Italian aggression after 1934

The events of Mussolini’s foreign policy after 1934. 

Key differences in Mussolini’s foreign policy from 1924 to 1934 as compared with 1934 to 1939

In 1925, Mussolini signed the Locarno Treaty, which aimed at increasing stability in Europe. He also opposed international aggression in accordance with the covenant of the League of Nations. As a member of the LoN, it was their obligation to focus on international peacekeeping rather than expansion, and Italy followed through with this as they signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, outlawing war. In contrast, he caused heightened international aggression in Abyssinia from 1934 to 1936 as he took steps to make Italy “great, respected and feared”, enacting the Fascist expansionist policy.

From 1932 to 1934, Mussolini attended the World Disarmament Conference and advocated for disarmament. In contrast, he supported fascist rearmament in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 as he wished to create more fascist allies and spread fascist ideology.

In 1934, he blocked German Expansion in order to maintain good relationships with Britain and France in the League of Nations. This also contributed to the signing of the Stresa Front in 1935.  In contrast, by signing the Pact of Steel in 1939 and allowing Anschluss, he was supportive of German expansion, and as a result, he was able to create a strong, powerful relationship with Germany.

Political Climate in Europe in the 1930s

The USSR: recovering from the Great Depression and concerned by the rise of Hitler in Germany due to his anti-communism. 

Poland: by 1939, they were threatened by an invasion from Germany and Russia after they had united in the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact.

Austria: in the 1930s, the Austrian Government was fearing an invasion by Germany as there were some in the population who did not support Anschluss, whilst some in the country were advocating for it!

Great Britain and France: they had both suffered heavily from the Great Depression of 1929 and were still recovering! Meanwhile, they were focused on their policies of appeasement, in an attempt to avoid war with Hitler. Moreover, they also had the Manchurian Crisis to deal with from 1934 to 1937 (but arguably, they weren’t much help there!) However, by the end of the 1930s, the Stresa Front had broken down, and they were becoming threatened by Italy who now allied with Germany.