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Old March 21st, 2013, 10:56 AM   #1
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Italian Army was literally losing to an army of spearmen in Ethiopia


In the 20th Century the Italians have a mockible reputation comparable to that of the French post World War 1. Italians are believed to have lost every battles they fought against the Allies and the Italian Army was considered so poor in quality that most of the troops that fought during the Italian campaigns were stated to be professional German soldiers, not Italains.



But the greatest shame to Italy (well at least according to popular History) is their war in Ethiopia back in the 1930s. The popular consensus is that the Italian Army was a mechanized force with the latest modern weaponry from tanks to machine guns to gas bombs and even Fighter planes.

That they should have wiped out the Ethopians who were mostly using spears as their prime weapons with only a fear using outdated rifles.

However the popular view of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia is that the Italians despite being a modern force were literally losing the war and it took nearly 10 years to even stabilize the region. That the Ethiopians were seen as an inspiring force of a backwards army defeating a modern mechanized force.

Italian soldiers are thought in this campaign as ill-disciplined, poorly motivated, cowardly, and just plain unprofessional. In fact I remember reading in my World History textbook saying that the Italians committed atrocious war crimes such as bombing innocent towns, rounding up women and children and shooting them, plundering whole communities and enslaving the local inhabitants and raping the young girls and women, and even gassing up groups of Ethiopian civilians out of nowhere that were not involved in the rebellion.

In addition Ethiopians are seen in this war as cut out from any form of foreign support. No countr not even the US had supply Ethiopia supplies and weapons or any other means of defending herself.

My World History textbook put a specific section show casing how the Italians violated the rules of war in this campagin.

Its not just this war that mentions such stuff-the Italian war in Libya according to popular History seems to repeat the same thing and indeed its shown perfectly in the classic film "The Lion of the Desert" starring Alec Guinness as the rebel of that insurgency, Omar Mukhtar.

I'm curious what was the truth? I find it impossible to believe an army of spearmen can destroy a modern mechanized army. Even if the Italians were cowardly and undisciplined, their modern arms is still more than enough to compensate for their lack of professionalism.

In addition, are the warcrimes as mentioned in my World History book and popular history portrays in the war-are they over-exaggerated and taken out of proportion?I seen claims of genocide in Ethiopia by the Italians!
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Old March 21st, 2013, 10:58 AM   #2

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Ah, Italy; the Little Empire that Couldn't.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 11:03 AM   #3

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They're lovers, not fighters.


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Old March 21st, 2013, 11:08 AM   #4

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But in more detail, the Italian Fascists did not even control Ethiopia for ten years, but more like five to six. They committed a great deal of crimes against the civilian population both during and after the war (terror-bombing and use of poison gas on villages amongst them), set up a proto-apartheid racial system, and granted the local Fascist Party equal (if not greater) power over the place than either the colonial or military administrations.

Ethiopia 1935-1941 and northern Italy 1944-1945 is where Italian Fascism was at its most radical and vicious.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 11:10 AM   #5

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They ain't the only major country to lose to "spear throwers"
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Old March 21st, 2013, 12:18 PM   #6

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Ah yes Ethiopia, and Mussolinis desire for `war without tears`. What a plank.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 12:22 PM   #7

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I thought that after a few initial setbacks when they were outnumbered and outmanouvered the Italians pretty much wone every fight going by using air power?
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Old March 21st, 2013, 12:33 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemowork View Post
I thought that after a few initial setbacks when they were outnumbered and outmanouvered the Italians pretty much wone every fight going by using air power?

That was my recollection also.


Mind you in colonial times it was the Ethiopians who won.


Battle_of_Adwa Battle_of_Adwa
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Old March 21st, 2013, 12:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pisces Adonis View Post
In the 20th Century the Italians have a mockible reputation comparable to that of the French post World War 1. Italians are believed to have lost every battles they fought against the Allies and the Italian Army was considered so poor in quality that most of the troops that fought during the Italian campaigns were stated to be professional German soldiers, not Italains.



But the greatest shame to Italy (well at least according to popular History) is their war in Ethiopia back in the 1930s. The popular consensus is that the Italian Army was a mechanized force with the latest modern weaponry from tanks to machine guns to gas bombs and even Fighter planes.

That they should have wiped out the Ethopians who were mostly using spears as their prime weapons with only a fear using outdated rifles.

However the popular view of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia is that the Italians despite being a modern force were literally losing the war and it took nearly 10 years to even stabilize the region. That the Ethiopians were seen as an inspiring force of a backwards army defeating a modern mechanized force.

Italian soldiers are thought in this campaign as ill-disciplined, poorly motivated, cowardly, and just plain unprofessional. In fact I remember reading in my World History textbook saying that the Italians committed atrocious war crimes such as bombing innocent towns, rounding up women and children and shooting them, plundering whole communities and enslaving the local inhabitants and raping the young girls and women, and even gassing up groups of Ethiopian civilians out of nowhere that were not involved in the rebellion.

In addition Ethiopians are seen in this war as cut out from any form of foreign support. No countr not even the US had supply Ethiopia supplies and weapons or any other means of defending herself.

My World History textbook put a specific section show casing how the Italians violated the rules of war in this campagin.

Its not just this war that mentions such stuff-the Italian war in Libya according to popular History seems to repeat the same thing and indeed its shown perfectly in the classic film "The Lion of the Desert" starring Alec Guinness as the rebel of that insurgency, Omar Mukhtar.

I'm curious what was the truth? I find it impossible to believe an army of spearmen can destroy a modern mechanized army. Even if the Italians were cowardly and undisciplined, their modern arms is still more than enough to compensate for their lack of professionalism.

In addition, are the warcrimes as mentioned in my World History book and popular history portrays in the war-are they over-exaggerated and taken out of proportion?I seen claims of genocide in Ethiopia by the Italians!
1. The Fascist Italian military was pathetic and only managed to win 1 battle without German reinforcements/leadership when they out numbered the enemy 6 to 1.

2. They were stalled for a while, but they were never in any serious danger of losing the war. Bad infrastructure, bad terrain, the size of the country and their poorly led troops slowed them down. A more professional army with similar equipment would have finished it the war sooner.

3. They bombed civilians and killed a lot of people after the conquest (to pacify the colony so they could raise a colonial army). Although they didn't enslave anyone. In fact, Mussolini ended slavery in Ethiopia. I also have my doubts about the rapes considering the fact that they separated the races and there weren't any wide spread rapes in other areas occupied by the Italians.

4. Libya was an Italian colony. What they did there was terrible, but it was a colonial matter.

5. Genocide is a clear case of exaggeration. The Italians never set out with the express purpose of killing all of the Ethiopians. Italians did commit War Crimes during and before the war. But their war crimes are comparable to the West. The Fascist's in Italy have been demonized because they were a part of the Axis, but they were about as bad as the other colonial powers.

Last edited by Lee-Sensei; March 21st, 2013 at 01:12 PM.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 12:55 PM   #10

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Journalists on European newspapers were sure that Italians were going to lose [like Napoleon in Russia, someone said].

And reality was that ...

But at a certain point Fascism took a tremendous decision which changed the destiny of the conflict: the usage of chemical weapons.

The notorious "K Service" stored 600 tons of chemical weapons at Sorodoco, quite early, suggesting to historians that Fascism had planned from the beginning an eventual usage of those weapons.

In December 1934 Mussolini allowed Badoglio [just the general who would have leaded Italian army after Italy changed side in the last months of WW II] to use gas and Badoglio didn't save gas ...

Badoglio decided to bomb also civilian targets using gas to diffuse terror in the population.

That was [in late 1935] the key for the birth of the Italian Empire.
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