The Arbegnoch (Amharic for Patriots) were Ethiopian resistance fighters in Italian East Africa from 1936 until 1941. They were known to the Italians as shifta .
The Patriot movement was mostly based in the rural Shewa, Gondar and Gojam regions, though it drew support from all over occupied Ethiopia. Several hundred Eritreans also participated.Small cells operated in Addis Ababa and other towns, known as Wust Arbagna (Insider Patriots). The Black Lions took part in the movement. In 1937/1938, there were an estimated 25,000 active Patriots in Ethiopia. The average band of resistance fighters was estimated in 1938 to have included 400 to 500 members, depending on the agricultural season.
The Patriots had the near-total support of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.The majority of participants were Christian highlanders. Ethiopian Muslims were less involved in the Italo-Ethiopian conflict and sometimes considered the Christians as much their enemies as the Italians. Relations between the two religious groups were tenuous throughout Italian occupation and in one instance Muslim Oromo attacked and killed retreating Patriots in Wollo Province.
A number of women participated in the Patriot movement, many of whom had been raped by Italian soldiers.Ethiopian women fought in combat against the Italians and took on support roles, made possible through organised women's groups. The Ethiopian Women's Voluntary Association, established in 1937, coordinated its members' work against the Italians, many of whom fought alongside the Patriots. Another organisation, the Ethiopian Women's Patriotic Union, directly aided regular Patriot forces. As co-conspirators with the Insider Patriots, members provided the resistance with food, medicine, clothing, arms and ammunition and intelligence. During Ethiopia's liberation, many women from the union took up arms. Others acted as lookouts, cleaned weapons on the battlefield or managed first aid stations.
A couple months into the Second Italo-Ethiopian War on 9 December 1935, Ethiopian Minister of War Mulugeta Yeggazu ordered all chiefs in the north to undertake "patriotic resistance against the Italians for taking away the independence of Ethiopia".The Patriot movement only emerged in the spring of 1936 after the Battle of Maychew in the Tigray Region as scattered troops of the Army of the Ethiopian Empire resorted to guerrilla tactics against occupying forces. Local civilians joined in and operated independently near their homes. Early activities included stealing war materials, rolling boulders off cliffs at passing convoys, kidnapping messengers, cutting telephone lines, setting fire to administrative offices and fuel and ammunition dumps and killing collaborators.
As disruption increased, the Italians were forced to deploy more troops to Tigray, away from the campaign further south. The Italians began referring to the Patriots as shifta, which roughly translates from Amharic to English as "bandit"; the word also has a connotation of "one who rebels against an unjust authority" and many freedom fighters reclaimed the label and took pride in its usage.On 4 May, Patriots led by Haile Mariam Mammo ambushed an Italian column in Chacha, near Debre Berhan and killed approximately 170 Askari and took four Italians prisoner, who were later released. Addis Ababa fell to the advancing Italians on 5 May 1936 and the Ethiopians withdrew to nearby areas to regroup; Abebe Aregai went to Ankober, Balcha Safo to Gurage, Zewdu Asfaw to Mulo, Blatta Takale Wolde Hawariat to Limmu and the Kassa brothers (Aberra, Wondosson, and Asfawossen) to Selale. Haile Mariam conducted hit-and-run attacks around the capital. Emperor Haile Selassie fled the country with 117 chests of gold ingots which were used to fund his court in exile and the Patriots' activities.
The emperor left 10,000 troops under the command of Aberra Kassa with orders to continue resistance. On 21 June, Kassa held a meeting with Bishop Abune Petros and several other Patriot leaders at Debre Libanos, about 70 km (43 mi) north of Addis Ababa. Plans were made to storm parts of the occupied capital but a lack of transport and radio equipment made it impossible to mount a coordinated attack. The deposed government in Gore was never able to provide any meaningful leadership to the Patriots or remaining military formations but sporadic resistance was undertaken by independent groups around the capital. On the night 26 June, members of the Black Lions organisation destroyed three Italian aircraft in Nekemte and murdered twelve Italian officials, including Air Marshal Vincenzo Magliocco . The Italians had been hoping to gain support in the region by sending the party to talk with the local populace. The viceroy of the newly created Italian East Africa colony, Rodolfo Graziani, ordered the town to be bombed in retaliation for the killing of Magliocco (his deputy). Negative reactions from the locals forced Patriots to depart; Desta Damtew, the commander of the southern Patriots, withdrew his troops to Arbegona. Surrounded by Italian forces, they retreated to Butajira, where they were eventually defeated. A total of 4,000 Patriots are estimated to have been killed in the battles, of whom 1,600, including Damtew, were executed.
After the fall of Addis Ababa, Ethiopian resistance was increasingly confined to the mountains and it appeared to most observers that the populace was ready to accept occupation and co-operate with Italian authorities; Selassie was concerned that his compatriots would adjust to Italian rule. But Viceroy Graziani's harsh measures against the Patriots and the general repression that occurred during his tenure eroded support for conciliation.Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta was appointed by Mussolini to replace Graziani as Viceroy of Italian East Africa. He was more open-minded than his predecessor and well-suited to encourage the co-operation of the Ethiopian public, but by the time he assumed his responsibilities on 29 December 1937, Ethiopian opinion had soured on the notion of Italian domination. Though most of the original Ethiopian Army had been destroyed, a new resistance network was established in Amhara by aristocrats that had escaped persecution in Addis Ababa and Orthodox clergymen who were disturbed by the Italian overtures to the Muslim population.
A rebellion was initiated in September 1937 in the Lasta region and in a few days was threatening the surprised Italian administration in Begemder and Gojjam. Well-armed Patriots seized numerous outlying residences and destroyed several entire Askari detachments. A number of Italian officers were also killed. Following the insurgency the Italian press ceased to report on combat operations in Ethiopia.
In June 1938 Italian forces encircled Ankober and the surrounding highlands in an attempt to pacify resistance in the region. Haile Mariam was the only Patriot leader who decided to try and effect a break-out and with 500 men he assaulted the Italians in a futile attempt to breach their cordon. He was mortally wounded on 6 Juneduring a major clash at Gorfo, Bulga district. On 2 December 1940, a Patriot force under Admique Besha raided the Italian garrison at Addis Alem. Seventy-eight Italian soldiers were killed and over 2,000 rifles were captured, along with several grenades and artillery pieces.
Rodolfo Graziani, 1st Marquis of Neghelli, was a prominent Italian military officer in the Kingdom of Italy's Regio Esercito, primarily noted for his campaigns in Africa before and during World War II. A dedicated fascist, he was a key figure in the Italian military during the reign of Victor Emmanuel III.
The Second Italo-Ethiopian War, also referred to as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, was a war of aggression which was fought between Italy and Ethiopia from October 1935 to February 1937. It is seen as an example of the expansionist policy that characterized the Axis powers and the inefficiency of the League of Nations before the outbreak of World War II.
The Battle of Maychew was the last major battle fought on the northern front during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. The battle consisted of a failed counterattack by the Ethiopian forces under Emperor Haile Selassie making frontal assaults against prepared Italian defensive positions under the command of Marshal Pietro Badoglio. The battle was fought near Maychew, Ethiopia, in the modern region of Tigray.
Shifta is term used in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania, and Somalia for rebel, outlaw, or bandit. The word is derived from shúfto. Historically, shifta served as local militia in the lawless rural mountainous regions on the Horn of Africa. The word shifta can be translated as "bandit" or "outlaw", but can include anyone who rebels against an authority or an institution that is seen as illegitimate.
Brigadier-General Mengistu Neway was the commander of the Ethiopian Imperial Guard during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie. He is noted for being one of the early dissidents of the Emperor's regime and for organizing the 1960 coup attempt with his younger brother Germame Neway.
The Second Battle of Tembien was a battle fought on the northern front of what was known as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. This battle consisted of attacks by Italian forces under Marshal Pietro Badoglio on Ethiopian forces under Ras Kassa Haile Darge and Ras Seyoum Mangasha. This battle, which resulted in a decisive defeat of Ethiopian forces, was primarily fought in the area around the Tembien Province. The battle is notable for the large-scale use of mustard gas by the Italians.
The Battle of Shire was a battle fought on the northern front of what was known as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. This battle consisted of attacks and counterattacks by Italian forces under Marshal of Italy Pietro Badoglio and Ethiopian forces under Ras Imru Haile Selassie. This battle was primarily fought in the Shire area of Ethiopia.
The March of the Iron Will was an Italian Fascist propaganda event staged from 26 April to 5 May 1936, during the final days of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. The goal of the march was to capture the Ethiopian capital in a show of force. An Italian mechanized column under the command of Pietro Badoglio, Marshal of Italy, advanced from the town of Dessie to take Addis Ababa. The march covered a distance of approximately 200 miles (320 km).
Ethiopian studies or Eritrean studies refers to a multidisciplinary academic cluster dedicated to research on Ethiopia and Eritrea within the cultural and historical context of the Horn of Africa.
De Bono's invasion of Abyssinia took place during the opening stages of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. Italian General Emilio De Bono invaded northern Abyssinia from staging areas in the Italian colony of Eritrea on what was known as the "northern front."
Wondosson Kassa, also known as Wond Wossen Kassa, was a member of the royalty of the Ethiopian Empire, an army commander, and a patriot.
Hailu Tekle Haymanot, KBE (1868–1950), also named Hailu II of Gojjam, was an army commander and a member of the nobility of the Ethiopian Empire. He represented a provincial ruling elite who were often at odds with the Ethiopian central government. Hailu Tekle Haymanot was an independent-minded potentate who, throughout his life, was mistrustful of and mistrusted by the Emperor.
Aberra Kassa was an army commander and a member of the Royal family of the Ethiopian Empire.
Asfawossen Kassa was an army commander and a member of the Royal family of the Ethiopian Empire.
Zerai Deres was an Eritrean translator and patriot. In 1938, he engaged in an act of public devotion to an important symbol of his native country, the Monument to the Lion of Judah, at the time kept in Rome. When interrupted, he violently protested against Italian colonialism while brandishing a scimitar, which led to his arrest and internment in a psychiatric hospital for seven years, until his death. However, contemporary Italian historians doubt the claim that he was mentally unstable. Zerai's protest, lionized after the end of the Second World War, is considered by Eritrean and Ethiopian historiography as part of the movement against Italian occupation. To this day, Zerai is considered a legend and a folk hero of anticolonialism and antifascism both in Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The Black Lions were an anti-fascist resistance movement formed to fight against Italy during the occupation of the Ethiopian Empire in the Second World War.
Yekatit 12 is a date in the Ethiopian calendar which refers to the massacre and imprisonment of Ethiopians by the Italian occupation forces following an attempted assassination of Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, Marquis of Negele, Viceroy of Italian East Africa, on February 19, 1937. Graziani had led the Italian forces to victory over the Ethiopians in the Second Italian invasion of Ethiopia and was supreme governor of Italian East Africa. This has been described as the worst massacre in Ethiopian history.
Italian Ethiopia, also known as the Italian Empire of Ethiopia,, was an Italian formal entity of the territory of the conquered Ethiopian Empire. Italian Ethiopia was not an administrative entity, but the formal name of the former territory of the Ethiopian Empire which now constituted the Governorates of Amhara, Harar, Galla-Sidamo, and Scioa after the establishment of Italian East Africa
The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Haile Mariam Mammo, alternatively Lej Hayla Maryam Mammo, was an Ethiopian soldier and a leader of the Patriot movement during the Italian occupation of Ethiopia. He fought in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in 1936 before becoming a resistance leader in his native province of Shewa. He was mortally wounded in battle with the Italians.