Stresa Front

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Coordinates: 45°53′47.1″N8°31′33.6″E / 45.896417°N 8.526000°E / 45.896417; 8.526000 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 (with Pierre Laval), 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. Some historians -like P. Buchanan in his "Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War"- wrote that the Stresa Front was the most important attempt to stop Hitler before the start of WW2 [1] .The Stresa Front broke down completely within two/three months of the initial agreement, just after the Italian invasion of Abyssinia.

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.

Stresa Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Stresa is a town and comune of about 5,000 residents on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, about 90 kilometres (56 mi) northwest of Milan. It is situated on road and rail routes to the Simplon Pass.

Lake Maggiore lake in Italy and Switzerland

Lake Maggiore or Verbano is a large lake located on the south side of the Alps. It is the second largest lake in Italy and the largest in southern Switzerland. The lake and its shoreline are divided between the Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy and the Swiss canton of Ticino. Located halfway between Lake Orta and Lake Lugano, Lake Maggiore extends for about 65 kilometres between Locarno and Arona.

Contents

Background

The Stresa Front was triggered by Germany's declaration of its intention to build up an air force, increase the size of the army to 36 divisions (500,000 men) and introduce conscription, in March 1935. All of these actions were direct violations of the Treaty of Versailles, which limited the size of the German Army to 100,000 men, forbade conscription in Germany and prohibited a German air force.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

<i>Luftwaffe</i> Aerial warfare branch of the German military forces during World War II

The Luftwaffe was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force.

Conscription Compulsory enlistment into national or military service

Conscription, sometimes called the draft, is the compulsory enlistment of people in a national service, most often a military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names. The modern system of near-universal national conscription for young men dates to the French Revolution in the 1790s, where it became the basis of a very large and powerful military. Most European nations later copied the system in peacetime, so that men at a certain age would serve 1–8 years on active duty and then transfer to the reserve force.

Mussolini thought that the signing of the Stresa Front would mean that the United Kingdom and France would not interfere in the Abyssinian crisis.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.0 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Conference

The room where the Stresa Conference took place Isola Madre int, Italy.jpg
The room where the Stresa Conference took place

Even though the increasingly belligerent Germany dominated discussions within the conference room, Mussolini was most clever outside. With Britain, he discussed plans to pursue his aim of making Italy 'great, respected and feared' through the invasion and conquest of Abyssinia and create an all-powerful empire. Mussolini made sure not to discuss his expansionist plans within the confines of the conference itself, as he knew of the risk of the Western democracies issuing a veto over it. Furthermore, Mussolini could not risk the conference being sidetracked from its main aims : reaffirming Locarno and opposing any more breaches of international agreements.

Ethiopian Empire 1270–1974 empire in East Africa

The Ethiopian Empire, also known as Abyssinia, was a kingdom that spanned a geographical area in the current states of Eritrea and Ethiopia. It began with the establishment of the Solomonic dynasty from approximately 1270 and lasted until 1974, when the ruling Solomonic dynasty was overthrown in a coup d'état by the Derg.

Mussolini got his way, and his plans to invade Abyssinia were not brought up. He took that silence as acquiescence to his colonial war, and so he launched his invasion of Abyssinia in October 1935. That was the turning point for Mussolini, as he drifted away from Britain and France and toward Germany.

Assessment

The Stresa Front could be seen as a failure because it had vague terms and it was not clear how its aims should be upheld. It ignored all referring to Germany, as Britain was adopting a dual policy and did not want to antagonize Hitler. The hard line was provided by Mussolini, but Britain 'kept the door open' with Germany to obtain agreements. Hitler had used tactics that made Britain and France guess his next move.

However, the vague terms of the agreement kept Hitler guessing at what Britain would do. Britain failed to realise its advantage over Germany and then lost it by the Anglo-German Naval Agreement.

Anglo-German Naval Agreement

The Anglo-German Naval Agreement (AGNA) of 18 June 1935 was a naval agreement between the United Kingdom and Germany regulating the size of the Kriegsmarine in relation to the Royal Navy. The Anglo-German Naval Agreement fixed a ratio whereby the total tonnage of the Kriegsmarine was to be 35% of the total tonnage of the Royal Navy on a permanent basis. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 12 July 1935. The agreement was renounced by Adolf Hitler on 28 April 1939. The Anglo-German Naval Agreement was an ambitious attempt on the part of both London and Berlin to reach better relations, but it ultimately foundered because of conflicting expectations between the two states. For the Germans, the Anglo-German Naval Agreement was intended to mark the beginning of an Anglo-German alliance against France and the Soviet Union, whereas for the British, the Anglo-German Naval Agreement was to be the beginning of a series of arms limitation agreements that were made to limit German expansionism. The Anglo-German Naval Agreement was controversial, both at the time and since, because the 35:100 tonnage ratio allowed Germany the right to build a Navy beyond the limits set by the Treaty of Versailles, and the British had made the agreement without consulting France or Italy.

Another reason for the agreement's failure was that Britain, France and Italy all did not want to invade Germany, but a full-scale invasion of Germany was necessary to cease its rearmament. The British government was unwilling to so because the British public was strongly antiwar.

The Anglo-German Naval Agreement, soon allowed Germany to increase the size of its navy to 35% (by tonnage) of the Royal Navy and also to build submarines. The British government had not discussed that with its Stresa partners. The members of the Stresa Front were pulling in different directions.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

Dissolution

Soon after Stresa, on June 18th 1935,... Great Britain signed a naval agreement with them and without informing neither France nor Italy, which put a direct proportion to Germany and Britain by number and tonnage of warships, in fact renegading the agreements of Stresa, as well as those of Versailles of 1919. Benito Mussolini was furious when he heard the news and, unfortunately for Italy, convinced himself that Hitler couldn't be stopped anymore and that, therefore, he had to ride the tiger.John Simon [2]

The front collapsed completely with the Italian invasion of Abyssinia.

Mussolini had long ambitions of controlling Abyssinia and was enraged by the signing of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement without being informed beforehand. [3] Mussolini had held back on his invasion plans to avoid alienating his allies, especially since Ethiopia bordered French Somaliland and British Somaliland. However, he felt betrayed by Britain and so decided that there was no reason against the invasion. He also believed that the agreement violated the Stresa Front.

On January 6, 1936, Mussolini told German Ambassador Ulrich von Hassell that he would not object to Germany taking Austria as a satellite state if it maintained its independence. On 22 February, Mussolini then agreed to Hitler's remilitarization of the Rhineland and stated that Italy would not honour the Locarno Treaty if the remilitarization occurred. [4]

See also

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References

  1. Corriere della Sera: Stresa (in Italian)
  2. 80 Years anniversary of Stresa Comference
  3. Richard Lamb. Mussolini as Diplomat: Il Duce's Italy on the World Stage, pg. 114
  4. Peter Neville. Mussolini, pg. 135