Italy and the Abolishment of slavery in Ethiopia

Dec 2015
Italy invaded Ethiopia in October 1935 and issued two laws in October 1935 and in April 1936 emancipating slaves in the country (Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, p. 681). According to Italy’s accounts, during its brief occupation of Ethiopia, it freed 420,000 slaves.

After Italy’s defeat in World War II and his return from exile in Britain, Emperor Haile Selassie changed gears and abandoned his plan to phase out slavery over an extended period of time in favor of one that resembled Italy’s, immediate and complete abrogation. It seems that the lack of any significant backlash from the passage of laws against slavery by Italy during its brief occupation of Ethiopia had convinced Haile Selassie that his fear of possible negative impact that may result from an immediate abolition was unfounded. The Emperor, therefore, issued the Slavery (Abolition) Proclamation No. 22 of 1942 in August of that year.

Does anyone here have more information on this topic? While one could note concerning issues, the Kingdom of Italy which was an Axis power during WW2, was not in the same league as the Third Reich in terms of moral values. What was going through the minds of Italians irt Ethiopia and the abolishment of slavery? Surely some of these Italian Catholics were morally good people and were sincerely interested in ending things like slavery worldwide.
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Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
Maybe, but maybe it was a popular move in order to gain an army of supporters in a distant colony?


Forum Staff
Oct 2011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Ethiopia was a rural society and Fascism saw its base in the rural population [the word "Fascism" recalls that world].

From this perspective Fascism was different from Nazism [which saw its theoretical base in the working class]. Slavery wasn't compatible with Fascism. It’s a fact. Then we can reason if it was a moral or a political matter. In any case Fascism didn’t exploit slavery.