Every 5 May is a national public holiday called “Ethiopian Patriots’ Victory Day”. The holiday commemorates the brave resistance of Ethiopia’s people against the Italian invasion of the 1930’s and, more specifically, the victory in Addis Ababa in 1941 that led to Ethiopia’s independence.
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Beginning in 1935, Mussolini’s Italian armies invaded Ethiopia in direct violation of the wishes of the League of Nations. The technological edge in weaponry possessed by the Italians led to a quick conquest at first. First, northern Ethiopia fell. Then, by 1936, the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa was taken.
With the country mostly under Italian control, repressive measures were instituted against all local resistance. Over 275,000 people were butchered, including women and children. Some were disembowelled or killed in gas chambers.
But in 1941, fortunes began to turn. The Ethiopian resistance never gave up during the five long years of occupation. Then, Emperor Haile Selassie returned to lead his people and help arrived from the British. A strong Ethiopian army was raised up, and a surprise attack was made on Addis Ababa. By 6 May, 1941, the capital was retaken and independence was re-won.