November 18, 2012 by neverforgetcampaign
On 19 February 1937, whilst attending a ceremony celebrated at the Gännätä Lǝcul palace, the Viceroy Rodolfo Graziani suffered a failed assassination attempt. The perpetrators were two Eritreans, Abrǝha Däboč and Mogäs Asgädom, with the complicity of the taxi-driver Sǝmcon Adäfrǝs, who had provided them with hand-explosives and a car. The attempt, in which Graziani was seriously wounded, was followed by a devastating reprisal. For three days, Italian and Eritrean solders and civilians ravaged the indigenous areas of Addis Abäba, killing more than 4,000 people. The following days the more progressive members of the Ethiopian intelligentsia – including several foreign-educated ones – were killed, as well as not less than 2,500 story- and fortune-tellers who had pleaded guilty of having announced from village to village the coming end of the Italian occupation.
Convinced that the perpetrators had enjoyed the help of the monks from Däbrä Libanos of Šäwa, Graziani ordered General Pietro Maletti to advance towards the holy place. According to Graziani’s own account to Mussolini, the number of monks, priests and deacons shot dead would have been 449. Yet, according to field research done by Ian L. Campbell and Däggǝfe Gäbrä Sadiq in the late 1990s, the actual number probably was between 1,423 and 2,033.
Whilst these summary executions were perpetrated, Graziani deported to Italy hundreds of Ethiopian noblemen and imprisoned thousands of presumed opponents in the concentration camps of Noqra and Dänane, where 3,175 Ethiopians were killed. The excesses of Graziani brought Mussolini, so far a supporter of his tactics, to replace him at the end of 1937 with Amedeo di Savoia, Duke of Aosta, whilst the country was in full uprising.
Literature: ANGELO DEL BOCO, Gli italiani in Africa orientale, vol. 3: La caduta dell’impero, Roma – Bari 1982, 77-106; ID., “Un lager del facsismo: danane”, in: ID., L’Africa nella coscienza degle italiani: miti, memorie, errori, sconfitte, Roma – Bari 1992, 41-57; IAN L. CAMPBELL – DEGIFE GABRETSADIK, “La repressione fascista in Etiopia: la ricostruzione del massacre di Debra Libanos”, Studi piacentini 21, 1997, 79-128; IAN L. CAMPBELL, “Ill massacre segreto di Engecha”, ibid. 24-25, 1999, 23-46.
Angelo Del Boca (Encyclopaedia Aethiopica)