League of Nations

Main

League of Nations

1919 - 1939

Vilna

1920

Poland invaded Lithuania and occupied Vilna.
The League were unwilling to get involved because Britain and France wanted to remain friendly with Poland as an ally against Russia. Poland kept Vilna.

FAILURE - League is weak and useless

Austria's economic problems

1922

Financial experts from the League managed to help prevent the collapse of Austrias economy after the war.

SUCCESS

Corfu

1923

5 Italian surveyors shot in Greece. Mussolini demands compensation from the Greek government but is ignored. Mussolini invades Corfu. Greece appealed to the League. The League failed to condemn Italy's actions. Instead it put pressure on the Greek government to accept Mussolini's demands. When the Greeks paid, Mussolini withdrew.

FAILURE - The League backed down when faced with a great power willing to use force.

The Dawes Plan

1924

The USA lent money to Germany to help pay their reparations fee.

Locarno Treaties

1925

Representatives of Britain, France, Germany, Italy Belgium Poland and Czechoslovakia met in Locarno.

  • Germany finally accepted its borders with France and Belgium from the ToV
  • Germany accepted that the Rhineland would remain demilitarised.
  • Germany agreed not to use force to settle disputes with its neighbours

The Locarno Treaties were received with great enthusiasm, especially in France.
The Locarno Treaties paved the way for Germany to join the League in 1926.
The Locarno Treaties began a short phase of international cooperation between the major European powers.

Greek-Bulgarian Dispute

1925

Greece invaded Bulgaria over border disputes.
The League condemned Greece and forced them to withdraw.

SUCCESS - however critics said that the League was only willing to take action if the major powers were not involved.

Germany joined the League

1926

Germany had proved it was a peace loving country and so was allowed to join the League of Nations

The Kellogg-Briand Pact

1928

France and USA created a pact and it was signed by 65 other nations.

The countries that signed it agreed to condemn war as a way of solving international disputes.
This was the high point of international relations during the 1920's

Wall Street Crash

1929

The economic boom in USA came to an end. Wall Street crash meant millions of Americans lost everything in stock markets.

America needed the money they had lent to European countries earlier in the 1920's, back. This triggered a worldwide depression.

Many countries tried protectionism (charging tariffs on goods imported from foreign countries to make people buy goods from their own country). In the long term, this made the effects of the depression worse.

People were now more likely to vote for radical politicians who vowed to fix their countries problem whatever it takes, instead of taking notice of the League attempting to keep world peace.

The Young Plan

1929

Reduced Germany's reparations payments.

Manchuria

1931

Japan invaded Manchuria because it was rich in raw materials and because Japan had no raw materials of its own, it relied on trade and because of the Great Depression there was less trading and people in Japan were literally starving.

There was an explosion on the railway and the Japanese said the Chinese had staged it and then fired at Japanese soldiers. The Chinese government appealed to the league. Instead of using military or economic sanctions, the league sent a commission to investigate Japanese aggression. They concluded that Japan had acted unreasonably and the league demanded the Japanese to withdraw, but it was too late. Japan ignored the league and just left in 1933, and continued their invasion of Manchuria.
In 1937, Japan invaded china itself.

FAILURE - the league had been humiliated. Britain and France were too preoccupied with the effects of the Great Depression in their own countries so the league was powerless.
Hitler realised that the West would not stand up to determined military action.

Germany leave the League

1933

Russia joined the League

1934

Abyssinian Crisis

1935

Italy had tried to invade Abyssinia in 1896 but was humiliated by the poorly equipped African tribes.
In 1935, Italy tried to invade Abyssinia again led by Mussolini. Abyssinia appealed to the league. The league condemned Italy for being the aggressor and imposed economic sanctions. The sanctions were ineffective because they did not include oil (a vital war commodity).

Britain and France did not want to upset Mussolini for fear he would join up with Hitler. The British foreign secretary worked out a pact with the French to secretly give Mussolini half of Abyssinia (the Hoare-Laval Pact) , but the plans were leaked to the press and he was forced to resign due to public uproar.

It had appeared as though Britain and France were rewarding Mussolini for his aggression.
Mussolini continued his invasion of Abyssinia and left the league.

The Abyssinian crisis was the fatal blow for the league; they were powerless. Everyone had lost faith in the league.