8 May, 1945
“Almost six years ago, on September the 1st in 1939, Hitler’s Germany attacked Poland. For many people in the world — perhaps for most — this fearful day was held as marking the beginning of the Second Great World War.
Later, with the wider perspective that the years of battle have afforded, many have come to realize what We in Ethiopia and Our Great Ally in the East had learned so bitterly, the war — this war — in all its true significance had started many years before.
We are celebrating today, the redemption of the world through the sacrifice of human life. We pray for the foundation of World Peace which may now be laid in all those lands whose people were victims of aggression.
And so, today, in a month already fraught with great significance for us and for our history in Ethiopia, We join in special gratitude, together with the representatives and members of the Nations of Our Allies, in solemn thanks before Almighty God — for Victory.
Germany is defeated. The vast horror and the tribulations of the war — which We foresaw — which We forewarned before the League of Nations — has ceased for Europe.
The subtle gradual moves by the Axis partners, piece by piece to swallow up the world, offer a fearful catalogue which We may well this day recall.
Following her attack upon Manchuria and different annexations, Japan was finally at war with China, in 1937.
In 1935 Italy attacked and invaded Our Empire. This was not strange. It was but the continuation of Italian aggression committed against Corfu, regarded by her as a glorious achievement In 1939 on Good Friday she invaded Albania.
In 1938 Hitler had annexed Austria only to move on to Czechoslovakia and in 1939 to parts of Lithuania. Despite all this, until the attack on Poland in September of that year, no general war was recognized by the world.
The attack on Poland brought the Governments of Britain and of France to her defence, but others hesitated, until with the great German offensive of 1940 more lands were overrun.
First Denmark, then Norway, fell. With the final attack on France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands were occupied.
Italy, seeking further glory, boastfully joined the conflict, an entry into war described by that great and lamented leader the late President Roosevelt as “stabbing in the back” — a description which will remain in history and human memory for ever. She invaded Greece in October 1940; but Greece, inspired by the tradition of her people’s courage and their independence, all but shattered Mussolini’s troops.
On the verge of defeat, Italy appealed for help and to rescued by her partner Germany, who took the opportunity to take in Yugoslavia on the way. In June 1941 German in contravention of her treaty, attacked the mighty Soviet Union. The satellites, Hungary, Roumania and Bulgaria thought it best to join the Axis Group. By December of that year the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour bringing the United States into the conflict.
Thus, in a few short months, when We were struggling for and as We gained Our freedom once again, the greater part of the world was drawn into the holocaust of war. Our effort was not only to regain our independence, but to attack the common enemies, the Fascists and the Nazis. We ordered that all Fascist troops captured by our Patriots in Ethiopia be handed over to our Ally. The war against the Fascist was our war. That war with all its unimaginable cost in human life and happiness and wealth is only now just drawing to its close.
The day of reckoning is now at hand for all those Quislings and war criminals to receive their due reward for all the misery, torture, imprisonment and massacre committed by themselves and through their orders against so many men and women, old and young.
The time has now come for such criminals as Badoglio and Graziani who washed their hands with the blood of men; who were pioneers of human destruction in Ethiopia.
Although no one of Us can yet rejoice in full, for still one formidable foe remains, We can with justice and with gratitude thank God that this great enemy — perhaps the greatest of Our common enemies — has now been brought to book. With this event Japan is doomed. The tyranny, which threatened all of Us and against which so many fought with such incomparable bravery, is stilled. Much of the tragedy and misery, death and destruction is at an end. For this We lay Our heart before Almighty God in all thankfulness.
Today, as We offer Our prayers in thankfulness, so do We offer Our prayers and remembrance now, and in the silence of Our service, for those heroic soldiers, sailors and airmen and for those civilians also, who from all nations of the Allies, have laid down their lives. We would offer too Our prayers and with Our prayers Our thoughts to those parents who have lost their sons and those widows and dependents who have been left with all the aftermath of sorrow and of difficulty.
Help Did Not Come
Ten years ago, when Mussolini’s Italy attacked Our Empire, the masses of the peoples of the world — even, We would hazard, most individual members of the League of Nations — were in the fullest sympathy with Us. Some there were who sought to do so. After Belgium and Czechoslovakia were overrun by Germany they were accused by Mussolini for helping Ethiopia by providing arms. But in the end, delay, discussions and considerations of the world prevailed. Help did not come. We speak now without bitterness about that time, We can appreciate that true idealism may have lain behind those policies, now indeed regretted by the world and now admitted as disastrous, of “Peace at any price” and of “appeasement.” Nevertheless, We pray that unity and that the strength behind the unity, which failed before, will never lack again among the Councils of the World. We also pray for wisdom to be granted to the Conference at San Francisco now discussing World Security and that it shall finally achieve results that shall be just to all the nations of the world. At this time the aggressor and the persecutor are receiving their reward. It is they who are being driven out, while those they had oppressed and persecuted can now begin to wipe away their tears. Distorted history is changed to truth. The light of justice dawns again.
Throughout the years of tribulation We have learned the need for unity. In those first fateful days in 1939, by no means all the nations who, together, have now gained this victory, were then convinced that each and all must hang together or must fall. When — almost too late — after the resistance of Great Britain following the epic of Dunkirk — hope had been brought once more into the world, the larger that spirit grew. The Governments and Empires of those countries who were overrun but not defeated, joined their lot with Britain. Symbolized in the inspiration of their great leader — President Roosevelt — so recently and so tragically dead, the people of the United States of America joined their spirit through Lease-Lend. The dastardly attacks upon the Soviet Union and upon Pearl Harbour finally crystallized the realization that this menace was world-wide.
After the treacherous attack on Pearl Harbour, the unlimited resources in men and in machinery, the unquenchable democratic faith of the Great United States of America were ranged against the Axis Powers. From then there was no faltering. Unity continued to build up the vast resource and potential of the Allies — the United Nations — who have now achieved this Victory in Germany; who will achieve that even greater Victory of peace within the world and realize the aims of those essential freedoms outlined in the Atlantic Charter.
Meaning Of Victory
Lastly, for a few moments, We would turn Our thoughts towards all this victory must signify to our own land — to Ethiopia. As we have said, the sorrows of Our land, the gas that fascists poured upon Our people and the massacres and tortures that the fascist leaders, symbolized by Graziani, practised on Our folk; these, to Our mind, are all part of this great war, whose end so rapidly approaches. As We, here celebrate the Allied Victory in Germany and pray for those who brought this victory about, also We may pray again in thankfulness that through their effort We, here, in this land, are saved.
Here too We may recall the first great allied Victory of this war. The Victory by which the soldiers of Great Britain and her Commonwealth, fighting together with Our patriots, brought freedom back to Ethiopia. But this alone could not ensure Our gain, because the battle was still close. By her resistance to the Italians in 1935 Ethiopia was first actively to oppose the forces of the Axis on the continent of Africa. For five years Ethiopian patriots maintained the fight to such effect that when the world war spread to Africa their forces of resistance were already marshalled. With the British they expelled the enemy from Ethiopia. One threat which menaced Egypt and the Sudan was ended. The victories in Africa two years ago made surety more sure.
After the defeat of the Italians We willingly contributed all available supplies and means of transport and communication to the War effort. To further the prosecution of the war We placed a large part of Our territory under military administration. We offered troops. By all means at her disposal Ethiopia, from the first, contributed reverse Lend-Lease.
When Italy surrendered — then was Our oppressor humbled. But still his friend remained, powerful in might, well supplied in all the machinery of war. The mighty Soviet Union opposed this enemy on land. All the resources of the arsenals of Unity were turned upon the Nazi foe. Battered from the East, bombed from the air, and finally invaded from the West this enemy, by God’s grace, now too, has gone. Only Japan remains — a hope forlorn — and We in Ethiopia with all of Our friends are saved.
Those who had attacked Us rejoiced in Our defeat and in Our tribulation. We trusted in the Lord. He gave Us Victory. Our Salvation is the Lord. Who here can fail to trust in God, whose judgments are all righteous and who fails not those who put their faith in Him. Has not the Lord, the mightier than mighty, once again revealed that under the Kingdom of Heaven no one Government of man is greater than another.
We do not forget that though the battle in the West is won, the battle in the East continues. We offer Our tribute of admiration for the amazing feats of arms that Our Allies are performing in that area. May they achieve an early victory. There is no need for renewal of Our offer to send troops to fight against the common enemy side by side in battle with the forces of Our Allies. Though Our country Ethiopia is now far from the scene of battle, Our thoughts are there. All help which may be asked of Us, even the lives of Our people, will be given willingly. We do not believe that distance need prevent Our land from giving assistance in the common cause.
May it be taken as Divine significance, that, as We mark the passing of the Nazi Reich, in America at San Francisco, delegates from all United Nations, among whose number Ethiopia stands, are now met together for their long-planned conference to lay foundations for an international pact to banish war and to maintain World Peace. Our Churches pray for the successful triumph of this conference. Without success in this, the Victory, We celebrate today, the suffering that We have all endured will be of no avail.
To win the War; to overcome the enemy upon the fields cannot alone ensure the Victory in Peace. The cause of War must be removed. Each Nation’s rights must be secure from violation. Above all, from the human mind must be erased all thoughts of War as a solution. Then and then only will War cease.
May God grant Us his every aid to speed the final Peace and keep it.”
His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I