FEBRUARY 19, 1937, AFTER THE ASSASSINATION GRAZIANI IN THE MASSACRE OF DEBRE LIBANOS

Kidane Alemayehu

An unpublished photos documenting the massacre carried out by Italian soldiers in the Ethiopian Orthodox monastery of Debre Libanos in 1937. The TG2000, the news of Tv2000, shows exclusively a historic snap with the monks are waiting to be loaded onto trucks that would eventually lead them the scene of the shootings. A massacre took place forgotten the fascists 80 years ago. No one knew of the massacre of the monastery of Debre Libanos someone had snapped photos. In May ’37, in Ethiopia, some Italian soldiers were shot in retaliation 2000 people defenseless monks and Orthodox pilgrims (449 seconds the official report). The order was given the viceroy Rodolfo Graziani. It was General Pietro Maletti to execute the command. Tv2000 devoted a documentary film in the massacre, with documents and unpublished testimony by the journalist Antonello Carvigiani, for photography by Andrea Tramontano. Now, for the first time, the TG2000 also shows the image of the massacre, thanks to Luigi Panella, history lover of Italian colonialism in Africa.

“There was a boy – told Panella to TG2000 – who had not yet turned 27, in that plain where the monks were shot. His name was Virgilio Cozzani, was a lieutenant of complement in the 45th Battalion colonial Muslim who Maletti gave the job to do the shootings in Shunkurti. This is the place that is mentioned in the COZZANI photographs. COZZANI went around with a camera, taking photographs like all Italian boys in Ethiopia at that time. On May 20 he made some photographs just the day before the massacre and later on May 21 to Shunkurtì “.

“In the back of the photo – it revealed Panella – there is also a record made by COZZANI, in his own hand: Debre Libanos, Casci prisoners, the helmets were Coptic priests, 20 May 1937. And then another record. On May 21, 37, ‘hello neh …’. The ‘hello neh …’ this Italian guy, who goes in the other pictures on horseback, smiles but then becomes the protagonist of a terrible massacre, almost mocking. The impression is that the banality of evil, of a young man laughing and joking before making a killing. ”

The attack on Rodolfo Graziani – took place February 19, 1937, exactly eighty years ago – is a testimony to the Italian conquest of Ethiopia – proclaimed by Mussolini’s speech on 9 May of the previous year, it is by no means complete. The Ethiopian resistance controls large areas of the country and manages to pull off an attack on the Viceroy even in the heart of the Italian power: the Addis Ababa government building.

That ‘s where Graziani organizes a ceremony to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Napoli Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, came to light on 12 February. Appointment invites all local notables but also the city’s poor to distribute alms.
Taking advantage of this occasion, two young Eritreans, Abraham Deboch and Mogus Asghedom, hurl bombs against Graziani. There are seven dead. The Viceroy is wounded.

Ian Campbell,  historian of British descent residing in Addis Ababa and maximum knowledge of these events, tells Antonello Carvigiani for Docufilm of Tv2000 Debre Libanos (2016 – directed by Andrea Tramontano , edited by Dolores Gangi ): ” What happened was in February 1937 She occurred an attempt on the life of Graziani while he was presiding over a public event they were participating in several thousand Ethiopians. The were launched against several hand grenades, despite the security system that was designed to protect. These were the grenades thrown at her at close range, and he was seriously injured. All his life he had to suffer the consequences of this attack, bringing in their own bodies of those hundreds of shrapnel. “

IAN CAMPBELL

Italians unleashed a ferocious revenge . For three days Addis Ababa is put on fire. It ‘a massacre. Ethiopian sources speak of 30,000 victims. Italian historians say 3000. Leading the crackdown are the black shirts of the Federal Guido Cortese.

The president of the Association of the Ethiopian patriots, Daniel Jote Mesfin, explains Antonello Carvigiani:  In Addis Ababa after the attack unleashed a bloody repression led by the Blackshirts. The city is burned, destroyed. They killed hundreds of people, including children and old women. The city was a river of blood. It was a black day in our history. “

Three days of massacres and looting. A recount, there is also an Italian witness, the envoy of Corriere della Sera Ciro Poggiali, who in a memoir published in 1971 writes:

“All civilians who are in Addis Ababa, in the absence of a police or military organization, have taken on the task of lightning revenge conducted with the most authentic fascist squads systems. They go armed with truncheons and iron bars, accoppando many natives are still in the street. Additional property made mass arrests; Negroes herds are driven to terrible shots curbascio like sheep. In short, the streets around the tukul are strewn with dead. I see a driver who knocked down after an old black man with a shot of mace pierces his head from side to side with a bayonet. Needless to say, the destruction strikes against unsuspecting and innocent people. “

FEBRUARY 19, 1937 GRAZIANI WITH ABUNA KIRILLOS IN GHEBBI SHORTLY BEFORE THE ATTACK

The violence did not spare the Orthodox Cathedral of St. George . He describes, again, Ciro Poggiali:  “I’ve been to visit the interior of the Church of San Giorgio, ravaged by fire hanged out time with oil drums, for order and the presence of the Federal Cortese. All the paintings were lost. The sanctum has been opened and the ciborium containing the tablets of the law has been burned. Fifty deacons who were gathered in the bell house were tied with the intention to let them burn inside the church as it burned, but the intervention of a colonel of the grenadiers prevented the destruction. “

These three days of massacres are not enough to appease Graziani, who is convinced that behind the attack there is the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and, in particular, the monastery of Debre Libanos.

Ethiopia is, in fact, a Christian country, evangelized, according to tradition, by San Frumentius, in the fourth century. Church and Empire are the two pillars that support the state. Religious authorities and politics are intertwined and mutually supportive. The monastery of Debre Libanos is the center of this historic alliance. Graziani want to break it. He believes that to consolidate the Italian military conquest is necessary to crush the Orthodox Church.
Corroborates the news – never confirmed – according to which the two assailants have fled the monastery of Debre Libanos and planning its annihilation.

On 18 May 1937 , the General Maletti surrounds the monastery. It is no coincidence that they are chosen from those days is the feast of the Archangel Mikael and St. Tekle Haymanot. A great religious solemnity. Many pilgrims reach the monastery. The Italian troops to enter but do not go out. It’s a trap.

On 21 May, priests, monks and pilgrims are loaded onto military trucks and taken away from the monastery, to be shot on the plateau of Laga Welde.

Still tells Ian Campbell: “Each truck was filled with a variable number of prisoners between thirty and fifty, he started a truck every thirty minutes, and these prisoners were taken to a site on the far edge of a very deep gorge. About 500 meters deep. They shot the prisoners in groups, and the bodies were thrown in the deep waters “.

The young deacons come instead executed in another place: Ingecha, near Debre Berhan. According to the official report of the victims of the massacre Graziani totaled 449: 320 monks and 129 deacons.
IAN CAMPBELL, however, believes that the figures are different:  “The numbers reported by Graziani are very low. We know that the number of members of the clergy – including monks – was no less than a thousand. The total number of people murdered in the monastery area is about 1,200 and the number of people killed in Debre-Berhan is about 800, including deacons. The total number of victims, however, is still uncertain, because while the names of the monks were known, the same is not true for the pilgrims who had gone there for that occasion. ”

Altogether, they are killed by Italian troops between 1800 and 2200 people. Priests, monks, deacons, pilgrims come to the monastery of Debre Libanos to pray.

This is the largest massacre of Christians ever in Africa.

EXTRA CONTENT

The town of Castiglione decided to rename the street named after the general Pietro Maletti, a native of the country, war hero, but also responsible for the massacre of the monastery of Debre Libanos, Ethiopia in 1937.

The basis of the decision also documents collected in the documentary film of Tv2000. Marco Bergamaschi Service

 

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