Pact of steel

Mussolini and Hitler

The Pact of Steel was a military alliance between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany signed by Ciano (Italian foreign minister who was also against the treaty of Versailles) and Ribbentrop (German foreign minister) in Berlin on May 22, 1939. The pact committed Germany and Italy to support each other in the event of a war or any complications as well as maintaining communication with each other at all times. This also meant that neither country would make peace without the agreement of the other country.

Prior to this pact Germany had taken over Czechoslovakia in March 1939 due to Hitler's desire to unite the German-speaking people and the economic gains he could achieve from this. He had also taken over Czechoslovakia because of his hatred for the treaty of Versailles and desire to bring it down, which had proven to everyone, especially Britain, that appeasement would not work.

This overthrow of Czechoslovakia had angered Mussolini because it was proof that Germany was becoming very powerful again, trying to expand its Empire, while Italy was still struggling as a minor power. To make up for this, Italy had announced that it had taken over Albania when in reality it had already had influence over Albania for a number of years. This supported the fact that within the Pact of Steel Italy was the minor power and thus Germany got more leisure with its plans and with the terms of the treaty.

Italy was being pressured to join Germany in this pact as after Abyssinia Italy's only choices for an alliance was between Franco's Spain and Hitler's Germany. Italy had also decided to sign this pact as it focused more on the prestige of allying with Europe's most potent power at the time rather than focusing on the politics and military aspects. Later on Mussolini had also assumed that Hitler's non-aggression pact with Communist Russia would also apply to Italy even though it had not signed the pact or been told that it was going to take place.

Italy, after supplying military support for the Spanish civil war, had a very weak military and signed the pact on the assumption that there would be no war for the next three years. This was contradicted, however, by Germany's invasion of Poland in September 1939. Italy expressed its lack of being prepared to fight and thus it could not fulfill its obligations made under the Pact of Steel right away. It joined the war in 1940, finally being able to support Germany.

  • 1936
    • March- Hitler Remilitarizes Germany
    • March- Italy completes the conquest of Abyssinia
    • July- League ends sanctions with Italy
    • July- Spanish Civil War begins
  • 1939
    • March- Germany invades Czechoslovakia
    • May 22nd- Pact of Steel is signed
    • August 23rd- Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact signed
    • September- Germany invades Poland
  • 1940
    • June 10th - Italy joins World War II