In March 1935, the British Foreign Secretary, Sir John Simon, visited Berlin. In June, it agreed to a separate maritime contract with Germany, but thus undermined the Stresa front. The front was mortally wounded by Mussolini`s invasion in 1936 in Abyssinia. In April 1939, Italy made further colonial gains with the invasion of Albania. Italian control of Albania had already increased in the 1920s thanks to agreements with the Albanian regime. In addition, Italian was made compulsory in Albanian schools in 1933. When the King of Albania refused to accept a trade agreement, the Italian army took control of the country`s main strategic centers and installed Italian loyalists in the civil service. Viktor Emmanuel became king of Albania. The king fled to Greece. The British ceded Oltre Giuba (now Jubaland) in 1925 from Kenya to Italian Somalia, but the French delayed a few years until 1935 under the leadership of Laval and ceded little territory in East Africa and a desert area in the French Sahara. In April 1935, the United Kingdom, Italy and France met in Stresa to discuss events in Germany and reaffirm the Locarno Treaties. The USSR was interested in cooperation with countries threatened by Hitler and made pacts with France and Czechoslovakia in May 1935. Over time, fascist foreign policy became more expansionist.
In particular, Mussolini wanted to acquire territories in Africa and the Mediterranean, for which he took the ancient Roman term mare nostrum (“our sea”). In 1923, during his first year in office, he briefly entered the Greek island of Corfu to avenge the murder of four Italian nationals from an international border delegation. Over the next decade he played the role of European statesman and in 1924 he obtained an agreement with Yugoslavia that Fiume handed over to Italy. He continued to strengthen the Italian shutdown in Libya, to build the armed forces and to plan a new expansion in Africa, especially in Ethiopia, where the defeat of Adwa in 1896 had yet to be avenged. In October 1935, Italy finally invaded Ethiopia – one of the first conquests was Adwa – and in May 1936 it conquered the country and proclaimed the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III Emperor of Ethiopia. Ethiopia was the only country in Africa that could escape colonization. Nearly 400,000 Italian soldiers took part in the conflict. The army used brutal methods, including massacres and toxic gas bombs.