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The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Sellassie I - Volume 2



CHAPTER XI

MUSSOLINI TURNS HIS ATTENTION TO CENTRAL EUROPE



Having made a treaty with Germany, Italy threatened Britain and France, stressing her resolve to do whatever she wished. First she encouraged the rebels to rise in violence and ignited civil war in Spain, and, having so involved herself, she sent volunteer forces [and] supplied airplanes and other weapons in order to continue the war in Spain. Germany, like Italy, also started to provide similar assistance. When, with this aid, the leader of the rebellion, General Franco, showed some success, Rome and Berlin recognized his government as legitimate and sent their ambassadors.

After this, still encouraged by the treaty of good neighborliness (bon voisinage), which had been negotiated with Britain, Mussolini turned his attention to Central Europe. Britain and France felt obligated to fulfill all his desires, in order to drive a wedge between Italy and Germany. He asked them to recognize his seizure of Ethiopia. This was as easy as a stroll [in the park] for Britain and France, and they fulfilled his demand. An increasing number of governments recognized the seizure. Even if a large proportion of the British people was opposed to Chamberlain's decision, they were unable to change it. Chamberlain said, "Our recognition of Italy's conquest of Ethiopia will be affirmed only if we can together find solutions for pending issues in Europe. Even then, it is not something which can be decided without the consent of France. Besides, we do not intend to seek new friendships at the expense of the old ones. We shall be able to achieve a durable solution only by continuing our relations and consultations with [our friends]."

And so in the race... to placate the aggressor, the possibility of Ethiopian independence was lost. All of [the politicians] stretched out their hands [to Italy] to bring about reconciliation concerning Ethiopia.

Thereafter, Mussolini plotted secretly with Hitler to begin to ignite a fire in Central Europe. After [Germany] invaded Austria in order to isolate the countries in the Danube [Basin] and Balkans from their alliance with France and Britain, so that he could manipulate them as he wished, Hitler tried to bring Bulgaria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia into the political circle of the so-called Rome-Berlin Axis. Instead of Bulgaria, indeed, Yugoslavia reversed her long­time arrangements and shifted to an alliance with her arch-enemy, Italy. Mussolini's intention was to entice Romania into the Rome-Berlin Axis through the mediation of Yugoslavia, but over this matter Britain and France felt threatened and began to object to the move.

Monsieur [Nicolas] Titulescu, who was then Romania's Minister of Foreign Affairs, went to Paris to discuss the state of the alliance, and to stimulate the kind of political activism which France neglected. At that time the goals of the Central European or Danube and Balkan alliance was suspected to be:

a. The alteration of the boundaries which had been fixed by the Treaty of Versailles.
b. Assisting Germany to regain Czechoslovakia by whatever means, since it had been part of Germany when [the latter] was established as a separate nation.
c. Extending German influence in Austria and Hungary.
d. Spreading Italian influence in Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and Romania.

It was the Ethiopian question which tested Italo-German relations in terms of Central Europe and the Balkans. To consolidate its position in the Balkans and the Mediterranean, Italy recognized Germany's preponderance in Eastern Europe. To protect her own interests, she signed agreements with each [Balkan] country. For this reason, Italy allied with Germany. Both agreed to share their political benefits. Both governments also agreed to confront the League of Nations. Finally, the two governments formed a secret military alliance.

While hoping to strengthen his control over the countries around the Mediterranean region, Mussolini was planning to create an invincible army from East Africa, which he called the "Black Army of Abyssinia." To that end, Italy raised 500,000 black soldiers from Ethiopia and the rest of her colonies. She armed these soldiers with new weapons. To show the success of his plan of recruiting black soldiers from Ethiopia, Mussolini organized a huge parade in Rome. In the parade were about 12,000 Ethiopians.

For six weeks [thereafter], from dawn to dusk the Italian Fascist authorities went around the towns and boasted: "These are black soldiers, on whom rests the lofty responsibility of expanding Italy's territorial possession in Africa. Italian soldiers are enough for Europe. They can win victories anywhere; and the black soldiers are also ready to silence the British and the French in Africa." Until the time this black army was formed and organized, to the extent that [Italian East Africa] was threatened by [British] Somaliland, Kenya and the Sudan, Mussolini had been very cautious in his operations in Spain; now that the Ethiopian contingent has been formed in a reliable manner, he began to operate without fear...

* * *

There was news in the air about Italy's entry into the war in Europe, and We were eagerly hoping and waiting for the dawn of Our country's freedom. Incidentally, in the month of May 1932 [1940], We heard of the death, in America, of Our loyal servant Dr. Melaku Beyan. When We were told of his death, We mourned him at Our residence at Bath.

Dr Melaku Beyan was Our palace servant whom We raised up from childhood. Realizing his diligence and farsightedness, We sent him to be educated to America in 1913 [1921], and hardworking as he was, he became a medical doctor. When the Italians invaded Ethiopia, he came to serve his country and his emperor, and marched to Maychew with Us. He had a strong desire to help wounded soldiers and We have heard about the service he rendered operating on them.

Dr. Melaku Beyan came to England with Us after the war. Then he proceeded to America, where he worked hard to help Ethiopia in any way possible. He did a commendable job of mobilizing and organizing African Americans in support of Ethiopia's cause.

We also mourned one of Our noblemen, Fitawrari Baeda Gebre, who died in Jerusalem in June 1932.


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October 8, 2017