The Abyssinia Crisis was an international crisis in 1935 originating in what was called the Walwal incident in the then-ongoing conflict between the Kingdom of Italy and the Empire of Ethiopia (then commonly known as "Abyssinia"). The League of Nations ruled against Italy and voted for economic sanctions, but they were never fully applied. Italy ignored the sanctions, quit the League, made special deals with Britain and France and ultimately annexed and occupied Abyssinia after defeating it in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. The crisis discredited the League and moved Fascist Italy closer to an alliance with Nazi Germany.
Both Ethiopia and Italy pursued a policy of provocation against each other and Italy prepared to invade Ethiopia, described as follows by the League of Nations:
At places where there is not a single Italian national, a consul establishes himself in an area known as consular territory with a guard of about ninety men, for whom he claims jurisdictional immunity. This is an obvious abuse of consular privileges. The abuse is all the greater that the consul's duties, apart from the supplying of information of a military character, take the form of assembling stocks of arms, which constitute a threat to the peace of the country, whether from the internal or the international point of view.
The Italo–Ethiopian Treaty of 1928 stated that the border between Italian Somaliland and Ethiopia was 21 leagues from and parallel to the Banaadir coast (approximately 118.3 km [73.5 mi]). In 1930, Italy built a fort at the Walwal oasis (also Welwel, Italian: Ual-Ual) in the eastern Ogaden, well beyond the 21 league limit. The fort was in a boundary zone between the nations, which was not well defined; today it is about 130 km (81 mi) inside Ethiopia.
On 29 September 1934, Italy and Abyssinia released a joint statement renouncing any aggression against each other.
On 22 November 1934, a force of 1,000 Ethiopian militia with three fitaurari (Ethiopian military-political commanders) arrived near Walwal and formally asked the Dubats garrison stationed there (comprising about 60 soldiers) to withdraw from the area. 20 kilometres (12 mi) away, to what had happened.The Somali NCO leading the garrison refused to withdraw and alerted Captain Cimmaruta, commander of the garrison of Uarder,
The next day, in the course of surveying the border between British Somaliland and Ethiopia, an Anglo–Ethiopian boundary commission arrived at Walwal. The commission was confronted by a newly arrived Italian force. The British members of the boundary commission protested, but withdrew to avoid an international incident. The Ethiopian members of the boundary commission, however, stayed at Walwal.
From 5–7 December, for reasons which have never been clearly determined, there was a skirmish between the garrison of Somalis, who were in Italian service, and a force of armed Ethiopians. According to the Italians, the Ethiopians attacked the Somalis with rifle and machine-gun fire.According to the Ethiopians, the Italians attacked them, supported by two tanks and three aircraft. In the end, approximately 107 Ethiopians and 50 Italians and Somalis were killed.
Neither side did anything to avoid confrontation; the Ethiopians repeatedly menaced the Italian garrison with the threat of an armed attack, while the Italians sent two planes over the Ethiopian camp. One of them fired a short machine gun burst, which no one on the ground noticed, after the pilot saw Captain Cimmaruta in the midst of the Ethiopians and thought he had been taken prisoner by them.
'Treaties or scraps of paper?'
To the Editor of The Daily Telegraph
Last Saturday's leading article on “Abyssinia: Our Duty” is welcome indeed after the advice liberally offered to the Emperor of Abyssinia by some sections of the English Press, urging him to submit to Italy, not because the Italian blackmail is just, but because it would be so inconvenient for ourselves if he resisted.
We might be called on to do more than lip-service to the League; and how extravagant would that be!
Twenty-one years ago, when the consequences of honouring our obligations were far more menacing, we were indignant enough at the suggestion that treaties were, after all, only “scraps of paper.” But geography plays strange tricks with justice. Italy is breaking at least three solemn pledges in her aggression on a fellow member of the League – the very type of aggression that the League was created to prevent: but many of us do not find it matters very much. The League has not yet called on us; but there are already plenty of voices busy finding pretexts for us to shuffle out of the whole thing.
It is not our duty to defend Abyssinia single-handed – no-one has suggested it; but it is our duty, if covenants mean anything whatsoever, to oppose this piece of brigandage at Geneva, and after. It is our duty to be concerting with whatever Powers retain some decency, particularly the United States, what measures may be needed.
Europe has at its disposal sanctions that Italy could not defy, provided we have the courage to use them. But instead of that the English Press, with a few honourable exceptions, has been taken up with nauseating discussion of our own interests. Later on, one gathers, we shall be very firm with Italy about the water of Lake Tana. Meanwhile, Ethiopian blood is a cheaper commodity.
If this is to be the way of our world, why make treaties at all? Let us at least have the courage of our cynicism. Let us have done with covenants, since they no longer serve to deceive anybody. Let us have done with the League, since “collective security” means simply the security of those strong enough to be secure. And then, if we perish in the chaos for which the world is heading, it will at least be without having canted to our last breath.
This jungle-law may have ruled between nations in the past; the time is rapidly approaching when either it ends or else the world. If the League cannot enforce one law for weak and strong, black and white, sooner or later we are finished. And if we flinch every time a test arises, we shall have deserved it.
|[From a letter by F. L. Lucas of King's College, Cambridge, British anti-appeasement campaigner, to The Daily Telegraph, 25 July 1935]|
On 6 December 1934, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia protested Italian aggression at Walwal. On 8 December, Italy demanded an apology for Ethiopian aggression and, on 11 December, followed up this demand with another for financial and strategic compensation.
On 3 January 1935, Ethiopia appealed to the League of Nations for arbitration of the dispute arising from the Walwal incident. But the league's response was inconclusive. A subsequent analysis by an arbitration committee of the League of Nations absolved both parties of any culpability for what had happened.
Shortly after Ethiopia's initial appeal, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pierre Laval of France and Foreign Secretary Samuel Hoare of the United Kingdom met with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in Rome.[ citation needed ]
On 7 January 1935, a meeting between Laval and Mussolini resulted in the "Franco–Italian Agreement". This treaty gave Italy parts of French Somaliland (now Djibouti), redefined the official status of Italians in French-held Tunisia, and essentially gave the Italians a free hand in dealing with Ethiopia. In exchange, France hoped for Italian support against Germany.[ citation needed ]
On 25 January, five Italian askaris were killed by Ethiopian forces near Walwal.
On 10 February 1935, Mussolini mobilized two divisions. [ citation needed ]On 23 February, Mussolini began to send large numbers of troops to Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, which were the Italian colonies that bordered Ethiopia to the northeast and southeast, respectively. There was little international protest in response to this build-up.
On 8 March, Ethiopia again requested arbitration and noted Italian military build-up. Three days later Italy and Ethiopia agreed on a neutral zone in the Ogaden. On 17 March, in response to continued Italian build-up, Ethiopia again appealed to the league for help. On 22 March, the Italians yielded to pressure from the League of Nations to submit to arbitration on the dispute arising from the Walwal incident, but continued to mobilize its troops in the region. On 11 May, Ethiopia again protested the ongoing Italian mobilization.[ citation needed ]
Between 20 and 21 May, the League of Nations held a special session to discuss the crisis in Ethiopia. On 25 May, a league council resolved that it would meet if no fifth arbitrator had been selected by 25 June, or if a settlement was not reached by 25 August. On 19 June, Ethiopia requested neutral observers.[ citation needed ]
From 23 to 24 June, the United Kingdom tried to quell the crisis, sending Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Anthony Eden to try to broker a peace agreement. The attempt was unsuccessful, and it became clear that Mussolini was intent on conquest. On 25 July, the United Kingdom imposed an embargo on arms sales to both Italy and Ethiopia. Many historians believe that the embargo was a response to Italy's decree that it would view arms sales to Ethiopia as an act of unfriendliness toward Italy while other observers believe that the United Kingdom was protecting her economic interests in East Africa. [ citation needed ]The United Kingdom also cleared its warships from the Mediterranean, allowing Italy further unhindered access to eastern Africa.
On 25 June, Italian and Ethiopian officials met in the Hague to discuss arbitration. By 9 July, these discussions had fallen apart.[ citation needed ]
On 26 July, the league confirmed that no fifth member of the arbitration panel had been selected. On 3 August, the League limited arbitration talks to matters other than the sovereignty of Walwal.[ citation needed ]
On 12 August, Ethiopia pleaded for the arms embargo to be lifted. On 16 August, France and the United Kingdom offered Italy large concessions in Ethiopia to try to avert war, but Italy rejected the offers. On 22 August, Britain reaffirmed its commitment to the arms embargo.[ citation needed ]
On 4 September, the league met again and exonerated both Italy and Ethiopia of any culpability in the Walwal incident, [ citation needed ]on the ground that each nation had believed Walwal was within its own territorial borders. On 10 September, Pierre Laval, Anthony Eden, and even Sir Samuel Hoare agreed on limitations to sanctions against Italy.
On 25 September, Ethiopia again asked for neutral observers.[ citation needed ]
On 27 September, the British Parliament supported the initiative of Konni Zilliacus and unanimously authorized the imposition of sanctions against Italy should it continue its policy towards Ethiopia.[ citation needed ]
On 28 September, Ethiopia began to mobilize its large, but poorly equipped army.[ citation needed ]
On November 7, the Irish Free State passed the "League of Nations Bill", placing sanctions on Italy.
On 3 October 1935, shortly after the league exonerated both parties in the Walwal incident, Italian armed forces from Eritrea invaded Ethiopia without a declaration of war, prompting Ethiopia to declare war on Italy, thus beginning the Second Italo–Abyssinian War.[ citation needed ]
On 7 October in what would come to be known as the Riddell Incident, the League of Nations declared Italy to be the aggressor, and started the slow process of imposing sanctions on Italy. The sanctions were limited, however. They did not prohibit the provision of several vital materials, such as oil, and were not carried out by all members of the League. The Canadian delegate to the League, Walter Riddell, suggested that the League add steel and oil to the sanctions, which caused the world press to speak of the "Canadian initiative" and of the bold decision taken by the prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King in pressing for oil sanctions against Italy.Riddell had acted on his own, and was promptly disallowed by Mackenzie King, who characteristically announced that it was absolutely untrue that he made a decision as he in fact had made no decision about anything, saying he had never heard of this "Canadian initiative" in Geneva. Mackenzie King's opposition to Riddell's "Canadian initiative" was motivated by domestic politics as Mussolini was widely admired in Catholic Quebec, especially by the nationalistic Quebecois intelligentsia, and King's Liberal Party had just won the majority of the seats in Quebec in the 1935 election. King was terrified of the possibility of Canada taking the lead in imposing oil sanctions against Italy would cause the Liberals to lose their seats in Quebec in the next election, hence no more was heard of the "Canadian initiative"..
The United States, generally indifferent to the League of Nations' weak sanctions, increased its exports to Italy, and the United Kingdom and France did not take any serious action against Italy, such as blocking Italian access to the Suez Canal.[ citation needed ] Even Italy's use of chemical weapons and other actions that violated international norms did little to change the League's passive approach to the situation.[ citation needed ]
In late December 1935, Hoare of the United Kingdom and Laval of France proposed the secret Hoare-Laval Plan, which would have ended the war but allowed Italy to control large areas of Ethiopia. Mussolini agreed to consider the Hoare-Laval plan to buy time as he was afraid of oil sanctions against Italy, but he had no intention of accepting it. [ citation needed ]The plan caused an outcry, and heavy public criticism in the United Kingdom and France when the plan was leaked to the media. Hoare and Laval were accused of betraying the Abyssinians, and both resigned. Their plan was dropped, but the perception spread that the United Kingdom and France were not serious about the principles of the league. The war continued, and Mussolini turned to German dictator Adolf Hitler for alliance.
In March 1936, Hitler marched troops into the Rhineland, which had been prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles. The French were now desperate to get Italian support against German aggression directly on their border, so would not take any further action with sanctions. France was prepared to give Abyssinia to Mussolini, so his troops were able to continue their war relatively unchallenged by the rest of Europe.
Haile Selassie was forced into exile on 2 May. All the sanctions that had been put in place by the League were dropped after the Italian capture of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on the 5th of May 1936. Ethiopia was then merged with the other Italian colonies to become Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana, or AOI).
Ethiopia never officially surrendered, and pleaded for help from foreign nations, such as Haile Selassie's 7 June 1936 address to League of Nations. As a result, there were six nations which did not recognize Italy's occupation in 1937: China, New Zealand, the Soviet Union, the Republic of Spain, Mexico and the United States.[ citation needed ] Italian control of Ethiopia was never total, due to continued guerrilla activity, which the British would later use to their advantage during World War II. However, by 1940 Italy was in complete control of three-quarters of the country.
The end of the AOI came quickly during World War II. In early 1941, as part of the East African Campaign, Allied forces launched offensive actions against the isolated Italian colony. On 5 May 1941, five years after the Italians had captured his capital, Emperor Haile Selassie entered Addis Ababa.
There were also major impacts on the League of Nations:
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The events preceding World War II in Europe are closely tied to the bellicosity of Italy, Germany and Japan, as well as the Great Depression. The peace movement led to appeasement and disarmament.
The Second Italo-Ethiopian War, also referred to as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, was a colonial war which was fought between between Italy and Ethiopia from October 1935 to February 1937. It is seen as an example of the expansionist policy that characterized the Axis powers and the inefficiency of the League of Nations before the outbreak of World War II.
Italo-Ethiopian War, Italo-Abyssinian War or Italian invasion of Ethiopia / Abyssinia may refer to:
The following is a timeline relating to the Second Italo–Abyssinian War to the end of 1936. A number of related political and military events followed until 1942, but these have been omitted.
The Stresa Front was an agreement made in Stresa, a town on the banks of Lake Maggiore in Italy, between French prime minister Pierre-Étienne Flandin, British prime minister Ramsay MacDonald, and Italian prime minister Benito Mussolini on April 14, 1935. Formally called the Final Declaration of the Stresa Conference, its aim was to reaffirm the Locarno Treaties and to declare that the independence of Austria "would continue to inspire their common policy". The signatories also agreed to resist any future attempt by the Germans to change the Treaty of Versailles.
The Hoare–Laval Pact was an initially secret December 1935 proposal by British Foreign Secretary Samuel Hoare and French Prime Minister Pierre Laval for ending the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. Italy had wanted to seize the independent nation of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) as part of its Italian Empire and also avenge the 1896 Battle of Adwa, a humiliating defeat. The Pact offered to partition Abyssinia and achieved Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's goal of making the independent nation of Abyssinia into an Italian colony.
Emilio De Bono was an Italian General, fascist activist, Marshal, and member of the Fascist Grand Council. De Bono fought in the Italo-Turkish War, World War I, and the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.
Ethiopian forces in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War besides the Central Army were mobilized from various provinces under their local leader. According to 1935 Italian intelligence estimates of the Ethiopian provinces and their forces on the eve of hostilities, the Ethiopians had an army of 350,000 men. Strengths where known are noted followed by their leader. Modernized forces in Bold.
The remilitarisation of the Rhineland began on 7 March 1936 when German military forces entered the Rhineland, in direct contravention of the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Treaties.
The Battle of Ganale Doria was a battle in 1936 during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. It was fought on the "southern front". The battle consisted largely of air attacks by the Italian Royal Air Force, under the command of General Rodolfo Graziani, against an advancing and then withdrawing Ethiopian army under Ras Desta Damtu. The battle was primarily fought in the area along the Genale Doria River valley between Dolo and Negele Boran.
The Battle of the Ogaden was fought in 1936 in the southern front of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. The battle consisted of attacks by the Italian forces of General Rodolfo Graziani, the Commander-in-Chief of the forces on the "southern front," against Ethiopian defensive positions commanded by Ras Nasibu Emmanual. The strong defensive positions were designed by Wehib Pasha and known as the "Hindenburg Wall". The battle was primarily fought to the south of Harar and Jijiga.
The Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928, also known as the Italo–Ethiopian Treaty of Friendship and Arbitration, was a treaty signed between the Kingdom of Italy and the Ethiopian Empire (Abyssinia) on 2 August 1928.
The March of the Iron Will, or the Iron-Will Column, was a Fascist propaganda event staged during the final days of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. The goal of the march was to capture the Ethiopian capital in a show of force.
De Bono's invasion of Abyssinia took place during the opening stages of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. Italian General Emilio De Bono invaded northern Abyssinia from staging areas in the Italian colony of Eritrea on what was known as the "northern front."
The Christmas Offensive took place during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. The Ethiopian offensive was more of a counteroffensive to an ever slowing Italian offensive which started the war.
Tito Minniti was an Italian pilot who was killed after he was captured by Ethiopians during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War in 1935 near Degehabur. His death and alleged torture became an atrocity story justifying the use of mustard gas against the Ethiopians. Minniti was posthumously decorated with the Italian Gold Medal of Valor.
Italians of Ethiopia are the immigrants from Italy who moved to live in Ethiopia as far back as the 19th century, and their descendants. King Menelik II did not allow the sale of lands belonging to Ethiopia to Italians (Eritrea) and probably allowed France (Djibouti) to solidify his centralized power and have external trading partners. Most of the Italians moved to Ethiopia after the Italian conquest of Abyssinia in 1936. Italian Ethiopia was made of Harrar, Galla-Sidamo, Amhara and Scioa Governorates in summer 1936 and became a part of the Italian colony Italian East Africa, with capital Addis Abeba and with Victor Emmanuel III proclaiming himself Emperor of Ethiopia.
The following events occurred in September 1935:
The following events occurred in October 1935:
The following events occurred in December 1935: