, the fascist regime employed the most deadly means of the time, including aerial bombardment and armored cars. Finally, religious hatred was exploited when Italy employed the Christian Ascari, recruited in Eritrea and in Ethiopia, against the Muslim Libyans. One needs to keep in mind, in order to fully evaluate the price paid in blood by the Libyan people, that the entire Libyan population numbered fewer than , inhabitants in the s.

This means that one-eighth of the population was exterminated. Having gained its independence in , with Idris es-Senussi as a sovereign, Libya brought up the issue, as it was easy to foresee it would, of war damages and asked for fair compensation. The Italian government initially replied, during the period between and , that war damages were not to be paid at all because Libya was part of the metropole in all respects during World War II.

And paying for damages caused by thirty-two years of colonial occupation was out of the question, because no other European power had paid for them. In the end, a very modest amount was agreed upon: 2,, Libyan sterlings, equal to 4,,, lira. Italy demanded, moreover, that no reference would be made in the text of the Accord of April 2, , to damages caused during World War II, nor to those caused in the colonial period.

Farnesina, with similar obstinacy, replies that the Accord of October 2, , erased every debt. In strictly legal terms, Italy would seem faultless, especially since it took upon itself the heavy burden of indemnifying the twenty thousand Italians expelled from Libya. The Accord of October 2, , in particular, is not only ambiguous but is also extremely ungenerous. But the plan was not carried out because, once more, Rome revealed a petty attitude. In January the number of beds was still being discussed. The Libyans were asking for 1,; Farnesina would make a counteroffer of But there is a detail that very few people know and that transforms the humanitarian act into nothing more than a farce.

In fact, Enclosure C of the Accord of October 2, , reached with King Idris es-Senussi provided for the building in Tripoli of a hospital on an area of twenty-eight thousand square feet. There is another, moral obligation that has been eluded: the obligation to recognize in a clear and unequivocal manner that Giolittian and fascist Italy stained itself with very serious crimes in Libya. But none of the Italian governments of the postwar period has found the moral courage to pronounce these words.

To stay silent or not to stay silent? I hope that President Scalfaro, who pronounced words of understanding and condemnation in Ethiopia, will not forget Libya.

And yet Italy got its best indigenous troops from this land, troops with which it kept and enlarged its colonial dominions. Perhaps Eritrea deserves something more than silence since napalm incinerated many of its villages, and an entire generation of soldiers disappeared in the most willingly forgotten of the wars.

The heavy diplomatic defeat suffered by Rome could not but leave traces, especially if one thinks that in the state apparatuses there were still many nostalgic for the past regime and the pomp of colonialism. Italy, which had the duty to ensure that the mechanisms of the federation of Eritrea and Ethiopia would work properly, instead distanced itself from its obligations, even when Eritrean autonomy was repeatedly and plainly violated, and even when, on November 14, , Emperor Haile Selassie imperiously dissolved the federation and incorporated Eritrea as the fourteenth province of his empire.

The Ethiopian coup provoked a war that would last thirty years and that would develop subject to the total indifference of the United Nations and all the foreign ministries of the world. So indifferent was the world that Emperor Haile Selassie and then his successor, Colonel Menghistu Hailemariam, would have the advantage when arguing that the war in Eritrea was an internal Ethiopian affair and that any interference in favor of the Eritrean partisans would be considered intolerable.

Placed on the spot by the Socialists, Communists, Radicals and Christian Democrats, the minister of foreign affairs, Giulio Andre- myths, suppressions, denials, defaults 29 otti, on July 6, , authorized the dispatch to Ethiopia of a parliamentary delegation with the task of addressing the Eritrean issue. In reality, Farnesina was persuaded that Eritrea would never be capable of gaining independence from Ethiopian domination by the force of its weapons, and, consequently, it was paying little attention to the calls sent to it by the Eritrean resistance and by an increasingly large segment of the Italian public.


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