The Failure of the League of Nations and the Outbreak of War in 1939
There are many causes for the outbreak of the Second World War. These
include the failure of the League of Nations, the Treaty of
Versailles, Hitler's actions and so on. Some of them are more
important then others and are mostly linked with another cause.
The failure of the League of Nations was one of the main reasons for
the outbreak of war. It exposed weaknesses which encouraged Hitler to
invade. The League had failed to resolve the major political disputes.
There were a number of such incidents but the most important ones were
the Manchurian Crisis, 1931 and the Abyssinian Crisis, 1935. In 1931,
the members of the League failed to take decisive action when Japan
invaded Manchuria. The League did not apply sanctions because without
America (Japan's main trading partner) it would not have had much
effect. Member nations were unwilling to contribute troops to a League
of Nations force, so the League had no effective way of compelling
other countries to accept its decisions. Britain was also more
interested in maintaining good relations with Japan. Countries could
not even agree on banning arm sales to Japan as they were worried that
Japan would retaliate. Their self-interest meant that that did not
want to risk their own armies against Japan. Only the USA or the USSR
would have to resources to remove the Japanese from Manchuria but
there were not members of the League. In 1935 Mussolini (Italy)
invaded Abyssinia and overthrew the Emperor Haile Selassie. Italy was
condemned by the League as the aggressor. The League applied economic
sanctions but members were reluctant to enforce the ban with regard to
the sale of oil. In the end the sanctions were removed and the League
suffered a blow from this - when Hitler threatened Czechoslovakia in
1938 the crisis was resolved outside the League.
The League of Nations was established after World War One to keep
peace, one of its functions was to uphold the Treaty of Versailles.
This led a lot of people to feel that the League is a force
representing the winners of the First World War against the Germans.
This made people to connect it with the harshness of the Treaty and so
led to a lack of trust in the League of Nations. For example the
Germans were bitter that they had to accept the total blame for
starting the war and hated the fact they had to pay reparations of
£6,600,000,000 and didn't want anything that stood for it.
Hitler saw all these weaknesses of the League and believed that if he
invaded a country the League would be unable to stop him. This was a
very important reason because if Hitler thought he had powerful
oppositions, he might not have started war.
Versailles was the peace treaty made at the end of the First World War
and another cause of the...