MUSSOLINI, Benito A.A. (1883-1945), Italian dictator. Autograph draft manuscript of his address "Discorso della mobilitazione," ANNOUNCING THE ITALIAN INVASION OF ETHIOPIA, delivered 2 October 1935.
4 pages (only, incomplete at end), large 4to, small rectangle cut away at top left-hand corners (to remove a decorative emblem), in Italian. Boldly penned in black ink on rectos only, with numerous autograph emendations in Mussolini's hand. Page 4 with pencil note noting "Manca il resto dal Duce il 28 Aprile 1940." (Apparently presented by Il Duce, already lacking the last page or pages, before Mussolini's 1940 declaration of war on France and England).
THE FIRST RUMBLINGS OF WORLD WAR II: ITALY INVADES ETHIOPIA A rare draft of one of Mussolini's most significant public addresses, announcing--and justifying--the invasion of Italy's former African colony. As recently as September 1934, Italy had reaffirmed an existing treaty with Ethiopia, ruled by Emperor Haile Selassie. But Mussolini, anxious to expand Italy's colonial empire, waited for a provocative incident to justify an attack. It came in a minor border skirmish in December 1934. The League of Nations, called in to mediate, smoothed over the incident, but Mussolini saw that any further aggression would not meet serious opposition from either the weakened League or the appeasement-minded great powers. Il Duce attacked Ethiopia from Eritrea and Italian Somaliland on 3 October. In the present address to the nation, played over loudspeakers across Italy, Mussolini announces, defends and glorifies this move, though studiously avoiding an actual declaration of war. It took only seven months for the Italian army--using mustard gas and incendiary bombs against military and civilian targets--to gain control of the kingdom and force Selassie into exile in May 1836. Selassie issued this chilling prediction to the world: "It is us today. It will be you tomorrow." Published (with considerable differences) in Scritte e discorsi, 1935, 9:218-220 and Scritti politici, ed. Santarelli, 1979, pp.292-294.