A Unique Partnership: Czech Mausers for Ethiopia after WWII

A Unique Partnership: Czech Mausers for Ethiopia after WWII


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian McCollum, and I’m here down in Florida at Inter Ordnance today taking a look at this, which is a post-World War Two Czech Mauser manufactured specifically for … sale to Ethiopia. Inter Ordnance has brought in a whole slew of very interesting firearms from Africa, and this is one that we’re taking a look at today. So let’s start by talking about the Czechs. What were they doing still making Mausers after the war? Well, of course the Brno factory had been … set up to manufacture Kar98ks, as well as some other firearms, under German occupation during World War Two. And when that occupation ended, well, when the war ended, the Brno factory just kept on making these guns for commercial export. This was a good way to … quickly get hard cash into the country, you know, help a struggling post-war economy. Now Ethiopia. Like, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia,
seems like a weird connection to make. And … I think there’s a really
interesting backstory to it. So before World War Two, Ethiopia had been more
connected to France and Belgium for its arms supply. In fact way, way back they’re actually connected
to Russia because they were an Orthodox Christian country much like Russia,
and that formed a bond between the two. At any rate, they had always traditionally had fairly
poor relations with the British and the Italians, both of whom were very interested in
having Ethiopia as a colonial possession. The … Italians occupied Ethiopia in the late 1930s, The British kicked them out during World War Two and then
interestingly, this is a little sneaky and maybe a little underhanded, after liberating Ethiopia the British rounded
up as much war materiel as they could find. Every bit of Italian military
equipment, and took it with them under the ostensible reason that
they needed it for their own war effort. In reality, they didn’t want Ethiopia
to maintain a strong military, they didn’t want to Ethiopia to get all this
free stuff left by the Italian occupying army. The British didn’t actually use most of the stuff, most of
it they destroyed, threw in the ocean, that sort of thing. This, not surprisingly, left a bit of a
sour taste in the Ethiopian Emperor, Emperor Haile Selassie, in his mouth after the war. So post-World War Two he’s reinstated into power,
he comes back out of exile, and he wants to set up a position in the international community that
reduces British influence over Ethiopian affairs. He doesn’t like the British. He thinks they have
designs on his country, and frankly he’s probably right. What he really wanted was to work with the United
States. See, back in the ’30s when Italy invaded Ethiopia, … like Ethiopia was part of the League of Nations,
and they went to the League of Nations and they said, “Hey, this is exactly why you formed. We
have been blatantly invaded by a neighbour, you know, by another country in the
League of Nations. You should do something.” The problem is the League of Nations wasn’t willing
to do anything. They all had their own conflicting single national … interests that influenced
what they thought ought to happen. The British didn’t want to antagonise
the Italians by siding with Ethiopia. The whole premise of the League of Nations was thrown out
the window in favour of everyone’s individual political desires. And this really is one of the the main factors that
led to the League of Nations being abandoned. Italy walked out and just left after this. However, there were a few countries that actually did
something, and the United States was one of them. When Italy invaded Ethiopia, the US put … trade
sanctions on Italy because of their actions. And Haile Selassie remembered that, he also … had the experience that the US
didn’t have these colonial interests in Africa. And what he wanted was a reliable defence
partner that he could trust not to try and, basically, steal his country
from him at the first opportunity. And he thought the US was perfect,
especially in the aftermath of World War Two. European powers are on the decline, the two major superpowers
that have appeared are the United States and Russia. And between the two he wants
to side with the United States. So he actually does get a little bit of
Lend-Lease aid during World War Two. The British hold it up, the British again really want to
keep Ethiopia unarmed and basically ripe for possession. So he gets a little bit, the British delay it, it takes
like two years to get a couple thousand rifles and like 50 machine guns
over to Ethiopia as Lend-Lease. In 1950, … Selassie offers to send Ethiopian troops to
help fight in the Korean War to curry favour with the US. But the US’s position is twofold. First off, it really doesn’t
care. And secondly, it doesn’t want to piss off the British. So the US didn’t really want Ethiopia, it didn’t
really care what happened to Ethiopia, so really for the US it was a balancing act of, “We get nothing, but we piss off the British
if we start supplying Ethiopia with arms.” So this left Haile Selassie looking for some
other partner, and he found Czechoslovakia. The Czechs were eager to have
a partner to buy stuff from them, and the relationship that they developed with
Ethiopia actually went far beyond military assistance or military arms. It expanded into pharmaceuticals
and agricultural equipment and industry. And there was actually a remarkable
partnership between the two countries. Ethiopia was basically the only country that
Czechoslovakia had this sort of trading relationship with outside of the Communist
Soviet Bloc in the years after 1948. So that is a tremendous amount of long-winded
introduction. Let’s take a look at what this rifle actually is. When we look at this rifle it is effectively a
K98k, the Czechs didn’t change the tooling, they didn’t change the parts, they in
many cases didn’t change the markings, they just kept on making these rifles
that they were already set up to do. And so the quality is every bit as good as it was when
the Germans were in charge, same program. The one distinctive feature that
you might notice is the trigger guard. It’s actually not just the trigger guard, it’s
the trigger guard and the magazine floorplate. So the problem is when … Brno was making these
for the Germans they actually didn’t make these parts. They received these from, I believe, Mauser and
Gustloff to incorporate into their finished guns. And so when the war ended they didn’t have a whole
lot of these, and they didn’t have the capacity to make more, well, not this exact
style, but the original German pattern. So what they did instead was tool up to make
their own floorplate and trigger guard assemblies. And they actually took the US 1903A3 as inspiration
for the style of the magazine floorplate there. And then they gave it this distinctively bulged trigger guard
to allow the use of gloves in cold weather when firing the rifle. So you’ll find this, this is very distinctive, and this
is always post-war. These were never used on German military World War Two production guns. … For
the basic reason they didn’t exist during World War Two. It was only when German parts ran
out that these were put into production. The receiver markings here are very much German. So they still have Model 98 and they
continued to use German ordnance codes. … Like, that’s what they had as receiver
markings and they just kept on using them. We have a serial number here on the side of the receiver,
just like you would expect from German production. However, we have two little teeny, there’s one
and there’s one, Czech rampant lion proof marks. So you’ll notice there are no Waffenamts on this
rifle at all, that’s because it was post-war production and not made during German occupation. The rest of the parts are typical
of late war German design. So we’ve got Kriegsmodell parts, like the cupped butt
plate with the hole here in lieu of a disassembly disk. We’ll come back to this guy in a moment. We have a stamped front barrel band. We have a stamped and rather
crudely welded together nose cap. Under the bayonet lug we do have the capacity for
a cleaning rod which the Kriegsmodell had left out. And these are grooved for front sight hoods,
although this particular example doesn’t have one. During late war German production these would have
been held in place by a pair of screws, hence the holes. The Czechs did go back to using spring bands to hold
them in place, which really is a much better system. One thing that’s really cool on these is we
have a very distinctive Ethiopian feature, and that is this disk inlaid into the stock showing a
representation of Saint George slaying the dragon, the biblical Saint George. Saint
George is the patron saint of Ethiopia, there’s like some stories Saint George
himself was actually Ethiopian. And so in lieu of a special receiver marking, they inlaid
these disks into all of the rifles for this contract batch. Probably the most recognisable iteration of these post-
war Czech guns are the ones that were made for Israel. Israel, of course, was gaining its own independence
from … Great Britain in the late 1940s, and they needed small arms, and
Czechoslovakia was quite happy to provide them. However, there was an international embargo in
effect. And so Czechoslovakia had to kind of hide the trail of the guns to get them to Israel. And what’s
interesting is Ethiopia was the way that they did that. So Ethiopia acted as the way station for guns that
were ultimately destined for Israel, which is pretty cool. It’s interesting to look back historically on how
Ethiopia really kind of did its best to play all options. They continued to work closely with the
Czechs after the Czech communist takeover. And they would slowly actually gain
the ability to get some US … support as the US started to see Ethiopia more as a potential ally
against expanding communist influence in central Africa. So that would all develop, but to my mind one
of the really interesting early points of this are these early, well, early post-war
Czech Mausers sold to Ethiopia. So we’re used to seeing these for Israel and with
Czech crests on them, but the Ethiopian connection, and especially some of these specific
Ethiopian markings, I think are really interesting. So this, of course, is as I said one of the guns
that was imported by Inter Ordnance out of Africa. They brought in a whole slew of stuff, ranging from
the very standard to the very unusual and interesting. And they’re going to be selling the most
interesting and the cream of the crop, so to speak, directly through their
own website at Inter Ordnance. I can’t post a link, but if you do a little bit
of Google searching they’re not hard to find, and there’s all sorts of cool
stuff there to take a look at. Thanks for watching.

Danny Hutson

100 thoughts on “A Unique Partnership: Czech Mausers for Ethiopia after WWII

  1. Thanks Forgotten Weapons! This is why I watch your shows. It's awesome to hear the history of these things.

  2. Handsome triggerguard, indeed cool. Thanks for the mauser love IAN! As always, very cool backstory too.

  3. Ian, would u like to venture-capitalist on a Business idea…. Forgotten Weapons: Airsoft. I'll accept a 40-/60 split. Cheers.

  4. Unfortunately, it seems that Inter Ordnance had already sold out of their Ethiopian Mausers by the time these videos were uploaded.

  5. Why on earth did they need to make more Mausers after WW2? There must have been millions upon millions of them lying around that could have been bought up by countries like Ethiopia.

  6. It's interesting to me that so many people pronounce Czechoslovakia with an extra "L" between the "H" and "O" as Ian does.

  7. Czekia and slovakia were mostly catholic and protestant countries. The link with russian was ethnic, they are both slavs.

  8. What a fantastic history lesson, I made sure to like the video this time! So often I forget to, but your quality of work is outstanding, so I should at least acknowledge that.

  9. This is how history should be taught.
    We should show Forgotten Weapons.
    in schools.
    The kids go…Ooh Shiny Boomstick.!!
    And then absorb all the political reasons that this gun comes into existence

  10. I remember how they also bought Praga AH-IV tankettes and were too scared to use them at first, thinking they are cursed or something.

  11. Were any of the Israeli Mausers rechambered in 30.06? My grandad has one of these Czech Mausers sitting in his basement and we're trying to figure out what it's chambered in. 8mm falls into the chamber so deep the bolt won't pick it up, but 30.06 might work. Haven't tried it yet to know though.

  12. "We're here to liberate you from the Italians!”
    "Cool, thanks! Can we keep some of their stuff to defend ourselves?"
    "LOL, no. We might want to unliberate you later."

  13. Ian, history is literally written in the implements of violence and war. You, sir, are an awesome curator to that varied and often pixilated pieces of seemingly unconnected history!
    – Just an Old History Teacher

  14. This may be a bit off topic, but further proves the strong tie between Ethiopia and the Czech Republic: Defender Theodor Gebre Selassie, born to an Ethiopian father and a Czech mother, plays for the CZ national soccer team.

  15. The Czechs had Mauser G98 production even between wars. ZB vz. 24 was basically a K98k with a straight bolt handle, but besides that, almost identical.

  16. whoever designed the extralarge trigger guard for winter gloves mustve not thought about the fact that those rifles were gonna be used in africa and the middle east.

  17. The history is a bit off. The League of Nations imposed economic sanctions on Italy, Britain and France tried to mediate but didn't want to push Mussolini into Hitler's arms; it was the political unacceptability in Britain and France of the resulting plan and its repudiation that caused Italy to leave the League. Haile Selassie liked Britain so much that he chose to spend his exile in Bath, England.

    British conduct after liberation was terrible, this was mostly down to the attitude shown by General Mitchell, an outright racist who did not understand his job as Chief Political Officer or the country which was his responsibility. It was not until the arrival of Herbrand Sackville in 1944 that matters improved.

    At the end of the war the UK elected its first socialist government which was largely anti colonialist and had no designs on expanding its empire and started dismantling it, a policy that was continued by subsequent governments of both parties.

  18. Ethiopian troops very much did serve in the Korean War, and Halle Saale was quite anti-communist for personal/religious reasons. From Wiki: "The Ethiopian Kagnew Battalions were successive battalions which fought as part of the United Nations Command during the Korean War. Members of Kagnew Battalion were, with few exceptions, drawn from the Ethiopian Imperial Bodyguard Division." — I was under the impression they were taken DIRECTLY from his personal guard as units and transferred to the US military, but I may be wrong.

  19. The Biblical St. George? No such thing. He was a martyr in the 4th century, long after the last of the Bible was written. Otherwise, of course, excellent video as usual! Anything that involves the Czechs gets my attention pretty quickly.

  20. That was an uncharacteristic amount of history before getting to the actual weapon in question. Is this really Ian, or has Othias trimmed his beard and grown his hair? 😀

  21. I sure hope i come across another k98k , I passed one up a few weeks ago becaise it was very rough shape and they wanted $800 CAD. I bit steep if you ask ne but you dont see many to compare around here.

  22. Czechoslovakia was in the Soviet bloc, as part of the Warsaw Pact, and the other country which didn't recognize the Italian invasion of Ethiopia was the Soviet Union. Something something liberation theory.

  23. Can anyone recommend a good source for information on identifying Mauser-type rifles?
    I inherited a few from my father: A BRNO and an FN, and neither has very many markings.
    My OCD twitches… I must know their model designations.
    EDIT : So I think my BRNO might be one of these. The trigger guard is the same, and it has the two little lion stamps. The only other markings are the BRNO maker's mark on the left side of the receiver, and '4080' over a 'J' on the left of the chamber.
    The stock is also very interesting. It looks like laminate. It's shiny and has the Kriegsmodell buttplate. The roundel appears to have been removed, or it might not have had one. Both the stock and the base of the bolt handle are marked '18 M'.
    Sadly the front of the stock was sporterized at some point, so all the furniture is AWOL, but the front sight is identical.
    Any help would be much appreciated! I can't afford a $50 Mauser book.

    (Oh, and I THINK it's an 8mm, for what it's worth. The FN is 30-06, IIRC.)

  24. A friend of mine was working in Ethiopia a few years ago and told me some fascinating stories about day-to-day life there. Seems like a neat country. A few of us were about ready to go there for a visit until the current political strife started and his employer pulled him out.

  25. Oh, they didn't care, After the war, But oh boy, ' Don't y'all dare interfere w Brythiiish hegemony!' before the war! This is just another example of the lies and justifications for war in genrl and in partclr, AGAINST THE AXIS! Hypocritical b#strds!

  26. I'm not sure we were that interested in owning Ethiopia. The main thing was to stop anyone else doing so! Lies on the main route to India. Our invasion in the 1860s was simply to rescue some diplomats and to dish out a lesson. We then left. Italy's defeat at Adowa was seen with relief, Ethiopia remained relatively weak and Italy was kept out. Even in 1942 we put the emperor back in power, when we could have occupied the place. I do think that we thought it was ungovernable and anyway we had our hands full elsewhere. Best way forward, just keep everyone else away.

  27. I just found a whole stash of surplus Ethiopian 8mm Mauser ammo with “1947” on the boxes and head stamped 1955. I wonder if that ammo was originally with these rifles!

  28. Hey Ian. I'm Canadian. I've never even seen a gun. But I watch your channel because you're one of my favourite historians. My question is rather random, but are there any historical military bands or songs that you prefer? I enjoy the second South Carolina string band and Johnny Horton, but I'd love to hear more historical military music.

  29. Fun Fact: Today, Ethiopians unanimously despise Selasie, and for very good reasons,as detailed to me my different individuals in different occasions.
    Keep up the great work.

  30. Looks a lot like my Yugo M48…which I love and happen to be currently fondling ^_^ can never get to deep into the weeds of different patterns of K98's, just like with 1911's and etc. Thank Ian!

  31. “Czech mausers for ethiopia after ww2” wood and metal combined to make a tool to kill have a more interesting and thrilling life as 9/10 people on earth 😐

  32. Cold-weather-ready trigger guards for…use…in…Ethiopia…?? I guess at least following German-occupying tradition of over-engineering; maybe more like 'over-designed'. Maybe it’s all pretty much the same root anyway.

  33. It's really unfortunate the owner of IO, Uli Weigand is such a sleazeball. Would rather have seen almost anyone but him bring these to market. Coupled with selling these to the masses via Classic Firearms, a company that's never afraid to set records for high prices, these will remain out of reach for most collectors.

  34. Yeah, I just looked at the Interordinance website. They have a lot of very interesting rifles AND THEY ARE ALL OUT OF STOCK! Nothing but Nagants and SKS's. Thanks for nothing.

  35. Why could USA not caring about somali people whom their land is fought over by 4 countries the war start in Ogaden region check on google it is not actually Ethiopian land they took this land when Somali derwish resistance were defeated.

  36. "We don't trust the British. We'd better talk to the Americans if we want a fair deal." It's weird to think that the world ever worked, or even seemed like it would work, like that.

  37. Actually, and this is from the statements of made with leaving, most of the countries left the League of Nations because it was the first step to a loss of national sovereignty and the beginning of a global government.

  38. Actually, Czechoslovakian guns were in Ethiopian service even before the war. Take a look at ZH-29 in use of the Life Guard battalion for one example.

  39. ਬੁਹਤ ਵਧੀਆ ਢੰਗ ਨਾਲ ਹਰ ਹਥਿਆਰ ਦੀ ਜਾਣਕਾਰੀ ਦਿੰਦੇ ਹੋ ਵੀਰੇ ਤੁਸੀਂ ਇਹ ਮਾਉਜਰ ਦੀ ਰਾਈਫਲ ਜੋ ਯੁਗੋਸਲਾਵੀਆ ਦੀ ਬਣੀ ਹੋਈ ਹੈ ਬੁਹਤ ਵਧੀਆ ਲਗੀ ਬਸ ਟਰਾਈਗਰ ਤੇ ਗਾਰਡ ਦਾ ਫਰਕ ਲਗਦਾ ਹੋਰਨਾਂ ਰਾਈਫਲਾਂ ਨਾਲੋਂ ਇਕ ਜੋ ਬੈਚ ਲਗਿਆ ਹੈ ਉਹ ਵੀ ਪਿਹਲੀ ਵਾਰ ਦੇਖਣ ਨੂੰ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਹੈ ਇਸ ਵੀਡੀਓ ਲਈ ਧੰਨਵਾਦ ਜੀ

  40. I appreciate anything on Brno arms. My step dad was born there, he had relatives in Czech army. The Germans barged into their home Christmas Eve and took his parents away, burned their home to the ground. He only got back after the war (he fought with the British) was in Czech secret service until ordered to smuggle out the prime minister, never got to go home

  41. I have learned more about African history and South African history in specific from this channel, than I did way back at school or even when I was reading up on Madiba ( Nelson Mandela)

  42. Ian, for what it's worth I know of at least one ex-German and properly waffenamt-marked rifle with that exact trigger guard and floorplate. It's a late war rifle that found its way into Norwegian service when the Germans left, and later got surplused out to a civillian buyer (then later sporterized into a hunting rifle by my father). No way that part came here from Brno post war, the original German-issued stock was perfectly fitted for that trigger guard which differs a bit from standard ones where it mates with the wood. I'm pretty damned sure that's a late war simplified and improved German or German-approved design rather than a post-war Czehckoslovakian thing.

  43. I thought St George was the national symbol of Russia, i guess different countries can have the same Patron. On second note, have we got any Israeli mauser in the channel?

  44. I am surprised with new production, with the War Production Used/Nearly New surplus, or were they all seized under Allied Occupation? UK,US,USSR and France.

  45. Thanks, Ian. I picked up this exact weapon from Classic FA a few days before this posted. The history you share is a wonderful compliment to the weapon. Mine seems nicer than what I saw offered at IO, but somewhat pricey. St. George, Ride on!

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