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OT: Postwar Atrocity in Mogadishu


Staff member
Posted 30 January 2004 - 02:57 PM by Gian

From today's issue of Giornale di Brescia - http://www.giornaledibrescia.it
I thought it might be of interest.

The ancient Mogadishu atrocity.
On January 11 1948, at 11 o'clock, one of the worst slaughters in our colonial history was perpetrated in Mogadishu, Somaliland. It claimed the lives of 54 Italians, a real "pogrom" which took place almost three years after the end of the Second World War. Helpless men, women, children were massacred without mercy: caught in the streets, hunted down while coming out of church, chased into their very houses, they had no way out and everything happened under the eyes of the conniving British Military Police. Why did this atrocity take place? If the material executors were gangs of bribed Somali youth coming from regions far off from Mogadishu, the organization of the massacre was an initiative of the British military authority in the persons of Lt. Thorne and of the ferociously italophobic "security officer" Smith, inventor and director of the slaughter. All this looks obvious and irrefutable in reading the Flaxman report, which was compiled by the British governement immediately after those criminal facts but only published in 1990. It is fair to underline that in no case there was an "input" from the British governement which, instead, after the atrocity found itself managing a thorny problem of international image, above all in a difficult moment coping with the Palestinian question. Once the likelihood of a direct British intervention was left out, the initiative remained in the hands of some "political officers" grown up in the old British imperialistic climate, who made the mistake to think that Italy's defeat opened up the perspective to annex the territories of the former Italian colony; moreover, with enormous echonomical advantages for themselves. Their policy became progressively anti-Italian and, trying to captivate the sympathies of locally interested tribes, they created the project of "Great Somaliland": it was an enormous failure because this plan, instead of joining together, emphasized the ethnical rivalries and the people of the former Italian Somaliland smelled a rat and expressed their pro-Italian feelings with large popular demonstrations. There was a blaze of Italian flags still bearing the Savoy coat of arms, and the crowd - obviously not well informed on the outcome of the war - rhytmically chanted the old slogan: "Viva il Duce e viva il Re!" ("Up with the Duce and the King!"). This happened under the balconies of the Southern Cross Hotel, accommodation of a UN commission charged with sounding the feeling of the Somali people. So great was the frustration of the political officers that, in a fit of enraged reaction, cynically planned the massacre of the Italians, trying to pass off the butchery as the unavoidable reaction of the Somali people to fascist imperialism. But the attempt miserably failed because the UN commission itself ascertained the plain truth: the great majority of the Somali was pro-Italian and the instigators were the "political officers" which, directly taking part to the massacre, were stained with horrendous crimes towards Italian citizens. Their sacrifice was not vain. The commission wrote a report favorable to the Italians and the United Nations, acknowledging the merits of the colonial era, committed to italy the administration mandate for 10 years from 1950 to 1960. Even if many years have gone by, this massacre deserves being at least commemorated. The defeated Italy was not able to, now it is duty of Christian mercy. I take the opportunity to remember the Mogadishu Roman Catholic bishop, Mons. Filippini (from Brescia) who, on that ill-omened day saved many Italians by sheltering them into the cathedral turned into a fortress, and to make a particular mention to the work of Sister Paola Pietta della Consolata who in that period did her outmost to help and confort the victims' relatives. This noble religious figure ended her earthly days on 21 november 2000, aged 86, in the home of the Consolata in Boario Terme.