The Italian Invasion of Abyssinia

What happened in the invasion and why it happened. What did the League do?

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  • Created by: Animal II
  • Created on: 17-02-12 12:46

Why Did the Italians Invade Abyssinia?

  • Mussolini wanted revenge for being defeated (he wasn't in power at this time) back in 1896
  • When Italian troops had tried to invade Abyssinia but had been defeated by a poorly equipped army of tribesmen, in the Battle of Adowa
  • He also had his eye on the fertile lands and mineral wealth of Abyssinia
  • But mostly he wanted glory and conquest
  • His style of leadership needed military victories and he had often talked of restoring glory of the Roman Empire
  • Abyssinia was one of the few areas of Africa which had not been taken over by European countries
  • It was next to the Italian colonies of Eritrea and Somaliland, so it would be relatively easy to launch an attack from these areas
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  • A victorious war would divert the Italian people's attention away from the problems caused by the depression of the 1930s and, if Abyssinia became Italian, it would provide a secure market for Italian exports.
  • If they increased the army, unemployment would be reduced
  • They want to be equal to Britain and France and have a bigger empire
  • Like Japan, Italy was a permanent member of the council of the League.
  • The Manchurian Crisis had given Mussolini the impression that the League would not resist an act of aggression by a major power
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  • They were both in the council, and provoked a dispute. Had soldiers in the place they want to invade or near the place. Italy was closer to Europe so it would've been dealt with more effectively
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How did Mussolini provoke the Crisis in Abyssinia

  • There was a dispute between Italian and Ethiopian soldiers at the wal-wal oasis - 80km inside Abyssinia
  • Mussolini took this at his cue and claimed that was actually Italian territory
  • He demanded an apology and began preparing the Italian army for an invasion of Abyssinia
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How did Emperor Haile Selassie (Abyssinian Emperor

  • He appealed to the League for help
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During Phase 1 of the crisis why did the League (i

  • They tried to ignore it
  • They were desperate to keep good relations with Mussolini, who seemed to be their strongest ally against Hitler/Germany
  • They signed an agreement with him early in 1935 known as the Stresa Pact
  • This formalised a protest at German rearmament and a commitment to stand united against Germany
  • They didn't want to challenge Hitler
  • Germany had already left the League
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What was Mussolini doing during this period of tim

  • Mussolini was supposedly negotiating with the League to settle the dispute, while at the same time shipping his vast army to Africa and whipping up war fever among the Italian army - he was preparing for a full-scale invasion of Abyssinia
  • The Suez Canal was open, which was controlled by Britain and France which they ignored
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In what ways was the British public opinion differ

  • As the year wore on there was a public outcry against Italy's behaviour
  • A ballot (public vote) was taken by the League of Nations Union in Britain in 1934-35
  • It showed that a majority of British people supported the use of military force to defend Abyssinia if necessary
  • Facing an autumn election at home, British politicians began to "get tough"
  • At the assembly of the League, the British foreign minister, Hoare, made a grand speech about the value of collective security (solving disputes between countries), to the delight of the League's members and all the smaller nations
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  • There was much talking and negotiating. However the League never actually did anything to discourage Mussolini - British public opinion was more pro-active than the government
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What decison did the League make in September 4th

  • After 8 months' deliberation, a committee reported to the League that neither side could be held responsible for the wal-wal incident
  • The League put forward a plan that would give Mussolini some of Abyssinia
  • Mussolini rejected it
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What happened in October 1935?

  • Mussolini's army was ready
  • He launched a full-scale invasion of
  • Despite brave resistance, the Abyssinians were no match for the modern Italian army equipped with tanks, aeroplanes and poison gas
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How did the League now respond?

  • Imposing economic sanctions
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In what ways were the economic santions limited?

  • The League imposed an immediate ban on arms sales while allowing them to Abyssinia
  • It banned all loans, imports, exports to Italy of rubber, tin, metals
  • However the main raw materials were kept in trading
  • In the end, limited sanctions were placed on Italy
  • Vital goods such as oil, coal, iron and steel were excluded from the sanctions
  • The USA supplied oil to Italy
  • France continued to provide iron and steel and Britain was afraid that if coal was excluded it would lead to increased unemployment in the British coal industry
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  • Britain and France could have stopped Italy by closing the Suez Canal to Italian ships - their easiest route to Abyssinia - but they did not want to lose Mussolini's friendship
  • The League only used economic sanctions once
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What was the Hoare - Laval Pact of December 1935?

  • Sir Samuel Hoare and the French Prime Minister - Pierre Laval, drafted a secret agreement to solve the crisis
  • This Pact gave Italy two thirds of Abyssinia
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What was the reaction to this plan?

  • It was so unpopular in Britain that it had to be dropped and Hoare was forced to resign
  • Mussolini would have accepted the Pact but the news of this agreement leaked out
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How did the Americans respnd to the events in Abys

  • The Americans were even more disgusted with the ditherings of the French and the British than they had been before and so blocked a move to support the League's sanctions
  • American oil producers actually stepped up their exports to Italy
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What happened on 7th March 1936?

  • The fatal blow was delivered
  • Hitler, timing his move to perfection, marched his troops into the Rhineland, an act prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles
  • If there had been any hope of getting the French to support sanctions against Italy, it was now gone
  • The French were desperate to gain the support of Italy and were now prepared to pay the price of giving Abyssinia to Mussolini
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What happened in May 1936?

  • Italy continued to defy the League's orders and by May 1936 had taken the capital of Abyssinia, Addis Ababa
  • On 2 May, Haile Selassie was forced into exile
  • On 9 May, Mussolini formally annexed (took control of/ took over) the entire country
  • The League watched helplessly
  • Collective security had been shown up as an empty promise
  • The League of Nations had failed
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Why did the Rome - Berlin Axis of November 1936 so

  • Mussolini and Hitler signed an agreement of their own called the Rome - Berlin Axis
  • This ended the hopes of France and Britain to keep him as an ally against Germany. Two aggressive leaders become allies
  • In 1937 this was extended when Japan joined the Axis and it became the Anti - Comintern Pact
  • Italy formally withdrew from the League of Nations in 1937
  • Europe was clearly dividing into two opposing sides
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