For the past forty-five years, there has been a vicious and a coordinated campaign by the brutal Derg government followed up by EPRDF despots to besmirch the legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie. Their main contention is primarily centered on Selassie’s decision to take the plight of Ethiopians to the world by leaving the nation during a time of war.

Instead of presenting this act as one of sound strategy that prevented the king from being captured or killed, which would have effectively ended the Ethiopian resistance to Italian fascist invaders, the story is twisted out of recognition in order to portray Selassie in an unfavorable light.

In order to correct the record, Demisse Hailemariam, who was a war hero from the Italian-Ethiopian war, was interviewed in Nazareth (Adama) in 2013. Ato Demisse was 96 years old at the time of this interview. Ato Demisse, dressed in his British issued WWII uniform, meticulously details the events surrounding the lead up and after effects of Haile Selassie’s decision to go abroad in 1936. Ato Demisse was a soldier and an interpreter in the Queen African Rifle company that helped to liberate Ethiopia from the southern flank. His commander was General Allan Cunningham of the 20th battalion of the British Army.

In this interview below, Ato Demisse recounts the reason for Selassie’s travels to the League of Nations to plead the cause on behalf of Ethiopia and his ultimate decision to become a king in exile. Hardliners who deposed Selassie and autocrats who came after them fabricate a story line that blames the King for abandoning the war effort and running to Europe to save his skin. This interview exposes this lie that has been used to malign not only Haile Selassie’s legacy but the legacy of the Ethiopian monarchy as a whole.  

Emperor Haile Selassie was sent to Europe for three reasons:

  1. seek political support from the League of Nations and warn the world of an impending storm
  2. pursue medical assistance for Ethiopians who were being incinerated by Italy’s chemical weapons
  3. find means to arm the resistance in Ethiopia so that arbegnoch could continue to put up a fight against a vastly superior Italian military

Ato Demisse also talks about brave Eritreans who fought and died for Ethiopia fighting against Italians. Ato Demise also give us his opinion of Menegestu Neway and Germame Neway who attempted a failed coup on December 16,1960, both whom he knew personally. This is a fascinating interview that helps to give a proper perspective into the turbulent era of war and the hard decisions that had to be made in order to save Ethiopia and bring her back from destruction. We plan on highlighting these types of videos every Friday going forward. This is our history, let us own it so that others don’t own us with their false narratives.