Abyssinia Crisis

Outine of Events:

September 28th, 1934: United States Ambassador at Rome reported to Secretary of State rumors about Italy contemplating war against Ethiopia

February 14th, 1935: The same Ambassador reported once again to Secretary of State that there were indications of general preparation for an extensive campaign in Ethiopia.

October 3rd, 1935: Italy attacks Ethiopia

November 14th, 1935: Russia has all League sanctions put into effect (stressed that all states, including Ethiopia, retained equal rights with all other members of the nation) and advocated collective security and its purpose to preserve peace.

November 18th, 1935: League put financial sanctions on Italy into full effect.

December 1935: Samuel Hoare (Britain) and Pierre Laval (France) PROPOSED the "Hoare-Laval Plan" to the League of Nations, which would end the war but allow Italy to control large areas of Abyssinia. Mussolini agreed to the plan, but many of the British became angry with Hoare for betraying the Abyssinians. Because of this, Hoare resigned and the plan was null and void, continuing the war.


Central issue:

The central issue of the Abyssinia Crisis was that Italy attacked Ethiopia out of aggression rather than reason, which violated the League of Nation's rule of no aggression towards other nations within the council. (Abyssinia)


Role played by League of Nations:

Inside the League itself, there were many disputes over Abyssinia. This was because Russia did not want to anger Italy for fear that this would incite Germany and Japan to become aggressive as well. Litvinov, the president of the 86th session of the council, suggested that the league did not want to charge any state for aggression to another state. This kept the League out of the issue between Italy and Abyssinia. However, when Italy attacked Abyssinia without reason the league had to "punish" Italy. However, the league was unsuccessful in following through and rather than punishing them, dismissed them from any charges because they were scared of Italy and Japan going to war. (Clark)


Analysis of the effectiveness of the League of Nation's role:

The League of Nations was not very effective on this matter. Litvinov was scared to charge the Italians over anything because the League was scared that if there was an outbreak of war, they would lose the Italians to the other side instead of having them as an ally, so the league did close to nothing. The main thing they used was a scare tactic, which was meant to stop the Italians from invading Abyssinia (Now Ethiopia). This however did not happen. Italy went on to invade all of Abyssinia and take control of it. After the invasion, the League passed a sanction that was meant to stop the Italians economy (excluding oil). However, the league did not try to enforce this sanction at all, so the Italians were unaffected by the league.(Italian)


Primary Source (text):

"If we had before us from Italy, instead of a declaration on liberty of action, a formal and well-founded complaint against acts of aggression committed by a neighboring Ethiopia . . . Italy would have obtained from the League full justice . . . [and] the sympathy to which the noble Italian nation is entitled." -Litvinov (September 14th, 1935) (Italian)

Litvinov was explaining to the council that if Italy had not resorted to violence but, instead, complied to the rules of the League by developing a calm, yet sophisticated complaint against Ethiopia, Italy would not have been "punished" by the League. The League would have been more understanding and in turn, might have punished Ethiopia for breaking the League's regulations. Since Italy's aggression was a response to Ethiopia's sanction suggestion, Italy was the target (even though the League played a minute part in the conflict). The purpose of this quote was to express Litvinov's regulation stating aggression was not to be tolerated, even if the action was in response to another. This piece of information does not retain value because it reflects the power the League of Nations had at the time and explains how they dealt with the situation (they didn't do much so this doesn't really affect anything). The limitations are that Litvinov failed to mention any lee-ways for the Ethiopians and only honored "noble Italy" and the sympathy it's "entitled".


Primary Source(Visual):

Solo Syndication, Evening Standard; Low cartoon of ‘The man who took the lid off’, 1935
Solo Syndication, Evening Standard; Low cartoon of ‘The man who took the lid off’, 1935


This visual source was made right after the Abyssinia crisis. It shows Mussolini taking the cap off of an object and some evil creature is coming out of the hole. It helps us understand that everyone knew that since the League was so ineffective during this crisis, it lost all of its credibility and a creature was being released. This creature was the Germans and the Japanese because since the League had such a hard time dealing with such a tiny dispute such as this, then they would not be able to handle a full out war. The cap also represents the League of Nations itself. With the cap on, the League was able to keep the world at peace, but when it came off, the whole world was thrown into chaos. The origin of this source was from the British media. It's value is that it shows how the media saw that the League was effective and kept the world from Chaos. The Limitations are that it doesn't show the people's point of view only the media's, and this source does not involve any other countries, so the information is biased.


Work Cited:

"Abyssinia Crisis - Discussion and Encyclopedia Article. Who Is Abyssinia Crisis? What Is Abyssinia Crisis? Where Is Abyssinia Crisis? Definition of Abyssinia Crisis. Meaning of Abyssinia Crisis." Welcome to Knowledgerush. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <http://www.knowledgerush.com/kr/encyclopedia/Abyssinia_Crisis/>.

Clark, J. Calvitt. ""ITALY, RUSSIA, JAPAN, ETHIOPIA, AND THE WAR OF 1935-6"" Jacksonville University - Users Web Sites. 16 Sept. 1998. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <http://users.ju.edu/jclarke/wizzatb.html>.

"Heroes & Villains | Mussolini & Abyssinia | League of Nations | Source 7." The National Archives. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. <http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/heroesvillains/g3/cs3/g3cs3s7.htm>.

"ITALIAN CONQUEST OF ETHIOPIA 1935-1936." Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts. 1983. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/WorldWar2/italy.htm>.

"SOVIET RUSSIA AND THE ITALO-ETHIOPIAN WAR OF 1935-6”." Jacksonville University - Users Web Sites. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. <http://users.ju.edu/jclarke/scss04.htm>.