Two contributions have been made for this post by Senior 2 students. Wonderful essays, worth reading!
In the next essay I will explain how successful the League of Nations was in the 1920’s and why I think it was partly successful.
First, I will write the aims of the League, and if they slow that it was successful or not. The first aim, and, in my opinion, the most important was to encourage disarmament. The only country who disarmed was Germany, who was obligated to do it. Other members of the League did not disarm due to the fact that nobody wanted to do it. This wasn´t a success at all.
Another aim was to prevent war. This was a success, because more or less 5 times the League was tested, in conflicts of land like Vilna, where Poles took Lithuania’s capital (Vilna), like in the Aaland Islands, where 2 countries wanted these islands, in Upper Silesia, Germans and Poles wanted that piece of land, in Bulgaria, in 1925, Greece invaded Bulgaria and in Corfu, Italians invaded the island mentioned (Corfu), and in all that conflicts, no war was started: this aim was a success.
However the League also worked to make the living and working conditions better, making refugees for prisoners of war, it made better the working conditions of workers, it helped poor people and made better their health, they improved public transport and fixed the social problems like slavery and illegal drugs trade. In this aspect the League succeeded. And last, the League wanted to discourage aggression. They failed in doing this: for example, in the Corfu conflict, some people ended dead, also in Vilna and Bulgaria.
However, in my opinion, the League failed because USA didn´t join it. This wouldn´t be a success from the League because USA or G. Wilson was kind of the creator of the League, but as USA´s government changed; the new government did not want to form part of Europe´s problems and didn´t want to lose troops and money. Nevertheless, the League more-or-less succeeded due to all the countries that formed part of it.
And last but not least, all the problems faced by the League in the 1920’s. The first one: Vilna. This city, capital of Lithuania, was considered a failure by the League, because Poland invaded Vilna and the League didn´t act because France and Britain saw Poland as a possible ally vs. Germany in the future. The Geneva protocol was a treaty that should be signed by France and Britain, but Britain didn’t sign it because the government changed and they decided it wasn’t convenient for them to sign it. This protocol should strengthen the League, but as Britain didn’t sign it, France and all the other countries didn´t either. Finally the protocol ended making the League weaker. The Corfu conflict was seen as a success and a failure equally, because the League told the aggressor country to leave the invaded one, but at the end the aggressor kept the money of reparation. The aggressor was Italy and the aggressed was Greece. A similar episode happened in 1925, where Greeks invaded Bulgaria. In this conflict Greeks were perfectly sanctioned, but many Greeks complained that big countries had more benefits than smaller ones, referring to the episode of Corfu.
In conclusion, the League was partly successful in the 1920´s due to a lot of facts, which I had mentioned. But, I still insist that if USA had joined the League, it would have been much more successful.
Justo Fernández Vidal
I partly agree with the fact that the League of Nations was a succesful organaization in the 1920s.
First of all, I am going to write about the aims of this organization called the “League of Nations”. They had four objectves: prevent war, encourage disarmament, encourage nations to cooperate in business and trade and to improve the working and living conditions of people around the world. Now we are going to see if they achieved them. This is the only way to realize if it was succesful o not.
In the 1920s there were some conflicts between countries that the League solved. Some they solved successfully, others were failures of the League and others were both of them. There were two failures in the League, one of them was the Geneva Protocol and the other one was Vilna. Vilna was a conflict between Poland and Lituania. Vilna was the capital of Lituania until Polish secret army invaded and controled it. Lituania talked to the League in order to recive some help of it. But there was a problem, France saw Poland as and ally against Germany and Britian wasn`t prepared to send troops to the other side of Europe. As a result of this Poland took Vilna thats why is a failure of the League of Nations. The secound failure was that Britian and France drew up the Geneva Protocol in 1924, wich said that if two members were in dispute they would have to ask the League to sourt out the conflict and accept the council`s decision. Before the Protocol could be signed a new coservative government appeared in Britian and refused to sign it. It was a failure because it shows that countries only worried in their problems and not in solving the ones of other countries.
Now it is time for the successes of the League. They were also two. One of them was the Aaland Islands conflict and on the other hand the Upper Silessia conflict. The Aaland Islands conflict, was between Finland and Sweden, the two of them were peaceful countries, they threatened to fight si they told the League to decide who should stay with the islands. The League of Nations said that the islands should go to Finland. Both of them accepted. There was no fight so the League went good this time. The other success was the conflict of Upper Silessia between Germany and Poland. Upper Silessia was an industrial area. The League sent troops to keep order. The League of Nations said Silessia should vote, the industrial zone vote Germany and the rural zone voted for Poland. The industrial area of Upper Silessia was devided, both countries accpeted. It was another peaceful end.
The two conflicts that remain are a failure and a succes. How is this possible? There was a bad thing of the League but at the end the conflict is solved. The first example is the Corfu conflict, between Italy and Greece. There was a border problem between Albania and Greece and an Italian General called Tellini was the superviser of this problem. He was killed with his troop at the border of Albania and Greece. Mussolini got furious and blamed Greece. He also bombarded Corfu a Greek islands at the Mediterranean. Greece asked the League for help, the League of Nations criticized Mussolini´s attacks but the League said Greece should pay money to the League of Nations until the murder was found. Mussolini convincied the council and took the money. At the end he wothdraw from Corfu. The failure is the decision of the League and the succes was that Mussolini left Crofu. The last conflict was the one between Bulgaria and Greece. Some Greek soldiers were killed in the border between them. Greece used this like an excuse to invade Bulgaria. Bulgaria asked for help to the League of Nations. They made Greece to go out of there and pay compensations to Bulgaria. Greece said there was a ruling for small countries and another for big countries refering to the Corfu conflict.
Another fact why the League didn´t work as it should was because USA didn´t join it. USA was very important because her president was the one who created it, also because of the money, remember USA was in a very good economic position. They had a powerful army and a good trade. Nobody would like to stop traiding with her. However, USA decided not to join their own proyect or Wilson´s proyect. There were five causes why USA didn´t join the League. The first one was that some Americans were worried about money because USA promised to solve all the international problems regardless the cost. Americans thought they were paying a blanck check. The secound cause was that lot of German people migrated to USA during the WW1, they thought that the League of Nations was linked with the Treaty of Versailles and they were against the Treaty itself. The third cause was because of the post war situation. American people didn´t want to fight any more. They thought tha the League was going to bring troops and conflicts that were going to bring deaths. The fourth cause was that lot of people in the USA were Anti-British or Anti-French. They thought that the League of Nations was going to be controled by Britian and France. They opposed to the idea of colonies and empires. So, USA could not agree to safeguard all the colonies of Britian and France. The last cause was that a new Republican Party appeared in USA and decided to isolate USA from the rest of the world.
Last, countries were in a post war situation. They didn’t want to fight again, because the realized how horrible war was. It was a peaceful decade because of this. It was not all because of the League, the League of Nations made a little part and teh rest was because of this post war situation. Countries were paying their debs and reconstructing some cities that were destroyed at war. And here is when USA appears again. There was a triangule of trade that USA gave money to countries that had to pay debs to other countries and they also rebuilt their economie. The countries that recieved money from countries that lost, such as France and Britian paid the debs that they had with USA. So, at the end, USA won more money.
The results are that the League could prevent war but not only because of her aslo because of the post war situation. They couldn’t encourage disarmament because Germany was disarmed only and because it was forced to do it. Loosing countries and winning countries started traiding again, the League achieved the aim of encouraging nations to cooperate in the business and trade. The last aim that wasto imrpove the working and living conditions of the people around the world was achieved but not by the League of Nations, it was achieved by USA tha helped countries to rebuilt their economies.
In conclussion, The League of Nations was not too succesful as it promised to be in the 1920s.
In the following essay we will explain, in our opinion, how far the League of Nations was or was not successful in the 1920s.
In the first place, we can say that throughout the 20s, the League had successes as well as failures. We will explain some of the successes during those years. In 1920 a plebiscite was organised by the League for the population of Upper Silesia to decide wether they wanted to become part of Germany or stay being Polish. The rural areas voted for Poland and the industrial for Germany, so the territory was divided in two. Both countries accepted the decision.
Moreover, the Aaland Islands were located midway beetwen Sweden and Finland, and both nations wanted control of it in 1921. Since both were threatening to use their armed forces to get them, they appealed to the League for help. In order to avoid a war to break out, after deeply studyin the case, the League of Nations simply decided the islands should be Finish. Sweden accepted this choice and war was bypassed.
In addition to this, in October 1925 an incident ocurred in which Greek soldiers were killed near Bulgaria’s frontier. In revenge, Bulgaria was invaded by Greek troops and so Bulgarians asked the League for help. The League of Nations ordered Greece to withdraw and pay compensation to Bulgaria. Reluctantly, the Greeks accepted, but their complaint was that there seemed to be one rule for the powerful nations and another for the weak.
Now we will explain some border disputes that were unsuccessfully solved by the League of Nations in this decade. Vilna was the capital of Lithuania, but its population was largely Polish. This made Poland invade the city in 1920, so Lithuania had no reason but to appeal for help. The League protested to Poland and ordered to take their troops out, but they did not obey. Neither France nor Britain were prepared to fight against Poland, so in the end they did nothing. The Poles kept control of Vilna.
Furthermore, on 27 August 1923 an Italian general and his team, who were sent to help solve a dispute, were killed in Greek territory, near the Albanian border. The Italians blamed Greece, but the Greek did not know who the murderers were. So Italy invaded the Greek Island of Corfu and Greece appealed to the League for help. She decided that Italy had to withdraw and Greece to pay compensation but that money be held by the League until and if the killers were found. However, behind the scenes, the Italian leader Mussolini persuaded the members of the League to make Greece apologise and pay compensation directly to Italy.
Besides, Britain and France (the major powers of the League) decided in 1924 that every member should sign a protocol. This protocol consisted in the members obeying the League in their decisions. Nevertheless, there was a general election in Great Britain, and the new leaders were not in favour of this protocol. Finally, it was not signed by anyone. The Protocol, which was meant to strengthen the League, in fact weakened it.
Taking everything into consideration, we can say that in the 1920s the League of Nations was partly a success and partly a failure. However, I believe that it was much more unsuccessful because it showed not to be able to solve big international conflicts.
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How Successful Was the League Of Nations in the 1920s?
The League of Nations is often depicted as an absolute failure. This view, however, may not be completely justified; although it did experience some failures during the 1920s, its successes must not be forgotten. Successes include helping Prisoners of War get home and settling some major border disputes such as the dispute between Sweden and Finland over the Aaland Islands. Having said that, when faced with a powerful nation, such as Italy over the Corfu Incident, the League was rendered powerless. The League had some successes in the 1920s but whether or not is was mostly successful rather than unsuccessful is not clear.
The border disputes solved or failed by the League give a good idea of how successful the League was. In the Corfu Incident of 1923 showed the League’s Achilles heel; decisions had to be voted on unanimously and each permanent member had a veto so when a member state was concerned such as Italy in the Corfu incident, sensible and internationally altering decisions could be stopped but one country. After Mussolini bombarded and occupied Greece following the ambush and murder of Tellini and his team by an unknown entity after they had been appointed the task of setting the Greek- Albanian border, the league condemned his actions. However, the fact that he persuaded the Conference of Ambassadors to change the Leagues ruling so that Greece had to apologise and pay compensation directly to Italy shows that the League, just like any major organisation, could be corrupted.
This corruption shows especially when one compares the events in Corfu to the events in Bulgaria two years later. In a similar situation to the one in Corfu, Greek troops invaded Bulgaria following an incident on the border. Instead of forcing Bulgaria to compensate Greece for the incident, Greece was forced to withdraw and pay compensation but this did not stop them complaining that the laws of the League varied depending on the size and power of the country involved. This distortion of the rules shows that the League was not one hundred percent successful even when officially the dispute had been solved as not all countries were always completely satisfied. Having said this, majority of the border disputes handled by the League in the 1920s were successes.
One of the Leagues major problems with the league was that in May 1920 the US Senate voted against the treaty of Versailles and so never joined the league. This was definitely a failure as far as the League was concerned as it not only lost a large amount of funding but also lost a great deal of credibility. The league had been Woodrow Wilson’s brainchild and so it was bound to look bad when the league’s founder country never joined. As well as this, the fact that the USA was absent left most of the power with Britain and France, leaving the international League of Nations very Eurocentric. The fact that America was not a member meant that France and Britain did not have anyone backing them up; this miht have maed France a stronger member and Britain more cooperative regarding France’s decisions.
A prime example of a time when Britain was against a decision France made was in 1923 at the League’s first attempt to create a disarmament treaty. In Article 8 of the Covenant of the League, “the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety” is recognised as a requirement of keeping the peace. Despite this fact, Britain rejected the disarmament treaty, wary of the fact that she would be tying herself to defending other nations. This is clearly a failure of the league and shows inconsistency in the aims and commitments of each member. When plans were finally made for a disarmament conference in 1926, the ‘draft convention’ was not agreed on for another five years and then that was rejected by Germany. This shows that the League had difficult aims to achieve and so failed to see through some fundamental factors of its covenant; the USA, Japan, Britain and France agreeing to limit the size of their navies at the Washington Conference in 1921 was as far as disarmament ever got and even that was not a League meeting.
There were several international agreements outside the League in the 1920s. Some might say that this suggests a lack of confidence in the League’s capability to complete a given task. The fact that these important conferences were being held on terms not agreed to by the League might show that the League was unable to carry out the tasks it had set for itself so separate conferences had to be set up. The fact that neither Germany nor the USSR were allowed to be part of the League meant that in 1922 at the treaty of Rapallo, the League could do nothing to stop Germany signing a secret clause with the USSR that allowed her to rearm on Russian soil. Of course, other agreements were complementary to the League’s work and provided ground work for the League. The Dawes Plan of 1924 meant that America helped sort out Germany’s economy and also stimulated the French and British economies. The meant that trading relationships were recovered and therefore tension reduced. This helped to keep the peace as trading is beneficial to a country and so that country is not likely to declare war against a trading partner. Although The Dawes Plan was thought up by an American and so therefore not a success of the League, it was a good thing as it contributed towards keeping the peace.
The Locarno treaties of 1925 were, however, a success of the League. Germany finally accepted the Treaty of Versailles’ plans for borders with France and Belgium; Britain and Italy guaranteed to protect France should Germany breach the agreed borders; Rhineland became an accepted demilitarised zone for ever; and, possibly the most important, it was agreed by France and Germany that they would settle any future disputes through the League. This gave the League even more power and also reinforced its status of peace keeper. After the Locarno treaties, Germany’s path to joining the League became much clearer and she was granted permanent membership in 1926. This was a definite success and it was the start of a period where the League looked set to achieve the goals that it had set itself and ultimately take on the role in international relations Woodrow Wilson had anticipated.
The Geneva Protocol was a further failures of the League. Although it was drawn up by France and Britain in 1924 and it seemed set to improve the way countries dealt with each other in terms of keeping the peace, a Conservative government was elected in Britain before the protocol was signed and so although it was meant to strengthen the league, the actual effect was the opposite as it showed how unreliable the league was. The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 was supposed to have a very similar effect to that intended for the Geneva Protocol, however this treaty was drawn up outside the League. Sixty five states agreed to renounce war as a means of national policy and to use discussion to solve conflicts instead, using warfare only as self defence. However, there were no sanctions for those signatories who disobeyed the pact and so within twelve years, all were involved in another world war. This treaty, although contributing to the general peacekeeping of the world, undermined the League’s power as it had tried to achieve something extremely similar just a few years previously and failed.
An important success of the League in the 1920s was the work it did for a better world. The League helped about 0.4 million prisoners of war return home in the first few years after World War I and also helped to eliminate cholera, smallpox and dysentery in Turkish refugee camps after a crisis in 1922. The ILO, a section of the League, successfully limited the hours small children were allowed to work while the Health Committee started a global campaign to exterminate mosquitoes, defeat leprosy, and the USSR, even though they opposed the League, had enough faith in this committee to take their advice on preventing the plague in Siberia. As well as this, the League brought about the release of 200,000 slaves in British owned Sierra Leone and brought down the death rate among African workers by a significant amount. These incredibly successful changes to the world and society were definitely among the best things the League achieved. They may not, however, have been enough to overcome the many failures the League experienced in the 1920s.
Fundamentally, the league was flawed in that it could not enforce its rulings, was financially weak and had members too interested in their own gains. There were too may instances when the League’s structure, members or lack of funds stopped it from reaching a success in an endeavor. There were also too many times when the League’s reputation was sullied, either because an external treaty had been formed and succeeded where the League had failed or because the members of the League had gone back on what they had previously said. Having said this, the league did have important social successes in the 1920s that contributed to the creation of a better world. As well as this, despite the fact that the League no longer exists, most of its ideals and some of its structure have been kept by the United Nations. Although the League was definitely not a great success in the 1920s, it did make people feel safer and more relaxed knowing that the League was trying to achieve permanent world peace. The late 1920s are often regarded a the peak for international relations and so the League cannot be called a total disaster, however the league suffered a great many failures and so cannot be regarded as a complete success either.