League of Nations and Treaty of Versailles

History GCSE aqa, Peacekeeping in 1918-9, League of nations and Treaty of Versailles

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  • Created by: Louise
  • Created on: 07-06-12 10:59

Paris Peace Conference

In Novemeber 1918, Germany signed the armistice that ended the First World War. This armistice was followed by the Paris Peace Conference where a peace treaty would be discussed. 

The conference would be discussed by the BIG THREE:

  • George Clemenceau - France
  • David Lloyd George - Britain
  • Woodrow Wilson - USA
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Woodrow Wilson - USA

What did he want included in the treaty?

Woodrow Wilson had fourteen points he thought the treaty should be based on. These points included:

  • Ban of secret treaties and a reduction in arms
  • Self determination
  • Independance for Belgium
  • France to regain Alsace- Lorraine
  • A League of Nations to be set up

He believed Germany was responsible but did not want to impose a harsh treaty as this would encourage Germany to want revenge.

How did he feel about the Treaty?

  • Wilson was happy the League of Nations was set up
  • But he thought the treaty was too harsh and it would anger Germany. 
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George Clemenceau - France

What did he want included in the treaty?

France had suffered huge war damage and over one million deaths. George Clemenceau was under great pressure from the French people to make Germany suffer. He wanted a harsh treaty that would punish and weaken Germany, so she could never threaten France again. 

Main Aims:

  • Large reperations to weaken Germanys economy
  • Reduce Germanys armed forces, weakening Germanys power
  • Take away German land, reducing the size of Germany

How did he feel about the Treaty?

  • He was happy Germany had to pay huge reperations, armed forces were reduced, that Germany got the blame and also that Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France.
  • But he didn't think that the treaty was harsh enough.
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David Lloyd George - Britain

What did he want included in the treaty?

British people were bitter towards Germany they wanted a harsh peace treaty. David Lloyd George promised to make Germany suffer, but like Woodrow Wilson, he feared a harsh treaty would lead Germany to want revenge. He didn't want to weaken Germany too much as he wanted to continue trade with them. He was the middle ground between France and USA.

How did he feel about the Treaty?

  • Happy the German Navy was reduced and some empire given to Britain. 
  • But thought reperations sum was too large, and would damage the German economy and this would lead Germany to want revenge.
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Terms of the Treaty of Versailles

Germany were forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles, Germans called it a "Diktat" because it dictated rather than negotiated. 

War Guilt - Germany had to accept all the blame for starting the war

Reperations - Germany had to pay 6600 million in compensation for war damage

Loss of Land - German oversea empire was taken away. Alsace Lorraine was given to France. West Prussia was given to Poland.

Anschluss - Germany and Austria were forbidden to join

Armed Forces - Army limited to 100,000 men, conscription banned, not allowed aircraft or submarines, the navy could only have six battleships, the Rhineland was to remain a demilitarised zone. 

League of Nations - A League of Nations was set up to encourage international co-operation and too stop agressive countries.

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German Reactions to the Treaty of Versailles

Reperations - Unfair, economy crippled and can not afford to pay them

Loss of Territory - Some German people were now living under control of different goverments

Military - Weakened so much, Germany would not people able to defend herself

Guilt - Germany was not the only country responsible for starting the war, they should have been invited to peace negotiations

League of Nations - Germany felt insulted as they were not invited to join

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Aims of the League of Nations


  • Prevent agression of a nation
  • Co-operation between nations
  • work towards international disarmament

The League of Nations was built on the idea of collective security, to prevent war and agression members would act together

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Organisation of the League of Nations

Assembely - A representive from each country was sent, a meeting would be held once a year, decisions made had to be unanimous

Council - A smaller group that met several times a year and for emergencies. It included permenant members - JAPAN, FRANCE, ITALY, BRITAIN. Each permenant member had one veto. 

Secretariat - International civil service, kept records of meetings and made reports

Permenant Court of International Justice - Intended to settle disputes peacefully - made up of judges from member countries - but had no way of enforcing rulings.

WEAKNESSES: Assembely only met once a year, decisions had to be unanimous meaning it was slow and difficult to make decisions. Permenant members of the council had a veto, which again meant decisions did not get made. Permenant Court of International Justice had not way of enforcing its rulings.

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When created there were 42 orginal members, this later rose to 60. But there were some major powers missing.

USA - Although Woodrow Wilson expected USA to join, American politians voted against it. They didn't want USA to be involved with European affairs.

  • League of Nations did not have the most powerful and richest country in it
  • Discredited League of Nations, an American idea but they didn't join

Germany - Germany were not allowed to join until they proved they were a peace loving nation

  • Isolated Germany, and created resentment within Germany
  • Showed the League as an exclusive club for victorious powers

Soviet Union - A communist country that now hated Britain and France

  • Another powerful country absent that could have helped with the Manchurian Crisis
  • Communism could have acted as a deterent to Hitler
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Manchurian Crisis - 1931


  • JAPAN was a rising power but the wall street crash had an impact on Japans economy- USA stopped trade with Japan so unemployment fell.
  • In 1931- Japan used the excuse of an attack by chinese troops on a Japanese railway to invade the Chinese territory of Manchuria
  • Manchuria was high in natural resources.


  • China appealed to the League for help, the league sent a commision to investigate the crisis, but this took over a year so was very slow.
  • By which time the invasion had happened and the league condemed the actions of the Japanese and asked them to withdraw.
  • Japan left the league and remained in Manchuria.
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Effects of Manchurian Crisis

Why the League failed at stopping agression

  • The League was slow at making decisions
  • The League could not threaten Japan with an armed force
  • Economic sanctions were inneffective as USA continued to trade with Japan -USA should have been a member
  • Japan was a permenant member
  • Britain was reluctant to anger Japan as it may affect their trade in Asia
  • Russia/ Soviet Union, close to far east and could have helped but they were not a member


  • The first failure of the League, showed they could not stop agression
  • Encouraged countries (Italy) that agression and force worked to get what the want
  • Highlighted the weaknesses of the League
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Abyssinian Crisis - 1935-6


  • In 1935, Italy invaded Abyssinia- A poor country in Africa
  • Mussolini wanted to increase Italy's power by gaining territories in Africa


  • The Emperor of Abyssinia appealed to the League
  • The League imposed sanctions on weapons and goods but did not ban oil- the USA was still trading with italy, or coal- Britain feared this would create unemployment in Britain
  • France and Britain wanted mussolini as an ally - to stop Hitler
  • They did not close the suez canal, which would have stopped Italy's access to abysinnia, for fear of angering Mussolini.
  • Hoare and Laval (French and British politicians) made a pact to give most of abyssinia to Italy, but it was leaked to the public.
  • Italy took Abysinnia and left the league.
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Effects of Abyssinian Crisis

Why the League failed at stopping agression

  • Selfish Britain and France, didn't close the suez canal, or enforce effective sanctions.
  • Did not enforce oil sanctions as USA was still trading (USA not a member of the League)
  • Scheming of Hoare-Laval


  • Scheming of Hoare-Laval undermines the League
  • The League looses another permenant and powerful member
  • Mussolini is driven closer to Hitler (Stresa Front destroyed)
  • The League again fails to stop agression 
  • Highlights the weaknesses of the League
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Reasons For Collapse

  • Lacked Key members who could have helped with crises
  • Seen as an exlusive club for victorious powers of ww1
  • The organsiation of the League meant that the League could not act quickly or effectively
  • Sanctions were ineffective as the USA who was not a member still traded with agressive nations
  • League of Nations had no armed force and so relied on collective security and sanctions to stop agression
  • Selfish actions of Britain and France 
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