To what extent was the League of Nations a success? In 1914 war broke out in Europe. The war ended in 1918 and Germany solely blamed. The end of the war was signed with the treaty of Versailles. From the war was born the League of Nations; who helped nations resolve disputes peacefully without going to war. When the League was formed, the defeated nations were not invited to join. The League originally had forty-two members. All forty-two members made up the assembly, who met once a year. As incidents occurred more often there was a smaller group of nations who made the council.
The council had four permanent members Britain, France, Italy and Japan. From the beginning the league had a major weak point, which was the USA’s refusal to join, ironically it was Woodrow Wilson’s idea to form the League of Nations. Most of the League’s successes were in the 1920’s, mainly problems to do with territory. In 1921 the League was invited to settle a dispute between Finland and Sweden. In between the countries were the Aaland Islands; both countries claimed the land belonged to them. The league awarded Finland the land, this was a success; moreover a lucky decision.
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In 1922-3, the League helped Austria and hungry rebuild their economy. The league succeeded in this situation, as it took effective actions quickly. In 1925 the League had success in the Greek-Bulgarian dispute. Was the league a success overall? The league did have successes with small nations and did prevent war. The league had theoretically started failing when the USA refused to join. The USA was the most powerful country in the world at the time. In 1923, the league was faced with a dilemma. Five Italian surveyors were shot on the Greek side of the border.
The league was feeble and unfair in their actions and asked Greeks to accept the demands in order for Italian forced to withdraw their army from Corfu. In 1921 votes took place in Upper Silesia for which country, Germany or Poland, would take over. The votes favoured Germany, although the league chose to override the votes and award Germany and Poland. Germany received more than half of the land, although Poland received the industrial land. The League was unfair in their decision. This may have also been one of the points that helped build up Hitler’s power.
In 1920 Vilna was occupied by polish armed forces that refused to leave. The league wanted to take action against Poland however the league had no armed forces, the members refused to supply them. This was a failure for the league and portrayed its weakness. The league and its members had failed to accomplish their aim at this point. The agreement of the League states that it is the duty of the council members to provide armed forced for the Leagues action. The 1920’s did seem a success for the league as well as a failure.
The league did succeed in dealing with many small nations moreover it had failures with larger nations. The league had also only begun in the 1920’s, which did mean lack of experience; this may have affected the decisions made. The structure of the league was inevitably adding to its failure. The council was controlled by the four large nations who seemed to disagree upon everything and were selfish and considered their own benefits. The league did not give membership to defeated nations at the end of the war. This meant defeated nations could never ask the league for advice or help.
The great depression of 1929 did not create a smooth ride for the League. The great depression was followed after the Wall Street crash and nearly all nations were affected. This did not help the league succeed especially as all nations had lost hope. Nations began to ignore the leagues authority however large or small. In 1931 the Japanese took over Manchuria in northern China. The league hesitated on the decision as Japan was important nation in the league. The league asked Japanese armed forces to withdraw from Manchuria. Their instruction was ignored, and the league took no further action.
In my opinion the league was very bias and did not support the smaller and right nation. Although this was not to blame on the structure or the system of the league but on the member states. The members state reluctance to meddle with disputes other than their own. This did not affect the leagues reputation as much as the clash had occurred in Europe. In 1935 the league attempted to intervene between in the dispute between Italian aggression and Abyssinian troops. The league could do nothing. The league had to take action if Italy invaded although the league had no armed orces or any nation that wished to help. So the league condemned all members for trading with Italy. Although Britain and France undermined this decision. Eventually the emperor of Abyssinia fled to Geneva where he addressed the council and protested against the failure of the league, this marked the end of the leagues existence. In conclusion was the league a success at all? The league did have successes and would have had many more but the member nations were not ready to co-operate. It is fair to say the league was a failure although it is not fair to say it was failure due to its structure.
The failures of the league do outweigh the successes. The league did fail in co-operation and working in unity. The major member states were to blame mainly due to their selfish decisions and disagreements against the league. The league was a success to the extent where decisions did not require armed forces or going against a large nation. The failure of the league was not of the covenant but of the members themselves. In an ironic way the league brought hope for future organisations to be formed and to work in unity.