1st Edition

Debre Libanos 1937 The Most Serious War Crime Suffered by Ethiopia

By Paolo Borruso Copyright 2023
    194 Pages
    by Routledge

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    This volume calls attention to the worst massacre of Christians that has occurred on the African continent, a 1937 attack on the monastic village of Debre Libanos that has previously been hidden from public knowledge.

    Between 20 and 29 May 1937, about 2000 monks and pilgrims, considered "conniving" in the attack on the fascist Italian viceroy Rodolfo Graziani, were killed in Ethiopia. The attack on Debre Libanos, the most famous sanctuary of Ethiopian Christianity, far exceeded the logic of a strictly military operation. It represented the apex of wide-ranging repressive action, aimed at crushing the Ethiopian resistance and striking at the heart of the Christian tradition for its historical link with the imperial power of the Negus. Although known to scholars, the episode was totally removed from national historical memory.

    Now available in English, this book’s analysis of the events culminating in the massacre, including the cover-up afterward, is a necessary record for scholars of European colonialism, Christian history, and colonial Africa.

    Introduction  1. Ethiopia Under Siege  2. Massacre at Debre Libanos  3. Survivors  4. The Cover-Up  Epilogue: Hardships of Remembrance


    Paolo Borruso is professor of contemporary history at the Catholic University of Milan. A scholar of contemporary Africa, he has dealt with Italian and European colonialism, Catholic missions, Ethiopia in the twentieth century, and the processes of independence and crisis in postcolonial Africa. Among his publications: L’ultimo impero cristiano. Politica e religione nell’Etiopia contemporanea (1916-74), 2002; L’Africa al confino. La deportazione etiopica in Italia (1937-39), 2003; Il PCI e l’Africa indipendente. Apogeo e crisi di un’utopia socialista (1956-1989), 2009; L’Italia in Africa. Le nuove strategie di una politica postcoloniale (a cura di), 2015; Debre Libanos 1937. Il più grave crimine di guerra dell’Italia, 2020.