League of Nations

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The first council meeting of the League of Nations, in Paris, 16th January 1920.

The League of Nations was an international organization for peace and understanding between nations, the brainchild of United States President Woodrow Wilson and part of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. It was formally established on 10 January, 1920. It was disbanded on 19 April, 1946.

Aims

The League's goals included disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries through negotiation, diplomacy and improving so-called global welfare. The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift in thought from the preceding hundred years. However the League lacked an armed force of its own and so depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, keep to economic sanctions which the League ordered, or provide an army, when needed, for the League to use.

Mandates

The mandate system was established under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and entered into force on 28 June 1919. The League was ultimately responsible for the territorial Mandates which emerged from the post-WW1 several peace treaties. These included Galicia, awarded to Poland for 25 years, Palestine, awarded to Great Britain, Syria, awarded to France, Danzig, held by the League as a Free City, Memel, held by the League and under their protection pending a future decision, German South West Africa, awarded to the Union of South Africa, et al.

Failures

The United States Senate had refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, making it invalid in the USA and effectively hamstringing the nascent League of Nations envisioned by President Wilson. As a result, America did not join the League of Nations, despite Wilson claiming that he could:

"predict with absolute certainty that if the United States of America does not join the League of Nations, then there will be another war within 20 years."

Germany refused to join the League until 1926, saying that it was an "Allied Instrument", "the steward of injustice", "the bad conscience of the Entente", and an "unholy alliance of victors".[1]

France insisted, in 1933, that the Soviet Union be admitted as a member of the League. In July 1934 France induced Great Britain and Italy to join with her in canvassing the other members of the League for the admission, which took place at the Assembly in September, with only Switzerland, The Netherlands and Portugal voting against. Poland took two precautions. She obtained a private undertaking from the Soviet Government that the latter would not promote or support any petitions to the League by the Russian minority in Poland, and she declared to the Assembly that she no longer recognised the right of the League to concern itself with minority questions in Poland - a virtual denunciation of the Versailles Minorities Treaty which Poland was party to.[2]

The League was ultimately incapable of carrying out its responsibilities as enshrined in the Versailles Treaty.

Danzig

The League failed at Danzig, a glaring calamity of the League's ineptitude. A German city, it had been separated from Germany and created a so-called 'Free City' by the victorious plutocratic Allies in 1920, under League of Nations sovereignty, tutelage and protection. The League appointed a Commissioner to whom the Danzig Senate was ultimately responsible. Through this office the League proved incapable of stopping the permanent claims and harrassment and certain external controls exercised by Poland, which ultimately were a deciding factor in the outbreak of World War II.[3][4]

Lithuania

In addition, the League proved itself useless when Poland invaded an entire province (Vilna) of Lithuania and annexed it; and were then unable to do anything whatsoever when, in January 1923, Lithuania invaded and annexed the German port & city of Memel and its hinterland, in retaliation.[5]

Manchuria & Abyssinnia

The League also proved itself unable to mediate in the crisis in Manchuria due to conflicting interests of the powers who made up the League, and then again with the Italian invasion of Abyssinia.

Departures

Their diplomatic bungling with Italy, Japan (who left the League in March 1933), and Germany (who left the League in October 1933[6]), was another huge failure.

The End

Ultimately they were unable to prevent another world war since the Allied liberal plutocratic nations were determined to destroy Germany. By 1945 the United States of America had decided that they wished to control the League as a tool of their neo-imperialist ambitions and it was formally disbanded on April 19, 1946. The League's headquarters were moved from their new buildings in Geneva, to New York, refounding the body as 'The United Nations Organization'. A number of agencies and organizations which were part of the League migrated to the new HQ whilst others remained in Geneva.

Quotes

The League of Nations is a Jewish idea and Jerusalem some day will become the capital of the world's peace. The League has recognized our rights to our ancient home. We Jews throughout the world will make the League's struggle our own and will not rest until there is ultimate victory.
—Dr. Nahum Sokolow, at the Zionist Congress in Carlsbad, California, 27 August 1921.[7]

See also

References

  1. Germany and the League of Nations by Professor Christoph M. Kimmich, University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, 1976, p.27.
  2. Carr, professor Edward Hallett, International Relations since the Peace Treaties MacMillan, London, 1937, revised 1940, 1941 and 1945, p.202-3.
  3. Mason, John Brown, The Danzig Dilemma-'A Study in Peacemaking by Compromise', Stanford University Press, California, 1946.
  4. The Free City - Danzig and German Foreign Policy by Professor Christoph M. Kimmich, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1968.
  5. Kimmich, 1976, pps:131-4, 149.
  6. Kimmich, 1976, Chapter 9.
  7. New York Times (27 August 1921). "Jews of the World will back League". 
  • The Rise and Fall of the League of Nations by George Scott, Macmillan, New York, 1974.