Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
After making himself absolute dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini embarked on a foreign policy of aggressive nationalism seeking to make Italy a great empire. His successful war against Ethiopia was condemned by Britain and other members of the League of Nations, however, driving Mussolini into the arms of Nazi Germany. Mussolini then joined Hitler in sending troops to fight in the Spanish Civil War in 1936, and eventually teamed with him against the Allies in World War II. Two excerpts from The Post of Oct. 22, 1935:
Copyright, 1935 by the Associated Press.
Mogadiscio, Italian Somaliland, Sunday, Oct. 20 (delayed) --
Italy's southern army, storming a fortified enemy stronghold, was reported officially today to have wiped out Ethiopian forces in a fierce battle last Friday at Dagnerrei, in the Sciaveli region near the Webbe Shibeli River.
(An official communique at Rome said the Ethiopians left 50 dead, "very many wounded" and scores of prisoners, while the Italian losses were given as 14 dead and 40 wounded.)
The Fascist forces of Gen. Rudolfo Graziani captured two cannon, numerous rifles, machine guns, armored cars and many prisoners.
Five Italian airplanes participating in the battle were struck by anti-aircraft fire. The pilots, however, were not wounded.
Military authorities said the victory was of the greatest political importance to Italy.
Giving a graphic description of the battle of Dagnerrei, an official announced in Rome the victory meant "all the Sciaveli region is under our control."
The communique attributed to Gen. Graziani gave the following account of the fighting:
"During the day of October 18, ten Italian Somaliland military airplanes bombed for an hour the Ethiopian fortress of Dagnerrei in the Somaliland region of Sciaveli on the Webbe Shibeli River.
"The fortress was being prepared for an attack on our lives. ...
"Participating in the action with our `Dubats` were the armed forces of Sultan Olol-Dinle, chief of the Sciaveli region, who formerly was a dependent of the Ethiopian government and now has come over to our side. He asked to participate in the fighting to give proof of his loyalty."
Copyright, 1935, by the United Press.
Rome, Oct. 21. --
Premier Benito Mussolini is ready to open negotiations for a "fundamental settlement" of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute, according to a belief in trustworthy quarters tonight.
However, it was emphasized there is no chance of inducing Il Duce to discuss terms until Britain reduces its Mediterranean fleet concentrations and ceases its aggressive leadership at Geneva.
One source reported Il Duce was ready to conciliate on this basis:
Removal of the British fleet.
Postponement of League economic sanctions.
Italy be allowed to "consolidate" the territory it has already conquered.
It was believed the third condition meant Italy expects to be in control of all non-Amharic sections of Ethiopia (the lowlands) by the time discussions open.
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