League of Nations - Coatbridge High School

League of Nations
The leaders of the three victorious countries
arrive at Versailles to discuss the fate of
• The League of Nations was
introduced after being proposed by
American President Woodrow Wilson
at the T.O.V in 1919.
• Came into operation on January 20th
• It was the 14th of his 14 points and
the only one to be acted upon.
• It set out with the ambitious
intention of creating world peace and
preventing any further conflict.
• In order to achieve this, the League
had certain goals.
The Aims of the League
• Its aims were to:
• Prevent any future wars, especially European wars
• Actively encourage countries to disarm.
• Tackle the growing problems of disease as well as
improving people’s conditions in the workplace.
• Overall, to make the world a safer, healthier place
to live
How was this going to be
• In order to achieve this, the League
had various organisations within it, as
well as various “hard hitting”
sanctions which could be applied.
• The main body responsible and
answerable to, within the League, was
the Court of International Justice
• This Court had the power to deal with
countries who had broken the terms
set by the League members and
impose various sanctions such as
trade embargos
• It could also act as an arbitration
council with countries who were in
danger of going to war.
Benefits/Strengths of the
• Every nation present at Versailles had
signed up for the League. (except 1)
• As time passed more nations saw the
benefit of the League and joined up
(58 by 1930)
Weaknesses of the League
• The L.O.N had far more weaknesses than
strengths and fascist leaders such as Hitler and
Mussolini were well aware of this.
• The League had NO army to settle disputes
• The League relied on arbitration to settle any
• The USA, who proposed it, were not members
• Germany and Russia were not allowed to join at
• Germany felt ostracised as they found themselves
surrounded by League members prepared to
protect each other.
• All decisions had to be agreed by a unanimous
• More importantly, the stronger more
aggressive nations who did not agree
with the League’s decisions, simply
left, leaving it a broken dream.
Issues the League faced
• In January 1923 French and Belgian
troops occupied the Ruhr after
reparation payments from Germany
• In the summer of the same year,
Italy bombed the Greek island of
Actions of the League
• As the League had no army to forcibly
remove or stop these actions it was
virtually powerless
• When the league of nations discussed
these 2 events, the governments of France
and Italy threatened, if sanctions were
applied, to withdraw from the organization.
• Result = The League decided to take no
further action against France or Italy
• Countries who were members soon
became disillusioned by the weakness
of the League.
• More importantly, non members and
Fascist leaders soon realised these
WEAKNESSES and could plot their
next moves without fear
Further failings of the League
• One of the main objectives of the League
was to seek disarmament.
• They failed in this objective for many
• France had a long standing fear, hatred, of
Germany, therefore were not prepared to
disarm whilst the Germans were still a
• “France will only disarm physically when
Germany disarms morally”
Further failings of the League
• France had secured their position by
fortifying the Maginot Line – a defensive
stronghold between French/German
• France also provoked anger by making
alliances with Germany’s neighbours, Poland
and Czechoslovakia – this encircled
(surrounded) Germany
• France were seen as being unwilling to
cooperate in disarmament.
Further failings of the League
• Germany it seemed were willing to cooperate.
• The Locarno Treaty of 1925 witnessed Germany
accepting most of the terms of Versailles
• Land lost to France and Belgium would remain with
those countries
• The Rhineland, a demilitarised buffer zone
between France and Germany would remain this
• The Rhineland had always belonged to Germany, it
was demilitarised for French safety!!!
• Land lost by Germany in the East was not
however discussed at Locarno.
• The French were very concerned about this
(remember this fact when studying Hitler’s
Foreign Policy)
• With France seemingly unwilling to disarm,
Hitler in 1932 visited the Disarmament
Conference in Geneva
• He stormed out of the conference after
other nations refused to disarm instead
wanting Germany NOT to rearm
Further failings of the League
• The L.O.Ns were weakened by two further
• The Japanese invasion of Chinese
Manchuria in 1931.(both League members)
• The Italian invasion of the African country
of Abyssinia in1935 (both League members)
• See further slides for more details.
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