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Dispelling Myths: Ethiopia's Italian Occupation

The idea that Ethiopia has never been conquered by a foreign power is correct however the concept Ethiopia has never been occupied by a foreign power is common misconception, Italy was the only foreign power to occupy Ethiopia.

It is true Ethiopia was never colonized by a European power during the Scramble for Africa period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but before that time period, the foreign power that occupied Ethiopia were Italian colonialists 1936 until 1941. Also, there were many notorious Italian occupied concentration camps in Ethiopia; Gursen, Graziani, Nocra, Mai Terara and Danane.

Haile Selassie lead the Italian resistance from exile
 Haile Selassie lead the Italian resistance from exile.

The misconception that Ethiopia was never occupied has much to do with incorrectly interchanging the words occupied and conquered.

While the terms occupied and conquered imply foreign control over a territory, the term conquest typically implies a more complete and permanent form of subjugation, while occupation can refer to a range of situations where a foreign power has varying degrees of control over a territory.

Occupation refers to the control of a territory by a foreign power, without necessarily implying the complete subjugation or incorporation of that territory into the occupying powers' political or administrative system. Occupying powers may exercise varying degrees of control over the occupied territory, ranging from military rule to indirect influence over local leaders or institutions.

Conquest, on the other hand, implies the complete subjugation or incorporation of a territory into the conqueror's political or administrative system. Conquest may involve the use of military force or other forms of coercion to establish complete control over the conquered territory, with the conquered people often being subjected to the conqueror's laws, customs, and governance structures.

Ethiopia has a long and rich history of independence and resistance against foreign powers, but it has been occupied and ruled by Italian foreign powers at different points in history. 

Ethiopia's military has a long and rich history
Ethiopia's military has a long and rich history.

Italy first attempted to colonize Ethiopia in 1895 but was defeated in the First Italo-Ethiopian War in 1896. However, Italy renewed its efforts to colonize Ethiopia in the 1930s, and in 1935, Italian forces under the command of Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia.Mussolini invaded Ethiopia to expand Italy's colonial empire in Africa, gain access to Ethiopian resources, increase his domestic popularity, and challenge the international order.

The Italian colonial occupation of Ethiopia lasted from 1936 until 1941, when the British and Ethiopian forces liberated the country. During the occupation, the Italian colonialists implemented policies of forced labor, resettlement, and assimilation that caused immense suffering and loss of life among the Ethiopian people.

The Ethiopian resistance movement, led by Emperor Haile Selassie, fought a long and bitter struggle against the Italian occupation. This resistance movement, along with support from the international community, played a critical role in ultimately liberating Ethiopia from Italian colonial rule.

When Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, Haile Selassie was the emperor of Ethiopia and was internationally recognized as a prominent African leader. He immediately went into exile in the United Kingdom and began a campaign to mobilize international support for the Ethiopian resistance.

In 1936, Haile Selassie delivered a famous speech to the League of Nations, in which he appealed to the international community for support against the Italian aggression. Despite his efforts, the League of Nations failed to take effective action to stop the Italian invasion, and Ethiopia was occupied by Italian forces.

During the occupation, Haile Selassie continued to lead the resistance from exile, and his leadership and courage inspired the Ethiopian people to continue fighting for their independence. In 1941, with the help of Allied forces, Ethiopia was finally liberated from the Italian occupation, and Haile Selassie returned to the country to resume his role as emperor.

After the liberation of Ethiopia, British forces did maintain a presence in the country for several years, primarily to help the Ethiopian government with reconstruction efforts and to provide support for the modernization of the Ethiopian military. However, this was not an occupation in the sense that the British were attempting to exert control over Ethiopia's political or administrative systems.

Despite the challenges he faced during his reign, Haile Selassie is widely regarded as a visionary leader who worked tirelessly to modernize and develop Ethiopia, and who played a crucial role in the country's fight for independence during the Italian occupation.

Italian occupied concentration camps in Ethiopia were Gursen, Graziani, Nocra, Mai Terara and Danane

Italian occupied concentration camps in Ethiopia were Gursen, Graziani, Nocra, Mai Terara and Danane.

Gursen Concentration Camp.

The Gursen Concentration Camp was established in Ethiopia in 1936 after the Italian invasion of the country. It was used to detain Ethiopian civilians and prisoners of war, who were subjected to forced labor and brutal conditions.

Graziani Concentration Camp.

Graziani Concentration Camp was established in Ethiopia in 1937 and was named after Rodolfo Graziani, an Italian general who led the brutal repression of Ethiopian resistance. The camp was used to detain Ethiopian civilians, who were subjected to forced labor, torture, and executions.

Nocra Concentration Camp.

The Nocra concentration camp was established in 1936, near the town of Nocra in southern Ethiopia. It was used to imprison Ethiopian civilians who were suspected of supporting the resistance movement. Prisoners in the camp were subjected to forced labor and other forms of abuse.

Mai Terara Concentration Camp.

The Mai Terara concentration camp was established in 1937, near the town of Mai Terara in northern Ethiopia. It was used to imprison Ethiopian civilians who were suspected of supporting the resistance movement. Ethiopian civilians were detained in the camp and were made to endure forced labor, torture, and executions.

Danane Concentration Camp.

Danane Concentration Camp was established in 1939, this camp was established during the Italo-Ethiopian War and was used to imprison Ethiopian civilians who were suspected of supporting the Ethiopian resistance movement. Detainees were subjected to forced labor, torture, and executions.

The idea that Ethiopia has never been conquered by a foreign power is correct however the concept Ethiopia has never been occupied by a foreign power is common misconception, Italy was the only foreign power to occupy Ethiopia.

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