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Abyssinian Crisis Aftermath

 

The League of Nations was broken by the Abyssinian crisis. Afterwards no one took it seriously. The failure of the League was highlighted by Hailie Selassie, the Abyssinian emperor, who made a passionate speech to the League Assembly after his country had been conquered.

 

A discredited League

In the crises that followed Abyssinia, the League was completely helpless. When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936 Germany and Italy sent help to the anti-government side. The Spanish government appealed to the League: the League did nothing. In 1938-9, as the Second World War drew close, the League played no part in serious attempts to avoid conflict. When war broke out in September 1939 none of the countries involved bothered to tell the League that a war was taking place.

 

Germany and Abyssinia

Hitler was deeply interested in the crisis in Abyssinia. He wanted to know how far Britain and France would go to stop the Italians. He was not impressed at the confused and feeble response of the democracies.

 

The fall of the Stresa Front

After Abyssinia the British and French governments hoped to re-establish a good relationship with Italy. Mussolini had different ideas. He had been annoyed by what he saw as British and French double dealing. Instead he turned to Hitler. The German leader had not interfered over Abyssinia. In January 1936 Mussolini thanked Hitler and made it clear that he was happy for an increase in German control over Austria, This was a significant development. In 1934 Mussolini had opposed German expansionism towards Austria. The Stresa Front against Germany had collapsed.

 

The Axis and the Anti-Comintern Pact

 

By November Mussolini was talking of a new force in European politics - a linking together of the fascist states of Italy and Germany called the Rome-Berlin Axis. Later in the same month the leaders of Germany, Italy and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact (Comintern was the Soviet organization whose job was to spread communism world-wide).

 

On one level, the Anti-Comintern Pact was simply an agreement to work together against communism. As far as Hitler was concerned it was much more important than that; it was a step towards an alliance of those countries that wanted to take land off their neighbors.

 

The Benefits of the Abyssinian Crisis for Hitler:

The League was unlikely to stop German aggression any more than it had stopped Mussolini.

 

The anti-German Stresa Front fell apart.

 

The crisis provided Hitler with an opportunity for his first act of aggression - the sending of German troops into the Rhineland area.

 

The Rome-Berlin Axis and the Anti-Comintern Pact strengthened the position of Hitler.