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It would take a massive, multinational effort to defeat Hitler, Mussolini, and Imperial Japan, and cost tens of millions of lives.
Mussolini, seeking an "Italian Empire" in Africa, threw his army and air force against Ethiopia in October 1935. Fascist planes bombed and dropped poison gas on villages. Emperor Haile Selassie turned to the League of Nations and speaking in his native Amharic described fascist air and chemical attacks on a people "without arms, without resources."
In the United States some 2,800 young men and women of different races and backgrounds formed the "Abraham Lincoln Brigade." Seamen and students, farmers and professors, they hoped that their bravery could turn the tide, or at last alert the world to the fascist drive for world domination. Most made their way to Spain illegally as "tourists" visiting France.
William Loren Katz is the author of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, The Lincoln Brigade: A Picture History (with Marc Crawford), and 40 other books on African American history, including many for young adults. His website is www.williamlkatz.com. This article is part of the Zinn Education Project If We Knew Our History series.
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