765.84/71: Telegram

The Chargé in Ethiopia (George) to the Secretary of State

23. My telegrams Nos. 21 and 22.18 Utmost secrecy has been observed here regarding occurrences, this being only fully informed [Page 768] Legation except British and Italian. My information originally private Ethiopian governmental source but am unofficially kept informed by Foreign Office and Italian Legation. Government only issued press release 10th appearing Associated Press yesterday. Release handed to local Havas agent returned yesterday on ground that prejudicial to success of Laval’s19 forthcoming mission to Rome. Ethiopian release states that Ethiopian escort was attacked by Italians December 5th resulting in important casualties and that formal protest and demand for arbitration under the Treaty of 1928 deposited with the Italian Chargé d’Affaires 7th.

Latest Italian release states telegrams from Addis Ababa regarding attack on “Italian post at Walwal Italian Somalia” absolutely false and that (1) Italian post unexpectedly attacked by thousand armed Ethiopians repulsed with machine guns artillery (2) protest and demand for reparations deposited with Ethiopian Foreign Office.

Italian Legation yesterday deposited note stating there can be no doubt Walwal and Wardere in Italian territory and this will “be demonstrated later if necessary”, therefore Italian commanding officer’s conduct absolutely correct and satisfaction demanded as follows: (1) governor of Harrar to proceed to Walwal, present excuses, render honors Italian flag; (2) payment for Italian killed and wounded and damage done forts and expenses incurred by Colonial Government; (3) Ethiopian commanding officers to be arrested, rated, [?] sent to Walwal with Governor of Harrar and thereafter punished; (4) surrender of a certain Italian criminal refugee in Ethiopia.

At least 200 Ethiopians reported killed which information withheld here to prevent, I am told, mob attacks on foreign missions. Italian demands considered quite impossible. Ethiopian Government expected to delay two or three days and then refuse. Department is reminded Governor of Harrar is Emperor’s son. Although informed British source British mediation offered some days ago Italian Legation knows nothing about it and Foreign Minister says not officially offered. In any case mediation present impasse would appear extremely difficult.

In view of threatening situation additional cable allotment one thousand dollars is requested.

  1. No. 22 not printed.
  2. Pierre Laval, French Premier (President of the Council of Ministers).