765.84/5189: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Ethiopia ( Engert ) to the Secretary of State

51. Supplementing my 49, February 21, 9 a.m., I report as follows:

The mother of one of our servants was shot through the head and her body was brought to the Legation by Italian soldiers without explanation. She appears to have been killed as she was running out of her burning hut. The mother of another is missing and although I personally accompanied her daughter on search we failed to find her. Her son is missing, too.
One of our messengers was on his way home when he was savagely attacked by Italian soldiers who knocked him down and beat him with clubs and tore his coat. His back and shoulders show severe contusions. He wore the Legation’s uniform whose belt has a brass plate with “American Legation Addis Ababa” in large letters to which he [Page 683] pointed when he was attacked. He also had identification paper issued by the Italian authorities to all Legation servants. However, soldiers paid no attention to either and shot three other natives in his presence.
Italian authorities finally sent one white soldier and one Askari to guard front gate of the Legation at 8 o’clock last night. They would of course have been entirely useless in a serious emergency but they informed me that orders have been issued to the Black Shirts not to burn any more houses. None were in fact burnt in our immediate neighborhood but further away several big blazes were clearly visible and the shooting continued for several hours during the first half of the night.
Chief interpreter of the British Legation, an Ethiopian subject, was arrested and has so far not been released. Likewise some 50 British subjects mostly Arabs and Indians.
Thirty-eight native servants of the French Legation who had been forcibly removed from its compound on Friday have not yet returned.
It is conservatively estimated that at least 3,000 harmless natives have been killed in and near Addis Ababa during the last 3 days and that 2,000 houses have been destroyed. Moreover thousands of trees which this treeless region could ill afford to lose have perished in the flames.