League of Nations

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The Work of the League:
Introduced a maximum 48 hour week for workers.
After a few years about 400,000 refugees were returned home by the leagues
agencies.
Started global campaign to exterminate mosquitoes.
Produced international Highway Code for road users.
Freed 200,000 slaves in Sierra Leone.
Reduced the African workers death rate from 50% to 4%
4 Aims of the League:
Encourage disarmament
Discourage aggression
Encourage all nations to cooperate, especially in business and trade.
Improve living and working conditions all over the world.
Why didn't the USA join the League?
League supported the Treaty of Versailles which the USA didn't agree with.
Like signing a blank cheque
Didn't want to fight to protect Britain and Frances empires (didn't believe in
Empires)
Wanted to stay out of war and not be involved in solving disputes in Europe when it
didn't affect them.
Successes of the League:
Upper Silesia: Inhabited by Germans and Poles, both wanted control of Upper
Silesia (rich iron and steel industry.) There was a vote, Britain and France sent troops to
control voting. The industrial areas voted for Germany, the rural ­ Poland. League divided
along these borders, built in safeguards to prevent future disputes. Both nations accepted
the decision.
Aarland Islands: Both Sweden and Finland wanted control of the Aarland Islands
(midway between both) they both threatened to fight for it but appealed to League. The
League decided to send it to Finland and Sweden accepted this decision. War was
avoided.
Failures of the League:
Corfu: Italian man got shot in Greece. Italians invaded Corfu the Greeks appealed
to the League, League did nothing as they felt threatened by Italy (powerful nation) and so
let them bully them into their decision. This made Italy think they could get away with being
aggressive in future.
Vilna: Poland and Lithuania were two new states. Vilna (capital of Lithuania.) A
Private Polish army invaded Vilna. Lithuania appealed to League, did nothing.
Disarmament in the 1920s:
At the Washington Treaty (1921) the USA, Japan, Britain and France agreed to
limit the size of their navies.
In 1923 the Leagues first attempt at a disarmament treaty was accepted by France
and other nations but was rejected by Britain because it would tie it to defending
other countries.

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Page 2

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In 1926 plans were made for a disarmament conference but it took 5 years to even
agree a `draft convention.'
The League had a bad reputation in Germany for not disarming. Germany had been
forced too.
No other countries would disarm to the same level and they didn't want Germany
rearming to theirs.
In the late 1920s the League had a series of international agreements the
LOCARNO and KELLOGGBRIAND PACT.

Page 3

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Why did the Japanese invade Manchuria / why did Italy invade Abyssinia?
To gain more resources.
Gain more power.
Gain respect.
To start building an empire.
Revenge (China sabotaged railway / Italy humiliated by Abyssinia's previous
defeat.)
Hit by depression (China and USA put up trade barriers against Japanese goods)
America's economy collapsed ­ Japan couldn't get all of its resources, FOOD.

Page 4

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Assembly only met once a year, if anything major arose between the year it could
spiral out of control and become and even bigger problem rather than being sorted
immediately when it first came up.
Permanent members could VETO, prevent punishments for themselves and be
aggressive.
Couldn't put on economic sanctions, USA biggest trading source in world,
would continue to trade with the country being punished.

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Disarmament Conference:
February 1932 ­ conference began
Germany wants other countries to disarm to their level or they rearm to theirs.
Wouldn't allow it.
Germany quit league 1932.
Agreement made to treat Germany equally.
Germany rejoined league 1933.
Hitler came to power started to secretly rearm Germany.
Hitler promised not to rearm Germany if in 5 years all other nations destroyed their arms.
Britain produced an ambitious disarmament plan.
Hitler found it insulting and withdrew from the conference and the League.

Page 6

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The treaties it upheld were viewed as unfair.(Bound to uphold peace treaties, later it
became apparent they were too harsh and needed amending, this undermined the
league further.
Economic sanctions did not work (Supposed to be main weapon, when imposed
easily broken, league lacked muscle to enforce decisions of its Assembly and
council.)
The Structure of the League of Nations:
Assembly:
Leagues parliament
Every country had a representative.

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