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Transcript of Abyssinian Crisis
Failure of the League
Summary of the topic:
Problem: Italy invaded Abyssinia
Response: League members could not agree effective sanctions against Italy
Effect: League was seen as powerless and irrelevant
On 7 March 1936 Hitler marched his troops into the Rhineland *an act prohibited by the treaty of Versailles*
The possibility of French sanctions against Italy were now dead.
The French were desperate to gain the support of Italy.
French had to pay now the price of giving Abyssinia to Mussolini.
Italy continued to defy the leagues orders and by May 1936 had taken Addis Ababa, the capital of Abyssinia.
On 2 May, Haile Selassie was forced into exile.
On 9 May, Mussolini formally owned the entire country.
The league watched helplessly.
If the British and French had hopped that their handling of the Abyssinian Crisis would helped strenghten their opposition against Hitler they were soon proved very wrong.
In November 1936 Mussolini and Hitler signed the agreement of their own called the Rome-Berlin Axis.
The league of nations had failed.
In 1896 Italian troops had tried to invade Adowa (a place of Abyssinia) but they were defeated, because of this Mussolini wanted revenge.
Mussolini also had an eye on the fertile lands and mineral wealth of Abyssinia.
The cause of the invasion which was publicly believed around the world was that Mussolini had a legal claim for the Wal-Wal, but it was just an excuse he made up.
Haile Selasie(Abyssinia's appealed to the league for help because Italy invaded Wal-wal, which is a part of Abyssinia.
Mussolini's army was ready, and launched a full-scale invasion of Abyssinia.
The Abyssinia resisted, but were no match for the modern Italian army.
A committee was immediately set up to agree what sanction to impose. Sanctions would only work if they were imposed quickly and decisively.
The League imposed:
ban on arms
sales to Italy.
banned all loans
to Italy and
banned the export
to Italy of
rubber, tin and metals.
The League feared that it's members economic interests would be further damaged (Example: 30.000 british coal miners about to lose their jobs because of the ban on coal exports to Italy).
More important of all, The Suez Canal, which was owned by France and Britain, was not closed to Mussolini's supply ships. The canal was the italian´s main supply route to Abyssinia and closing it could have ended the Abyssinian campaign very quickly(both Britain and France were afraid that closing the canal would cause war with Italy).
Another thing that damaged the League was secret dealing between British and French.
Mussolini invaded Abyssinia
Both similarities and differences from the Japanese invasion in Manchuria:
Japan, Italy was a leading member of the league.
Both wanted to expand it's empire by invading another country.
Manchuria this dispute was "on the leagues doorstep"(it even had a border with France so they couldn't say the dispute was inaccessible as an excuse).
Abyssinia is called "Ethiopia" nowadays, and it is located in northern Africa.
Why was the league damaged?
Mussolini was supposedly negotiating with the League to settle this problem.
In the mean time he was shipping his big army to Africa and whipping up war fever among Italian people. He was preparing for a
invasion to Abyssinia.
Mussolini knew that Britain and France wouldn't get´ involved after they signed the anti-Nazi "Stresa Pact" with him in 1935.
The French and British failed to take this situation seriously because they wanted to keep their good relations with Mussolini since he was the strongest ally against Hitler.
The league actually did anything to discourage Mussolini.
As a committee reported that the blame was to neither of the sides, the League put forward a plan that would give Mussolini some of Abyssinia.
Mussolini rejected the plan.
Hoare and Laval's deal: Causes and Consequences
They were the British and French foreign ministers.
While the sanctions discussions were taking place, Hoare and Laval were hatching a plan.
Their aim was to give Mussolini two thirds of Abyssinia in return for his calling off his invasion.
Laval even proposed to show the plan to Mussolini before they showed it to the League or Haile Selassie. Then he told British that French would no longer support sanctions against Italy if they didn't agree to the plan.
This actions proved quite disastrous for the League. Furthermore, Britain and france saw this actions as betrayal.
They where both fired.
Sanctions were delayed.
The question about whether to ban oil sales was taking place.
The committee concluded that if they banned oil sales Italian supplies would run out in two months (even if americans still sold to them).
But, because of the delays, by then it was too late.
Mussolini had alredy taken over large parts of Abyssinia.
Americans were disgusted with the British and French's past actions so they didn't support the League's sanction.
American oil producers actually stepped up their exports to Italy.
Mussolini "Obtains" Abyssinia
"Yes, we know that World War began in Manchuria fifteen years ago. We know that four years later we could easily have stopped Mussolini if we had taken the sanctions against Mussolini that were obviously required, if we had closed the Suez Canal to the aggressor and stopped his oil."-British statesman Philip Noel Baker speaking at the very last session of the League in April 1946.