The Forgotten Genocide


My name is Dawit. I am a soldier for Ethiopia and they need me now more than ever. The Ethiopian government started recruiting soldiers a couple of months ago to “protect the country.” We thought it would be easy, getting a free gun and just doing drills. They did not tell us a war was on the horizon or I probably would not have joined. The Italian men attacked on our home land two months ago on October 3rd and have been slaughtering my brothers, my friends, my people right in front of my eyes. Three days I have been running for my life, trying to fight the white men off with my hands and the piece of shit bow and two arrows the government could afford to give most of us, only some c. Mussolini, that fascist pig, came on to our land because we had soldiers in Somaliland to help civilians there. At least that’s what we are being told.[1]The white men control almost all of Africa now, except my country, and I think that is what they want. They want us to surrender to them, to let them win and strip us of our religion and our beloved leader Haile Selassie. But we will not let them. The Ethiopians are strong people and we will not be overcome. I am fighting not for my life now, but for the freedom and life of my homeland.

What Is Happening

Benito Mussolini assessing his troops.

The Italian men attack villages here everyday. As you run through the streets you can see children, no older than five or six screaming at the tops of their lungs, sobbing on top of the bodies of their dead parents. These are innocent people they are killing, not soldiers like my brothers and I, civi
lians, people who never signed up to be a part of this. They cry out in agony from missing a limb blown off by a grenade. You can see home that have been completely destroyed by the bombs they drop from the sky. They are trying to get us all to give up. They know that their army is more prepared than ours ever will be, and those men are able to look an innocent women in her eyes and take her life for no reason other than they were told. It is obvious they are stripped of their souls upon recruitment. Or maybe they never had them in the first place. These soldiers believe that we are below them. That we are scum simply because we are black or because we are Rastafari. But we are not scum. We are the people who truly understand God, understand the presence of His son, the true Christians. The white men manipulated His word and take advantage of it to make them more powerful, but they do not believe it themselves. No Godly man kills the innocent or his brothers. They are mad because we know that. We see it.

The Gas

Many of my fellow soldiers, and myself, are currently recovering from mustard gas attacks.[2] Italian soldiers spray the gas all around our camps or villages we are going into and it is horrible to breathe it in for those who do not know about it. It burns your throat and lungs making it very hard to breathe, especially for children. It stings your eyes like needles and just that is enough to make any grown man weep and pray for a gas mask. You think that is the worst part too until you realize that it can sink below your clothes and burns your skin too. We all have huge blisters that are broken and bleeding now and many are afraid to put any clothes that are not washed back on. I can hear the vomiting begin at night if they spray our camp and I wake up holding my breath. We are not even sure how to help the children and civilians that are attacked with this gas because we cannot even help ourselves. We cannot fight back. They have begun to beat us into the ground and our spirits are dropping.

The Snatching

Ethiopian children playing with a gas mask. 

After they attack and raid villages, they grab the weakest from the streets or from their homes and they throw them into small train cars. They are packed so full that there is not even room to sit down for who knows how long they have to be there, or probably worse, where they are going. It is unjust, inhuman, unfair. All I want is to pull my people off that prison car, but I am powerless. I cannot risk being killed or smashed in with them while I am trying to save them. A few soldiers think they will become slaves in Europe, but the modern world has no use for slaves. I know that it is a far worse fate they will be meeting. I also know that we will not be able to stop Italy. They are too powerful. They will take over our country, kill more of my people, and strip us of our identities. More of our men are fighting than theirs, but our army is too poor and too weak to ever match them. [3]My people never expected to be at war, and we never prepared for it. Their bombs are almost constant across the country now, especially during the night. Bombs that are landing in villages, killing people who never wanted to get involved, people who worship God, and maiming children as they sleep. Everyday more and more people go missing into those train cars and the people who love them are certain they will never see them again.

Why Us?

Emperor of Ethiopia in 1935, Haile Selassie.

Italy is winning very easily and our emperor has fled to England to avoid being murdered. Some off my brothers call him coward, but I know that he is truly our savior, who the Europeans call Jesus, his real name is Haile Selassie. If I am blessed enough to survive, I will spend the rest of my days spreading the real word of God, not the one that has been tarnished and ruined. But so many of my people have died they aren’t even bothering to count anymore. Adding one more to the number now would not change anything. It is probably in the thousands already between soldiers and civilians. People are thinking that Italy wound not do this if it was just about taking total control, would we surrender to them if we thought that would end it, but that they want to eliminate our race from the Earth. This is not something we have not already dealt with, but I believe it is the Rastafari people coming to Ethiopia as a sacred land that helped in leading to the invasion. Though I fear that no one will ever truly know.

The Train

One thing that I do know is that I am afraid. I am afraid that I am close to my end. I was one of the soldiers grabbed off the street a few nights ago while I was trying to save a family from under their newly destroyed home.  Two Italian soldiers grabbed me from behind and lifted me over their shoulders. When I tried to fight back, they beat me until I fell unconscious. I awoke to be surrounded by around 150 of my fellow people. They have made room for me to sit since my face is bloodied and I think I have a broken rib that is effecting my breathing. More pain to go with the burning still lingering in my lungs and the blisters on my skin. Many people around me suffer from similar hardships or are sick and dying. I can see the fear in everyone else’s faces so at least I am not alone. Some people are opening sobbing, others trying to hide their emotions for the sake of their family, but it can be seen in every person’s eyes that they are afraid for their lives. The smell is the hardest to describe because there are not enough words. It is the hot and putrid smell of urine and excrement that has been left around the car because there are not bathrooms. They are treating us like animals with no care, no worth, no remorse. I thought I would be able to save my people. Fight for God and Ethiopia like a true warrior and be rewarded with Heaven when I died. Unfortunately, I think I am riding this train car to Hell.


Suddenly, the train begins to slow. The door flies open and we are blinded by the bright

Ethiopian soldiers walking through the street to meet Italian soldiers.

sun. They tell us all to stand and walk the rest of the way. Those who cannot walk, get shot right in front of our eyes. I cry everyday for my people that have been lost so far and with each one that moves on, my heart gets heavier. We are walking for hours before we arrive at what can only be called a prison but they try to call a “work camp.” All I can see around us are gray buildings and metal fences. The Italians are walking through separating the men from the women and children, those who are able to work and those who are not. They have us walk into the camp towards the middle while they take the women and children into one of the buildings. Near the middle where we are, I can see a wooden structure that looks like a gallow, but who could be so inhumane? I did not think anyone in God’s world could be until I met these men. I knew they were going to hang someone, many even many, but I did not think it would be the women and children. They are the only ones I can think of that the Italians would want to die instead of work. I did not know how right I was until the screaming started. All the women, all the young kids they took into that building were dying. It was the most horrific sound I ever heard and you can only imagine the horror in their voices as nearly one hundred people died together. I can do nothing but stand and weep for the lives, but I also know they are better off dead than here. Then I feel a hand grab my shoulder. It pushes me forward, through a sea of my brothers, towards the wooden gallow. I am frantic, but I have no energy to fight back. No wonder they are going to kill me, I can barely see, barely move, I am gasping for breath and weeping uncontrollably. I knew the train ride was leading me here, but I never thought so soon. And as my fear mounts walking towards my enemies, I remember the echoing screams and how I thought that those women were better off dead, and I need to think the same for myself. All I can do now is pray.

[1] Italy really broke a treaty within the League of Nations after accusing Ethiopians of breaking it first, which Ethiopia was also a part of, and could not be stopped because they were stronger than almost every other power (Zewde).

[2] The Italians first used mustard gas in Abyssinia in early 1935 but it was widely used during World War I as well (Trueman).

[3] The Italians had 500,000 soldiers while Ethiopia had 800,000 soldiers protecting it, but Italy had almost 800 tanks and almost 600 planes at their disposal, and Ethiopia had just four tanks and seven planes for the whole country (Second Italo-Ethiopian War).


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