On May 05, 1941 Emperor Haile Selassie returns triumphantly to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, five years to the day of when it was occupied by Italy.
Fascist leader Benito Mussolini had been wanting to add Ethiopia to Italian Somaliland since the 1920’s. His goal was to add 10 million Italians to a unified East Africa. Both Italy and Ethiopia were members of the League of Nations, when Italy attacked on October 3, 1935. Emperor Selassie formally protested before the League Council, but to no avail except for mild sanctions levied against Italy. This was for fear that a more extensive embargo would lead to war and Italy simply getting its oil and supplies from the United States, which was not a signatory to League agreements.
Britain and France, both fearing a general war, proposed secret negotiations with Italy, wherein Italy would be offered territory in Ethiopia’s northeast and in exchange for a cessation of Mussolini’s aggression. Ethiopia was to be informed of this negotiation after the fact in case Selassie would reject the terms and would give the impression that France and Britain had made a “good faith” effort at peace. They could then oppose further sanctions against Italy, even propose that the ones in place be removed, thereby sparing themselves a confrontation with Mussolini. But the plans for the secret negotiation were leaked to the press, and both Britain and France were humiliated publicly for selling out a League partner.