Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Savoia, Amedeo Umberto di (Duca d'Aosta) (1898–1942)

Italian air force general and colonial viceroy. Born at Turin on 21 October 1898, Amedeo di Savoia was the son of Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia, the 2nd Duke of Aosta, a prominent World War I Italian army leader and supporter of protofascist Gabriele d'Annunzio's putative military dictatorship. Despite his youth, Amedeo di Savoia was a decorated soldier in World War I, and after completing his interrupted studies, he joined his uncle, Luigi di Savoia, Duke of the Abruzzi, in establishing a colonial agricultural concern in Somalia.

From 1922 to 1926, Savoia worked in the Congo, obtained a law degree in Palermo, fought in the Italian pacification of Libya, and earned his military pilot's license. On the death of his father in 1931, Savoia became the 3rd Duke of Aosta. He also rose rapidly through the ranks of the Italian air force. Promoted to major general in 1936, by late 1937 he was also appointed viceroy of Ethiopia, where besides pursuing more humane "pacification" policies of that territory, he introduced modern agricultural methods and sought to improve public works.

Despite his misgivings regarding Italy's June 1940 entry into the war, the Duke of Aosta's numerically superior forces overran British holdings in Sudan and British Somaliland during the first several months. Hampered by sparse supplies and internal dissent, they could not hold out against British counterattacks in early 1941. By April 1941, the British had taken Keren, and the Italians were obliged to abandon Addis Ababa.

Making a valiant last stand at Amba Alagi, Amedeo di Savoia and the remains of his force finally surrendered on 19 May 1941. Already ill and fatigued, he was transferred to a British prisoner-of-war camp at Nairobi, where he died on 3 March 1942.

Gordon E. Hogg


Further Reading
Borra, Edoardo. Amedeo di Savoia: Terza Duca d'Aosta e Viceré di Etiopia. Milan, Italy: Mursia, 1985.; Sbacchi, Alberto. Ethiopia under Mussolini: Fascism and the Colonial Experience. London: Zed, 1985.; Sbacchi, Alberto. Legacy of Bitterness: Ethiopia and Fascist Italy, 1935–1941. Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press, 1997.
 

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