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Corfu Crisis 1923

Mussolini challenges the League of Nations
League of Nations flag

League of Nations flag

One of the results of the First World War was the fall of the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires, which meant that the pre-war boundary lines in Europe had to be re-drawn. This led to a rise in nationalism and territorial disputes as the victors fought over the spoils. A boundary dispute between Italy and Greece over Albania led to the ‘Corfu Crisis’ of 1923. The crisis began when the Italian members of the Albanian Boundary Commission were murdered on Greek territory. Italy demanded many things to which the Greek Government couldn’t agree. In a show of strength and in response to this refusal the Italian navy bombarded the Greek island of Corfu on the 31 August 1923. Greece appealed to the League of Nations . The dispute was referred to the Conference of Ambassadors after Mussolini, the Italian dictator, threatened Italy would leave the League of Nations.

An agreement was finally reached whereby Greece agreed to make a full apology and hold a funeral service in the presence of Greek government ministers. It was also agreed that Greek ships would salute the Italian flag and, if caught, the murderers would face capital punishment and an indemnity of 50 million lire would be paid. The Corfu Crisis exposed the weakness of the League in the face of an aggressor and highlighted the challenges of the internationalist cause. It also enhanced the reputation of Mussolini in Italy and paved the way for further policies of territorial aggrandisement.