Four years before the start of the Second World War, Italy invaded Ethiopia on 3 October 1935 under the orders of the then Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. They had much more advanced weaponry than Ethiopians and attacked on ground and from air. They soon seized several Ethiopian towns across the northern part of the country despite stiff resistance by the Ethiopian army. Supported by hundreds of planes, cannons and different types of weapons, the Italian army swept across Ethiopia committing untold war crimes. The Italians took control of the capital, Addis Ababa, on 5 May 1935 and Emperor Haileselassie left Ethiopia for Switzerland to ask for international help to oust Italy from Ethiopia at the League of Nations in Geneva. He was officially in exile. In response to the Emperor's appeals, the League of Nations voted to impose economic sanctions on the aggressor. Yet the sanctions remained fruitless because of staggering indifference on the part of the Western powers.
In Rome, Mussolini proclaimed Italy 's king Victor Emmanuel III emperor of Ethiopia and appointed Badoglio to rule as viceroy. Mussolini was quoted as saying in 1936 that ‘Ethiopia is Italian'. Across Ethiopia, vigorous resistance continued and an attempt to kill the ruthless Italian general, Rodolfo Graziani, was made in Addis Ababa. In reprisal, the Fascists carried out three days of massacre in the capital in which hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians were shot dead, beheaded or disembowelled. The internationally banned mustard gas was used against civilian Ethiopians and thousands of women and children were gassed to death. Houses were set alight and all types of fascist brutality used.
Despite the unprecedented number of death tolls suffered by Ethiopians, the massacre and its brutal nature failed to have an intimidating effect. Instead it backfired on the Fascists as it served only to strengthen the resolve of the Ethiopian people. Soon, a patriotic movement was organized to reinforce the resistance all over Ethiopia. The resistance gathered momentum and the Italians couldn't succeed in conquering the whole country.
Ethiopian patriots received some help from Britain in 1940 and Italian forces were badly weakened. The British, who had a stake in East Africa, made the decision to help Ethiopia after Italy declared war against Britain. The Ethiopian patriots then liberated Addis Ababa on 6 May 1941 and this victory officially ended Italian occupation. Fascist Italy's attempts to colonize Ethiopia came to an abrupt end on this day. Emperor Haileselassie returned to Addis Ababa on 5 May 1941. This particular victory was realized as a result of the world-famous swift resistance by Ethiopian patriots. The victory was realized on 6 April 1941 and Ethiopians have been commemorating this day ever since.
In 1996, Italy admitted to have killed 275,000 Ethiopians during its unsuccessful attempt to colonize Ethiopia. It was Italy 's second humiliating defeat by Ethiopia . The first invasion of Ethiopia by the Italians was in 1895 and they were defeated at Adwa the following year.