The reactionary right in France did not find a leader comparable to Mussolini or Hitler in charisma or political savvy, but by 1934 Colonel Francois de la Rocque of the Croix du feu claimed a million recruits to his banners.
At this time in France, his group was called a fascist.
Many were close to the prewar right-wing antirepublican movements.
Many on the right expressed admiration for the German and Italian dictators, even though De la Rocque favored military action against Nazi Germany.
The February 1934 riot in France was thought to be evidence of a rising right-wing threat to the republic.
The long history of insurrections in Paris made it easy to believe that the antirepublican conspirators were going to seize power.
At the time, the Marxist left believed that a "fascist" coup d'etat had been narrowly averted.
Right-wing antirepublicans would have been in power in Italy, Germany, Austria, and France if the coup had succeeded.
In France, the failure of Germany's left to unite against Hitler made a strong impression.
France's left needed to pay attention.
The formation of the Popular Front, an anti-fascist coalition that came to power in both France and Spain in 1936, was the result of the riots of February 6, 1934.
The leaders of Comintern were forced to recognize the failure of the revolutionary doctrine they had forwarded since 1928.
The nightmare for Soviet leaders was that France could join Germany and Italy in an anti-Communist alliance.
They tried to keep Europe's major powers divided since they realized that the capitalist world could bring down the Soviet Union.
The leaders of the Soviet Union were open to change.
In the summer of 1934, the Congress of Victors announced a new period of class harmony inside the Soviet Union.
Communists throughout the world were told to encourage harmony, or at least to ally with other anti-fascist forces, not only with democratic socialists but also with non-socialist democrats, possibly even with conservatives so long as they were firmly anti-fascist.
Soviet Russia joined the League of Nations in 1934.
Leading spokesmen for the Comintern had previously denounced liberal democracy as a farce.
Comintern member parties were told to stress patriotism rather than proletarian internationalism.
The Communist Party, the Socialist Party, and the Radical Party were suspicious of the Popular Front in France.
The Stresa Front had implications for the formation of the Popular Front.
Mussolini was studying the possibility of an imperial expansion into Ethiopia, Africa's only major area not controlled by Europeans, bordered on the north by Italian Eritrea and on the south by Italian Somaliland.
The scene of a humiliating defeat for Italy in 1896 was one of the attractions of conquering Ethiopia.
Mussolini wanted to reverse a worrisome disaffection in Italy's population, especially its youth.
He succeeded in that goal.
Mussolini basked in the most ardent support he ever achieved during the Second Ethiopia War, which lasted from October 1935 to May 1936.
His warnings that "national pride has no need of the delirium of race" were forgotten.
He and other Fascist leaders used crude forms of European racism against Africans in justifying the attack on Ethiopia.
While the Fascist propaganda machine presented the war as heroic and glorious, the reality was that it was a slaughter of a divided, often bewildered population that was equipped with largely inferior weapons.
Mussolini thought the French and British would tolerate the Ethiopia escapade.
Many people in those two countries believed that keeping Italy in the Stresa Front was crucial to containing Nazi Germany.
Concrete measures to prevent Italy's conquest of Ethiopia were never included in the denunciations of Italy's aggression that came from France and Britain.
The half-hearted steps only inflamed the belief of Italians that they were being held to unjust or hypocritical standards by other imperialist nations.
The Stresa Front's disintegration suggests how complicated opposition to aggression can become.
Slavery was still practiced in Ethiopia, along with many other practices in violation of League of Nations standards, according to representatives from France and Britain.
The League's failure to prevent Italy's takeover of Ethiopia was one of many proof that it was not effective in fighting nationalist aggression.
The Second Ethiopia War contributed to a shift in opinion and diplomatic alliances.
The rapprochement of Italy and Germany began after Nazi Germany did not protest Italy's aggression.
Mussolini began to speak of a "Rome-Berlin axis" in late 1936.
He and other Italian spokesmen stopped referring to Hitler and Nazism.
Anti-Jewish legislation was introduced in Italy.
Europe as a whole seemed to be moving toward a diplomatic situation that was logical and anti-fascist.
The idea of a balance of power between nation-states continued to be resisted by many leaders.
There was an ideological tendency of the pre-World War I coalition of France, Britain, and Germany against a newly threatening autocratic Germany, but bringing autocratic Russia into the anti-German coalition underscored how national interest trumped ideological preference.
Conservatives in western Europe were not willing to accept the idea of establishing a diplomatic alliance with Communist Russia against Nazi Germany.
A pact of mutual defense was negotiated between France and Russia in May 1935, but it encountered strong resistance in the French Chamber ofDeputies and was finally approved by the narrowest of votes.
Between 1935 and 1938, a lot remained in limbo.
The way in which people and nations responded to the Stresa Front was characterized by dramatic shifts from 1933 to 1939.
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