Mussolini’s Diplomacy from 1923 to 1934

What were the main features of Mussolini’s foreign policy from 1923 to 1934?

  1. Territorial expansion

  • In 1923, Italy invaded Corfu, but in the end, they were forced to withdraw and instead receive an indemnity from Greece due to pressure from the League of Nations and Conference of Ambassadors.

  • In 1924, Italy signed the Treaty of Rome with Yugoslavia, taking control of Fiume, as the Roman Empire had done before.

  • In 1926, Italy set up a puppet regime in their protectorate of Albania, expanding Italian Influence across the Adriatic.

  1. National Defence

  • In 1934, Italy defended its national security when it warned Hitler not to attempt to invade Austria.

  1. Negotiations and agreements with other European countries

  • In 1925, Italy signed the Locarno Treaties, which fitted aimed to create greater stability in Europe as the signatories respected each other's joint frontiers.

  • In 1928, Italy signed the international agreement of the Kellogg-Briand Pact which had the main aim of outlawing war and prohibited the use of weapons and arms, unless being used as a means of self-defence against attacks or if it suited the League's covenant and other peace treaties of the League.

  • In 1932, Italy joined the World Disarmament Conference.

  • In 1933, Italy proposed the Four-Power Pact with Britain, France and Germany, but in the end, it was not ratified by France.

How ambitious was Mussolini during the period of 1923 to 1934?

Arguably, Mussolini adopted a more conciliatory approach to diplomacy from 1923 to 1934.

  • Italy was in no position to adopt an aggressive foreign policy as their military power was insufficient. This was caused by their vast losses in the First World War in which 650,000 soldiers were killed and 947,000 were wounded. Thus, Italy had a shortage of trained and well-equipped soldiers, as well as armaments, so Mussolini was unable to pursue an aggressive foreign policy.

  • He did not immediately begin to pursue his aims, such as expansion. If he was pursuing an aggressive foreign policy, he would have attempted to take back much more of the former Roman Empire, but Italy was simply in no position to organise offensive attacks against the combined power of the League of Nations or declare a war against another European country.

  • Thus, Mussolini adopted a much more conciliatory approach to diplomacy than he might have wished to.

When looking at Mussolini's diplomacy from 1923 to 1934, did he achieve his aims?

Did he receive the lands promised under the 1915 Treaty of London?

  • Under the Treaty of London, Italy was promised colonies, however, in the Treaty of St. Germain, they were not given any.

  • Italy was also promised Dalmatia, but it was not until 1941 when Mussolini invaded Yugoslavia that he was able to rule Dalmatia.

  • Though they made claim to Fiume in 1915, it was not granted to them, however, they were able to obtain Fiume through the Treaty of Rome in 1924.

  • Therefore, during the period of 1923 to 1934, he only achieved this aim to a small extent as he did succeed in gaining and establishing a protectorate over Albania (and this could be considered a colony?)

Was he able to expand Italian influence into the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea?

  • He attempted to take Corfu from Greece when he deployed 10,000 troops there, but then he was paid to leave by Greece for 50 million lire after he was pressured by the League of Nations and Conference of Ambassadors.

  • He successfully annexed Fiume by signing the Treaty of Rome with Yugoslavia, and he also set up a protectorate over Albania.

  • Therefore, he was moderately successful.

Was he able to further spread Fascism?

  • Italy was quite successful in spreading fascism through the acquisition of Fiume in 1924 and setting up a puppet regime in Albania across the Adriatic Sea, and in doing so he also fulfilled the Fascist aim of gaining additional territory.

  • Mussolini failed to permanently take control of Corfu as Italy was pressured to leave by the League of Nations and the Conference of Ambassadors.

Did Mussolini revive the glory of the Roman Empire?

  • Mussolini only re-claimed Fiume and established a protectorate over Albania, with regards to Corfu, he was not able to expand there, but was paid 50 million lire to leave after he was pressured by the League of Nations and Conference of Ambassadors.

  • Therefore, he only achieved this to a small extent.

Did Mussolini manage to achieve a greater position of leadership in European politics?

  • He was able to confront and disobey the League of Nations without sanctions and military action when he initially refused to withdraw from Corfu, and then in the end, he did manage to force Greece to accept Italy’s ultimatum.

  • He acquired Fiume which showed Italy’s superiority over Yugoslavia and he was able to establish a protectorate over Albania.

  • He was also a key figure in both the Locarno Treaty of 1925 and the Kellogg Briand Pact of 1928.

  • Moreover, he was able to prevent German Anschluss with Austria in 1934.

Did he increase and maintain his popularity in order to sustain his rule?

  • His reputation did indeed increase as the votes for the Fascist Party increased significantly, allowing him to achieve one-party rule as politicians voted for the Acerbo law.

  • Meanwhille, his signing of the Locarno Treaties improved his diplomatic reputation and displayed Mussolini’s Fascist state as highly influential in European politics, which enhanced his popularity in Italy.

Did Mussolini make Italy "great, respected and feared"?

What do you think?

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