League of Nations


League of Nations  1920-1945

- Main members:

  • France 1919 - 1945
  • Britain 1919 - 1945
  • Japan 1919 - 1933
  • Italy 1919 - 1937

- Main aims of the League:

  • Achieve international peace and security
  • Encourage co-operation, particularly in business and trade
  • Improve the living and working conditions for people around the world
  • Encourage disarmament
  • To uphold and enforce the Treaty of Versailles.

- The Strengths:

  • It had the goodwill of governments and ordinary people towards it.

  • Most of the major countries had joined the League.

  • Defeated countries were later allowed to join the League.

  • It provided a forum to end disputes peacefully.

- The Weaknesses:

  • The USA did not join it.

  • The Soviet Union (Russia) did not join until 1934.

  • It had very little power and no permanent army.

  • It failed to encourage disarmament.

  • International suspicions and rivalries between countries continued.

  • Countries left the League when they disagreed with its decisions.

  • Economic sanctions, especially without US support, proved very ineffective.

  • It had to uphold the Treaty of Versailles, which was increasingly viewed as unfair.

  • It failed to stop Japan (Manchuria), Italy (Abyssinia) or Germany (Hitler’s breaking of the Treaty of Versailles).

- Types of Sanctions:

  • Moral sanction: The League would decide which country was the 'aggressor', they would condemn them for their action, and tell them to stop. The aggressor could carry on, as it is easily ignored.
  • Economic sanction: Members of the League would refuse to trade with the aggressive country. The aggressor could still trade with non-members.
  • Military sanction: the armed forces of member countries could be used against the aggressor. The League didn't have an army, so they lacked power and intimidation, and the aggressor could carry on as there was no threat. The member countries did not want to use their own forces as it wasn't worth the risk.

- Main Successes of the League in the 1920's:

Austria-Hungary, 1920's

  • Hungary faced bankruptcy, as their economy had not recovered since WW1, still paying reparations. League arranged an international loan for the two countries, and commissioners were sent to supervise how the money was being spent. League temporarily took over economic management and Hungary started to recover.

Aaland Islands, 1921:

  • Islands located between Sweden and Finland. Both nations wanted to claim it, and they appealed to League. They were prepared to fight for it. The League decided the islands should go to Finland, and Sweden accepted it's ruling. 

Upper Silesia, 1921:

  • The industrial region on the border of Poland, rich iron and steel industry, it was a plebiscite and could vote on who has the territory. Contained by Poles and Germans. Germany received half of the industrial land, Poland received the large portion of rural land. 

Greek-Bulgarian Dispute, 1925:

  • Two years after Corfu, the League was put to the test again. In October 1925, Greek troops invaded Bulgaria after an incident on the border in which some greek troops were killed. Bulgaria appealed to help and the League intervened effectively. The League


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