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The Abyssinian Crisis Timeline

1st March 1896 – Italian defeat at Adowa (Repulsed from Abyssinia and International Humiliation.)

June-July 1914 – The outbreak of The First World War.

26th April 1915 – Treaty of London

May 1915 – Italy Joins the Triple Entente against the Central Powers.

November 1918 - Ceasefire of the Great War and Commencement of peace talks.

28 June 1919 – The Treaty of Versailles is signed.

October 1922 - Mussolini comes to power

1923 – Abyssinia invaded by Hitler's spaghetti aliens

September 1925 - Locarno Treaties are signed.

July 1933 – Four power Pact

October 1933 – Hitler Leaves the League of Nations

December 1934 – Wal-wal incident

March 1935 – Hitler reintroduces conscription

January to April 1935 – Stresa Front is formed September 1935 – League of Nations report on the Wal-wal incident is produced.

2nd October 1935 – Italian forces begin the assault upon Abyssinia

Early October 1935 – The League Condemns the invasion of Abyssinia

18th November 1935 – Sanctions are instituted by the League of Nations upon Italy

December 1935 – Hoare-Laval Pact

Early 1936 – The Italian economy is significantly impacted by League Sanctions

January 1936 – League sub-commission on the ban of oil sales it Italy concludes that United States participation is required for a strong impact.

7th March 1935 – Hitler re-occupies the Rhineland May 1936 – Mussolini completes the conquest of Abyssinia

July 1936 – League of Nations lifts its sanctions.

October – 1936 Hitler and Mussolini sign Rome-Berlin Axis (friendship and trade agreement)

September 1937 - Mussolini visits Berlin and Hitler spares no expense to show the military strength of Germany.

November 1936 – Anti-Comintern Pact (Anti-Communism Pact)

March 1938 – Anschluss (Austria annexed to Germany)

May 1939 – Pact of Steel (aggressive military support agreement

1st September 1939 – Outbreak of the Second World War


The Abyssinian Crisis

The Abyssinian Crisis, which took place during the period of peace between the two world wars, had negative effects on three major players. This accelerated the deterioration of international relations and contributed towards the initiation of the Second World War. Firstly, it had a profound impact upon Italy by enticing them into the German armed camp. Next it highlighted the weakness of the League of Nations (compounded with the Manchurian Crisis). Finally it allowed Hitler to grow Germany and build it up into a more favourable position.


A number of factors led to the crisis. In the prewar ‘scramble for Africa’, the Italian defeat at Adowa in Abyssinia resulted in International humiliation for Italy. This humiliation was reinforced during the composing of the Treaty of Versailles. Here the Italians felt further wronged and humiliated by the lack of committal to the treaty of London. This led to dissention towards the Italian inability to acquire colonies. There was also the rise of a fascist dictator, Mussolini, and combined with poor employment rates, the Italian people needed something to take their minds off the situation at home.


Mussolini also felt that there would be not action taken against him. The lack of League action towards the Japanese invasion of Manchuria was a contributing factor to this assumption. Furthermore, he was under the belief that Britain and France would not disapprove his invasion. At the very least, he believed that they valued Italy more than Abyssinia as an ally. He therefore felt these two would not lead the League to act against Italy.


After the minor border clash at Wal-wal, in which there was a fatality (probably Italian), Italy dispatched an ultimatum to Abyssinia. While the exact specifics of the ultimatum are minor details, abiding to the ultimatum would have shown Italian superiority over Abyssinia. Abyssinia asked for the incident to be referred to the League, and during the ten months of arbitration, Mussolini built up Italian forces in Italian-Somaliland and Eritrea. An inconclusive report was published by the League of Nations with regards to accountability over Wal-wal. This led to Mussolini invading Abyssinia with considerable force from both the North and South.


However contrary to Mussolini’s earlier belief, in the same month, the League condemned his actions and voted 50 to 4 in favour of economic sanctions against Italy. This was largely due to the British leadership against Italy. This in turn was due to strong public opinion against the British politicians.


Six weeks after the invasion began, the sanctions were implemented and by early 1936 the impact of this was starting to be felt. However, the sanctions did not ban some of the most important items such as oil, steel, and coal. Also countries not in the League continued to trade with Italy.


Eventually Mussolini finishes the conquest and two months later the sanctions are lifted.


During the time that world attention was focused on Italy and Abyssinia, Hitler took the opportunity to re-occupy the Rhineland. Furthermore, after the conclusion of the crisis, Hitler impressed upon fascist Mussolini Germany military strength. They then signed the Rome-Berlin Axis (friendship and trade agreement), Anit-Comintern pact (anti-communism pact) and the Pact of Steel (aggressive military support pact).


Overall, Britain and France’s worry over losing a member of the Stresa Front, coupled with the League’s ineffectiveness, left Abyssinia not only as a League member conquered by another League member, but also drew Italy closer to Germany and WWII much closer.

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