The Abyssinian Crisis Italy and the League of Nations 1934 to 36
Aims of the lesson By the end of this lesson you will learn about • The ambitions of Mussolini • How the League of Nations failed to stop Italian aggression in Abyssinia
Background • The League of Nations was a good idea but in practise it was a failure • Difficult to make decisions – too much self interest • USA, Germany and USSR were not members • In Manchuria the Japanese (a member of the council) was allowed to get away with an aggressive invasion – LoN did nothing
Mussolini • Fascist ruler of Italy since 1922 • Wanted to build an empire in Africa – already controlled Libya, Somaliland and Eritrea • Had tried to conquer Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1896 and failed • Humiliating – wanted revenge • December 1934 – 30 soldiers killed in a border clash. Gave Italy the excuse to invade
The invasion • Very successful – Abyssinian army had spears and Italians machine guns • Britain and France did not want to upset Italy in case it made her friendly with Hitler • April 1935 – Stresa Front. Britain, Italy and France agreed to join together against Germany.
LoN inaction • Most British people wanted her to stop the invasion – Government not keen • September 1935 – Samuel Hoare (GB Foreign Secretary) called for collective action against Italy • Tough talk in public – but sucking up to the Italians in private • October 1935 – invasion succeeded
Haile Selassie • Emperor of Abyssinia • Appealed for help to LoN • LoN imposed economic sanctions – no country allowed to trade with her • Just bought from USA • Britain and France allowed Mussolini to use the Suez Canal – breaking own sanctions
Treachery • Hoare and Laval (French Foreign Minister) devised a plan to divide Abyssinia in two • Italy to be given two thirds and rest to Haile Selassie if Mussolini stopped fighting • Hoare-Laval Pact – details leaked in December 1935 • Uproar – looked like Britain and France were putting self interest above Abyssinia and the League of Nations
The consequences • By May 1936 the Italian had conquered the whole of Abyssinia • Selaisse fled the country and went to Geneva to address the League • Too late – LoN was totally discredited • Backfired in October 1936 Mussolini signed the Berlin-Rome Axis pact with Hitler.