Thursday, December 13, 2012
8:30AM Friday, April 19, 2013
The use of propaganda in the Italian conquest and occupation of Ethiopia, 1935-1941
Location is wheelchair accessible
Ethiopia is one of two African countries that managed to escape colonization during Europe’s scramble for Africa in the 1870s. Italy was able to occupy Libya, Eritrea and Somalia, attempting to conquer Ethiopia in the late 1890s, but suffering a humiliating defeat by the Ethiopians at Adua in 1896. Determined to avenge this defeat and to extend their African colonies and influence, the Italians planned to attempt another war. Emboldened by the victory of Mussolini’s fascist party in Italy’s 1922 elections, plans were renewed to convince the Italian population of the virtue and glory of such an endeavor. Dependent upon propaganda to persuade the population and garner mass support for war, the fascist state used every means possible to manipulate and win over public opinion. Newspapers, radio, mass rallies, use of terror and fear, advertisements, art, music, posters, as well as the effective use of symbols, such as the glories of ancient Rome, built up nationalistic pride. Mussolini himself had an enormous talent for emotionally moving crowds of people with his powerful speeches and the widespread use of his own image, superimposed on nearly everything. In October 1935 Mussolini ordered the invasion of Ethiopia from Italian-held Eritrea and Somaliland, in spite of condemnation from the League of Nations. Ethiopia thus became the world’s first fascist victim.
This exhibit displays material from the African Collections in the Manuscripts and Archives Department at Yale University Library.