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Why did the League of Nations fail in the 1930s?

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Introduction

Why did the League of Nations fail in the 1930s? Most historians agree that in the 1930s the League of Nations was a failure. In the following paragraphs the reasons for this failure will be discussed. 1.World Economic Depression The Wall Street Crash (1929) shook the economic foundations of the United States, contributing to the development of the World Economic Depression, a world-wide economic slump. It brought unemployment and falling living standards to most countries, and caused extreme right-wing governments to come to power in Japan and Germany; together with Mussolini, they refused to keep to the rules and took a series of actions which revealed the League's weaknesses (see point 3 and 4). 2.Japanese invasion of Manchuria On September 18 1931, officers of Japan's Army blew up a section of track on the South Manchuria Railway. Claiming the explosion was the work of Chinese saboteurs, Japanese forces occupied key cities in southern Manchuria. ...read more.

Middle

The Japanese government instead announced that it was going to withdraw from the League. 3.Disarmament Conference The next big failure of the League of Nations was over disarmament. The Conference failed for a number of reasons. Some say it was all doomed from the start. No one was very serious about disarmament anyway. But there were other factors at work. It didn't help that Britain and France were divided on this issue. By 1933 many British people were beginning to feel that the Treaty of Versailles was unfair. In fact, to the dismay of the French, the British signed an agreement with Germany in 1935 which allowed Germany to build up its navy as long as it stayed under 35 per cent of the size of the British navy. Britain didn't consult either its allies or the League about this, although it was also in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. ...read more.

Conclusion

A few weeks later sanctions were abandoned, and Mussolini had successfully flouted the League. Again Britain and France must share the blame for the League's failure. Their motive was the desire not to antagonise Mussolini too much, so as to keep him as an ally against the real danger - Germany. But the results were disastrous: � Mussolini was annoyed by the sanctions anyway, and began to draw closer to Hitler; � Small states lost all faith in the League; and � Hitler was encouraged to break the Treaty of Versailles. After 1935, therefore, the League was never taken seriously again. The real explanation for the failure of the League was simple: when aggressive states such as Japan, Italy and Germany defied it, the League members, especially France and Britain, were not prepared to support it, either by decisive economic measures or by military action. The League was only as strong as the determination of its leading members to stand up to aggression - unfortunately, determination of that sort was sadly lacking during the 1930s. ...read more.

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