The League of Nations
The League of Nations:
- President Wilson wanted the League to be a kind of ‘world parliament’, where nations would sort out their arguments. He hoped this would stop wars. But Wilson wanted to do more than just stop war; he wanted to make the world a better place. He wanted the League to do things to improve people’s lives and jobs. He wanted to improve public health, and to end slavery.
- Wilson also hoped that the League would persuade the nations to agree to disarmament – to put down their weapons. That would make war impossible.
- Finally, Wilson thought that the League of Nations could enforce the Treaty of Versailles, and persuade countries to keep the promises they had made.
America Pulls Out:
- But when Wilson got back home to the United States, the American Senate refused to join the League.
- Americans did not want to get dragged into other countries’ problems. This damaged the League a lot
The League's Organisation:
- Assembly (the main meeting o the League – all members met once a year). Its main problem was that decisions had to be unanimous, which was very difficult to achieve.
- Council (a small group of the more important nations – Britain, France, Italy and Japan plus some other countries – met 4–5 times a year).
- Agencies (committees of the League):
- Court of International Justice (for small disputes).
- Health (to improve world health).
- International Labour Organisation (to try to get fair wages).
- Slavery (to end slavery)
- Secretariat (was supposed to organise the League, but failed).
Strengths & Weaknesses
Strengths & Weaknesses:
- Forty-two countries joined the League at the start. In the 1930s about 60 countries were members. This made the League seem strong.
- However, the most powerful countries in the world were not members. The USA did not want to join. The Russians refused to join – they were Communists and hated Britain and France. Germany was not allowed to join. Without these three big powers, the League was weak.
- Britain and France were the main members, helped by Italy and Japan; they were quite powerful countries. Also, the League had four powers it could use to make countries do as it wanted, Theoretically, the League was allowed to use military force, but the League did not have an army of its own – so if a country ignored it, in the end, there was nothing the League could do.
- The main strength of the League was that it had been set up by the Treaty of Versailles, and agreed by everybody at the conference.
- The biggest weakness was that the League’s organisation was a muddle. The different parts of the League were supposed to act together; but in a crisis, no-one could agree.
League of Nations: 1920's - Corfu (1923)
The Dispute: An Italian general was killed while he was doing some work for the League in Greece. The Italian leader Mussolini was angry with the Greeks. He invaded the Greek island of Corfu. The Greeks asked the League to help.
What the League did: The Council of the League met. It condemned Mussolini, and told him to leave Corfu and it told the Greeks to give some money to the League.
What happened: Mussolini refused to accept its decision. He refused to leave Corfu. The League changed its decision. It told Greece to apologise to Mussolini, and to pay the money to Italy. The Greeks did as the League said. Then Mussolini gave Corfu back to Greece.
League of Nations: 1920's - Bulgaria (1925)
The Dispute: Some Greek soldiers were killed in a small fight on the border between Greece and Bulgaria. The Greeks were angry. They invaded Bulgaria. Bulgaria asked the League to help.
What the League did: The Council of the League met. It condemned the Geeks, and told them to leave Bulgaria.
What happened: The Bulgarian government sent orders to its army not to fight back and the Greeks did as the League said. They left Bulgaria.
Was the League successful in the 1920s?
Was the League successful in the 1920s:
- The League of Nations had four aims:
- Stop wars,
- Improve people’s lives and jobs,
- Enforce the Treaty of Versailles.
- Bulgaria (1925) - Greece obeyed the League’s orders to pull out of Bulgaria in 1925.
- Poland (1920) - Poland took land from Russia, breaking the Treaty of Versailles. The Poles ignored the League’s order to stop
- Disarmament (1932) - Disarmament talks failed, because Germany demanded as many weapons as everyone else.
- Prisoners of War - The League took home half a million World War One prisoners of war.
- Reparations (1921) - When the Germans refused to pay, France and Britain invaded Germany and made them pay.
- Corfu (1923) - Mussolini ignored the League’s orders to pull out of Corfu in 1923, and made Greece pay money to Italy.
League’s Failures in the 1930s: & Manchuria (1931)
The League’s Failures in the 1930s: & Manchuria:
When Hitler began to break the Treaty of Versailles in the 1930s, the League was powerless to stop him and the only way to stop Hitler was a Second World War.
The Dispute: In the 1930s - Wall Street Crash. Japan tried to overcome the depression by building up an empire. In 1932, the Japanese army invaded Manchuria, threw out the Chinese, and set up their own government there. China asked the League to help.
What the League did: The League sent officials to study the problem (this took a year). In February 1933 it ordered Japan to leave Manchuria.
What happened: Japan refused to leave Manchuria and instead, Japan left the League. Many countries had important trading links with Japan. The League could not agree on sanctions or even a ban on weapons sales. Britain and France did not want a war, so nothing was done.The Japanese stayed in Manchuria and the League had failed.
League’s Failures in the 1930s: & Abyssinia (1935)
The Dispute: Mussolini got ready to invade Abyssinia (Ethiopia). He wanted war and glory. Abyssinia asked the League to help.
What the League did: The League talked to Mussolini – but he used the time to send an army to Africa. The League suggested a plan to give part of Abyssinia to Italy.
What happened: Mussolini ignored the League, and invaded Abyssinia. The League banned weapons sales, and put sanctions on rubber and metal. It did nothing else – in fact Britain and France secretly agreed to give Abyssinia to Italy.Italy conquered Abyssinia and the League had failed.
Why the League Failed
Why the League Failed:
The League failed in Manchuria and Abyssinia because it WAS DUMB!
- Weak – the League’s ‘powers’ were little more than going ‘tut-tut’. Sanctions did not work. It had no army.
- America – the strongest nation in the world never joined.
- Structure – the League was muddled, so it took ages to do anything. Members couldn’t agree – but decisions had to be unanimous. This paralysed the League.
- Depression – Wall Street Crash made countries try to get more land and power. They were worried about themselves, not about world peace.
- Unsuccessful – the more the League failed, the less people trusted it. In the end, everybody just ignored it.
- Members – Italy and Japan betrayed the League and France and Britain did nothing to help it.
- Big bullies – in the 1920s, the League had dealt with weak countries. In the 1930s, powerful countries like Germany, Italy and Japan attacked weaker countries. They were too strong for the League to stop them.