During my winter breaks, my parents give me the opportunity to travel the world — if, of course, traveling the world meant staying in a selected western European country for a couple weeks. As someone who relishes every opportunity to travel, I am forever grateful to have the chance to experience other countries with my parents. I seek to maximize my experiences abroad as much as possible through documenting my travels through writing and photography. But, as someone also with a basic understanding of political economy among developing countries, I cannot bring myself to appreciate the aesthetic beauties afforded by high-income countries without taking note of their colonial history.

tours in colonialism represents my attempt to bridge the void between the effect of the aesthetic beauty of western Europe and its cause through a history of exploitation of developing economies. I will now summarize some scholarly literature on the past of these countries because I want individuals to feel as I do — ambivalent between the act of appreciating and the act of despising. Because, no matter how well some countries hide their past through historical revisionism and cultural hegemony, as long as the effects of colonialism can still be seen today, I can never appreciate any aspect western European countries without a backdrop of disdain. Rotten fruit, despite smelling sweet, is still rotten fruit. 

Italy did not create an empire until well after other European countries had started to create their own colonies. After feeling isolated from colonial negotiations in Europe, Italy joined the Triple Alliance during World War I in response to their alienation. Their first few years in colonialism had largely been defined through secret agreements, such as the acquiring of present-day Somalia and Eritrea; their first significant attempt of conquest came after political deterioration in the form of the First Italo-Ethiopian War. Although the Ethiopians prevailed, they suffered 4,000 dead and 10,000 wounded at the hands of the Italians.

After a wave of nationalism starting the 20th Century, the Italians declared war on the Ottoman Empire, acquiring Libya from the conflict. The successful conquest by the Italians had been to many factors, notably the first significant use of armored vehicles and airplanes in desert warfare. After their victory against the Ottomans, the joined the World War I on the side of Britain and France, with the promise that they will gain Germany’s African territories should they emerge victoriously. They emerged victoriously and acquired territory after the war. Italy occupied Albania until Albania started to rebel. Their aggression peaked during World War II after the rise of fascism.

After other European countries denied Italy territory in Ethiopia, Italy waged the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, resulting in the death of 377,500 combatants and 382,800 civilians, compared to the 10,000 that were killed on the Italian side. Only 25 percent of the Ethiopian army had military training, and many were armed with antiquated weapons not limited to bows and arrows, spears, and pre-1900 rifles. The Italians conscripted soldiers from their other colonies, ignited ethnic tensions within Ethiopia to encourage instability, and frequently used chemical weapons such as phosphene gas and mustard gas indiscriminately against entire villages.

Over four percent (~760,000) of the Ethiopian population was killed by the Italians during their second conquest of Ethiopia. One in twenty-five Ethiopians were killed.

Of course, reliable statistics would be hard to obtain, as the Italians razed hospitals and burned records during their invasion. After their victory, occupied Ethiopia using terror campaigns not limited to forced labor camps, public executions, and the mutilation of corpses. During their occupation, over 30,000 civilians had been killed, many of them who were students receiving their education. To facilitate disunity, the Italians gave more rights to racial minorities to maintain a constant state of political unrest within the region. Their dabble colonialism ended with the conclusion of World War II, where the Treaty of Paris stipulates the relinquishment of all colonial territories.

Such is the price of pretty buildings.