Debre Libanos 1937. Il più grave crimine di guerra dell'Italia

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Debre Libanos 1937. The most serious war crime in Italy

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Between May 20 and 29, 1937, the worst Christian massacre ever occurred in Africa took place in Ethiopia: in the monastic village of Debre Libanos, the most famous and popular shrine of Ethiopian Christianity, about 2000 monks were killed and pilgrims, considered 'conniving' with the attack immediately, on February 19, by the viceroy Rodolfo Graziani. It was a planned and implemented massacre with a careful strategy to cause the maximum number of victims, far exceeding the logic of a strictly military operation. It represented the culmination of a wide-ranging repressive action, aimed at crushing the Ethiopian resistance and in particular striking the heart of the Christian tradition for its historic link with the imperial power of the negus. The massacre, carried out in isolated places far from sight, was followed by collateral damage, such as the theft of sacred goods, never found, and the deportations of hundreds of 'survivors' in concentration camps or in Italian locations, while the Ethiopian Church underwent total subjugation to the colonial regime. The fury with which the execution was conducted found ground in a propaganda (both political and 'religious') that went beyond the exaltation of the conquest, up to the contempt that began to circulate in the fascist and ecclesiastical colonial circles towards the Christians and of the Ethiopian clergy, with heavy judgments on their reputation as 'heretics', schismatics. In short, there was no barrier to actions that went beyond the objective of submission, legitimized by a policy increasingly oriented in a racist sense. Those responsible for that tragic event were never tried and no trace of it remained in the Italian historical memory. After eighty years, the story reappears with precise and unmistakable contours that demand to be known in all their historical implications.
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Debre Libanos 1937. The most serious war crime in Italy
Original languageItalian
Number of pages253
ISBN (Print)978-88-581-3963-9
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Debre
  • Ethiopia
  • Etiopia
  • Italia
  • Italy


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