Abyssinian Crisis, 1935

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4.2. To what extent was the League of Nations a success?

How did Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia damage the League?

Italian Leader Mussolini invaded Abyssinia in 1935.

Like Japan (Manchurian Crisis), Italy was a leading member in the League. It wanted to expand its territory by invading another country.

However, the only problem was that this dispute would be on the League's doorstep.

Italy was a European power. It even boarded with France.

Abyssinia was on the boarder between Sudan and the British colonies of Uganda, Kenya and British Somalia.

The League would not be able to claim that this problem was on the other side of the world.

Background

In 1896, Italian troops decided to invade Abyssinia but had been defeated. Mussolini wanted revenge for this defeat as well as the fertile lands and mineral wealth of the nation.

More importantly, he wanted glory and conquest. His style of leadership need military victories.

In December 1934, there was a dispute between Italian and Ethiopian soldiers 80km away from Abyssinia. Mussolini took this cue and claimed the area to be under Italian rule. he demanded an apology and began preparing the army for an invasion.

The Abyssinian emperor, Haile Selassie appealed to the League for help.

Phase 1 - January 1935 to October 1935 - The League plays for time.

Throughout this period, Mussolini was supposed to be negotiating with the League to settle the disputes whilst at the same time transporting his army to Abyssinia. He was preparing a full-scale invasion on Abyssinia.

Initially, GB and FR failed to take the situation seriously. They were desperate to keep good relations with Mussolini, who seemed their strongest ally against Hitler.

* They signed an agreement with him in 1935 known as the Stresa Pact which said that they did not approve of Hitler rearming and would all against him if war began.

The attention however, slowly began to increase towards how to react towards Italy.

The British wanted to defend Abyssinia is necessary. This was made clear at the assembly of the League.

There was a lot of talking and discussion but in the league did nothing to help…

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