History of World War II 1939–1945 The origin of war. The struggle of progressive forces for the preservation of peace

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  History of World War II 1939–1945 The origin of war. The struggle of progressive forces for the preservation of peace 
Selected Articles from the History of World War II 1939–1945 in 12 volumes.
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The transition of fascism to armed aggression

Volume 2

1. Aggressive actions of Italy and Germany

The rapid strengthening of German fascism, which unceremoniously tore up the Treaty of Versailles, and the feverish arms race of the Nazi state, which unfolded with the support of the United States, Britain and France, created a pre-stormy atmosphere in Europe in the mid-1930s and led to a sharp change in the alignment of forces of the imperialist powers.

Germany, in comparison with England and France, quickly advanced economically and especially militarily. Having created their own armed forces and militarized the whole life of Germany, the Nazis became increasingly insolent. They no longer fawned over England and France but talked to them "on an equal footing." But fascist Italy was the first to take advantage of the new situation.

Analyzing the development trends of Italian imperialism, V. I. Lenin in 1915 very accurately noted that the former revolutionary-bourgeois Italy “is finally turning before our eyes into an Italy that oppresses other peoples ... into an Italy of a rude, disgustingly reactionary, dirty bourgeoisie, who is salivating with pleasure that she, too, was allowed to share the booty."

The plans for the expansion of Italian fascism included the seizure of vast territories in Africa, the Balkans and the Danube basin, throughout the Mediterranean. Ethiopia, the only state in East Africa, which, due to a number of circumstances (the rivalry of the great powers, an exceptionally advantageous strategic position, the patriotism and courage of the people, difficult geographical conditions), became the first object of fascist aggression, managed to maintain relative political independence. Located on the shortest routes from the Mediterranean and Red Seas to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, it was an important strategic position.

Italy's preparations for the seizure of Ethiopia began, according to Mussolini, as early as 1925. At first, it was supposed to annex it "peacefully" with the help of a friendship treaty (1928). However, this failed. Then, starting in the autumn of 1932, the Italian imperialists began to carefully develop plans for an armed invasion and enslavement of the Ethiopian state. 

This was followed by direct preparations for an attack on Ethiopia. Troops were concentrated in Eritrea, Somalia and Libya (Italian colonies), seaports, airfields, military bases were built and reconstructed, and highways were laid to the Ethiopian borders. For three years, armed forces of 1,300 thousand people were deployed in the metropolis and colonies. More than 155 sea vessels with a total tonnage of approximately 1,250 thousand tons were prepared, chartered, and purchased for the transportation of the expeditionary army.

To wage war, Italy dramatically increased its purchases from the United States of weapons, aircraft, aircraft engines, spare parts, oil, raw materials and other military goods. England expanded Italy's supplies of coal, nickel and other strategic materials. In the nine months of 1935, Germany sold four times as much coal and twice as many cars to Italy as in the same period of 1934. The French Renault factories supplied tanks for the Italian army; imports of cars to the Italian colonies increased 20 times.

Hiding behind the slogans of a "civilizing mission" and "establishing order in Abyssinia", the government of B. Mussolini provoked military clashes on the Ethiopian borders, carried out subversive activities, seeking to cause civil strife in the country. On December 5, 1934, a serious incident occurred 100-150 km from the border with Italian Somalia in the Wal-Wala region. The Italian garrison suddenly attacked the Ethiopian military detachment. As a result of the armed provocation, both sides suffered heavy losses. The government of the Negus Haile Selassie appealed to the League of Nations with a request to prevent Italian aggression, to avert the mortal threat hanging over the country, which is a member of the League of Nations.

Only nine months after the events in Wal-Wal, the Council of the League of Nations began to discuss the Italo-Ethiopian conflict. As always in such cases, the aggressor tried to prove the "legitimacy" of his predatory actions. What sins did he not accuse of the country that he had chosen to capture, and even suggested that Ethiopia be excluded from the League of Nations. Representatives of the capitalist states, who verbally advocated the right of all members of the League of Nations to independence, did not make any constructive proposals. It all came down to the creation of a "committee of five" (England, France, Spain, Poland and Turkey) for the purpose of a general study of Italian-Ethiopian relations and finding means for a peaceful resolution of the issue.

The Soviet Union resolutely came out in defense of the state sovereignty of Ethiopia, although it did not have diplomatic relations with it. On September 5, 1935, the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR MM Litvinov, at a meeting of the Council of the League, drew attention to the fact that “there is an undoubted threat of war, a threat of aggression, which not only is not denied, but, on the contrary, is confirmed by the representative of Italy himself. Can we get past this threat?..” On behalf of the Soviet government, he suggested that the Council "not stop at any effort and means to prevent an armed conflict between two members of the League." A few days later, at a meeting of the General Assembly of the League of Nations, the head of the Soviet delegation again called on the states responsible for maintaining peace to take all measures to pacify the aggressor. However, this high international organization did nothing to protect Ethiopia. The inaction of the League of Nations untied the hands of Rome, which was completing the final preparations for war.

Fascist states increasingly seized the initiative in international relations. This gave them significant advantages in the implementation of aggressive plans. It suited Germany well that Italy's expansion was aimed southwards and, consequently, its attention to Central and South-Eastern Europe, where German interests clashed with Italian ones, would be diverted for a long time. In addition, public opinion, the German government believed, would inevitably be riveted to Italian aggression in Africa.

France also sought to use the situation that had arisen, which intended at the expense of Ethiopia to strengthen relations with Italy, prevent its rapprochement with Germany and achieve a weakening of England's positions in the states of Asia and Africa. In early January 1935, French Prime Minister P. Laval met with Mussolini. The Italian dictator confidentially shared his plans with him. The result of the visit was the declaration on Franco-Italian cooperation published on January 7th. An agreement was reached to change the Franco-Italian border in Africa. France made significant concessions, transferring to Italy a 20 percent stake in the railway connecting the French port of Djibouti with Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia), Dumeira Island, 800 sq. km on the border of Italian Eritrea opposite the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and 125 thousand square meters. km of territory, adjacent to the southern border with Libya, and also agreed to extend until 1965 benefits for Italian settlers in Tunisia. Later, Laval boastfully declared that he "gave him (Mussolini. - Ed.) This Ethiopia." The French prime minister explained his concessions to the Italian aggressor by the fact that France also benefited from this, as it channeled Italy's expansion into Africa instead of Southeast Europe, in which French capital had serious economic interests.

According to the testimony of the American ambassador to Germany, W. Dodd, in this deal the French government recommended that Italy seize Ethiopia piecemeal. Dodd wrote in his diary: “I had an interesting conversation with the French diplomat Armand Berard, who frankly said: “We made a pact with Italy, although Mussolini is very unpleasant to us ... and we had to promise him the annexation of Abyssinia. I hope Mussolini is smart enough to annex this country piecemeal, as we did in Morocco. We insisted on this in front of the Italians ... "

The results of the secret negotiations between Laval and Mussolini were brought to the attention of London. The Foreign Office (British Foreign Office) made it clear that, unless British interests in Lake Tana and the Blue Nile were affected, England did not intend to oppose Italian aggression. Her main concern, as Foreign Minister D. Simon informed his king in February 1935, was to take a position in the Italo-Ethiopian conflict that would not have "an adverse effect on Anglo-Italian relations." 

According to the British journalist J. Price, a similar idea was expressed by R. McDonalds (former prime minister of two Labor governments) in a conversation with Mussolini. The Duce asked how England would react to the fact of his army's invasion of Ethiopia. Britain's political leader cynically replied: "England is a lady. Women like the actively offensive actions of men, but subject to secrecy. Therefore, act tactfully, and we will not object. This position was also confirmed by the Stresa conference (April 1935), at which the representatives of Britain and France made it clear to the representatives of Italy that their governments were not going to interfere with Mussolini's aggressive actions against Ethiopia, if this did not shake their positions in the colonies.

The policy of condoning the Italian aggressor was also pursued by the United States of America. Back in 1934, the American government evaded mediation in the question of Ethiopia and did everything possible to ensure that she "realized that no one in the world would help her", finally abandoned "exaggerated ideas about independence and agreed with the moderate demands of Italy." On August 31, 1935, with the invasion of Ethiopia already a foregone conclusion, the US Congress passed the Neutrality Act, which prohibited the export of war materials to warring countries. This meant that the invader, who was not so dependent on the import of military materials, received a real advantage over the victim of aggression. Thus, the ruling circles of France, Britain and the United States firmly set out to encourage the aggression of Italian fascism.

On the night of October 3, 1935, suddenly, without a declaration of war, Italian troops invaded Ethiopia. Undertaking an attack simultaneously from three directions, the command of the Italian army expected to use modern weapons, new methods of struggle and in a short time to deal with their victim.

The northern front, under the command of the aged General de Bono, and then Marshal Badoglio, with most of the invasion troops, deployed near the border of Ethiopia with Eritrea. He delivered the main blow with the forces of three army corps (ten divisions) in the direction of Dessie, Addis Ababa. The offensive in the other two directions played a supporting role. The southern (Somali) front, which had two operational groups (two divisions each), was supposed to tie down as many Ethiopian forces as possible by active operations in the direction of Harar. The central group of troops (one division and auxiliary units) served as a link between both fronts. She had the task of advancing from the Assaba region to Dessie through the Danakil desert.

While deploying the war in Africa, Italy also took care of its position in Europe. To maintain the role of Italy as the guarantor of the Locarno Pact, Mussolini immediately formed new divisions to replace the units sent to Eritrea and Somalia. As a result, the army of the metropolis not only did not decrease, but even increased. Mussolini boastfully declared that he would keep conscripts born in 1911-1914 under arms as long as he saw fit, and that "900,000 soldiers fully ensure our security ... They are equipped with the latest weapons produced ... by military factories," which "have been in full swing for several months".

Fear for the fate of her colonies in India and Africa forced England to take precautions. She pulled large naval and air forces from the metropolis, Singapore and Hong Kong to the Mediterranean and Red Seas. After the regrouping, the English navy and air fleet had 7 battleships, 3 aircraft carriers, 25 cruisers, 65 destroyers, 15 submarines, 400-450 aircraft in the Mediterranean theater. Large fleet forces (battleships, cruisers, aircraft carriers) were located in Alexandria (13 ships), in Gibraltar and Aden (6 combat units each), in the ports of Malta - 7 submarines.

Fascist Italy began to urgently cover its naval bases and sea lanes. Its main naval and air forces were concentrated in the ports of the south of the Apennine Peninsula and Sicily (76 ships, including 2 battleships, 13 cruisers, 34 destroyers, 17 submarines). 4 destroyers, 27 submarines and torpedo boats were advanced to the Eastern Mediterranean (the islands of Leros and Rhodes, the port of Tobruk), and 4 cruisers, 5 destroyers, 6 submarines and 1 air transport to the Red Sea. To strengthen the armed forces, the mobilization system, the training of military personnel, and air defense were improved, and military production was centralized.

Having attacked Ethiopia, the Italian fascists closely watched how world public opinion would react to their actions, in particular in countries such as England and France. This left a certain imprint on the nature of the actions of the Italian troops. The Italian General Staff oriented the command of its troops in Ethiopia so that, having captured a certain area, they carefully mastered the occupied territory, built roads, bridges, and organized the work of the rear. This was to create conditions for subsequent operations. The Italian army on the northern front acted massively, without dismembering into separate columns. This was forced by the nature of the terrain and the heroic resistance of the covering units of the Ethiopian army. Despite the military-technical superiority, the Italian invaders advanced slowly, suffered heavy losses, and in some areas even left their positions. Until the end of the year, they took possession of only an insignificant part of the country's territory, reaching the border of Adigrat, Aduva, Aksum in the north, and Gerlogubi, Gorrahei, Dolo in the south.

The experience of the first months of the war showed that the capture of Ethiopia required significantly more forces and means than the Italians had. They put forward eight more divisions and a huge amount of military and auxiliary equipment into the theater of war. In total, by mid-February 1936, 14,500 officers, 350,000 soldiers, up to 60,000 support personnel (not counting 80-100,000 people from the local population), 510 aircraft, 300 tanks, 800 guns were sent to East Africa , 11,500 machine guns, 450 thousand rifles, 15 thousand cars, 80 thousand pack animals, 1800 radio stations and many other military equipment.

The concentration of a large mass of Italian troops, military equipment, weapons, equipment, food, fuel and lubricants, delivered to East Africa by sea for many months, became possible due to the connivance of the majority of the members of the League of Nations. Called to defend the territorial integrity and political independence of its members, the League of Nations did not heed the Soviet proposal to take decisive measures to end hostilities. The attention of the whole world was riveted to her, not words were expected from her, but actions, but she did nothing to prevent war.

The struggle of the Soviet Union and other peace-loving forces in defense of Ethiopia forced the League of Nations to declare Italy an aggressor and decide to apply certain economic sanctions against it. The import of weapons and a number of other goods, the provision of loans and credits were prohibited. However, the main measure - an embargo on the supply of oil to Italy and a number of other military-strategic materials - did not receive the support of the League of Nations.

But even such curtailed measures seemed too harsh to many statesmen of the West. When discussing the issue of applying economic sanctions to Italy, representatives of Austria and Horthy Hungary opposed them, the French Prime Minister announced his intention to "continue the search for a peaceful solution to the issue." The British diplomat made the application of sanctions against Italy dependent on the positions of Germany and the United States. As for the American government, it refused to participate in the implementation of the decisions of the League of Nations taken against the Italian aggression. As soon as the discussion of this issue began, US Ambassador to Rome Long immediately sent a telegram to Secretary of State Hull: “If a decision is made in Geneva to impose sanctions (against Italy. - Ed.), I sincerely hope that the American government will not join them. This will cause dire consequences for us in the States and unnecessary complications. Long's concern proved unnecessary. On October 9, Hull instructed the American envoy in Geneva to notify all members of the League of Nations that "the United States will follow its course on its own."

The refusal of the United States, Germany, Austria, Hungary to participate in the sanctions and the unwillingness of England and France to enforce them created favorable conditions for Italy, because these states played the main role in its imports. The United States supplied Italy with 72 percent of paraffin, over 60 percent of raw cotton, 40 percent of iron scrap, 27 percent of machinery and steel scrap, and 26 percent of nickel. Germany provided 40 percent coal, 25 percent rolled products, 11 percent iron and steel, and 7 percent nickel. Austria's share of Italian imports was 28 percent timber, 23 percent special steel, and 12 percent iron and steel. Hungary was an important food supplier. Consequently, the measures taken by the League of Nations against the Italian colonialists, as Churchill admitted, were "not real sanctions,

The Soviet government tried in every possible way to help the Ethiopian people. Representatives of the USSR emphasized that the decision of the League of Nations on sanctions could be effective only if the import of the most important types of military-strategic raw materials to Italy was prohibited. However, this was well understood by some leaders of the Western powers. “If total sanctions had been applied,” Hull later wrote, “Mussolini’s advance would have been immediately stopped.” But most members of the League agreed only in words with the need to break economic relations with Italy, but in fact continued to supply it with military-strategic materials, especially oil, which was of paramount importance for the outcome of the Ethiopian campaign. The United States played a big role in this. Their export of oil in November 1934 in monetary terms amounted to 447 thousand dollars, and in November 1935 - 1 million 252 thousand.

In an effort to make sanctions against the aggressor as effective as possible, the USSR came up with a proposal to ban the import of oil into the country that committed the aggression. This proposal was supported by nine member states of the League of Nations (Argentina, Holland, India, Iraq, New Zealand, Romania, Siam, Finland, Czechoslovakia), which supplied 75 percent of Italy's oil consumption. Such measures could have had a decisive impact on events in Ethiopia.

Rome sounded the alarm. Mussolini turned to Laval with a request to prevent the application of oil sanctions. The French Prime Minister entered into negotiations with the British government, which, in turn, expressed fear that if the League of Nations decides to impose an embargo on oil exports to Italy, the United States, regardless of this decision, will increase oil imports to this country and the British oil companies will lose the Italian market.

The selfish interests of big business won: England and France not only abandoned the embargo, but also went further. Having entered into a secret agreement, they, with the knowledge of Mussolini, developed a plan for the division of Ethiopia. On December 9, 1935, Laval and British Foreign Secretary S. Khor signed a secret agreement on a "peaceful settlement" of the Ethiopian problem. Negus was asked to "cede" to Italy two provinces - Ogaden and Tigre, as well as the Danakil region. In exchange, Ethiopia would receive from Italy a narrow strip of Eritrean territory with access to the sea at Assab. She was also to take on the service of Italian advisers.

Ethiopia rejected the Anglo-French proposal.

Taking advantage of the situation, the Italian-fascist invaders concentrated large forces against Ethiopia and created a decisive superiority in the means of struggle. They began active hostilities with decisive goals. At this stage, the Italian command sought to induce the Ethiopian army to counterattack, to then defeat it.

The new commander-in-chief of the Italian troops, Badoglio (who is also the commander of the northern front), was very afraid of the transition of the patriots of Ethiopia to an exhausting guerrilla war in addition to the defensive actions of the regular army. One of the Italian magazines wrote about this: "... it was essential for us to prevent in every possible way that the war of maneuver, which we wanted to impose on the enemy, turned into a war of attrition." 

In order to quickly break the resistance of the Ethiopians, the Italian command committed a monstrous crime: it decided to use poisonous substances, flamethrowers and explosive bullets prohibited by international convention. In mid-December 1935, Marshal Badoglio and General Graziani asked Mussolini to grant them "complete freedom of action in the use of asphyxiant gases." “The use of gases is permissible,” the Duce immediately replied.

Over cities and even small towns in Ethiopia, Italian aircraft began spraying mustard gas in large quantities. Vapors and drops of mustard gas affected the population, livestock, and crops. Bombs with toxic substances were dropped into the places of concentration of the Negus troops, who did not have air cover. The barefoot, lightly dressed Ethiopian soldiers were especially vulnerable.

Haile Selassie later wrote: “We attacked the enemy’s machine-gun nests, his artillery, captured tanks with our bare hands, we endured aerial bombardments, but we could not do anything against poison gases that imperceptibly fell on our faces and hands.” The army suffered heavy losses. There were also huge casualties among the civilian population. As is clear from the report of the Ethiopian government presented in 1946, more than 760 thousand soldiers and residents of Ethiopia died during the war and occupation. “This is not a war,” said one of the eyewitnesses, an employee of the Red Cross mission, “this is not even a beating. It is the execution of tens of thousands of defenseless men, women and children with bombs and poison gas.”

Ethiopia is in a critical situation. The policy of "neutrality" pursued by the United States deprived Ethiopia of the opportunity to acquire weapons, in which the Negus army was in dire need. By the end of December 1935, Ethiopian troops received only 4,000 rifles and 36 guns. The Western powers observed "neutrality" with particular ostentation. Washington even refused the Ethiopian government's request to sell two air ambulances and at the same time opposed the closure of the Suez Canal for the aggressor, through which Italian military units, weapons, and food were transported to the front. Closing the canal "would mean," Hoare declared, "the end of collective action," that is, the attempts of England and France to come to terms with Italy. A similar position was held by Japan, which refused Ethiopia to purchase weapons and gas masks.

Relying on numerical superiority, advantages in equipment and weapons, using criminal methods of warfare, the Italian invaders in February-April 1936 on the northern front inflicted a series of heavy blows in the areas of Makalle, Tembien, Lake Ashangii and reached the city of Dessie. On the southern front, Graziani's army, pushing back the Ethiopian troops, occupied Dagabur and Harar. On May 5, the Italians captured the capital of the country, Addis Ababa.

Two weeks before the capture of the capital of Ethiopia by the aggressor, the excited voice of the head of the delegation of the Ethiopian state was heard in the Council of the League, once again appealing for help: “The people of Ethiopia will never submit. Today he asks fifty-two states: what measures do they intend to take to enable him to continue the fight? In response, the Western powers, one by one, began to refuse to apply sanctions against Italy. England did it first. The League of Nations has signed for its complete impotence, and most importantly, its unwillingness to curb the aggressor. So, Ethiopia was thrown at the feet of the fascist dictator.

On May 9, when the Italians captured no more than a third of the territory of Ethiopia, Mussolini announced its "final" conquest. By decree of the fascist government, Ethiopia was united with Eritrea and Italian Somalia into a single colony - Italian East Africa. Duce hypocritically declared: “Peace with the population of Abyssinia is a fait accompli. The various tribes of the former empire have made it clear that they want to live and work in peace under the tricolor flag of Italy.” But the people of Ethiopia did not bow their heads before the invader and launched a guerrilla movement.

The aggression of fascist Italy against Ethiopia was an important stage on the path of unleashing the Second World War. The capture of this country strengthened the positions of Italian imperialism in Africa, the Red Sea and on the shortest routes from Europe to Asia. At the same time, the position of England and France here, in one of the key regions of the world, has deteriorated sharply. In the rear of Egypt, Italy created a springboard for subsequent seizures of foreign lands. As a result, there was a further aggravation of imperialist contradictions in Africa.

The war against Ethiopia was a kind of dress rehearsal for the aggressors. It showed once again that predatory methods of warfare have become the "norm" for the imperialist invaders.

The war in Ethiopia, and most importantly, the entire policy of condoning the aggressor on the part of the United States, Britain and France marked the beginning of a new stage in pre-war history. According to the frank admission of the English military historian and theorist B. Liddell Hart, the situation that had arisen "prompted Hitler to a new defiant step in March 1936."

Italy's unpunished aggression in Ethiopia, the results of the plebiscite in the Saar region, gave Hitler's leaders grounds for concluding that the time had come for a direct violation of the Versailles and Locarno treaties and the implementation of predatory plans in Europe. The first act provided for the unexpected and simultaneous entry of more than 30,000 German troops into the Rhine demilitarized zone according to a plan previously developed by the Nazi General Staff - Operation Schulung. The anti-Soviet thesis that the Franco-Soviet pact was incompatible with the spirit of the Locarno agreements and threatened Germany was supposed to be a camouflage cover for the planned adventure. Hitler arrogantly declared: "Moscow must be quarantined." The absurdity of the Nazis' fabrication was obvious, since both France and the USSR had no territorial claims against Germany, and their treaty of mutual assistance provided only for retaliatory action against aggression. The action conceived by the Nazis was associated with a huge risk for them. Subsequently, one of Hitler's main henchmen, General Jodi, admitted: "We had a restless feeling of a player who put his entire career at stake."

The aggressive act of Nazi Germany in Europe was prepared in close contact with fascist Italy. On February 25, 1936, an agreement was concluded between them on measures to combat the Soviet-French pact and on a common line of policy towards the Locarno Treaty. The invasion of German troops into the Rhine zone was supposed to divert the attention of England, France and the United States, to postpone indefinitely the question of oil sanctions against Italy and allow it to complete the final operations in Ethiopia without hindrance. At Mussolini's request, Hitler pushed back the scheduled date of the offensive a week earlier.

On March 7, 1936, Nazi battalions invaded the Rhine demilitarized zone and occupied it without meeting resistance. The unexpected success inspired the aggressor, the German troops reached the French border. Trying to justify their actions, the fascist bosses assured that they were only providing their rear for organizing a war against the USSR and so that France, bound with the Soviet Union by a mutual assistance treaty, would not dare to fulfill its conditions. And oddly enough, in Paris, London and Washington, the statements of the Nazi leaders met with confidence, while the obvious facts were ignored.

A triumphant Hitler hastened to declare: "The spirit of the Treaty of Versailles has been destroyed." And he added: "A new order must emerge in Europe." That was when the predatory plan of the German monopolists, the plan to enslave the peoples of Europe and turn them into wordless "working cattle" was made public. “Adolf Hitler was allowed to win the first battle of the Second World War without opening fire,” the English historian Wheeler-Beinet rightly noted. The fascist dictator with an arrogant gesture "threw the glove" at the feet of the astonished France. The system of guarantees and alliances it had created was bursting at the seams. On its eastern borders, the bayonets of the armed forces of the German Reich again shone.

France was shamelessly betrayed by her traditional ally in a matter of vital importance to her. The British government refused to fulfill its obligations under the Locarno Treaty, since the remilitarization of the Rhineland allegedly did not affect "vital British interests." The British Foreign Minister Eden argued: "... since the demilitarized zone was created mainly for the security of France and Belgium, it is up to the governments of these two countries to decide how important it is to them and what price they are willing to pay for its preservation ..." Britain's participation in joint actions was considered undesirable by the British Foreign Secretary.

According to the English historian J. Huizinga, the British were more than willing to accept Lord Lothian's assurances that Hitler would allow nothing but the return of "his own backyard garden." Thus, according to Huizinga, comfort was above honor.

France did not receive support from the League of Nations either. After long verbiage, the League of Nations limited itself to recognizing the fact of violation of the Versailles and Locarno treaties. So, because of the capitulation policy of Western countries, the violator of international agreements again went unpunished. The voice of the Soviet Union, calling for curbing fascism, turned out to be lonely.

The Rhine zone, captured by Nazi Germany, became its foothold against France.