The League of Nations - Before Failure Began

Revision Cards on the League of Nations topic for OCR GCSE History (Spec as of 2013) Includes How successful, birth, the aims, membership, structure, border disputes, improving conditions and international relations. 

League Of Nations - Birth/Beginning

After WW1, everybody wanted to avoid another situation/blood bath/mass slaughter/suicide like it. 
In Jan 1920, Woodrow Wilson, President of USA, published 14 points which he believed would mean everlasting peace. One of these methods was a League of Nations (modern day version would be the UN, which is based in California), a world parliament were representatives of all nations could meet together regularly to decide/sort out matters which affect all of them. Wilson hoped it would help solve international problems before it ended in war. Britain wanted one that would be a simple organisation, which only got together in emergencies. France wanted one with an army. Wilson, in the end, won over the LoN and drew up the very ambitious plan. 
He wanted all major nations to join the League and totally disarm. The league would settle all disrupts and the countries involved had to accept the decision the league makes. All members also had to protect each other against invasion. If a  member broke this pack and goes to war, all other countries must stop trading with them and send in troops if necessary.
This was created in a hurry and many angered at Wilson's ignorant syle.

1 of 21

League Of Nations - USA wouldn't join

Before the USA could even join the League (despite creating it), Wilson had to have approval of the congress.  However the idea was very un-popular.
Many saw the League as the a promise that the USA  would send in its troops to settle all the conflicts in the other areas of the world. USA citizens were appalled at the carnage of WW1, and didn't want to have any part in it all.
Many Americans were also anti-British and/or anti-French and were under the belief that they would be the ones to control it, and use it to get the other countries to protect/build their own empires despite, if they were for self-determination like Americans were.
The econmically minded were worried about the cost joining the League would have on them. They thought the league would mean that the USA would just sign bank cheaks and slove all international problems, regardless of the cost to them. USA became powerful because of isolationism and should remain in it.
Some Amercians were immergrants from Germany, Austria ect. and hated the ToV and its terms. They felt that the leauge was too linked to it, as the league was partly made to support the treaty.  It would also enforce factors like the repartion payments which the USA was firmly agasint.

2 of 21

League Of Nations - Aims

  • to discourge aggrestion from any nation
  • to encourge countries to co-operate, especially in bussiness and trade.
  • disarment
  • improve living and working conditions of people all over the globe (most successful)
3 of 21

League Of Nations - Membership

As the USA couldn't join, Britain and France where the most important/powerful members, although Italy and Japan were also permanent members, they didn't/couldn't guide the polices which France and Britain did during the 1920s and 1930s. No action need Italy or Japan's support.

Although both countries where poorly placed for this role due to their weaken state after the war and neither were the great power they once where. They didn't have the resources to fill USA's gap. Later, some British politicians said that they wouldn't have voted to join the League if they knew the USA wasn't joining. Some felt the trade barriers might be the only thing that worked if the USA supported it. This posed problems for BRT and FRA who had to make it work, despite not believing it themselves.

4 of 21

League Of Nations - Structure (P324)


5 of 21

League Of Nations - Border Disputes - Intro

The ToV caused many new borders to be put in place, in both the creation of new states and changed borders on states already there, agasint many peoples wishes. As it was agasint so many differnt peoples wishes many people actively opposed them. 

A part of the League role is to sort out disputes, inculding borders. Even in the begining the level oppsotion mean't that the League couldn't deal with it on there own. The confernce of Ambassadors ended up helping the League who were closey linked to the League.

6 of 21

League Of Nations - Border Disputes - Vilna 1920

2 of the new states, Poland and Lithuania that were created by the post war treaties. Vilna was the capatial of Lithuania but was mainly polish in its population.
A private polish army took control of it in 1920.
Lithuania appaled for help.
First ever case and would prove the capabilties of the LoN. 
Both memebers of the league
Poland was the clear agressor.
League pleaded to poland but Poland refused to withdraw. This caused the LoN to be ****.
Offical next step was to send BRT and FR troops Vilna but FR didn't want to upset Poland as it was a poitenal ally agasint Germany and BRT had no indepenace and therefore, wouldnt act alone.
Nothing happen - Vilna remained with Poland.


7 of 21

League Of Nations - Border Disputes - Upper Silesi

Upper Silesia = industral region on boarder between Germany and Poland. 

Population = German + Polish

Both GER and POL wanted control over it, a part of this was becasue of its rich iron and steel industry. - > To solve a plebiscite was set up (1920) for Silesian to vote which country they should belong to. BRT + FR troops at polling booths to keep peace.

Industral areas voted mostly GER and rural areas voted mostly POL. - > League then divided along these lines and built safeguards to prevent further disputes.

It safegaurded rail links between the two countries and arranged for water and power supplies from one side f the border to be sipplied to the other.


8 of 21

League Of Nations - Border Disputes - Aaland Islan

Swedwn + Finland wanted control of Aaland Islands, a midway point of the 2 countries.

League studied the matter and chose FIN.


9 of 21

League Of Nations - Border Disputes - Corfu 1923

The border between Greece and Albania. - > given to the Conference of Ambassadors with Italian General (Tellina) supervising it.
Aug 27th - Greek side of the frontier - surveying -  Tellina and team where ambushed and murdered
ITL leader Musslini was furious and blamed the Greeks for the act. 
Aug 29th - ITL demanded compensation for deaths and the murderers to be executed. - > Greece didn't know know who the murderers were! (Dun DUN DUHHH) 
Aug 31 - Mussolini bombarded and then occupied the Greek Island of Corfu.  Greece appealed to LoN for help. 
Events similar to the trigger of WW1 - League acted swiftly.
Sep 7th - League had a judgement - condeming Musslini's actions - Greece pay compensation but money to be held by the League, money goes to ITL when the murderers where found.
Officially ACCEPTEDunofficially, Mussolini manipulated League into changing it's rulings. -> Greeks apologised and paid compensation directly to Italy,
Sep 27 - ITL withdraw - boosting triumph.

10 of 21

League Of Nations - Border Disputes - Bulgaria 192

2 years afte Corfu - Oct 1925 - Greek soilders invaded Bulgaria after an incient on the border in which some greek soilders were murdered.

BUL applealed for help and sent instructions to its army.

League comdeamed Greek action - ordered Greece to pull out + pay compensation to BUL. - > with disapprovaproval from the najor powers of the league, Greece obeyed.

Greece goes on to say - 'one rule for  large states (ITL) another for small states (them)

11 of 21

League Of Nations - improving conditions - Refugee

The LoN did a lot of work in getting refugees and former prisoners back to their homelands. Its ESTM. that in the first few years after the war, the League's agencies helped 400,000 prisoners be returned to their homes.

When the refugee crisis hit Turkey in 1922, hundrds of thousands of people had to be housed in refugee camps. The League acted quickly to stomp out cholera, smallpox and dyssentery in the camps.

12 of 21

League Of Nations - improving conditions - Working

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) was very successful in banning poisonous white led paint and in limiting the hours small children were allowed to work. It also campaigned strongly for employers to improve working conditions generally,

It introduced a resolution for a maximum 48-hour week, and a 8 hour day, but only a minority of the members adapted it as they fought it would only raise industrial costs.

13 of 21

League Of Nations - improving conditions - Health

The health committee (HC), later world health organsuiation (WHO), worked hard to defet the major h threaat of leprosy. 

Began as a gobal campaign to exterminate mosquitoes, which greatly reducding cases of marlia + yellow fever in the future.

The USSR who opposed the League, took their advice on preventing plaguae in Siberia

14 of 21

League Of Nations - improving conditions - Transpo

The League made recommendations on making shipping lanes and produced an international highway code for road users.

15 of 21

League Of Nations - improving conditions - Transpo

The League made recommendations on making shipping lanes and produced an international highway code for road users.

16 of 21

League Of Nations - improving conditions - Social

The league blacklisted 4 large German, Dutch, French and Swiss companies which were involved in the illegal drug trade.

Meant the freeing of 200000 slaves  in britsh-owned Sierra Leone.

Raids were organised against slave owners and traders in Burma.

Challenged usage of forced labour to build the Tanganyika railway in Africa - > 50% death rate of workers -> League brought down to 4%

Kept records of everything and provide infor.

17 of 21

League Of Nations - International Agreements - Di

The Leauge failed to bring about disarmament in 1920 despite being a ideal of the LoN.
The closest was The USA, ***, BRT, FR agreeing to limit the size of their navies at the Washington Confernace of 1921.
1923 - Accepted by all nations bar BRT because it would tie it to defending other cuntries. 
1926 - plans made for a disarmament conference. Took 5Y to even argee to a 'draft convection.'
1933 - rejected by GER
This greatly damaged LoN repution in GER( = they disarmed) no other counrys went near there level of disarment.
Seem almost unimportant in 1920s due to the peace and Locarno + Kellogg-Briand pacts/treaties

18 of 21

League Of Nations - International Agreements - Lo

Oct 1925 - reps from FR, BRT, GER, ITL, BELG, POL, CZECH meet in Locarno, Switerzland.

Many days of hard agreements = 

Germany accepted new borders with FR + BELG from the ToV 

BRT + ITL promised to protect FR if GER violated borders.

GER accepted the demiltarzation of the Rhineland.

FR + GER to settle all furture aurgements though LoN.

This was all meet with postive attitudes - > Cgurch bells rung, Fire works ect.

Most goodwill between GER + FR then EVER

GER granted entery to LoN  - 1926 -  > only major power missing = USSR

19 of 21

League Of Nations - International Agreements - Ke

3 years after Locarno - > marked high point in international relations.

No consuqences stated if you broke the pact

Didn't help LoN with disarmament - > keep armies for self defence


20 of 21

League Of Nations - International Agreements - Ec

Optimism in 1928 because of different. early 1920s.

1924 - Dawes plan sorted GER + moved the ecomenies of BRT + FR

Increased trade - reduced tension

If trading agasint each other - less likey to go to war with said person.

21 of 21


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »