A surprise attack

On 13th February 1936, the Gondrand Massacre took place close to the northern Ethiopian town of Mai Lahlà, which is now known as Rama. Ras Imru ordered Ethiopian soldiers to attack a camp of civilian labourers for the logistical firm Gondrand, which was at the time involved in road building, at daybreak.  About 15 muskets were present in the construction yard, and the workers also utilised their equipment for defence, but the Ethiopians' surprise attack completely outnumbered them.

The slaughter happened in close proximity to the Battle of Amba Aradam, which was fought from February 10 to February 19 in a region roughly 200 kilometres (120 miles) south of Mai Lahlà.

Victims of the massacre.



Of the 130 labourers present, 68 Italians were killed, 27 were injured, and four were missing. Two of these were later determined to have been taken prisoner. Of those who died, 17 had their remains castrated despite Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie's clear command not to do so. 

The attack claimed the lives of about 40 Ethiopian soldiers, most of whom perished when a gelignite storage burst. After the incident, Italian soldiers killed many civilians in Ethiopia in retaliatory murders that they carried out.

Bodies of the workers after the massacre.

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Complaint filed by the Italian government regarding the massacre of the construction site of the azenda Gondrand in Mai Lahlà.

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However, in this instance, the narrative was purposefully promoted for its propaganda effect in portraying Ethiopians as barbarous. Italian officials had normally directed journalists to refrain from discussing Italian losses during the war.

The Italians' justification for using gas against the Ethiopians was the murder of Italian pilot Tito Minniti and his copilot a few weeks before to this tragedy.

Ethiopia's Foreign Minister was compelled to acknowledge that it had occurred after seeing photographic proof that some of its soldiers had disobeyed a directive against dismembering corpses, but he maintained that it should be viewed as a form of protest against Italian atrocities.

Mai Lahla Cemetery on the 1st anniversary of the Gondrand massacre.

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