Desktop versionMobile version
OpenEdition Books

The First World War from Tripoli to Addis Ababa (1911-1924)

 | 
Shiferaw Bekele
, 
Uoldelul Chelati Dirar
, 
Alessandro Volterra
, 
et al.

International and Regional Politics/Developments

Ethiopia, International Law and the First World War. Considerations of Neutrality and Foreign Policy by the European Powers, 1840-1919

Jakob Zollmann

Abstract

This article begins by tracing Ethiopia’s recognition as a member of the “family of nations,” the community of (Western) states in international law. It then analyses Ethiopia’s position under international law during the First World War, when the ruling elite decided not to join the war on either side. A number of sources, however, suggest that conflicting parties within the Ethiopian elite were divided on whether to take part in the war or not. While one side considered the war as a means to gain access to the Red Sea, others, with the fall of the Crown Prince Lij Iyasu, wished to support the Allies in their struggle against the Ottoman rule in the area. When a small group of Germans left Addis Ababa and attempted to break the Allied blockade of the Red Sea, the Allied consuls charged Ethiopia with a violation of neutrality. Nevertheless, considering the sources on the international law of neutrality, such violation did not take place.

Full text

Introduction

  • 1 On these “well-worn paths” and their critics, cf. Fassbender and Peters 2012, 1, 10.
  • 2 Schwarz 1937, 1.

1If the history of international law is often told as the history of an Ius Gentium Europaeum,1 the role of Ethiopia within this history remains something of a conundrum. In 1937, following the Italian occupation and at Ethiopia’s weakest moment in its modern history, a German lawyer argued: “like all African peoples the peoples of Abyssinia have always been considered by the European powers predominantly as objects of colonization and not as subjects of international law.”2 This interpretation, however, follows an ahistorical after-the-fact perspective. Previous decades and centuries give a different impression. Just like in the case of China, Persia, or Japan, both European scholars, and their monarchs and other politicians acknowledged the statehood of the Ethiopian empire throughout the early modern period; an empire ruled by a Christian Emperor who was advised by a literate clergy, possessed an army able to defend his territory, and taxed his subjects.

  • 3 Cf. however Smidt and Elliesie 2014 and the respective articles in the EAE on boundaries.
  • 4 The same can be said about Ethiopian-Ottoman relations, cf. Scholler 2008b, 28 referring to a lette (...)

2The Encyclopaedia Aethiopica [EAE] does not have a specific entry for “international law,”3 nor does the Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law mention “Ethiopia.” However, many other entries prove that relations between Africa (and more specifically Ethiopia) and individual European powers used to take the form of legal arrangements and thus contributed to material international law.4 A more thorough understanding of this legal history can better explain the conduct of the parties implicated in the struggles to involve Ethiopia in the World War or to keep it out of that conflict.

3The first part of this work will provide an overview of Ethiopia’s (disputed) path into the community of sovereign states. The second part questions how relevant cultural factors, most of all a common Christian heritage, were for the recognition of an African state by European politicians and scholars. Based on this background, the following three parts lay out the considerations of European powers relating to the position of Ethiopia under international law and the resulting actions undertaken during World War I, in particular the question of an alleged “violation of neutrality.”

Ethiopia and the Ius Gentium Europaeum: an Overview

  • 5 Benmelech 2016, 198.
  • 6 Gathii 2012, 411.
  • 7 Gill 1959, 18, 322-327; Sieben 1996, 280-289; Salvadore 2017.
  • 8 Hammerschmidt 1967, 58-62; Taddesse Tamrat 1972.
  • 9 Gonçalves 2005; Broadhead 1979, 615-650.
  • 10 Caraman 1985.

4It is said that in 1306, the first Ethiopian envoy reached Rome, demonstrating “interest and mutual awareness… and the reciprocal desire to forge ties,” as historian Moti Benmelech has recently argued.5 There are multiple other examples that “offer evidence of the presence of ‘internationality’ or contact between [Ethiopia] and Europe.”6 The Ethiopian clergy participated in the theological discussions between the Orthodox and the Catholic hierarchies about a reunification of the church following the Council of Florence (1438-1439).7 Following the Portuguese circumvention of Africa and their reaching of the Red Sea, contact between seafarers (and subsequently Portuguese kings) and Ethiopian rulers opened an era of interstate cooperation and conflict that lasted from the 15th century until the Portuguese, mainly Jesuit missionaries, were expelled in 1632. In 1488, the first Ethiopian envoy reached Lisbon; in 1514 and 1520 the Portuguese government sent embassies to Ethiopia. During these years, and following formal requests from Ethiopian Emperors demanding an alliance, Portuguese troops successfully supported the Ethiopians against intruders from the Arab peninsula under Aḥmad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Ġāzī (1506-1543).8 However, the Portuguese never gained the dominance in Ethiopia they would in subsequent centuries secure over the Catholic Kingdom of Kongo, which was steadily reduced from the status of ally to the one of vassal.9 Sovereignty over Ethiopia remained with the Negusä Nägäst, even though questions related to the succession to the throne and the exact extension of the empire were not conclusively defined.10

  • 11 Abir 1980; Donzel 1979; Pankhurst 1977, 273-345.
  • 12 Ullendorff and Beckingham 1964, 187-199; Smidt and Elliesie 2014, 539.

5The latter aspect did not bring Ethiopian politics into conflict with neighbouring African polities alone; the Arab and then the Turkish expansions across the Red Sea and southwards beyond the Nubian Desert caused continual disputes over territories due to claims of competing empires.11 With the arrival of future European empire builders in East Africa, another layer of complexity was added. In 1841, the first British Treaty of Friendship and Commerce was concluded with a ruler of present-day Ethiopia, Negus Śahlä Səllase of Šäwa.12

  • 13 Zuurmond 2003, 626.
  • 14 Parfitt 2011, 850.
  • 15 Girma-Selassie Asfaw and Appleyard 1979, xi.
  • 16 Rubenson 1966a; Bates 1979; Arnauld 1992; Matthies 2012.

6The increasing activities of European missionaries in East Africa also led to direct contact between Ethiopian and European authorities, some of which gave rise to conflict. The British and Foreign Bible Society provided “Bibles in several Ethiopian languages.”13 Since 1839, the Church Missionary Society of London aimed to work in non-Christian Oromo territory in southern Ethiopia. In the same year, Great Britain occupied the harbour of Aden in Yemen, which gained in importance following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. As Britain’s interest in the Horn of Africa increased, consuls were dispatched. Thus, in modern state practice, Ethiopia was “recognized [by European powers] as a state since at least the mid-nineteenth century.”14 Emperor Tewodros II (1855-1868), having “a vision of himself as a champion of Christendom and liberator of the holy city of Jerusalem,” tried in vain to win over the British as allies in his struggle against Egypt.15 Having been disappointed in the face of the British intransigence, he however arrested missionaries as well as the consul of Britain. The British government responded in 1868 with an expeditionary corps that conquered the capital of Tewodros, Mäqdäla. The British, having achieved their goal of retrieving the hostages, immediately retreated and did not even concern themselves with the succession to the throne.16

  • 17 National Archives of Ethiopia (NAE), Yohannes IV to Queen Victoria, Jun. 1875, <www.nale.gov.et, ac (...)
  • 18 Natsoulas and Wion 2005, 880; Marcus 1994, 82; cf. Natsoulas 1977; Smidt and Elliesie 2014, 539.

7In the following decades, Great Britain increasingly employed diplomatic channels when it came to its relations with Ethiopia (just as Greek commentators, who were well versed in Ethiopian affairs, had already advised them during the hostage crisis in 1868). Demosthenes Mitzakis was the Greek vice-consul in Suez and subsequently “the first diplomat sent by the Greek government to Ethiopia.” When Great Britain began to take over Egypt, which was nominally still under Ottoman rule, the questions of a peace treaty between Ethiopia and Egypt as well as the delimitation of spheres of influences arose (in 1875 Emperor Yohannes IV had complained to Queen Victoria about the invasion of Ismā’īl Pasha).17 Acting on behalf of the Ethiopians, Mitzakis negotiated with the British. On other occasions, he acted as a mediator between the two parties concluding the Treaty of Adwa (also called Hewett Treaty, 3 June 1884). It was here that future Emperor Menelik II signed his first international treaty.18

  • 19 Smidt 2003, 616.
  • 20 Royal Geographical Society 1889, 677.
  • 21 Erlich 1986; Erlich 1982.
  • 22 Marx 2004, 69.
  • 23 Menelik to French President Carnot, 21 Apr. 1891, Caulk 2002, 269.

8With Britain as a new imperial neighbour along its northern and western borders, Ethiopia soon came to be faced with yet another imperial claim. In 1884, almost at the same time as the occupation of Tunis, the French established a protectorate over the territories of the Gulf of Tadjourah (Côte française des Somalis, future Djibouti). However, the Franco-Ethiopian convention establishing a common border was only signed in March 1897.19 Due to the ongoing “scramble for Africa,” the government of Italy was concerned about French and British advances in East Africa, as they seemed to permanently exclude Italy from any expansion. They were thus eager to secure not only the southwestern coast of the Red Sea (Eritrea), but also the Ethiopian highlands; regardless of the fact that other European nations had already concluded treaties with Ethiopia, which at least implied the recognition of this state. For the Italians, in the age of European imperialism, African sovereignty seemed to be a sort of relic of an ancient past. Some contemporary academics also supported this notion. In 1889 the economist and historian Émile Levasseur, not exactly a specialist on Eastern African affairs, was quoted arguing that “Abyssinia [whose population he estimated “at 4½ millions”] is neither a state nor a precise region.”20 Menelik II, on the other hand, who had signed the Hewett Treaty with the British about their respective spheres of influence, was willing to come to terms with the Italians as well, and concluded the Treaty of Wuchale (Uccialli) on 2 May 1889.21 Considering these Ethio-European rapprochements and Menelik’s own expansionist agenda, historians speak of “Ethiopia’s success […] to have actively participated as the only African state in the partitioning of the continent.”22 In 1891, Menelik boldly announced to European rulers: “I have no intention at all to remain an indifferent spectator while distant powers take it upon themselves to divide Africa.”23

  • 24 Rubenson 1964a; Rubenson, 1964b; translation in Milkias and Getachew Metaferia 2005, 144.
  • 25 ‘[The] Languages of Diplomacy’, 2013. This issue provided the base for a dispute between Rubenson 1 (...)

9However, the history of the aftermath of the Treaty of Wuchale shows that neither African statehood nor Ethiopia’s participation in the scramble for Africa were a foregone conclusion. The treaty committed the parties to peace, friendship, and commerce, apparently based on equality and reciprocity. The language used was comparable to similar intra-European treaties. Article 2 established “diplomatic and consular exchanges between Ethiopia and Italy which shall operate with the immunities and privileges recognized in Europe.” Article 3 stipulated for the first time Italy’s “jurisdiction” or suzerainty over the coastal region (Eritrea), but it did not mention explicitly Italy’s recognition of Ethiopia’s sovereignty. Rather, the famous Article 17 included a provision that soon led to conflict.24 The Amharic and Italian versions of this article differed slightly, a fact that makes this treaty a prime example of poor legal workmanship due to linguistically overstrained councillors until today.25

  • 26 Alexandrowicz 1973.
  • 27 Elliesie 2008, 238; Caulk 2002, 376; Hammerschmidt 1967, 71.
  • 28 Marocheti to Blanc, 20 July 1894, Caulk 2002, 395.
  • 29 Schwarz 1937, 36 f.n. 36 on the status of Harär; Caulk 2002, 394; cf. Ravenstein 1894, 58.

10The Italian text stipulated that the Ethiopian emperor agreed to use the services (consente di servirsi) of the Italian government for all its foreign affairs. Menelik II would thus be obliged to rescind from any independent diplomatic initiative and refer all foreign requests to the government in Rome. The Amharic version of the text, on the other hand, employed a phrasing indisputably meaning that “the Emperor can” use the services of the Italian government; the Ethiopians hence being optionally able to communicate with third powers through the Italians. The Italian negotiator, Envoy Pietro Antonelli (1853-1901), had assumed that Menelik II would eventually accept the Italian understanding of the treaty according to which Ethiopia was now a protectorate of Italy with no independent foreign policy (similarly to the numerous other “treaties” concluded between “native chiefs” and colonial officials).26 He was blatantly mistaken. When describing the titles of the heads of state of both parties in the introductory part of the treaty (narratio) in Amharic, there was no doubt that the Italian Negus Umberto I was not of higher ranks than the Ethiopian Negusä Nägäst Menelik II. When Menelik learnt about the Italian interpretation of the treaty from his correspondence with other European monarchs, mostly Queen Victoria, he became irate. Ethiopia would not be turned into a sort of Italian Egypt put under the tutelage of a colonial power. In August 1890, he protested against the insinuation that Ethiopia had become an Italian protectorate to King Umberto and wrote again to European monarchs. After negotiations with the Italians failed, Menelik withdrew from the Treaty of Wuchale in February 1893 and, in line with diplomatic customs, informed European governments about his step.27 The Russian Foreign Minister Nikolay Giers rejected the subsequent Italian claim “that no African ruler might denounce a treaty cited in the notification of a protectorate” with the following explanation: “One ought to make a distinction in Menelik’s favour, the rulers of Ethiopia being powerful kings – one of whom even made war on Britain – who send and receive embassies, who are Christians, and with whom Russia has for long maintained relations.”28 In 1894, Menelik did not hesitate to protest against agreements between Italy and Britain that concerned territories such as Harär, which he considered to be under Ethiopian sovereignty.29

  • 30 Oppenheim 1905, 140. The conditions he defined for the “existence of a State” were people, country, (...)
  • 31 Milkias and Getachew Metaferia 2005.

11In early 1896, the Italians felt strong enough to compel the rebelling “protectorate” into the colonial order they assumed the Treaty of Wuchale had created. But the battle of Adwa of 1 March 1896 ended differently than expected: Emperor Menelik beat General Baratieri decisively, or as international law professor Lassa Oppenheim summarised it a few years later: “Abyssinia […] shook off the pretended Italian protectorate.” If Ethiopia’s statehood under ius gentium conditions had been questioned prior to this war, Menelik’s victory proved the “sovereignty” of Ethiopia as defined in contemporary European legal treatises: “Sovereignty is supreme authority, an authority which is independent of any other earthly authority.”30 The peace treaty of 26 October 1896 stipulated unmistakably the “absolute and unlimited independence of the Ethiopian empire as a sovereign and independent state” (Article 2) and annulled the Treaty of Wuchale. Nevertheless, Italy was given sovereignty over the coastal strip of Eritrea including territories that were previously ruled by Ethiopia.31

  • 32 Menelik to Queen Victoria, 31 Mar. 1896, in Caulk 2002, 587.
  • 33 Marcus 1966, 122.
  • 34 Bairu Tafla 1981, 128; cf. Franco-Ethiopian agreement of Jan. 29 and 30, 1897, DDF XIII, 147; [Brit (...)

12After 1896, having reminded the rulers of Europe that “Since the world existed, Ethiopia has always been independent” in writing as well,32 Menelik followed a “carefully constructed, non-committal foreign policy.” His goal was to strengthen his hard-won sovereignty and to use to Ethiopia’s advantage the competition of his three European neighbours that encircled him on all sides (as well as the Mahdi state in the Sudan until 1898).33 Given that Ethiopia bordered six different colonial territories of three European powers, establishing international agreements regarding the course of the borders was a main task of the Ethiopian officials dealing with foreign policy around 1900; irrespective of the fact that only a few stretches of these borders were demarcated before the World War. In addition, it was of equal importance for the maintenance of independence that these treaties stipulated the unhindered delivery of arms to Ethiopia.34

  • 35 President Fallieres promulgated a law extending consular jurisdiction to French citizens and protég (...)
  • 36 Smidt and Elliesie 2014, 541.
  • 37 Quoted in Anand 1987, 29.
  • 38 Export, 3 Nov. 1903, in Bahru Zewde 1990, 370 the quote continues: “is the region through which cul (...)

13Several European states and the United States now began considering Ethiopia a potential ally and a promising market for their products. Britain, France, Italy, Russia, Germany, and later Turkey, set up legations in the new capital Addis Ababa and extended their consular jurisdiction over Ethiopia.35 From now on, Ethiopia was indisputably on the map of international politics. Ethiopia had “entered into the international concert of states in a Western sense.”36 The victory over the Italians was its “billet d’entrée” into the group of “civilised nations,” where the “chief standard of civilization was, of course, power”. Or, as an often quoted Japanese diplomat put it cynically after his country’s victory over Russia in 1905: “We show ourselves at least your equal in scientific butchery, and at once we are admitted to your council tables as civilized men.”37 It is not without irony that, shortly before, a German columnist declared categorically that “Ethiopia [...is] destined to be the Japan of Africa.”38

  • 39 Marx 2004, 70, 127.
  • 40 Hailegabriel G. Feyissa 2016, 117.

14In the interpretation of the development of Ethiopia’s international standing after 1896, there are two diverging views. Historian Christoph Marx characterises the expansion under Menelik as “independent African imperialism, since Ethiopia was the only African country recognized by the Europeans – even though grudgingly – as an equal player in the partition of the continent.” In this way, it even rose to the status of a “colonial power.”39 Others, on the other hand, argue that even after Italy’s defeat the “Europeans continued to doubt the survival of Ethiopian independence.”40

  • 41 Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts, Berlin (PAAA) Addis Ababa 1, fol. 23, German Legation Addi (...)
  • 42 Bahru Zewde 1990, 365.
  • 43 Hailegabriel G. Feyissa 2016, 114.

15This latter view seems justified insofar as European observers of Ethiopian affairs began to demand changes in the Ethiopian administration and thus put “conditions” on the future of Ethiopian sovereignty. In June 1906 the British Minister in Addis Ababa, Sir Harrington, presented a memorandum to Emperor Menelik that argued bluntly: “L’Abyssinie ne peut maintenir son indépendance qu’à la seule condition qu’elle mette de l’ordre dans ses affaires intérieures.” He therefore called for the employment of European (legal) advisors in the Ethiopian administration and courts.41 Based on notions of “legal orientalism,” such steps were indeed undertaken after the World War. This was the beginning of what historians nowadays characterise as the creation of “semi-colonial” relations with, or even “semi-colonial control”42 of this African state.43

  • 44 Oppenheim 1905, 148.

16Doubts about the “international law position” of Ethiopia and its standing as a “civilised State” can also be found in contemporary teachings of international law. Lassa Oppenheim, certainly a leading authority in his time, expressed these doubts in his discussion on the “international position of non-Christian States besides Turkey and Japan.” Admitting that “Abyssinia […] is a Christian State,”44 he went on to explain in a rather convoluted manner:

  • 45 Ibid., 148, 3.

Their [the states China, Korea, Siam, Persia, Ethiopia] civilization is essentially so different from that of Christian States that international intercourse with them of the same kind as between Christian States has been hitherto impossible. And neither their governments nor their population are at the present [1905] able to fully understand the Law of Nations […]. There should be no doubt that these States are not International Persons of the same position within the Family of Nations as Christian States. But it is equally wrong to maintain that they are absolutely outside the Family of Nations […] since they send and receive diplomatic envoys and conclude international treaties, the opinion is justified that such States are International Persons only in some respects – namely, those in which they have expressly or tacitly been received into the Family of Nations [i.e. the community bound by European international law].45

17In “other parts,” Oppenheim maintained, these states

  • 46 Ibid., 148, 3.

are outside the circle of the Family of Nations, especially with regard to war […]. This condition of things will, however, not last very long. It may be expected that with the progress of civilization these states will become sooner or later International Persons in the full sense of the term.46

  • 47 Koskenniemi 2001, 70.
  • 48 Oppenheim 1905, 99.
  • 49 Ibid., 148; 99.

18This example of legal “othering” clearly shows that European international lawyers were “anything but averse to giving legal recognition to cultural differences between Europe and the rest of the world,” as legal historian Martti Koskenniemi underlines.47 With a specific focus on Ethiopia, this excerpt raises many additional questions, only a few of which may be discussed here in light of contemporary developments. First, the assumption that in 1905 “neither [Ethiopia’s] government nor [its] population are at the present able to fully understand the Law of Nations” may be correct solely on a formal level, given that no European international law treatise had been translated into Amharic at that time and international advisors in Addis Ababa with knowledge about international law had only begun their work. However, Oppenheim acknowledged that international law is not only an epistemic structure to be “underst[ood],” but most of all a state practice – a practice to which also Ethiopia participated.48 Given the treaties that “International Persons” such as Ethiopia concluded with members of the “Family of Nations,” Oppenheim and other scholars were forced to seek other qualities and means of distinction, such as civilisational “difference,” to make “international intercourse with them […] impossible.” The resulting argumentative compromise putting states such as Ethiopia in a sort of twilight zone as “International Persons only in some respects” left it entirely to the political “discretion” of the member states of the “Family of Nations” to acknowledge these states by resorting to an assumed lack of “similarity” in (legal) culture or civilisation.49

  • 50 Ibid., 99.
  • 51 Ibid., 156.

19Also, Oppenheim’s notion of “International Persons” (“Sovereign States exclusively are International Persons” – i.e. subjects of International Law50) in the African context seems somewhat overly formalistic. Admitting that “Abyssinia [is a] full Sovereign State, but for some parts only within the Family of Nations,” he declared that “Liberia and the Congo Free State are the only real and full member of the Family of Nations [in Africa].”51 He did so regardless of the fact that the maintenance of sovereignty in both these countries was dependent on the United States and Belgium respectively, whereas Ethiopia had proven to the “Family of Nations” (i.e. the European and American governments) its ability to defend its sovereignty against another member of this “Family of Nations.”

  • 52 Koskenniemi 2001, 74; cf. Barth and Osterhammel 2005; Bowden 2009.
  • 53 Koskenniemi 2001, 7.

20Finally, Oppenheim’s assumption “that with the progress of civilization these states [like Ethiopia] will become sooner or later [full] International Persons” is a clear manifestation of his believe in the (cultural) “backwardness, a lagging behind in the great chain of evolution” of most political organisations outside of Europe; an inferiority that would (soon) be overcome by the civilising forces of progress – the often quoted “civilizing mission.”52 This notion among international lawyers is best exemplified by James Lorimer’s “threefold classification [of states] (civilized/barbarian/savage).” However, when considering these academic voices, it is important to recall Martti Koskenniemi’s statement that it would be wrong to assume that “international law is only what international lawyers do or think.”53

  • 54 But see the report of the German Legate in Bucharest Kiderlen on the visit of Haile Mariam in 1905, (...)
  • 55 Uoldelul Chelati Dirar 2011, 187-208.
  • 56 E.g. ‘Convention between the United States of America and Italy, Montenegro, Russia… Ethiopia, … Pr (...)
  • 57 Exchange of notes between the United Kingdom and [Ethiopia], with regard to import duties in Ethiop (...)
  • 58 Nussbaum 1953, 557.

21Around 1905, Ethiopia seems to have become a recognised equal member of the international community, not only due to the presence of foreign legates in Addis Ababa, but also due to the Ethiopian participation in the signing of international conventions (even though the Treaty of Wuchale left a legacy in that Ethiopia often requested Italian nationals to sign treaties in Europe on behalf of the Ethiopian Emperor; Ethiopia maintained no embassies in Europe54 but only the consulates in Asmara [from 1915]55 and Djibouti).56 The more mundane issues of international legal relations affected Ethiopia as well and attest to the growing level of “normality” of an African state being a member of the international community: these included questions of taxation and import duties had to be clarified and regulation had to be found for cross-border traffic (most of all due to the French-administered railway line linking the French harbour of Djibouti with the Ethiopian hinterland).57 In 1882, the lawyer and sociologist Lorenz von Stein (1815-1890) had spoken about the development of an “international administrative law.” Twenty-five years later, Ethiopia, too, became involved in these international regulations which required “specialists” rather than diplomats.58

  • 59 Bairu Tafla 1981, 110; Berhanou Abebe 2001, 311.
  • 60 Koskenniemi 2001, 75, referring to John Westlake.

22In 1907, partly in response to Harrington’s above-mentioned memorandum, Menelik announced to the foreign legates the creation of a government cabinet comprised of nine ministers with their respective ministries (foreign affairs, interior, justice, and so on).59 These concrete organisational changes had been suggested by the German Chargé d’affaires Mutius, and Menelik was aware that among European politicians (and among European legal scholars) “the notion of ‘government’ meant ‘government of the European type’.”60 These notions of “similarity” were in turn expected to strengthen the acceptance of Ethiopia’s independence among Europeans.

  • 61 Bahru Zewde 2002, 9.
  • 62 Scholler 2008b, 29.
  • 63 PAAA Addis Ababa 1, fol. 11, Foreign Office, Berlin to German Legation Addis Ababa, 24 Mar. 1906.
  • 64 PAAA Addis Ababa 1, fol. 18, German Amb. Constantinople to Foreign Office, Berlin, 12 Feb. 1906.

23In addition, other elements of European statehood were introduced. As historian Bahru Zewde underlines, Menelik, “[c]ognizant of the symbolic trappings of independence and sovereignty, […] gave particular attention to the issuance of his own currency, the printing of postage stamps and his country’s admission to the International Postal Union.”61 Enhanced self-esteem can also be seen from the “political efforts of the Ethiopian government [under Menelik] to be acknowledged as an independent and equal international power in Jerusalem”.62 Menelik sought to establish Ethiopian rights to grant protection to the Ethiopian community in the Holy City.63 When in 1906 the Turkish sultan refused to recognise all the rights the Ethiopian government claimed with regard to the Holy Sepulchre, the idea was ventured to “submit the dispute to a European court of arbitration.”64

  • 65 Iadarola 1975, 603.
  • 66 Keefer 1981, 379 f.n. 43.
  • 67 Berhanou Abebe 2001, 313.
  • 68 Marcus 1994, 108.
  • 69 Schwarz 1937, 1, 37.
  • 70 Marx 2004, 128.

24At the same time, after lengthy negotiations and after Emperor Menelik had “suffered the first of a series of paralytic attacks,” in July 1906, Great Britain, France and Italy concluded a tri-partite agreement whose Article 1 “guaranteed the sovereignty” of Ethiopia. At the same time, the treaty subdivided Ethiopia into “spheres of influence” that would be taken over by the parties in case of a future domestic break-up of Ethiopia.65 This was an undertaking comparable to the Anglo-German accords of 1898 and 1913 on the potential future partition of the Portuguese colonies in Africa. Ethiopia was not involved in the drafting of this treaty, which was relevant for its position under international law. Menelik was “indignant over the treaty.”66 When given a copy, he “coolly acknowledged receipt of the treaty, but underlined ‘that this arrangement in no way limits what we [the Ethiopians] consider our sovereign rights’.”67 The treaty spoke about “Ethiopia as if the country was a transitory phenomenon or less than sovereign.”68 The manner in which it was concluded made Ethiopia an object of great power politics – a fate also experienced by European states such as Poland – and it was denied its status as a subject of international law: after all, sovereignty does not need to be guaranteed.69 The Emperor was thus reminded that the involved European powers “continued to consider [his empire] as an anomaly”.70 Consequently he had every reasons to involve further powers with no direct territorial interests in Ethiopia. Russia, but most of all Germany, with its fraught relations to Great Britain and France, seemed of particular relevance.

Ethiopia, Christianity, and “Civilization” – Scenes of an Afro-European (Diplomatic) Understanding Prior to the World War?

  • 71 In general on Germany and Africa: Santos Lopes 1992; Martin 1993.
  • 72 Pankhurst 1973, 144-146; Pérès 2015, 185-200.
  • 73 Cf. Steiner 2014, 439.
  • 74 Oppenheim 1905, 108.

25European scholars, travellers and traders had frequented Ethiopian territories since the early modern period. Reports were published here and there –also in the German states.71 However, from a European perspective, Portugal remained the power with the greatest influence in Ethiopia. The traveller Peter Heyling (1607-1652[?]) of Lübeck is generally considered the first German national to have visited Ethiopia.72 Research about Ethiopia – geographic, linguistic, historical – undertaken by French, Germans, or Britons, helped put Ethiopia on the European mental map.73 And the (reluctant) “recognition” of Ethiopia by Europeans and Americans as a sovereign member of the international community (the “Family of Nations,” to use the contemporary expression by Lassa Oppenheim)74 may be explained not only in reference to embassies, competing European power politics in the Horn of Africa, or Menelik’s victory of 1896, but also in reference to a number of cultural factors that came into play due to this research. A mere outline shall suffice here.

  • 75 Stanley 1900, 660.
  • 76 Holtz 1908, 81.

26Most of all, the common Christian heritage seemed to create a “special relationship” between Europeans and this African state. This relationship, it was argued, had been interrupted for centuries due to Muslim conquests of North Africa. European visitors, and starting from the 19th century American ones, were eager to report the existence of ancient Christian sites and of monuments bearing witness to the influence of the Greco-Roman culture in the Ethiopian highlands. The journalist Henry M. Stanley claimed about Ethiopian history: “but at this period [7th century] the fanatic Arabs, unable to conquer the people of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), succeeded in isolating them, with the rest of the African continent to the south, from the civilized world.”75 German visitors argued similarly that “[f]or centuries, Abyssinia was – due to its struggle against the Muslims invading Africa – isolated from any form of culture.”76

  • 77 Bowden 2009; Bowden 2005, 1-23.
  • 78 Holtz 1908, 7.
  • 79 Work 1916, 37.
  • 80 Jehle 1905, 242, the author was missionary of the Basle Mission Society in Kumasi.
  • 81 Holtz 1908, 58.
  • 82 Adamus Carolus to Damião de Góis, 28 Oct. 1540, in Salvadore 2017, 1.

27Thus, Ethiopia was often considered as being originally part of a shared “civilisation” having its origins in the Mediterranean region. In the decades prior to the First World War, the idea of “civilisation” grew in importance among intellectuals throughout the Atlantic world and held relevance for the international legal order, too. Only the polities that could claim to be part of the “civilised world” could be considered sovereign states under international law.77 The mentioning of Ethiopia’s (monophysite) Christianity and its practice as state religion, “blending the customs of the Old Testament with modern Orthodox cults,”78 was meant to create a “sense of togetherness,” as theologians and practicing missionaries enthusiastically underlined as well: “The seat of one of the highest of these [African] civilizations was Ethiopia […]. As early as 2,500 years before the birth of Christ the Ethiopians appeared to have had a considerable civilization. It was well known to the writers of the Bible and is referred to therein some forty-nine times.”79 These authors wanted to show that Africa and Ethiopia in particular had borne witness to the rise of Christianity: “When Asia had no room for the infant Christ, Africa became His home. When Asia (the Jews) betrayed Him, Europe (Pilate and his soldiers) crucified Him, Africa (Simon of Cyrene) helped Him to bear His cross.”80 Given the establishment of the Ethiopian church in ancient times, even in the heydays of imperialism some European witnesses argued against missionary efforts in the Empire: “In spite of its originality and naivety, the Abyssinian Church has so much beauty that there is no reason to assimilate it, the oldest Christian denomination, into other confessions.”81 Thereby they echoed Portuguese voices of the 16th century who admitted that “the Ethiopians seem to surpass us in regard to the cult and observance of the [Christian] religion.”82

  • 83 Littmann 1903, 86.
  • 84 Breasted 1908, 370.
  • 85 G.H.S. 1884, 123.

28The language(s) and literature of Ethiopia, which take “us back […] to the times of the late Jewish and of the early Christian literary activity,”83 could easily be integrated into a Western intellectual mind-set impregnated by biblical prose.84 Subsequently, numbers of linguists and philologists emphasised that “the language and literature of Ethiopia, ‘the Switzerland of Africa,’ have a right to a hearing in its [the journal Hebraica] columns from time to time.”85

  • 86 Holtz 1908, 82.
  • 87 Ibid., 91; Holtz 1929, 11.
  • 88 Bahru Zewde 1990, 367.
  • 89 Holtz 1908, 81.

29The comparative aspect of many facets concerning the Ethiopian culture and politics was emphasised in these narratives, as is apparent from the introductory “similar to us.”86 On the other hand, references that exoticised and distanced (not necessarily in a pejorative way) the Ethiopian culture from the European readership in time and space were also common: ceremonies reminded visitors of the “Middle Ages” or the times of the “Old Testament.” However, even in these phrases, indirect reference was made to a common heritage.87 The German trader Arnold Holtz, one of the “adventurous [European] foreigner[s] who mediated between” Menelik and European investors in unofficial capacity,88 was full of praise not only for the Emperor, but also for the “wonderful mixture of Judaism and Christianity in the Abyssinian Church.”89

  • 90 Zewde Gabre-Sellassie 1975, 221.
  • 91 Jesman 1958.
  • 92 Neumann 1902, 373; cf. Ilg 1910, 113; Marcus 1994, 78.

30The shared heritage of Orthodox Christianity made Ethiopia particularly interesting for Russia. In 1889, a Russian expedition was sent to Ethiopia with an ostensibly ecclesiastical purpose: It aimed to unite the Orthodox Churches of Russia and Ethiopia. The German Chancellor “Bismarck was willing to give Russia a free hand in Ethiopia,” since no German interests were involved.90 However, the expedition led to conflict with the French, who arrested the Russians in what they considered their sphere of interest in Africa (“the Sagalle incident”).91 Other European nationals of states with no direct interests in the region were more successful. The Swiss engineer Alfred Ilg (1854-1916) became Menelik’s councillor. He was instrumental in the beginning of the railway construction from Djibouti to Addis Ababa. Other foreigners finally wrote about Ilg as “foreign minister of Emperor Menelik.”92

  • 93 Smidt 2015.
  • 94 Neumann1902, 373.
  • 95 Holtz 1908, 57.
  • 96 Bahru Zewde 1990, 369; Holtz 1929, 5.

31In addition, German visitors came to Ethiopia and its new capital Addis Ababa. Some were mere passers-by in a quest for new “discoveries.” Others came to stay in order to do business (mostly with meagre results) and even attempted to gain political influence.93 Most of these visitors (often self-declared scientists with varying decree of academic credentials) eagerly underlined that “Emperor Menelik [was an] intelligent ruler and restorer of an ancient and great empire.”94 German witnesses described Menelik continuously as being sympathetic, tolerant, and appreciative. Empress Taitu was included in this praise. She was openly compared to European monarchs.95 The trader Arnold Holtz, who had been in Ethiopia since 1902 and was “the most ardent […] apostle” of German imperialism in Ethiopia, credited himself with having procured for Menelik “the hitherto missing recognition by the German Emperor.”96 He also convinced the negus to grant ever more mining concessions to German companies.

  • 97 Rosen 1907; Scholler 2006, 356; Scholler 2007 and 1978, 487.
  • 98 Keefer 1981, 374; the treaty is reprinted in Bairu Tafla 1981, 106.
  • 99 PAAA Addis Ababa 1, fol. 63, German Legation Addis Ababa to Foreign Office, Berlin, 29 Dec. 1906; c (...)

32Subsequently and much to the chagrin of the British and French, Friedrich Rosen, one of the few German diplomats with an “Orientalist” education, former consul in Jerusalem and future foreign minister, was sent to Addis Ababa.97 “The last thing Paris or London desired was the Kaiser meddling in Ethiopian affairs.” Yet in 1905 Menelik and Rosen signed a Treaty of Commerce and Friendship.98 Rosen’s colleague Georg Coates, formerly stationed in Japan and Siam, remained in Addis Ababa as Germany’s first legate. When French and British diplomats began to worry about possible riots after the assumed death of Emperor Menelik and spoke of a growing “Abyssinian hatred” against “the whites,” Coates tried to show more empathy. He emphasised that he “had not experienced that the aversion of the Abyssinians against the white race is more pronounced than those of […] the Chinese or Siamese.”99

  • 100 Holtz 2009, 112; Labrousse 1977, 529.
  • 101 Scholler 2008b, 41.
  • 102 Holtz 1929, 6.
  • 103 Scholler 2008b, 40; Bairu Tafla 1981, 112.

33The German influence grew in the decade before 1914. In 1907, an Ethiopian mission visited Vienna, Budapest, and Berlin. The Emperor’s grandson Lij Iyasu had a German governess, Katarina Hall.100 Menelik, well informed of the troubles in Europe, “tried to get the European enemies of France and Great Britain into his country.”101 It thus seems reasonable to give some credence to Holtz’s characterisation of Menelik II as a “faithful friend of the Germans.”102 These good Ethiopian-German relations were aided in no small measure by the German support for Menelik’s requests to the Sultan in Constantinople to be acknowledged “as an independent power [entitled to protect] his nationals in Jerusalem.”103

  • 104 PAAA Addis Ababa 3, German Legation Addis Ababa to Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, 10 Apr. 1913.
  • 105 Berhanou Abebe 2001, 310, quot. French sources; Bairu Tafla 1981, 129.
  • 106 PAAA Addis Ababa 3, German Legation Addis Ababa to Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, 25 Sep. 1911.
  • 107 PAAA Addis Ababa 3, German Legation Addis Ababa to Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, 20 Oct. 1912.

34However, the maintenance of diplomatic relations did not necessarily lead Western diplomats to perceive Ethiopian politics positively. When Emperor Menelik was unable to carry out the government business due to health reasons, Walter Zechlin, German legate from 1910 to 1913, was remarkably open in his contempt for this “African sultanate.”104 Similar to other foreign observers during these de facto interregnum years, he had doubts about the future of Ethiopia as an independent state.105 The picture Zechlin drew of the political situation after the demise of Ras Täsämma in 1911, formerly the strong man of the government, was one of complete decay: “no government exists in Addis Ababa.” His monthly reports to Berlin were ripe with stereotypes about “lazy Abyssinians” and other orientalisms.106 Cynically, Zechlin remarked that in comparison to the political and economic situation in Ethiopia, “one could describe the conditions in Morocco and Persia as orderly.” He bluntly stated that the existence of the Ethiopian state was not dependent on the Ethiopians, “but [dependent] on when the border powers are willing and able to put an end to this negro economy [Negerwirtschaft] here.” This, however, he did not foresee in the near future.107

  • 108 See the list of German envoys in Smidt 2015, 108.
  • 109 Smidt 2014a, 104.

35The writings of Friedrich Wilhelm von Syburg, who took over the legation in 1913/4 (Zechlin became consul in Tetouan, Spanish Morocco – not exactly an advancement), were more sober in tone. Having previously served as consul in Yokohama, Japan, Syburg managed to establish better relations with Ethiopia’s power brokers and remained in office throughout the First World War until 1919.108 His assessments of Ethiopian governmental affairs are in line with the findings of historian Wolbert Smidt, who, after studying the correspondence of the Ethiopian foreign minister (1914-1916) Beyene Yȉmer, concluded: “the alleged disorder of [Ethiopia’s] government, so dramatically underlined especially by the French and British ministers, does not find any [basis] in this primary source.”109

  • 110 Foreign Relations of the United States of America, Washington D.C. 1920, vol. 2, 243f.

36The demise of the Emperor in 1913 did not dramatically change the political situation in Ethiopia, since the crown prince Lij Iyasu had been in power since 1910 and did not even publicly announce the death of his grandfather. However, the question of the succession to the throne was not conclusively regulated. Furthermore, the opposing parties in Addis Ababa had different preferences regarding future European allies as well. When the war was imminent in July 1914, it seemed not unlikely that the French and British legates would succeed in convincing the crown prince to join the Allied war efforts. Evidently, the German legate opposed these endeavours. As on previous occasions, the political elite of Ethiopia attempted to follow a multilateral approach by building up relations with more than just the three neighbouring colonial powers. The renewed Treaty of Commerce signed between the United States and Ethiopia (27 June 1914, following the treaty of 27 December 1903) was a marked success in this regard, as it secured for the citizens of both nations a “most favoured nation” status.110

37When war broke out in Europe on 28 July 1914, Ethiopia did not join either side of the belligerents. Would it stay neutral?

Neutrality – Legal Meaning and its Relevance for the World War in Africa

  • 111 Cavallar 2012, 279.

38At the beginning of the war, international lawyers inclined towards pacifism, such as the Austrian Heinrich Lammasch, still dreamt of a “confederation of neutral states” that would be strong enough to force the belligerents to accept mediation and arbitration.111 Ethiopia was probably not on their list of potential members of this “confederation.”

  • 112 Neff 2000, 129.
  • 113 Abbenhuis 2014, 17.

39Before the outbreak of the World War, the legal term “neutrality” had already acquired a status in international law doctrine that few other terms would ever achieve. However, “[o]nly in 1907, at the Second Hague Peace Conference, was a major effort made to codify the entire law of neutrality.”112 The elaboration of rights and duties of states declaring their “neutrality” during a war had developed into an important field among scholars of international law. Neutrality “formed a central part of international legal developments and was a much-studied and considered international ideal with acknowledged pacifist, internationalist and humanitarian potential.”113 At their core, the principles of neutrality based on the Hague Conventions of 1907 were designed to ensure that states calling themselves “neutral” abstained from hostilities and adopt a non-discriminatory attitude of impartiality toward those at war against each other. Among the main rights and duties of neutral and belligerent states towards each other were the following: 1) the inviolability of neutral territory; 2) neutrals were entitled to use force in order to fend off belligerent violations of their rights; 3) belligerent forces found in neutral territory were to be interned by the neutral state for the duration of the hostilities; 4) the belligerents were prohibited from recruiting military personnel in neutral territory; and 5) neutrals had to prohibit their nationals from enlisting or engaging in other activities that favoured either of the belligerents. The belligerents, on the other hand, were allowed to monitor neutral trade to prevent receipt of prohibited contraband by the enemy.

  • 114 Hull 2014, 16.
  • 115 Gaurier 2014, 855; Delaunay 2004, 858.
  • 116 Fisch 1984, 99; Walter 2014, 107; Reeves 1909, 115.

40During and after the World War “neutrality” became a key term in (legal) disputes since the war, as historian Isabel Hull put it poignantly, “begun with an international crime: Germany’s violation of Belgian neutrality.”114 The Allies had, on the other hand, started to occupy the German colonies soon after the outbreak of hostilities in Europe.115 The neutrality of European overseas possession has been a disputed legal (and military) question that dates back at least to the 17th century. European powers repeatedly signed treaties that were supposed to ensure that wars in Europe did not spill over to the Americas, Asia, or Africa. However, European armies attacked each other outside of the European theatre of war throughout the centuries. The Dutch “occupation” of Angola in 1641 during the Thirty Years’ War or the British take-over of the Cape Colony in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars are good examples of this. With the onset of the scramble for Africa, the members of the Berlin Congo Conference (1885) were aware of the risk of future (European) wars in Africa. However, they could not agree on a formally guaranteed neutrality of the Congo basin. France and Portugal were particularly concerned about this limitation of state sovereignty (the state’s right to wage war). The resulting Article 11 of the Berlin Act stipulated “that the territories […] may be, with the common consent of this Power and of the other party or parties belligerent, placed for the duration of the war under the regime of neutrality and considered as belonging to a non-belligerent State.” The powers were thus entitled but not obliged to jointly declare their territories in the Congo basin as “neutral.”116

  • 117 US National Archives and Record Administration (College Park) RG 84, Boma, v. 18, 718, USC Boma to (...)
  • 118 Samson 2006, 633f.

41At the beginning of the war in 1914, the authorities of Belgian Congo expressed their “desire […] that Congo maintain its neutrality during the present conflict in Europe.” However, the “French government denie[d] absolutely to the Germans the advantage of the General Act of Berlin, 1885.”117 Fighting broke out in Africa as well. In early August, French troops blockaded those parts of the Congo River that had been ceded in 1912 to German Cameroon and seized several German border posts. German troops tried to occupy French and Belgian territory in the upper Congo region. The British government also decided that it was “not practical politics to treat any of the German possessions in Africa as neutral.”118 In September 1914, the Germans requested the neutralisation of African colonies, but considering the ongoing campaigns, the Allies turned down this suggestion.

  • 119 Kühn 2007, 315.
  • 120 Neff 2000, 136.
  • 121 Verzijl 1979, 12.

42Ethiopia thus soon found itself surrounded by territories belonging to states at war. With the Italians joining the Allies in 1915, all of Ethiopia’s neighbours were involved in the war fighting Germany and its ally, the Ottoman Empire with its Yemeni colony and the other Arab territories at the opposite side of the Red Sea.119 What did the belligerent states expect from Ethiopia and how did Ethiopian politics respond to these demands? What did Ethiopian politicians know about the meaning of the term “neutrality” and what conduct would result from this? After all, things were less than self-explicatory. “Adherence by the major powers [to the Hague Conventions] was far from universal […] states freely entered reservations to specific provisions that they disliked. Most striking of all, from the standpoint of the law of neutrality, was the failure to include any rules on either contraband, blockade or unneutral service”; to be clarified in 1909 by the London Declaration on Naval Warfare, which was however not ratified by Great Britain.120 Decades later, imminent specialist of international law Jan H. Verzijl admitted that the term “neutral” “is in fact itself a neutral term in the sense that it lacks, even in the legal field, a well-defined meaning and has many connotations.”121

Ethiopia and the European Powers during the World War

  • 122 Abbenhuis 2014, 4, 12, 17.

43[T]he history of the modern neutrals tends to highlight their peripheral status and their uniqueness as outliers in the international system. We tend to identify these countries as small or weak states.” However, during the 19th century, legal historian Maartje Abbenhuis identifies a “high regard with which neutrality was held as a tool of diplomacy and statecraft.” “Neutrality was a tool of international power politics, utilized with alacrity by great and small powers alike. It also involved national interests, geo-strategic planning and commercial considerations.”122

  • 123 Chassé 2012, 159; Sherman 1918, 780.
  • 124 Koblik 1972.
  • 125 Link 1960.
  • 126 Teixeira 1998.
  • 127 Reid 1915, 122.
  • 128 Labrousse 1977, 525.
  • 129 Abbenhuis 2014, 2.

44With these interests in mind, during and after the First World War contemporary writers and (to a lesser degree) historians devoted considerable attention to the “neutrality” of states such as Switzerland,123 Sweden,124 the United States,125 Portugal,126 or China127. Ethiopia, on the other hand, has barely been given any consideration in this respect.128 Indeed, “[n]eutrals rarely achieve prominence in the historical narratives of war written after 1945. If they appear, it is usually not until the moment when they become a belligerent or when their non-belligerency is seriously compromised.”129

  • 130 Neff 2000, 158.

45Ethiopia was not represented during the discussions in the Netherlands that led to the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. The country became a signatory to most of the Conventions only in 1935. Convention (V) “relative to the rights and duties of neutral powers and persons in case of war on land” (1907) was only ratified by Ethiopia in 1935. Nevertheless, as we will see, in 1914 the status of the Empire as a sovereign power not being involved in the hostilities was considered by European politicians and diplomats in light of the “rights and duties” stipulated by this Convention. As mentioned above, the meaning and interpretation of the term “neutrality” during the war was far from unitary. The belligerents found various reasons to complain about the conduct of formally neutral governments that were understood as aiding the enemy. For example, given the commitment of the “American industrial and financial interests […] to the Allied war effort,” it was of no surprise “that Germany looked with dismay on the massive support that the Allies were deriving from the [still neutral] United States.”130

  • 131 PAAA, Addis Ababa 3, German Legation, Addis Ababa to Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, 27 Jun. 1915; Bai (...)

46Immediately after the beginning of hostilities, the Germans in Ethiopia were reminded that the Allied Powers had greater command of the Ethiopian economy than the Central Powers, regardless of Ethiopia’s noncommittal policy. The Allied legates jealously guarded the tools of empire and modernity in Ethiopia – the railway line, post offices, telegraphs and the only printing press – in order to make sure (with “lots of Bakschisch,” as the German legate Syburg complained) that Germans could not make use of them. The small number of Syburg’s reports that reached Berlin during the war were full of complaints about the “complete isolation” of the Germans, Turks, and Austrians in Addis Ababa, officials and non-officials alike. From 5 August 1914, the Germans found themselves prevented from using the Ethiopian postal service, given that it was administered by French personnel. To make matters worse, also the Italian cable company used connections via Cairo, i.e. British territory blocked for German usage. Given that Ethiopia was surrounded by Italian, British and French territories, Germans were also prevented from leaving the country. Only one German, Edgar Boecking, was able to reach Germany, “employing all sorts of ruses” and with support from the German legation.131

  • 132 Quoted in Dombrowski 1985, 65.
  • 133 Uoldelul Cherati Dirar 2011, 191 f.n. 13, quoting Italian Legate Colli di Felizzano, 12 Dec. 1914.
  • 134 PAAA Addis Ababa 3, German Legate, Addis Ababa to Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, 27 Jun. 1915; Bairu (...)

47In the early days of the war, the Allies had reasons to hope that the Ethiopian government under Lij Iyasu would join their war efforts due to its own interest in finally gaining access to the Red Sea. According to its own intelligence, the British legation “indicate[d] the belief that, had France and Great Britain declared war on Italy [in 1914], Ethiopia would have moved against Eritrea and pushed the Italians out.”132 Italian administrators were concerned that the Ethiopians would interpret Italy’s neutrality as “proof of its military weakness” and attack Eritrea.133 However, contrary to expectations Italy and not Ethiopia joined the Allies and over the course of the rule of crown prince Lij Iyasu (1910-1916), sympathies towards the Central Powers among a faction of Ethiopia’s leading political circles became, much to the chagrin of the Allied legates, more outspoken. This was a notion found already in the dispatches Syburg (tried to) send to Berlin in 1915. He did mention that Ethiopian subjects were enlisted by the British to fight in East Africa against the Germans (which constituted a violation of Ethiopia’s neutrality). However, he underlined that, upon their return, these “Askaris” reported “favourable messages” about this theatre of war and the German undertakings there. Syburg eagerly emphasised that Ethiopians, whether “high or low,” were very impressed by the German victories and were “on the German side. This is true in particular of the heir apparent Lij Ijassu.” The latter, Syburg claimed, had even donated 15,000 Maria Theresa Thalers to the German Red Cross Society.134

  • 135 Erlich 1995, 85-91.
  • 136 Scholler 2008a, 54.
  • 137 Maẓhar to Ministry, 13 Feb. 1915, in Erlich 2014, 138, 141.

48In the time that followed German and Turkish officials worked hard on convincing the Ethiopians to join the war on their side.135 The Central Powers hoped to open a new front against the British in the Sudan and in Somalia, and to this end Ethiopian support was crucially important. One of the few secret messages successfully sent from the Colonial Secretary in Berlin to Syburg in June 1915 ordered him to inform the Ethiopian government that, if Ethiopia joined the war on the side of the Central Powers, Germany would commit “herself to recognize any territory, which Ethiopia may conquer or occupy in military action against the Allied powers as being her rightful and permanent property and part of the Ethiopian Empire after the war.”136 This offer may have allowed Ethiopia to secure an outlet to the sea. This was previously suggested by the Turkish Consul Aḥmad Maẓhar Bey, provided, first, that Ethiopia succeeded in “throw[ing the British] out of Ottoman Somali” or the Italians out of Eritrea, and second, that the Central Powers won the war.137

  • 138 Marcus 1995, 265-76; Bahru Zewde 2001, 126f.
  • 139 Hanisch 2014, 13; Mark 2013; cf. also the novel by Kopetzky, 2015 about the German mission to the H (...)
  • 140 Yorulmaz 2014.
  • 141 Supplement to Maẓhar’s letter, 12 or 27 May 1915; Turkish manifesto, Jun. 1916, in Erlich 2014, 139
  • 142 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, French translation of Scheik Matar ben Achmed to German Legation, Addis Ababa, (...)

49There were rumours, possibly fuelled by Allied supporters, that the uncrowned grandson of Emperor Menelik would (or had already) convert(ed) to Islam. Lij Iyasu’s affiliation to Consul Aḥmad Maẓhar Bey and Muslim notables in Ethiopia, Somalia and beyond became a grave concern for British and French diplomats.138 Early on in the war the Allies were aware of Germany’s and Turkey’s plans to exploit Pan Islamic convictions against their adversaries in the Arab world and beyond. German expeditions (or at least Arabic pamphlets and fatwas) were sent to convince Muslims in French and British colonies to rebel against their colonial overlords. The Sultan had proclaimed jihad against Britain, France, and Russia.139 Prior to the war, Germany had equipped and trained the Turkish army; and potential Muslim rebels were promised ample military equipment.140 Messengers of the Sultan also reached across the Red Sea and tried to incite a rebellion in East Africa against the “infidels” in power. Maẓhar Bey was authorised to negotiate a “treaty of friendship” with the Ethiopian government. In May 1915 the Turkish consul conveyed the impression to his superiors in Constantinople that Ethiopia was no longer neutral, since “Lij Iyasu supports us whole heartedly.” In June 1916 Maẓhar even had long leaflets distributed in Addis Ababa. They concluded that “[t]he interests of Islam in this country concur with those of the Abyssinian Government.”141 Syburg maintained good relations with Muslim notables and received (Arabic) letters from them asking for support in their efforts “de nous soulever et de battre les Anglais, peuple malin.”142

  • 143 Bairu Tafla 1981, 134 f.n. 73.
  • 144 Scholler 2008a, 51.
  • 145 PAAA Addis Ababa 17, German Legation, Addis Ababa to Lij Iyasu, 2 June 1915; Bahru Zewde 1990, 377.
  • 146 Erlich 2014, 139.
  • 147 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, German Legation, Addis Ababa to Lij Iyasu, 12 March 1916.
  • 148 German Envoy Bern to Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, 8 January 1916, in Scholler 2008a, 43.

50On the other hand, the Allied legations tried to influence public opinion in Ethiopia as well and, according to historian Bairu Tafla, they did have success with their “propaganda which alleged that the Germans destroyed everything indiscriminately wherever they fought.” When (erroneous) rumours spread that the Germans had taken Nairobi, the Ethiopians detached a contingent to defend the border in case of any eventuality.143 Syburg saw it as his “duty” to “frustrate the efforts of Germany’s enemies, and to try to win over the Ethiopian [ruler] to enter the war on the side of the Central powers.”144 Arnold Holtz (who, given his shady business schemes, Syburg’s predecessors had regarded “as a disreputable character with whom [the Foreign Office] should have no dealings”) served regularly as a messenger between the legate and Lij Iyasu.145 The prince had left the capital in June 1915 in order to “evade Maẓhar’s [and Syburg’s] pressure,” opting instead for a “wait-and-see policy.”146 In March 1916, the German legate openly warned Lij Iyasu (who had still not returned to Addis Ababa) of the “maladministration” of his Prime Minister Haile Georgis, who Syburg alleged was working for “the enemies of Abbessinia,” i.e. France and Great Britain. In his long letter detailing world affairs from a German point of view, Syburg assured Lij Iyasu that Georgis’ messages about a Russian victory in Erzerum and the alleged end to the plans for a German-Turkish attack on Egypt and the Suez Canal were “but insolent lies.” The German attack on Egypt “will certainly take place,” Syburg claimed.147 At around the same time, the German envoy in Berne reported to Berlin: “My Turkish colleague recently drew my attention to the point of how important it would be to get the Ethiopians on our side in the war, and to attack the Sudan,” a move seen necessary to support the Turkish campaign against the Suez Canal.148 However, as in early 1915, further Turkish attacks (with German support) on the canal were repelled by the British.

  • 149 Bairu Tafla 1981, 134.
  • 150 Erlich 2014, 136.
  • 151 Smidt 2014a, 107; similar Bairu Tafla 1981, 134.

51While the powerful Ethiopian minister of war “always preferred the policy of neutrality,”149 the German-Turkish overtures did at least have an impact on the crown prince and his entourage. As historian Haggai Erlich summarised regarding this attitude towards the Central Powers: in 1916 Lij Iyasu “mixing caution with miscalculation, gambled on an Ottoman victory.”150 However, considering the Ethiopian ministerial correspondence until February 1916, “there is not the slightest sign [of] a formal or informal alliance with the German or Ottoman government.”151 Unfortunately, Ethiopian government documents until September 1916 are missing, except for the copy of an Amharic text from May 1916 (allegedly) signed by “Iassou” (in Latin, Amharic, and Arabic). Sent to the German Legation, it states, according to the German translation, the following conditions for closer cooperation between Ethiopia and the Central Powers:

  • 152 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, Lij Iyasu to German Envoy and Turkish Consul General, Addis Ababa, 19 May 1916 (...)

if you [the Germans and the Turks] conquer Egypt, also we will be able to defeat at all sides our enemies. […] and we will […] conclude with representatives of both of your Empires treaties in order to mine the gold, coal, petrol and other minerals in our country. We will not vest [this] with the English, French, [and] Italians. And your governments shall support us with rifles, ammunitions, maxim guns, and cannons and whatever else we need. We will assist you so you can communicate this [message] to your governments.152

  • 153 Maẓhar to Ministry, 4 September 1916, Erlich 2014, 144.
  • 154 Scholler 2008a, 45, 52.

52If this document is authentic, it is an evident offer to end Ethiopia’s undeclared neutrality and to closely cooperate with the Central Powers – an offer conditioned upon the Central Powers’ conquest of Egypt. But apparently, as the Turkish consul lamented, his German colleague Syburg was “hesitant” to believe that Lij Iyasu would be able to execute the plans he envisioned. Admitting that the prince, now “openly in touch with Islam […] is completely inexperienced,” Maẓhar Bey urged: “it is our duty to convince Germany about the personality of the prince, and she must help to maintain his kingdom.”153 The Turkish-German attempts to mobilise Ethiopian troops against the British not only had the Egyptian front in mind, but also sought to “support [and relieve] the German troops in East Africa” fighting under Lettow-Vorbeck. In Germany there were even contemporary voices expressing the “view […] that in this war fought in near military equilibrium for four years, the comparatively small contribution which Ethiopia could have made would have sufficed to shift the balance towards a victory of the Central powers.”154

  • 155 Stone 1975, 733.
  • 156 Reid 1915, 124.

53Also among the Allies, the importance of the conduct of the neutrals and the “necessity” of their more or less friendly attitude towards the Allied war efforts were undisputed. The case of Portugal’s “conditional neutrality,” which favoured Britain and France to such a degree that even Allied war ships could use Portuguese harbours around the world, was the most evident case. The British were aware that had the Portuguese “been neutral in the sense that the Swedes were neutral,” the situation in 1914 would have been “more dangerous and difficult” and this “might indeed have cost Britain the war.”155 In East Asia the treatment of neutral China by Japan (justified by virtue of its alliance with Great Britain), the occupation of Chinese territory, and the military use of its harbours, left little doubt about the legal implications. An American commentator openly compared the treatment of Belgium by Germany and China by Japan: “What Japan did was contrary to [China’s] temporary neutrality; the law of nations was broken. No western nation apparently regards the matter as of any consequence.”156 In East Africa, British troops were allowed to cross Portuguese territories while marching against the Germans.

  • 157 Scholler 2008a, 43.
  • 158 Berhanou Abebe 2001, 326f.
  • 159 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, Abun (“Archbishop”) Matéwos to German Legate, Addis Ababa, 28 Sep. 1916.
  • 160 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, Remark, German Legation, Addis Ababa, 19 Oct. 1916; on the alleged conversion c (...)

54Given these occurrences around the globe, which saw British diplomats pressing for a favourable attitude among neutrals towards the British war efforts, the Ethiopian “coup d’état of [26 September] 1916 [against Lij Iyasu] must be understood as a direct result of the combined Turkish-German attempt to get Ethiopia on their side.”157 Most of all, the coup was a clear sign that the Allied legates in Addis Ababa had better access to the power brokers of Ethiopia around Ras Tafari Makonnen.158 The new leadership of Ethiopia immediately informed the German Legation of the deposition of Lij Iyasu due to his “conversion to Islam,” the “dishonouring of the Ethiopian flag,” and his “support of the Somali.” Long, vindicatory letters explained the point of view of the new Ethiopian government.159 Legate Syburg considered the Islamic connections of the crown prince as a trap fabricated by the Allied legates to compromise him among the faction of the Ethiopian elite (Ḫaylä Giyorgis Wäldä Mika’el, Wolde Georgis, Abuna Matewos) more inclined towards the Allies.160

  • 161 Marcus 1994, 108.
  • 162 PAAA Addis Ababa 5, German Legation, Addis Ababa, remark, 19 Mar. 1917.

55Ras Tafari was well aware of the “considerable stability [Ethiopia had gained after 1906] from the [tripartite] treaty, which marked the end of active British and French imperialism in the region and eliminated, for a time, the likelihood of Italian expansion.”161 He was equally aware that his country was surrounded by belligerents fighting the Turks and Germans nearby in southern Arabia and East Africa. Given the advantages that Ethiopia had enjoyed as a result of the Allies having apparently come to terms with the sovereignty of Ethiopia after 1906 and given their military dominance in the region in 1916, it would have been suicidal for him and his country to pursue the political leanings of the deposed crown prince towards Turkey. However, Ethiopia remained neutral in the ongoing war, and consequently even prohibited (in line with the Hague Conventions) the recruitment of Ethiopians into the Allied forces in 1917. Any cession of territory to the British (be it for military purposes only) was prevented as well.162

  • 163 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, German Legate to Turkish Consul General, Addis Ababa, 1 Oct. 1916.
  • 164 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, Remark, German Legate, Addis Ababa, 2 Oct. 1916.
  • 165 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, Ras Tafari, Sagale to German Legate, Addis Ababa, 28 Oct. 1916; response 30 Oct (...)
  • 166 PAAA Addis Ababa 5, German Legation, Addis Ababa to Minister of Justice Telahon, 5 Jan. 1917; Maẓha (...)

56In the aftermath of the coup d’état the German and Turkish legates found themselves in dire straits, as it was evident that they had strongly supported the deposed crown prince. The two diplomats could not communicate with their governments about the official recognition of Ras Tafari and Empress Zäwditu, since the new rulers first considered even a “visite amicale” to the new leader as “inopportune.”163 The new Ethiopian government found this behaviour “very bad for the German minister.”164 Four weeks later Ras Tafari contacted Syburg directly “in order to share with you our joy” about the crown prince’s defeat and capture, and to assure him of Ethiopia’s “friendship,” but most of all to explain once again the reasons why Lij Iyasu was deposed. Syburg responded immediately that he shared his “joy,”165 but in January 1917 Empress Zäwditu complained to the German legate that he had not yet visited her and asked whether “the old friendship” had come to an end. Syburg assured her of their personal friendship, but insisted that under international law he was not competent to recognise the new Ethiopian government. As they could not communicate with their governments in Berlin and Constantinople to receive permission, Syburg and Maẓhar Bey, much to the embarrassment of the Ethiopian government, could not even participate in the crowning ceremony of Empress Zäwditu, despite an invitation to do so.166

57Given the Ethiopian “revolution” of 26 September 1916, as he called it, the German legate reminded his 17 compatriots (including Austrians) that:

  • 167 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, German Envoy to all Germans in Addis Ababa, 25 Oct. 1916.

as in all similar cases absolute neutrality towards all fighting faction is necessary and everything is to be avoided that could be construed as partisanship for one or the other party … if foreign powers do not do so, they will have their good reasons [but Germans must not “deviate” from the “international custom” of neutrality], all the more since the foreign legations represent powers who fight Germany in Europe.167

  • 168 Ibid.

58Syburg emphasised that the official recognition of Ethiopia’s “revolutionary government” would not be the task of the diplomatic representatives, but of their governments in Europe.168 However, following the “revolution” and despite the seeming Ethiopian efforts to showcase neutrality and friendship towards Germany (Empress Zäwditu gave Syburg a “private audience” in March 1917), the German and Turkish legations in Addis Ababa were more isolated than ever.

The Holtz-Carmelich Mission 1917 and Ethiopia’s Neutrality

59Heinrich Scholler argued that during the war the:

  • 169 Scholler 2008a, 45.

only chance for the German government to communicate with their representatives in Addis Ababa was to use irregular means; among these, sending ciphered letters by a messenger, who had to travel from Berlin to the South Arabian coast, to cross the Red Sea, which was controlled by the British fleet, then to pass in disguise through enemy territory into Ethiopia.169

  • 170 Will 2012, 236-240; Holtz 2009, 112; Heine 1980, 1.
  • 171 Scholler 2008a, 48.
  • 172 Waugh 1937, 313; Will 2012, 246-249; Strohmeier 2016.

60These Germans attempts to break through the Allied blockade by sending secret missions had, however, only meagre results. In late 1914 researcher Leo Frobenius and the Ethiopian-born German citizen Solomon Hall led a mission with the aim of reaching Ethiopia. They were supposed to convince, in conjunction with legate Syburg, the Ethiopian government to join the Central Powers and in turn promise that Ethiopia could keep territorial gains along the Blue Nile. Second, Frobenius was supposed to instigate a revolt against British rule in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, but he never managed to go beyond Massawa, where Italian officials prohibited him to proceed.170 Furthermore, the documents that were given to Ethiopian monks returning from Jerusalem to Ethiopia did not reach the German legation. Throughout the war, only one occurrence is known to the archival files that German secret dispatches reached Addis Ababa (in October 1915 via Athens).171 In March 1916, a last German mission was detached to “revolutionise” the “Orient.” Concretely the mission under Major Othmar von Stotzingen was ordered to erect a German wireless station in Yemen that would be capable of transmitting short messages as far as Ethiopia and German East Africa; one of the mission’s members was destined to “get through to Abyssinia and the German Legation in Addis Ababa.” However, in June when the mission was still north of Jedda, the “Arab Revolt” had just begun with an attack on Medina. Consequently, Stotzingen returned with the wireless installations to Damascus.172

  • 173 Holtz 1929, 15; Bahru Zewde 1990, 380.

61While the Allied diplomats tried to convince the new authorities in Ethiopia to break all relations with the Central Powers, the German Legation was blocked from any funds and any information about the course of war (other than Allied newspapers). However, given that there were rumours that German troops were closing in on the Suez Canal “and an active engagement of Ethiopia in the future seemed possible,” in late 1916 legate Syburg concluded it would be worth trying to send an “official messenger” across the Mandab Strait (Bāb al-Mandab). In Yemen he was to contact the Turkish general Sa‘īd Pasha who would take the messenger to Constantinople. It attests to the desperation of the German official that he chose Arnold Holtz for this undertaking. Over the last ten years the legation had again and again reported that this “swindler’s” latest venture had “suffered the fate of all Hol[t]zian enterprises,” i.e. complete failure. Holtz, on the other hand, was “practically penniless and up to his neck in debt.” So he found it convenient to serve as Syburg’s secretary.173

  • 174 Zollmann 2016, 101-118.
  • 175 PAAA Addis Ababa 108, fol. 1, A. Holtz, receipt from German Legation, 25 Sep. 1916.
  • 176 Holtz 1929, 16.
  • 177 Labrousse 1977, 531.

62In the following an espionage story with secret (or not so secret) German envoys unfolded, which was not unheard of during the World War. The German military had already sent a mission to the Hindukush. In Portuguese-Angola, German traders and others also attempted to send and receive messages and goods despite the Allied blockade.174 Having similar plans, the German legation in Addis Ababa paid to Holtz 500 Maria Theresa Thalers to equip his “expedition.”175 However, the caravan of Holtz and his Hungarian translator Albert Carmelich, consisting exclusively of “Muslim Arabs” as Holtz emphasised, was constantly watched over since its departure from Addis Ababa in April 1917.176 French consuls and their messengers reported about any step the group of about 50 men made. They even knew that Holtz and Carmelich dressed “as Ethiopians.” In Addis Ababa and Djibouti French officials worked to undermine any support base Holtz may get on his way to the (French) coast. An “espionage network” was dismantled and Ras Tafari was reminded of what the Allied were expecting from a “neutral” state in such a case (the Ethiopian “spies” working for Germany received life sentences).177

  • 178 Zichy 1880, 133.
  • 179 Holtz 1929, 39.
  • 180 Labrousse 1977, 534.
  • 181 Smidt 2014a, 107.
  • 182 Labrousse 1977, 534.

63After four weeks Holtz reached the Danakil178 (Dancaliland). He considered this territory as an exterritorial area belonging neither to Ethiopia, nor to the Italians or the French – trying to make an argument under “international law” that the French had no right to pursue and apprehend him in a territory that was not under their sovereignty.179 However, international agreements between the French and the Italians proved him wrong. When Holtz’s caravan approached the French border in late May 1917, Ras Tafari was warned about the consequences the continued “approvisionnement” would have. The French requested him to stop such “complaisance” towards the Germans.180 As Henri Labrousse has shown in his analysis, the Ethiopian government insisted that they had authorised nothing illegal by providing the Germans with a travel permit. Refusing any responsibility for the actions taken by Holtz, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Ras Mulugeta Yəggäzu reminded the French legate de Coppet of misdeeds and border violations originating from French Djibouti. The “cross-border raids” were indeed a recurring issue in these years with which several Ethiopian foreign ministers had to deal.181 In this context, the Ethiopians argued that the Holtz incident was nothing extraordinary. Mulugeta Yəggäzu also reminded de Coppet that during the “European war” Ethiopia undertook to “conserve its liberty,” but had always sought to “preserve the friendship of the French government.” De Coppet was evidently unsatisfied with Mulugeta’s response and denied the Ethiopians their tu quoque argument, pointing out that “il n’y a aucune comparaison à établir.”182

  • 183 Oppenheim 1905, 149.
  • 184 Labrousse 1977, 534.

64International lawyers like the above-quoted Lassa Oppenheim had argued that the “Christian Powers” would treat states such as Ethiopia “especially with regard to war […] according to discretion.”183 In the case of Holtz and his mission, the Allies upheld a rigorously formalistic understanding of the laws of war and neutrality. They excluded any permission by a neutral state for any acts that could favour their enemies. This was indeed a very discretionary reading of the laws of neutrality that did not even accept a non-discriminatory attitude of impartiality. For the French and the British legates the case of Holtz’s caravan crossing Ethiopia unhindered on their way to the Red Sea into French territories constituted a “flagrante violation de neutralité,” as the French legate wrote to his minister in Paris.184

  • 185 PAAA Addis Ababa 108, fol. 124, German Legation, Addis Ababa to Empress Zaudito and Mulugeta Yəggäz (...)
  • 186 PAAA Addis Ababa 108, fol. 144, German Legation to Foreign Minister Mulugeta Yəggäzu, 5 Nov. 1917.

65After Holtz and Carmelich were imprisoned following a brief skirmish (arguably in French Djibouti), the German legate Syburg made the opposite argument when he complained to Empress Zäwditu and Minister Mulugeta Yəggäzu about the French. Syburg claimed that the French had apprehended Holtz and Carmelich in Ethiopian territory. There the two men were entitled to travel considering the passports given to them by the Ethiopian government in accordance with the “rights and duties of a neutral power in the great world war.” Syburg emphasised that the French had violated the neutrality of Ethiopia and reminded the Empress that she should “protest” against the French undertaking and demand that these illegally apprehended prisoners be released immediately. The German legate also requested the mediation of the Ethiopian government “as a neutral power” to let the French know that Holtz and Carmelich “are no spies, but […] civilian prisoners.”185 Finally, Syburg reminded the Empress that Holtz was known to, and honoured by, the late Emperor Menelik. Therefore he expected that the Ethiopians would do everything in their capacity to ensure the release of Holtz and Carmelich. Since he did not receive any answer from the minister, after six weeks Syburg exerted more pressure on the Ethiopian government, emphasising that after the war “Germany, the most powerful Empire in the world,” would remember how Ethiopia had handled the affair. Germany would hold Ethiopia accountable for not having supported the German legation against the French in Djibouti and Addis Ababa.186

  • 187 Labrousse 1977, 536.
  • 188 PAAA Addis Ababa 108, fol. 150, Le Courrier d’Ethiopie, 16 Nov. 1917, 3 “condamnation à mort”; fol. (...)
  • 189 Holtz 1929, 55.

66Subsequently, the Ethiopians demanded evidence from Syburg that the French had indeed violated their neutral territory when Holtz was arrested. The French in turn provided sufficient counter-evidence that the skirmish had indeed taken place in French Djibouti and the case was closed for the Ethiopians.187 However, when “les deux boches” received the death sentence in Djibouti, this judgment, under the mediation of the Ethiopian government and after lengthy legal proceedings, was converted and the two were transferred to Paris. They remained in prison until the end of the war.188 Holtz’s papers (probably) never reached their addressees across the Red Sea. Holtz, on the other hand, (retrospectively) considered the French in violation of international law when invading “neutral” Danakil and arresting him.189 As is evident from these sources, in all these debates Ethiopia was considered by the European legates as an ordinary member of the “Family of Nations” whose government actions during the war were judged according to the legates’ interpretation of the “Law of Nations.”

  • 190 Abbenhuis 2014, 238.

67“A country’s neutrality ended when it declared war on another state, when it was invaded by a foreign power or when it failed to uphold the international laws of neutrality to the satisfaction of other states.”190 The latter possibility was of particular relevance for the case of Ethiopia in light of the continued German and Turkish attempts to send messages and war materials across the Red Sea, of which the Holtz-Carmelich caravan was perhaps the most daring. According to the Hague Convention on Land War (1907) (Arts. 16-17) the

  • 191 Neff 2000, 130.

Neutral status can be forfeited by the commission of an act of hostility, or of any act favouring one belligerent over the other. Such acts of partiality do not, however, include the furnishing of loans or supplies to the belligerent government in whose territory the neutral party is located.191

  • 192 See the article of Massimo Zaccaria ‘Feeding the War. Canned Meat Production in the Horn of Africa (...)
  • 193 Garner 1920, 376-382.

68In light of these legal requirements, however, and given that Ethiopia allowed the Italians in Eritrea throughout the war to import cattle for its meat factory in Asmara,192 it seems highly improbable that the government of Ras Tafari was in breach of “neutrality” – or what the Ethiopians called the “preservation of liberty.” There was no favouring of the Turkish-German expedition since French, British, and Italian messengers and caravans could also pass unhindered across the Empire and Holtz did not even carry war materials.193

  • 194 See e.g. Ras Alula Ǝngəda to Queen Victoria, Nov. 1849 “if there are any of the rifled foreign guns (...)
  • 195 Italian Legate to Foreign Minister Rome, 21 Jan. 1917, Documenti Diplomatici Iitaliani, 1978, 97, N (...)
  • 196 Foreign Ministry Rome to Italian Legate Addis Ababa, 18 Jul. 1917, Documenti Diplomatici Italiani, (...)
  • 197 PAAA Addis Ababa 5, German Legation, Addis Ababa, nach Mitteilung von Ato Haile Mariam, 13 Aug. 191 (...)

69To the contrary, the Holtz-Carmelich mission left the official Ethiopian-German relations in dire straits. From late 1916, the Ethiopians threw in their lot with the Allies. In turn they pressed, as during the previous decades,194 for the deliveries of modern weapons; asking for example the French for “30 maxim guns and some cannons,” as the anxious Italian legate Colli di Felizzano in Addis Ababa reported to Rome.195 In June 1917, the Ethiopians finally came forward offering the Allied legates that Ethiopia would break off all relations with the Central Powers and in turn expected the delivery of weapons, including airplanes. Much to the chagrin of the Italians, the British government “considered this proposal favourably.” In the following, Italian diplomats in Rome, London and Paris did their utmost to convince the British and French not to provide the Ethiopians with any sophisticated weaponry.196 Two months later, when he still tried to convince the Ethiopians of Holtz’s innocence and French transgressions, rumours reached legate Syburg that Ras Tafari had summoned his ministers in June to debate the possibility of joining the war. The Ras, known for his “francophilie,” had argued apparently that Ethiopia’s “isolation” (i.e. its neutrality) could entail the risk of losing the country’s independence after the Europeans would conclude peace. Given Ethiopia’s encirclement by Allied colonies, the Turkish enmity, the refusal of the Turks and Germans to recognise Empress Zäwditu, and finally the “difficulties” caused by Holtz, Ras Tafari and his elite were said to be willing to declare war on Germany and Turkey. The Allied representatives, however, had refused the Ethiopian proposal of material support in the ongoing war, the Ethiopian confidant of the German legate reported.197

  • 198 Foreign Ministry Rome to Italian Amb. London, 19 Nov. 1917, Documenti Diplomatici Italiani, 1983, 3 (...)
  • 199 Colosimo to S. Sonnino, Roma 26 Jul. 1917, No. 4697, Ministero 1919, 162.
  • 200 Bahru Zewde 2002, 9.

70Considering the Italian concerns that Ras Tafari would use Ethiopia’s participation in the World War as a way to modernise his army and thus increase the capabilities to defend his empire, the British and French gave in to the pressure from Rome to reject the Ethiopian offer. In November 1917, the Italian Foreign Minister Sonnino ranted against the French legate in Addis Ababa de Coppet. He accused de Coppet to have publicly announced in July that Ethiopia “would end its neutrality” and, worse, had “encouraged the Ethiopian aspirations to participate in the military expedition against Jerusalem and in a future peace congress.”198 All this was anathema to the Italians. They considered that the prevention of the delivery of arms to Ethiopia was “a vital issue for increasing security in Eritrea, Somalia and for our future in Ethiopia.”199 The Italian government convinced their Allies that a neutral but friendly Ethiopia was more helpful than an additional but “unnecessary” brother-in-arms who would later make unwanted claims, based on strengthened sovereignty and an unwelcome sense of equality. While it was already “not easy […] to join the European club” of sovereigns for Menelik II in the 1890s,200 the Italians were determined to make any attempts in this respect even more complicated for Ras Tafari.

  • 201 PAAA Addis Ababa 5, German Legation, Addis Ababa, nach Mitteilung von Hapte Mariam 5 Sep. 1917.
  • 202 PAAA Addis Ababa 5, Empress Zäwditu to German Legation, Addis Ababa, 8 Sep. 1917.
  • 203 Colosimo 1959, 79.

71Furthermore, a secret convention was said to have been agreed upon between Ras Tafari (being afraid of a return of Lij Iyasu) on the one hand, and the British, the Italians, and the French on the other hand, about the partition of Ethiopia. Allegedly Ethiopia was to be declared a “protectorate.”201 As the Germans assumed that Empress Zäwditu was excluded from these negotiations, they informed her immediately. Zäwditu’s response, written in English by an advisor, was remarkably sober in tone: “she said ‘if Tafari prefers to be under the Europe[an] Power it is well, he gets all the benefit of the Government and I have nothing but only [the] name [of Empress]’.”202 In the following months Ras Tafari continued his attempts to join the war on the Allied side, so his army could receive modern weapons. In early 1918, even Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau asked his Italian counterpart Vitorio Orlando about “Ras Tafari’s proposal to provide 2,000 men against the Central Powers.”203 Evidently, the Italians again objected sharply.

  • 204 On expansion schemes going back to the Treaty of London (26 Apr. 1915) between Britain and Italy: I (...)
  • 205 PAAA Addis Ababa 7, German translation of: Ethiopian Chiefs to Legate Syburg and Consul General Maẓ (...)

72Despite these Ethiopian offers to fight for the Entente and the discontents the Holtz-Carmelich incident had caused, contacts between the Central Powers’ legations and members of the Ethiopian government and other elite personnel remained active. Ethiopians continued to make use of their “liberty” that was preserved to them due to their neutrality. When rumours reached Addis Ababa in mid-1918 that the French and the British would consent to Italian expansion into Ethiopia,204 a number of Ethiopian officials requested the German and the Turkish legates help to preserve Ethiopia’s independence. To further their argument they referred to two precedents. First, the Ethiopians reminded the German representative that already “Menelik II feared the violation of our borders by neighbouring states.” He had thus “asked Emperor William II to protect the independence of Ethiopia […] and had received a positive response” from Berlin. Second, the Ethiopians explicitly referred to the Russian-German peace treaty of Brest-Litowsk (3 March 1918), in which the Central Powers had “guaranteed” the independence of Persia and Afghanistan (this was indeed the case in article VII). Therefore, the Ethiopians requested that the “independence of our fatherland” would also be specifically stipulated in a future “general peace treaty.” As a sort of recompense they promised to work towards an “eternal peace and friendship treaty” to be concluded “in favour of the Central Powers.”205

  • 206 See the photograph of the ‘Ethiopian Friends of the Allies. The Abyssinian Mission’, Illustrated Lo (...)
  • 207 Italian Foreign Minister to Minister of the Colonies, Paris, 15 May 1919, in Ministero delle coloni (...)
  • 208 Fouke 1919, 441.
  • 209 Cf. Obregón 2012, 917-939.
  • 210 Iadarola 1975, 613-622; cf. Parfitt 2011, 860-866.

73Given the German defeat a few months later, such treaty was never concluded. The Ethiopian government congratulated the Allies for their victory, but neither was the German legation in Addis Ababa closed down, nor where Germans treated less favourably. In May 1919, the Allies welcomed an “Abyssinian mission” in Paris and London only lukewarm.206 The Italians in particular were alarmed that the French would seize the opportunity of the re-organisation of African affairs at Versailles to declare a French protectorate over Ethiopia – a step in clear contravention to the tri-partite treaty of 1906.207 In contemporary international law literature Ethiopia was still listed according to the above-quoted pre-war evolutionary framework as a “barbarous state;” albeit the article admitted that “the independent civilized states of the world show in their relation with each other a state of warfare and violence which is but little removed from barbarism.”208 Did the World War make people doubt the distinct value of the concept of “civilisation”?209 France was in favour of Ethiopia joining the League of Nations; however Italy at first and especially Britain vehemently opposed such a step. Only in 1923 was this African state finally admitted into this “illustrious” circle of allegedly “civilised” adherents of international law.210

Bibliography

Abbenhuis, M. 2014. An Age of Neutrals. Great Power Politics, 1815-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Abir, M. 1980, Ethiopia and the Red Sea. The Rise and Decline of the Solomonic Dynasty and Muslim-European Rivalry in the Region (London: F. Cass, 1980).

Alexandrowicz, C. H. 1973. The European-African Confrontation. A Study in Treaty Making (Leiden: Sijthoff, 1973).

Anand, R. P. 1987. ‘Influence of History on the Literature of International Law’, in Id. International Law and the Developing Countries. Confrontation or Cooperation? (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1987), 1-52.

Appleyard D., A. K. Irvine and R. Pankhurst, 1985. Letters from Ethiopian Rulers (Early and Mid-Nineteenth Century) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).

Arnauld, P. 1992. Prelude to Magdala. Emperor Theodore of Ethiopia and British Diplomacy (London: Bellew, 1992).

Bahru Zewde 1990. ‘Concessions and Concession-Hunters in Post-Adwa Ethiopia. The Case of Arnold Holz’, Africa [Roma], 45 (1990), 365-383.

Bahru Zewde 2001. A History of Modern Ethiopia, 1855-1991 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Bahru Zewde 2002. ‘Introduction’ in R. Caulk, ‘Between the Jaws of Hyenas’. A Diplomatic History of Ethiopia (1876-1896) (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2002), 1-12.

Bahru Zewde 2003. ‘Boundaries with the Sudan’, in S. Uhlig, ed., EAE, 1 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2003), 613.

Bairu Tafla 1981. Ethiopia and Germany .Cultural, Political and Economic Relations, 1871-1936 (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner, 1981).

Barth, B. and J. Osterhammel, eds, 2005. Zivilisierungsmissionen. Imperiale Weltverbesserung seit dem 18. Jahrhundert (Konstanz: IVK, 2005).

Bates, D. 1979. The Abyssinian Difficulty. Emperor Theodorus and the Magdala Campaign 1867-68 (Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).

Benmelech, M. 2016. ‘Back to the Future. The Ten Tribes and Messianic Hopes in Jewish Society during the Early Modern Age’, in W. Brandes, F. Schmieder, and R. Voß, eds, Peoples of the Apocalypse. Eschatological Beliefs and Political Scenarios (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016), 193-209.

Berhanou Abebe 2001. ‘Le coup d’État du 26 septembre 1916 ou le dénouement d'une décennie de crise’, Annales d'Ethiopie, 17 (2001), 309-359.

Bowden, B. 2005. ‘The Colonial Origins of International Law. European Expansion and the Classical Standard of Civilization’, Journal for the History of International Law, 7 (2005), 1-23.

Bowden, B. 2009. The Empire of Civilization. The Evolution of an Imperial Idea (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).

Breasted, J. H. 1908. ‘Recovery and Decipherment of the Monuments of Ancient Ethiopia’, The Biblical World, 32/6 (1908), 370-385.

Broadhead, S. H. 1979. ‘Beyond Decline. The Kingdom of the Congo in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries’, International Journal of African Studies, 12 (1979), 615-650.

Caraman, P. 1985. The Lost Empire. The Story of the Jesuits in Ethiopia, 1555-1634 (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985).

Caulk, R. 2002. ‘Between the Jaws of Hyenas’. A Diplomatic History of Ethiopia (1876-1896) (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2002).

Cavallar, G. 2012. ‘Eye-Deep in Hell. Heinrich Lammasch, the Confederation of Neutral States, and Austrian Neutrality, 1899–1920’, in R. Lettevall et al., eds, Neutrality in Twentieth-Century Europe. Intersections of Science, Culture, and Politics After the First World War (New York: Routledge, 2012), 273-294.

Chassé, D. S. 2012. ‘The Scientific Construction of Swiss Neutrality’, in R. Lettevall et al., eds, Neutrality in Twentieth-Century Europe. Intersections of Science, Culture, and Politics after the First World War (New York: Routledge, 2012), 159-177.

Coates, G. 1909. Staatliche Einrichtungen und Landessitten in Abessinien (Berlin: A. Glaue, 1909).

Colosimo, G. 1959. Opera trattadagliscritti di Gaspare Colosimo (1916-1919) (Pompei: Scuolatipografica, 1959).

Delaunay, J. M. 2004. ‘Les neutres européens’, in S. Andoin-Rouzeau and J. J. Becker, eds, Encyclopédie de la Grande Guerre 1914–1918 (Paris: Flammarion, 2004), 855-866.

Dombrowski, F. A. 1985. Ethiopia’s Access to the Sea (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1985).

Donzel, E. J. van 1979. Foreign Relations of Ethiopia 1642-1700. Documents Relating to the Journeys of Khodja Murad (Istanbul: Nederlands Historich-Archaelogisch Instituutte Istanbul, 1979).

Elliesie, H. 2008. ‘Amharisch als diplomatische Sprache im Völkervertragsrecht’, Aethiopica. International Journal of Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies, 11 (2008), 235-244.

Erlich, H. 1982. Ethiopia and Eritrea during the Scramble for Africa. A Political Biography of Ras Alula 1875-1897 (East Lansing: African Studies Center, 1982).

Erlich, H. 1986. Ethiopia and the Challenge of Independence (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1986).

Erlich, H. 1995. Ethiopia and the Middle East (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1995).

Erlich, H. 2014. ‘From Wello to Harer. Lij Iyasu, the Ottomans, and the Somali Sayyid’, in É. Ficquet and W. Smidt, eds, The Life and Times of Lïj Iyasu of Ethiopia. New Insights (Zürich: LIT, 2014), 135-147.

Fassbender, B. and A. Peters 2012. ‘Introduction. Towards a Global History of International Law’, in Fassbender, B. and A. Peters, eds, Oxford Handbook of International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 1-24.

Fisch, J. 1984. Die europäische Expansion und das Völkerrecht. Die Auseinandersetzungen um den Status der überseeischen Gebiete vom 15. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1984).

Fouke, R. R. 1919. ‘Definition and Nature of International Law’, Columbia Law Review ,19 (1919), 429-466.

G.H.S. 1884. ‘Remarks on the Ethiopic’, Hebraica, 1/2 (1884), 123-127.

Gathii, J. T. 2012. ‘Africa’, in B. Fassbender and A. Peters, eds, Oxford Handbook of International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 407-428.

Gaurier, D. 2014. Histoire du droit international. De l’Antiquité à la création de l’ONU (Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2014).

Garner, J. W. 1920. International Law and the World War (London: Longmans, Green, 1920).

Giglio, C. 1965. ‘Article 17 of the Treaty of Uccialli’, The Journal of African History, 6/2 (1965), 221-231.

Giglio, C. 1968. L’articolo XVII del trattato di Uccialli (Como: Casa Editrice Pietro Cairoli, 1968).

Gill, J. 1959. The council of Florence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959).

Girma-Selassie Asfaw and D. L. Appleyard in collaboration with E. Ullendorff, 1979. The Amharic Letters of Emperor Theodore of Ethiopia to Queen Victoria and her Special Envoy (Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).

Gonçalves, A. C. 2005. A história revisitada de Kongo e de Angola (Lisbon: Editorial Estampa, 2005).

Hailegabriel G. Feyissa 2015. ‘European Extraterritoriality in Semicolonial Ethiopia’, Melbourne Journal of International Law, 17 (2016), 107-134.

Hammerschmidt, E. 1967. Äthiopien. Christliches Reich zwischen Gestern und Morgen (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1967).

Hanisch, M. 2014. ‘Max Freiherr von Oppenheim und die Revolutionierung der islamischen Welt als anti-imperiale Befreiung von oben’, in W. Loth and M. Hanisch, eds, Erster Weltkrieg und Dschihad. Die Deutschen und die Revolutionierung des Orients (München: Oldenbourg, 2014), 13–38.

Heine, P. 1980. ‘Leo Frobenius als politischer Agent’, Paideuma, 26 (1980), 1-5.

Holtz, A. 1908. Im Auto zu Kaiser Menelik (Berlin: Vita, 1908).

Holtz, A. 1929. Am Tor der Tränen (Bab al Mandeb) (Berlin, 1929).

Holtz, T. B. 2009. ‘The Hall Family and Ethiopia. A Century of Involvement’, in S. Ege, H. Aspen, Birhanu Teferra and Shiferaw Bekele, eds., Proceedings of the 16th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (Trondheim: NTNU, 2009), 109-117.

Hull, I. V. 2014. A Scrap of Paper. Breaking and Making International Law during the Great War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014).

I documenti diplomatici italiani, Quinta Serie 1914-1918 (Rome: Istituto poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, Libreria dello Stato, 1983; vol. VII, 1978; vol. VIII, 1980, vol. IX, 1983).

Iadarola, A. 1975. ‘Ethiopia’s Admission into the League of Nations. An Assessment of Motives’, International Journal of African Historical Studies, 8 (1975), 601-622.

Ilg, A. 1910. ‘Zur Geschichte der äthiopischen Eisenbahnen’, Jahresberichte der Geographisch-Ethnographischen Gesellschaft in Zürich, 10 (1910), 113-134.

Jehle, A. 1905. ‘“Africans”?’, Journal of the Royal African Society, 4/14 (1905), 242-244.

Jesman, C. 1958. The Russians in Ethiopia. An Essay in Futility (London: Chatto and Windus, 1958).

Keefer, E. C. 1981. ‘Great Britain, France, and the Ethiopian Tripartite Treaty of 1906’, Albion, 13 (1981), 364-380.

Koblik, S. S. 1972. The Neutral Victor. Sweden and the Western Powers 1917–1918. A Study of Anglo-American-Swedish Relations (Lund: Läromedelsförlagen, 1972).

Kopetzky, S. 2015. Risiko. Roman (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2015).

Koskenniemi, M. 2001. The Gentle Civilizer of Nations. The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

Kühn, T. 2007. ‘Shaping and Reshaping Colonial Ottomanism. Contesting Boundaries of Difference and Integration in Ottoman Yemen, 1872-1919’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 27 (2007), 315-331.

Labrousse, H. 1977. ‘La neutralité éthiopienne pendant la Première Guerre mondiale. L’incident Holtz-Karmelich’, Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Ethiopian Studies (Chicago, 1977), 525-546.

Link, A. S. 1960. Wilson. The Struggle for Neutrality, 1914–1915, vol. III (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960).

Littmann, E. 1903. ‘Abyssinian Apocalypses’, American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, 19/2 (1903), 83-95.

Marcus, H. G. 1964 ‘The Last Years of the Reign of the Emperor Menelik 1906-1913’, Journal of Semitic Studies, 9 (1964), 229-234.

Marcus, H. G. 1966. ‘The Foreign Policy of the Emperor Menilek 1896–1898. A Rejoinder’, The Journal of African History, 7 (1966), 117-122.

Marcus, H. G. 1994. A History of Ethiopia (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1994).

Marcus, H. G. 1995. The Life and Times of Menelik II. Ethiopia 1844-1913 (Lawrenceville: Red Sea Press, 1995).

Mark, R. A. 2013, Krieg an fernen Fronten. Die Deutschen in Russisch-Turkestan und am Hindukusch 1914-1924 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2013).

Martin, P. 1993. Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren. Afrikaner in Bewußtsein und Geschichte der Deutschen (Hamburg: Junius, 1993).

Marx, C. 2004. Geschichte Afrikas. Von 1800 bis zur Gegenwart (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2004).

Matthies, V. 2012. The Siege of Magdala. The British Empire Against the Emperor of Ethiopia (Princeton: Markus Wiener, 2012).

Milkias, P. and Getachew Metaferia, eds, 2005. The Battle of Adwa. Reflections on Ethiopia’s Historic Victory against European Colonialism (New York: Algora, 2005).

Ministero delle Colonie, 1919a. Affrica Italiana. Programma Massimo e programma minimo di sistemazione dei possedimenti italiani nell’Affrica orientale e settentrionale, I-IV (Roma: Tipografia del Senato, 1919).

Ministero delle Colonie, 1919b. Arabia, I-III (Roma: Tipografia del Ministero degli affari esteri, 1919).

Natsoulas, T. 1977. The Hellenic Presence in Ethiopia. A Study of a European Minority in Africa, 1740-1935 (Athens: [s.n.], 1977).

Natsoulas, T. and A. Wion, 2005. ‘Modern Relations with Greece and Greek Presence in Ethiopia’, in S. Uhlig, ed., EAE, 2 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2005), 879-884.

Neff, S. C. 2000. The Rights and Duties of Neutrals. A General History (Manchester: Juris Publishing, 2000).

Neumann, O. 1902. ‘From the Somali Coast through Southern Ethiopia to the Sudan’, Geographical Journal, 20/4 (1902), 373-398.

Nussbaum, A. 1953. ‘Lorenz von Stein on International Law and International Administration’, Festschrift Hans Lewald (Basel: Helbing & Lichtenhahn, 1953), 555-560.

Obregón, L. 2012. ‘The Civilized and the Uncivilized’, in B. Fassbender and A. Peters, eds, Oxford Handbook of International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 917-939.

Oppenheim, L. 1905. International Law. A Treatise. Vol. 1. Peace (London: Longmans Green, 1905).

Pankhurst, R. 1973. ‘Peter Heyling, Abba Gregorius and the Foundation of Studies in Germany’, Zeitschriftfür Kulturaustausch, 68 (1973), 144-146.

Pankhurst, R. 1977. ‘The History of Ethiopian-Armenian Relations’, Revue des Études Arméniennes, (1977) 12, 273-345; 13, 259-312; 15, 355-400.

Parfitt, R. 2011. ‘Empire des Nègres Blancs. The Hybridity of International Personality and the Abyssinia Crisis of 1935-36’, Leiden Journal of International Law, 24 (2011), 849-872.

Pérès, J. N. 2015. ‘Peter Heyling, Augustanae Confessioniaddictus. Missionnaire ou héros de roman d’aventures?’, Positions luthériennes, 63/3 (2015), 185-200.

Ravenstein, E. G. 1894. ‘The Recent Territorial Arrangements in Africa’, Geographical Journal, 4/1 (July 1894), 54-58.

Reeves, J. S. 1909. ‘The Origin of the Congo Free State Considered from the Standpoint of International Law’, American Journal of International Law, 3 (1909), 99-118.

Reid, G. 1915. ‘The Neutrality of China’, Yale Law Journal, 25 (1915), 122-128.

Rosen, F. 1907. Eine deutsche Gesandtschaft in Abessinien (Leipzig: Verlag von Veit, 1907).

Royal Geographical Society 1889. ‘Geographical Notes’, Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography, 11/11 (1889), 677-683.

Rubenson, S. 1964a. ‘The Protectorate Paragraph of the Wichale Treaty’, The Journal of African History, 2 (1964), 243-283.

Rubenson, S. 1964b. Wuchale XVII. The Attempt to Establish a Protectorate over Ethiopia (Addis Ababa: Institute of Ethiopian Studies, 1964).

Rubenson, S. 1966a. King of Kings. Tewodros of Ethiopia (Addis Abeba: Haile Sellassie I University; Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1966).

Rubenson, S. 1966b. ‘Professor Giglio, Antonelli and article XVII of the Treaty of Wichale’, The Journal of African History, 7/3 (1966), 445-457.

Salvadore, M. 2017. The African Prester John and the Birth of Ethiopian-European Relations, 1402-1555 (London: Routledge, 2017).

Samson, A. 2006. Britain, South Africa and the East Africa Campaign, 1914–1918. The Union comes of Age (London, Tauris, 2006).

Santos Lopes, M. Dos 1992. Africa. Eine neue Welt in deutschen Schriften des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 1992).

Scholler, H. 1978. ‘Letters exchanged between the Ethiopian and German Emperors’, in R. L. Hess, ed., Proceedings of the Vth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (Chicago: University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, 1979), 487-500.

Scholler, H. 2006. ‘Aspects of German-Ethiopian Diplomatic Relations’, in S. Uhlig et al., eds, Proceedings of the XVth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2006), 356-363.

Scholler, H. 2007. 100 Jahre deutsch-äthiopische diplomatische Beziehungen. Von der traditionellen Monarchie zum modernen Staat (Berlin: LIT, 2007).

Scholler, H. 2008a. ‘German World War I Aims in Ethiopia. The Frobenius-Hall Mission’, in H. Scholler, Recht und Politik in Äthiopien. Von der traditionellen Monarchie zum modernen Staat (Berlin: LIT, 2008), 42-65.

Scholler, H. 2008b. ‘The Ethiopian community in Jerusalem from 1850 to the Conference of Dar-el-Sultan 1902 – the political struggle for independence’, in H. Scholler, Recht und Politik in Äthiopien.Von der traditionellen Monarchie zum modernen Staat (Berlin: LIT, 2008), 26-41.

Schwarz, H. 1937. Die Entwicklung der völkerrechtlichen Beziehungen Äthiopiens zu den Mächten seit 1885, diss. iur. Breslau Universität 1937.

Sherman, G. E. 1918. ‘The Neutrality of Switzerland’, American Journal of International Law, 12 (1918), 780-795.

Sieben, H. J. 1996. Vom Apostelkonzil zum Ersten Vaticanum. Studien zur Konzilsidee (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1996).

Smidt, W. 2003. ‘Boundaries of Djibouti’, in S. Uhlig, ed., EAE, 1 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2003), 616.

Smidt, W. 2014a. ‘The foreign politics of Lïj Iyasu in 1915/16 According to Newly Discovered Government Papers’, in É. Ficquet and W. Smidt, eds, The Life and Times of Lïj Iyasu of Ethiopia. New Insights (Zürich: Lit, 2014), 103-113.

Smidt, W. 2014b. ‘Glossary of Terms and Events of the Lij Iyasu Period. Controversial and Non-Controversial Facts and Interpretations’, in É. Ficquet and W. Smidt, eds, The Life and Times of Lïj Iyasu of Ethiopia. New Insights (Zürich: Lit, 2014), 181-205.

Smidt, W. 2015. Photos as Historical Witnesses. The First Ethiopians in Germany and the first Germans in Ethiopia. The History of a Complex Relationship (Berlin-Münster: LIT, 2015).

Smidt, W. and H. Elliesie, 2014. ‘Treaties and Conventions’, in S. Uhlig, ed., EAE, 5 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2014), 537-542.

Stanley, H. M. 1900. ‘The Origin of the Negro Race’, The North American Review, 170/522 (1900), 656-665.

Steiner, B. 2014. Colberts Afrika. Eine Wissens- und Begegnungsgeschichte in Afrika im Zeitalter Ludwigs XIV (München: De Gruyter, 2014).

Stone, G. A. 1975. ‘The Official British Attitude to the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, 1910-45’, Journal of Contemporary History, 10 (1975), 729-746.

Strohmeier, M. 2016. ‘The “Very Real Bogey”. The Stotzingen-Neufeld Mission to the Hijaz (1916)’, Arabian Humanities, 6 (2016) <http://cy.revues.org/3098>, accessed on 9 Nov. 2017.

Taddesse Tamrat 1972. Church and State in Ethiopia, 1270-1527 (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1972).

Teixeira, N. S. 1998. L’entrée du Portugal dans la Grande Guerre. Objectifs nationaux et stratégies politiques (Paris: Économica, 1998).

Ullendorff, E. and C. F. Beckingham, 1964. ‘The First Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty’, Journal of Semitic Studies, 9 (1964), 187-199.

Uoldelul Chelati Dirar 2011. ‘Attraversamenti di confini, politicheimperiali e strategieanticoloniali. L'attività del consolato etiopico di Asmara (1915-1936)’, in Uoldelul Chelati Dirar et al., eds, Colonia e postcolonia come spazi diasporici (Roma: Carocci, 2011), 187-208.

Verzijl, J. H. W. 1979. The Law of Neutrality (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1979).

Walter, D. 2014. Organisierte Gewalt in der europäischen Expansion. Gestalt und Logik des Imperialkrieges (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2014).

Waugh, A. T. 1937. ‘The German Counter to Revolt in the Desert’, Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, 24/2 (1937), 313-317.

Will, A. 2012. Kein Griff nach der Weltmacht. Geheime Dienste und Propaganda im deutsch-österreichisch-türkischen Bündnis 1914-1918 (Köln-Wien: Böhlau, 2012).

Work, M. N. 1916. ‘The Passing Tradition and the African Civilization’, Journal of Negro History, 1/1 (1916), 34-41.

Yorulmaz, N. 2014. Arming the Sultan. German Arms Trade and Personal Diplomacy in the Ottoman Empire before World War (London-New York: I.B. Tauris- Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Zewde Gabre-Sellassie 1975. Yohannes IV of Ethiopia. A Political Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975).

Zichy, W. von 1880. ‘Die Danakil-Küste’, Dr. A. Petermann’s Mittheilungen aus Justus Perthes’ Geographischer Anstalt, 26 (1880), 133-136.

Zollmann, J. 2016. Naulila 1914.World War I in Angola and International Law. A Study in (Post-)Colonial Border Regimes and Interstate Arbitration (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 2016).

Zuurmond, R. 2003. ‘British and Foreign Bible Society’, in S. Uhlig, ed., EAE, 1 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2003), 626.

Notes

1 On these “well-worn paths” and their critics, cf. Fassbender and Peters 2012, 1, 10.

2 Schwarz 1937, 1.

3 Cf. however Smidt and Elliesie 2014 and the respective articles in the EAE on boundaries.

4 The same can be said about Ethiopian-Ottoman relations, cf. Scholler 2008b, 28 referring to a letter of 1443.

5 Benmelech 2016, 198.

6 Gathii 2012, 411.

7 Gill 1959, 18, 322-327; Sieben 1996, 280-289; Salvadore 2017.

8 Hammerschmidt 1967, 58-62; Taddesse Tamrat 1972.

9 Gonçalves 2005; Broadhead 1979, 615-650.

10 Caraman 1985.

11 Abir 1980; Donzel 1979; Pankhurst 1977, 273-345.

12 Ullendorff and Beckingham 1964, 187-199; Smidt and Elliesie 2014, 539.

13 Zuurmond 2003, 626.

14 Parfitt 2011, 850.

15 Girma-Selassie Asfaw and Appleyard 1979, xi.

16 Rubenson 1966a; Bates 1979; Arnauld 1992; Matthies 2012.

17 National Archives of Ethiopia (NAE), Yohannes IV to Queen Victoria, Jun. 1875, <www.nale.gov.et>, accessed on 17 May 2017.

18 Natsoulas and Wion 2005, 880; Marcus 1994, 82; cf. Natsoulas 1977; Smidt and Elliesie 2014, 539.

19 Smidt 2003, 616.

20 Royal Geographical Society 1889, 677.

21 Erlich 1986; Erlich 1982.

22 Marx 2004, 69.

23 Menelik to French President Carnot, 21 Apr. 1891, Caulk 2002, 269.

24 Rubenson 1964a; Rubenson, 1964b; translation in Milkias and Getachew Metaferia 2005, 144.

25 ‘[The] Languages of Diplomacy’, 2013. This issue provided the base for a dispute between Rubenson 1964b; 1966a, and Giglio 1965, 1968.

26 Alexandrowicz 1973.

27 Elliesie 2008, 238; Caulk 2002, 376; Hammerschmidt 1967, 71.

28 Marocheti to Blanc, 20 July 1894, Caulk 2002, 395.

29 Schwarz 1937, 36 f.n. 36 on the status of Harär; Caulk 2002, 394; cf. Ravenstein 1894, 58.

30 Oppenheim 1905, 140. The conditions he defined for the “existence of a State” were people, country, government, sovereignty.

31 Milkias and Getachew Metaferia 2005.

32 Menelik to Queen Victoria, 31 Mar. 1896, in Caulk 2002, 587.

33 Marcus 1966, 122.

34 Bairu Tafla 1981, 128; cf. Franco-Ethiopian agreement of Jan. 29 and 30, 1897, DDF XIII, 147; [British] Treaties with Ethiopia, and with Ethiopia and Italy respecting Frontiers between the Soudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, 15 May 1902. P.P. Cd. 1370. Treaty Series, No. 16. (1902); [British] Agreement with Ethiopia respecting Frontiers of British East Africa, Uganda, and Ethiopia, 6 Dec. 1907. P.P. Cd. 4318. Treaty Series, No. 27 (1908); cf. the map of 1908 detailing the boundaries of Ethiopia according to the relevant treaties reprinted in Bahru Zewede 2003, 613; Marcus 1995, 179-190.

35 President Fallieres promulgated a law extending consular jurisdiction to French citizens and protégés in Ethiopia, 16 November 1909, Revue Générale de Droit International Public, 16, 1910, 680.

36 Smidt and Elliesie 2014, 541.

37 Quoted in Anand 1987, 29.

38 Export, 3 Nov. 1903, in Bahru Zewde 1990, 370 the quote continues: “is the region through which culture and commerce will penetrate Africa.”

39 Marx 2004, 70, 127.

40 Hailegabriel G. Feyissa 2016, 117.

41 Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts, Berlin (PAAA) Addis Ababa 1, fol. 23, German Legation Addis Ababa to Foreign Office, 27 Jun. 1906 (Memorandum attached).

42 Bahru Zewde 1990, 365.

43 Hailegabriel G. Feyissa 2016, 114.

44 Oppenheim 1905, 148.

45 Ibid., 148, 3.

46 Ibid., 148, 3.

47 Koskenniemi 2001, 70.

48 Oppenheim 1905, 99.

49 Ibid., 148; 99.

50 Ibid., 99.

51 Ibid., 156.

52 Koskenniemi 2001, 74; cf. Barth and Osterhammel 2005; Bowden 2009.

53 Koskenniemi 2001, 7.

54 But see the report of the German Legate in Bucharest Kiderlen on the visit of Haile Mariam in 1905, PAAA Addis Ababa 1, fol. 37, German Legation Bucharest to Foreign Office, Berlin, 10 Oct. 1905.

55 Uoldelul Chelati Dirar 2011, 187-208.

56 E.g. ‘Convention between the United States of America and Italy, Montenegro, Russia… Ethiopia, … Providing for the Creation of an International Institute of Agriculture’, American Journal of International Law, 2/4 Suppl., Official Documents (1908), 358-362 (signed “For Ethiopia: Guiseppe Cuboni”).

57 Exchange of notes between the United Kingdom and [Ethiopia], with regard to import duties in Ethiopia. 13 April/12 May, 1909. Foreign Office (Cd. 5020).

58 Nussbaum 1953, 557.

59 Bairu Tafla 1981, 110; Berhanou Abebe 2001, 311.

60 Koskenniemi 2001, 75, referring to John Westlake.

61 Bahru Zewde 2002, 9.

62 Scholler 2008b, 29.

63 PAAA Addis Ababa 1, fol. 11, Foreign Office, Berlin to German Legation Addis Ababa, 24 Mar. 1906.

64 PAAA Addis Ababa 1, fol. 18, German Amb. Constantinople to Foreign Office, Berlin, 12 Feb. 1906.

65 Iadarola 1975, 603.

66 Keefer 1981, 379 f.n. 43.

67 Berhanou Abebe 2001, 313.

68 Marcus 1994, 108.

69 Schwarz 1937, 1, 37.

70 Marx 2004, 128.

71 In general on Germany and Africa: Santos Lopes 1992; Martin 1993.

72 Pankhurst 1973, 144-146; Pérès 2015, 185-200.

73 Cf. Steiner 2014, 439.

74 Oppenheim 1905, 108.

75 Stanley 1900, 660.

76 Holtz 1908, 81.

77 Bowden 2009; Bowden 2005, 1-23.

78 Holtz 1908, 7.

79 Work 1916, 37.

80 Jehle 1905, 242, the author was missionary of the Basle Mission Society in Kumasi.

81 Holtz 1908, 58.

82 Adamus Carolus to Damião de Góis, 28 Oct. 1540, in Salvadore 2017, 1.

83 Littmann 1903, 86.

84 Breasted 1908, 370.

85 G.H.S. 1884, 123.

86 Holtz 1908, 82.

87 Ibid., 91; Holtz 1929, 11.

88 Bahru Zewde 1990, 367.

89 Holtz 1908, 81.

90 Zewde Gabre-Sellassie 1975, 221.

91 Jesman 1958.

92 Neumann 1902, 373; cf. Ilg 1910, 113; Marcus 1994, 78.

93 Smidt 2015.

94 Neumann1902, 373.

95 Holtz 1908, 57.

96 Bahru Zewde 1990, 369; Holtz 1929, 5.

97 Rosen 1907; Scholler 2006, 356; Scholler 2007 and 1978, 487.

98 Keefer 1981, 374; the treaty is reprinted in Bairu Tafla 1981, 106.

99 PAAA Addis Ababa 1, fol. 63, German Legation Addis Ababa to Foreign Office, Berlin, 29 Dec. 1906; cf. Coates 1909; Marcus 1964.

100 Holtz 2009, 112; Labrousse 1977, 529.

101 Scholler 2008b, 41.

102 Holtz 1929, 6.

103 Scholler 2008b, 40; Bairu Tafla 1981, 112.

104 PAAA Addis Ababa 3, German Legation Addis Ababa to Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, 10 Apr. 1913.

105 Berhanou Abebe 2001, 310, quot. French sources; Bairu Tafla 1981, 129.

106 PAAA Addis Ababa 3, German Legation Addis Ababa to Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, 25 Sep. 1911.

107 PAAA Addis Ababa 3, German Legation Addis Ababa to Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, 20 Oct. 1912.

108 See the list of German envoys in Smidt 2015, 108.

109 Smidt 2014a, 104.

110 Foreign Relations of the United States of America, Washington D.C. 1920, vol. 2, 243f.

111 Cavallar 2012, 279.

112 Neff 2000, 129.

113 Abbenhuis 2014, 17.

114 Hull 2014, 16.

115 Gaurier 2014, 855; Delaunay 2004, 858.

116 Fisch 1984, 99; Walter 2014, 107; Reeves 1909, 115.

117 US National Archives and Record Administration (College Park) RG 84, Boma, v. 18, 718, USC Boma to SoS, 8 Aug.; 14 Aug.; 16 Jun. 1914, quot. in Zollmann 2016, 312.

118 Samson 2006, 633f.

119 Kühn 2007, 315.

120 Neff 2000, 136.

121 Verzijl 1979, 12.

122 Abbenhuis 2014, 4, 12, 17.

123 Chassé 2012, 159; Sherman 1918, 780.

124 Koblik 1972.

125 Link 1960.

126 Teixeira 1998.

127 Reid 1915, 122.

128 Labrousse 1977, 525.

129 Abbenhuis 2014, 2.

130 Neff 2000, 158.

131 PAAA, Addis Ababa 3, German Legation, Addis Ababa to Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, 27 Jun. 1915; Bairu Tafla 1981, 133.

132 Quoted in Dombrowski 1985, 65.

133 Uoldelul Cherati Dirar 2011, 191 f.n. 13, quoting Italian Legate Colli di Felizzano, 12 Dec. 1914.

134 PAAA Addis Ababa 3, German Legate, Addis Ababa to Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, 27 Jun. 1915; Bairu Tafla 1981, 130-6.

135 Erlich 1995, 85-91.

136 Scholler 2008a, 54.

137 Maẓhar to Ministry, 13 Feb. 1915, in Erlich 2014, 138, 141.

138 Marcus 1995, 265-76; Bahru Zewde 2001, 126f.

139 Hanisch 2014, 13; Mark 2013; cf. also the novel by Kopetzky, 2015 about the German mission to the Hindukush.

140 Yorulmaz 2014.

141 Supplement to Maẓhar’s letter, 12 or 27 May 1915; Turkish manifesto, Jun. 1916, in Erlich 2014, 139.

142 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, French translation of Scheik Matar ben Achmed to German Legation, Addis Ababa, 8 Jul. 1916.

143 Bairu Tafla 1981, 134 f.n. 73.

144 Scholler 2008a, 51.

145 PAAA Addis Ababa 17, German Legation, Addis Ababa to Lij Iyasu, 2 June 1915; Bahru Zewde 1990, 377.

146 Erlich 2014, 139.

147 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, German Legation, Addis Ababa to Lij Iyasu, 12 March 1916.

148 German Envoy Bern to Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, 8 January 1916, in Scholler 2008a, 43.

149 Bairu Tafla 1981, 134.

150 Erlich 2014, 136.

151 Smidt 2014a, 107; similar Bairu Tafla 1981, 134.

152 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, Lij Iyasu to German Envoy and Turkish Consul General, Addis Ababa, 19 May 1916 The original was alleged to be with the Turkish Consul General Maẓhar Bey.

153 Maẓhar to Ministry, 4 September 1916, Erlich 2014, 144.

154 Scholler 2008a, 45, 52.

155 Stone 1975, 733.

156 Reid 1915, 124.

157 Scholler 2008a, 43.

158 Berhanou Abebe 2001, 326f.

159 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, Abun (“Archbishop”) Matéwos to German Legate, Addis Ababa, 28 Sep. 1916.

160 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, Remark, German Legation, Addis Ababa, 19 Oct. 1916; on the alleged conversion cf. Smidt 2014b, 185.

161 Marcus 1994, 108.

162 PAAA Addis Ababa 5, German Legation, Addis Ababa, remark, 19 Mar. 1917.

163 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, German Legate to Turkish Consul General, Addis Ababa, 1 Oct. 1916.

164 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, Remark, German Legate, Addis Ababa, 2 Oct. 1916.

165 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, Ras Tafari, Sagale to German Legate, Addis Ababa, 28 Oct. 1916; response 30 Oct. 1916.

166 PAAA Addis Ababa 5, German Legation, Addis Ababa to Minister of Justice Telahon, 5 Jan. 1917; Maẓhar Bey to Syburg, 15 Jan. 1917.

167 PAAA Addis Ababa 4, German Envoy to all Germans in Addis Ababa, 25 Oct. 1916.

168 Ibid.

169 Scholler 2008a, 45.

170 Will 2012, 236-240; Holtz 2009, 112; Heine 1980, 1.

171 Scholler 2008a, 48.

172 Waugh 1937, 313; Will 2012, 246-249; Strohmeier 2016.

173 Holtz 1929, 15; Bahru Zewde 1990, 380.

174 Zollmann 2016, 101-118.

175 PAAA Addis Ababa 108, fol. 1, A. Holtz, receipt from German Legation, 25 Sep. 1916.

176 Holtz 1929, 16.

177 Labrousse 1977, 531.

178 Zichy 1880, 133.

179 Holtz 1929, 39.

180 Labrousse 1977, 534.

181 Smidt 2014a, 107.

182 Labrousse 1977, 534.

183 Oppenheim 1905, 149.

184 Labrousse 1977, 534.

185 PAAA Addis Ababa 108, fol. 124, German Legation, Addis Ababa to Empress Zaudito and Mulugeta Yəggäzu, 24 Sep. 1917.

186 PAAA Addis Ababa 108, fol. 144, German Legation to Foreign Minister Mulugeta Yəggäzu, 5 Nov. 1917.

187 Labrousse 1977, 536.

188 PAAA Addis Ababa 108, fol. 150, Le Courrier d’Ethiopie, 16 Nov. 1917, 3 “condamnation à mort”; fol. 314, Ras Tafari to German Legation, 10 May 1919.

189 Holtz 1929, 55.

190 Abbenhuis 2014, 238.

191 Neff 2000, 130.

192 See the article of Massimo Zaccaria ‘Feeding the War. Canned Meat Production in the Horn of Africa and the Italian Front’ in this volume.

193 Garner 1920, 376-382.

194 See e.g. Ras Alula Ǝngəda to Queen Victoria, Nov. 1849 “if there are any of the rifled foreign guns which fire by capsule, the large ones, I should like them.” in Appleyard, Irvine and Pankhurst 1985, 87 (Letter XV).

195 Italian Legate to Foreign Minister Rome, 21 Jan. 1917, Documenti Diplomatici Iitaliani, 1978, 97, No. 135. I am most grateful to Massimo Zaccaria for pointing out the Italian sources to me.

196 Foreign Ministry Rome to Italian Legate Addis Ababa, 18 Jul. 1917, Documenti Diplomatici Italiani, 1980, 424, No. 677.

197 PAAA Addis Ababa 5, German Legation, Addis Ababa, nach Mitteilung von Ato Haile Mariam, 13 Aug. 1917; Berhanou Abebe 2001, 314.

198 Foreign Ministry Rome to Italian Amb. London, 19 Nov. 1917, Documenti Diplomatici Italiani, 1983, 328f., No. 485.

199 Colosimo to S. Sonnino, Roma 26 Jul. 1917, No. 4697, Ministero 1919, 162.

200 Bahru Zewde 2002, 9.

201 PAAA Addis Ababa 5, German Legation, Addis Ababa, nach Mitteilung von Hapte Mariam 5 Sep. 1917.

202 PAAA Addis Ababa 5, Empress Zäwditu to German Legation, Addis Ababa, 8 Sep. 1917.

203 Colosimo 1959, 79.

204 On expansion schemes going back to the Treaty of London (26 Apr. 1915) between Britain and Italy: Iadarola 1975, 605.

205 PAAA Addis Ababa 7, German translation of: Ethiopian Chiefs to Legate Syburg and Consul General Maẓhar Bey, Addis Ababa, 18 May 1918.

206 See the photograph of the ‘Ethiopian Friends of the Allies. The Abyssinian Mission’, Illustrated London News, vol. 155, No. 4185, 5 July 1919: 18; PAAA R 14908 Allgemeine Angelegenheiten Abessiniens, vol. 25, German Legation Bern to Foreign Office Berlin, 12 Jun. 1919, report of 2 Jun. 1919; Bairu Tafla 1981, 137.

207 Italian Foreign Minister to Minister of the Colonies, Paris, 15 May 1919, in Ministero delle colonie 1919b, II, 352.

208 Fouke 1919, 441.

209 Cf. Obregón 2012, 917-939.

210 Iadarola 1975, 613-622; cf. Parfitt 2011, 860-866.

Author

WZB Berlin Social Science Center

© Centre français des études éthiopiennes, 2018

Terms of use: http://www.openedition.org/6540