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Sale 38 Lot 981

BENITO MUSSOLINI
(1883 - 1945) Italian dictator whose fascist supporters marched on Rome, securing him power; allied with Hitler, after many military and political setbacks he was captured and executed at war's end by partisans. Historic A.Ms. (unsigned), 4pp. sm. folio, [n.p., likely Rome, late September, 1935, dated Oct. 2, 1934 in another hand], a draft of Mussolini's October 2, 1935 address to the Italian people justifying the attack on defenseless Ethiopia which the dictator would launch the following day! The text, boldly written in Mussolini's bold, florid hand in black ink, reads in part: "...Blackshirts of our Italy! From the Italian Alps to the Italians overseas! The first objective of this gigantic army of people of a country of 20 million men is to inform the world that Fascism and Italy make up a perfect, absolute and unalterable identity. For many months our destined goal, fueled by the impulse of our calm determination, moves towards the real goal: during these hours its rhythm is faster, my words shortly precede the unavoidable. It is a nation of 44 million souls against which...have been consumed...the worst injustice. In 1915, Italy fueled by its passion started to fight; how much courage was seen! But after the victory and the peace that followed it, nothing was left for Italy, even if it was the one that needed it the most! During 13 years we avoided following dictates, during that same time we tried to maintain a collaborative policy with Ethiopia, for 40 years we were denied absolute parity rights: this policy was followed by a systematic hostility...Since 1924 Ethiopia has...prepared the attack against Italy which confirmed the first attempt. The formidable Italian people have a long history. The League of Nations has ignored this fact, it has admitted the inferiority of the Ethiopian civilization but it has not recognized other Italian rights. And even though the word doesn't appear anywhere, sanctions have been brought up as a topic of conversation. I refuse to believe, that the true Frenchman, so faithful to reality could ever avail such sanctions. The fallen soldiers of Bligny...of the enemy....on the land...I refuse to believe, unless proved otherwise, that the English people are willing to spill their blood and take unforeseeable risks in order to defend a country which has been labeled as not having even a shadow of civility. Even though sanctions will be requested and applied, let it be known that we will not surrender. We will use our forces, our courage and our enthusiasm to deter these sanctions but we will do nothing to enlarge this conflict even if it is desired by some who together feel that a new European war will be the vendetta of the collapsed temples or the possibility of realizing...". Upper-left hand printed corners clipped with no loss of text, a few tiny marginal chips, else very good. The text is clearly a working draft of Mussolini's final version, yet still bears all of the salient points the dictator used to justify his unprovoked attack. Italy's relations with Ethiopia went back to the nineteenth century. Her attempt to colonize it in 1895 led to the disastrous defeat the next year at Adowa and the embarrassing downfall of the puppet Italian-backed government. Italy recognized the independence of Ethiopia but still retained much influence there because of her colonies in neighboring Eritrea and Italian Somaliland. Under Mussolini, Italy began again to pressure Ethiopia. The border clash at Wal-Wal in December 1934 brought the struggle for influence there to world attention. Attempts through the League of Nations and through the mediation of Britain and France failed to achieve a diplomatic solution, in large part because Mussolini did not want one. Believing that he had implicit consent of both Britain and France for the conquest of Ethiopia, Mussolini had prepared throughout the summer of 1935 for invasion. His speech, intended for Italians alone, offered his justification for the aggression, but the reference to keeping the war localized, shows that he expected the speech to be reported abroad. Italian troops moved the next day. Italian troops captured the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa the following spring and, on May 9, 1936, Victor Emmanuel III was proclaimed Emperor. This war was extremely popular in Italy, but demonstrated the weakness of the League of Nations, whose economic sanctions only irritated the Italians, and the disarray of British and French foreign policy. More importantly, the attack on Ethiopia and the alienation of Italy moved Mussolini and his government in the direction of Nazi Germany, which supported Italy throughout the conflict.
Estimate $ 8,000-10,000

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