1. What is the Stresa Front? What relationship does it have with World War II?
The Stresa Front is an agreement signed by the Allies in 1935 for the purpose of containing German expansion by ensuring Austria’s independence. After the First World War ended, the Allies used various treaties to contain Germany in order to prevent Germany to arm again and threaten other countries’ safety. But because of the large population, powerful industry strength and advanced science of Germany, unless the country could be peacefully involved in the world, any efforts prevent its arming would be in vain. After the German Nazi Party seized the politic power of Germany in 1933, the Allies felt that the threat from the country was increasing. It wished to contain Germany by preventing the Anschluss (German for “connection” or union, political annexation, the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938). At that time, Russia was not a part of the Allies. There was only Britain, France and Italy left in the Allies in World War I to jointly cope with the threat from Germany. The conclusion of the Stresa Front indicated that the Allies still could be united to deal with the threat from Germany. And for Germany, dealing with several countries at the same time was impossible to win. If this agreement could be implemented and the Allies kept the relationship of close cooperation, Germany under the leadership of Hitler would not rapidly expand and the Second World War might not happen at all.
2. Why did Stresa Front fail to ensure independent of Austria?
The reason is that the way of thinking and interests of countries of the Allies were different. The purpose of Britain and France was to keep the international order at that time and maintain peace. Mussolini, the dictator of Italy hoped to obtain the two countries’ tacit consent to Italian expansion through keeping cooperation with the countries, because Mussolini planned to invade and annex Ethiopia in this year. But Britain and France still criticized Mussolini’s military operations and implemented sanction through the League of Nations. Such sanction, however, was very limited and wasn’t enough to stop Mussolini to invade Ethiopia. This event lead to tense relationship between Mussolini and Britain and France and started to get close to Germany, because the two countries both wished to get their own interest through expansion by military forces. In addition, since Britain and France showed their weakness on the issue of Ethiopia, Germany and Italy both reckoned that it was not possible for the two countries to solve the problems by military forces and therefore firming their thinking. After three years when Germany mastered sufficient power and strength, Germany and Austria realized the Anschluss. And as they expected, Britain and France only released some diplomatic protests. Such indulger tolerance led to the consequence that it’s getting closer and closer for World War II to break out.
3. Pierre Laval, the diplomatic minister of France, engaged in signing this agreement, cooperated with Germany after France was defeated. He continued to assume important office in the government of Vichy France. In 1945, he was arrested by the new French government and was executed for treason.