The Failure of the League of Nations and the Outbreak of War in 1939

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 Second World War. It caused a lot of resentment in Germany, as it was seen by its people (and by other countries) as extremely harsh. Germany had to pay a large amount of reparations, which it could not afford to do so since the War had also damaged the German economy. The Treaty demanded disarmament of Germany and demilitarisation of the Rhineland. Germany lost territory for example Sudetenland was given to Czechoslovakia; West Prussia to create the Polish Corridor. All these harsh terms helped the Nazis to gain powerful support as they offered the German people alternatives. The Nazi Party promised to abolish the Treaty of Versailles. This was important because without support, German could not have taken the major step to war. Another cause was the changing perceptions of the Versailles Treaty. Many countries started to feel that they had been too harsh with the terms. Britain decided to follow a policy of appeasement ? this is a policy of trying to avoid war by negotiating agreements with dictators, which give in to some of their demands when under threat. This became an issue in 1933 when Hitler, step by step, dismantled the Treaty of Versailles. Britain believed that the limits put on Germany?s armed forces by Versailles were too tight. In June 1935, the Anglo-German Naval agreement was signed. This allowed the Germans to increases the size of their Navy to up to 35% of the size of the British Navy. The French were angry with this, because Britain had pursued her own interests instead of backing the League of Nations or the Treaty of Versailles. Britain did this because there was sympathy on the issue of Germany?s army. Hitler?s actions were a cause that led to the outbreak of war. In 1933 he began rearming Germany and when the League did nothing, he took further steps. In 1936 he reintroduced conscription which was banned by the Treaty. In the same year, he also sent troops into the Rhineland ? another action that was banned. He made an anti-Communist alliance with Italy and Japan. 1937 Hitler tried out his new weapons in the Spanish Civil War. He took over Austria and invaded countries including Czechoslovakia and Poland. With each of these actions, Hitler increased the power of Germany, therefore making it capable of war with other major countries. Meanwhile, he was also testing the League to see what it would do to prevent Hitler?s invasions. However it was at the time busy with the Abyssinian Crisis and so did nothing. This encouraged Hitler and led him to take the next steps to war. Other actions had caused Hitler to retaliate and go to war. In 1938/9 the Appeasement policy ended with Hitler?s invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia. That was when Hitler went beyond reclaiming land lost at Versailles. Britain and France told Hitler that if he invaded Poland they would declare war on Germany. However, after years of Appeasement, Hitler did not really believe that Britain and France would risk war by resisting him. The Nazi-Soviet Pact was yet another cause of the Second World War. Although Hitler was convinced that Britain and France would not go to war over Poland, he was not so sure about the ussr. Stalin had always felt threatened by Germany, so he decided that Russia?s best interests would be better served by an agreement with Germany. On 24 August 1939 Hitler and Stalin signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact. They announced that they would not attack each other. Privately they agreed to divide Poland between them. With the threat of ussr out of the way, Hitler was now confident of success. On 1 September the German army invaded Poland but to Hitler?s surprise, France and Britain declared war on Germany. It would be difficult to determined whether the failure of the League of Nations was the most important reason that led to the outbreak of war in 1939 as there were many other important causes which are all linked together. For example, without the Treaty of Versailles there might not have been the League of Nations at all. Also there would not have been as much resentment towards the League.

The Failure of the League of Nations and the Outbreak of War in 1939 8.1 of 10 on the basis of 1630 Review.