DescriptionHistoric Benito Mussolini Autograph Speech Draft, four pages, 9" x 11", separate sheets. Dated in pencil in unknown hand in upper right of first page, "2 ottobre 1935 - XIII." Pages 2, 3, and 4 are numbered at the top by Mussolini. Italy's attempt to establish a protectorate over Ethiopia culminated in a war between Italy and Ethiopia in 1895-1896, won by Ethiopia. With colonies in neighboring Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, Mussolini signed the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of Friendship in 1928, declaring a 20-year friendship between the two nations. There were numerous border clashes in the ensuing years between Ethiopia and its Italian colonial neighbors. In 1935, the League of Nations and England and France tried unsuccessfully to achieve a diplomatic solution. They failed because Mussolini wanted war. He sent Italian troops to Eritrea and Italian Somaliland in preparation for an invasion. On October 2, 1935, Mussolini spoke to the Italian people, justifying an invasion of Ethiopia. The following day, Mussolini's army in Eritrea invaded Ethiopia. This is a draft of his speech in his own hand. It is not translated from the Italian.
Following is a translation of his speech as delivered on October 2, 1935: "Black Shirts of the revolution! Men and women of all Italy! Italians spread throughout the world, beyond the mountains and beyond the seas! Hear me! A solemn hour is about to sound in the history of the fatherland. At this moment twenty million men occupy the public squares of all Italy. Never in the history of mankind has there been seen a more gigantic spectacle. Twenty million men, but one heart, one will, one decision. Their demonstration must and does show the world that Italy and Fascism constitute a perfect, absolute, and unalterable identity. For many months the wheels of destiny have been moving toward their goal under the impulse of our calm determination. In the latter hours their rhythm has become more swift and by now cannot be stopped. It is not only an army that strives toward its objectives but a whole people of 44 million souls against whom an attempt is being made to consummate the blackest of injustices that of depriving us of some small place in the sun.When in 1915 Italy exposed itself to the risks of war and joined its destiny with that of the Allies, how much praise there was for our courage and how many promises were made! But after the common victory to which Italy had made the supreme contribution of 670,000 dead, 400,000 mutilated, and a million wounded, around the hateful peace table Italy received but a few crumbs from the rich colonial booty gathered by others. We have been patient for thirteen years, during which the circle of selfishness that strangles our vitality has become ever tighter. With Ethiopia we have been patient for forty years! It is time to say enough! In the League of Nations there is talk of sanctions instead of recognition of our rights. Until there is proof to the contrary, I shall refuse to believe that the real and generous people of France can support sanctions against Italy. Similarly, I refuse to believe that the real people of Great Britain, who have never had discords with Italy, are prepared to run the risk of hurling Europe along the road to catastrophe for the sake of defending an African country universally branded as a country without the slightest shadow of civilization.We shall face economic sanctions with our discipline, our sobriety, and our spirit of sacrifice. Against military sanctions we shall reply with military measures.To acts of war we shall reply with acts of war. Let no one think that he can make us yield without a hard struggle. A people jealous of its honor can use no other language nor can it adopt a different attitude. But let it be said once more and in the most categorical manner - and at this moment I make before you a sacred pledge - that we shall do all that is possible to prevent this conflict of a colonial character from assuming the nature and scope of a European conflict. That might be desired by those who seek in a new war to avenge their fallen temples, but not by us. Never before as in this historical epoch has the Italian people revealed the quality of its spirit and the power of its character. And it is against this people to whom humanity owes some of its greatest conquests and it is against this people of poets, of artists, of heroes, of saints, of navigators, of emigrants, it is against this people that one dares speak of sanctions. Italy, proletarian and fascist, Italy of Vittorio Veneto and of the Revolution, arise! Let the cry of your decision fill the heavens; let it be a comfort the soldiers who wait in Africa, a spur to friends, and a warning to enemies in every part of the world: a cry of justice, a cry of victory."
Mussolini begins this draft with: "Black Shirts of all Italy! Italians beyond the Alps and beyond the seas!" In his speech, it became: "Black Shirts of the revolution! Men and women of all Italy! Italians spread throughout the world, beyond the mountains and beyond the seas!" Phrases in this draft found its way into Mussolini's speech, not always in the exact words. Among others, the draft refers to these portions of the following passages in the speech: "a whole people of 44 million souls against whom an attempt is being made to consummate the blackest of injustices...When in 1915 Italy exposed itself to the risks of war and joined its destiny with that of the Allies, how much praise there was for our courage and how many promises were made!... We have been patient for 13 years, during which the circle of selfishness that strangles our vitality has become ever tighter. With Ethiopia we have been patient for 40 years!...I shall refuse to believe that the real and generous people of France can support sanctions." Italian troops captured the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa the following spring and on May 9, 1936, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy was proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia.
Approximately a 2.25" x 2.5" portion of the upper left corner of each page has been cut off. On three of the pages, part of what may have been a letterhead is visible, so, most probably, very little, if any of Mussolini's handwriting is missing. The edges of each page are chipped and there are creases. Overall, the draft is in very good condition. The importance of this document in world history cannot be disputed. Rarely does a draft of an historical speech come on the market, much less one given by a country's leader justifying an invasion which would take place the next day!.
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