History Revision Cards: International Realtions and the League of Nations


Paris Peace Conference and Big Three

In january 1919 the victorious powers in World War One met together at the Palace of Versailles to discuss the peace treaty. the paris Peace Conference was the biggest ever, 32 countries were represented by 132 politicians. However, three leaders dominated the talks: David Llyod George, George Clemeceau, Woodrow Wilson.

They were known as 'The Big Three" each of them had very differnent views and aims in the negotiantions and it took until June 1919 to complete the discusions and to produce the Treaty of Versailles

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Big Three: Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson

  • Country: USA
  • Career: PhD in History and Goverment, Politician and President
  • Character: Idealist- belived that if the right rules were put in place there would be no more wars
  • Aims:
    • Make Germany pay compensation
    • Setup League of Nations
    • Germany should lose terroitory (Alsace and Lorraine)
    • World Peace
    • Wants to mkae sur etreaty not too harsh so USA can still trade with Germany
    • Disarment
    • Didnt want to humilate or upset germany
    • No secret agreements
    • Freedom of the seas 
    • Get rid of empires
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Big Three: George Clemenceau

George Clemeceau

  • Country: France
  • Career: Had previously been Prime Minister currently just a Politician
  • Character: Nicknamed the "Tiger" due to his aggresive debating style
  • Aims:
    • Wanted to ensure frances borders were secure
    • Weaken germany so it could not be done again
    • Make Germany pay compensation for the damage
    • Wanted back Alsace-Lorraine
    • Germany to be isarmed
    • Revenge on Germany
    • Wipeout Germanys army
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Big Three: David Llyod George

David Llyod George

  • Country: Great Britain
  • Career: Lawyer gained a reputation as a fiery preacher for the Disciples of Christ, Politician
  • Character: Seeen as the compromise man of the Big Three, he joked he saw his job as "Standing between Jesus Christ and Napolean"
  • Aims:
    • Ensure Britians navy remained the most powerful
    • Wanted to help Britians empire
    • Didnt want to be too harsh on Germany so that thye didnt turn to communism
    • Ensure the German economy recovered so Britian could trade withe Germany
    • Needed to please the British Public by promising to punish Germnay
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14 Point Plan

  • No more Secret Agreements
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • An end to all economic barriers between countries
  • Countries to reduce weapon numbers and Army size
  • The future of the colonies to be decided fairly
  • The German Army to be removed from Russia
  • Belgium should be independent like before the war
  • Alsace and Lorraine returned to France
  • All italians are allowed to live in Italy
  • Ausria-Hungary should be allowed to be independent
  • Serbia to be restored
  • Turkish people should be governed by the Turkish goverment. Non-Turks in the old Turkish Empire should govern themselves
  • An independetn Poland should be created which should have acces to the sea
  • A League of nations should be sat up to guarantee peace
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Terms of the Treaty: Territorial Changes

Territorial Changes

  • Alsace and Lorraine were returned to France
  • Eupen and malmedy went to Belgium
  • Northern Schleswig went to Denmark
  • Memel was tkane over by the League of Nations and went to Lithuania in 1923
  • West Prussia, Posen ad part of Upper Silesia were given to thee recreated Poland( East prussia was seperated from the rest of german land by Polish land
  • The Saar the league of nations controlled the Saar fr 15 years but France could use its resources 
  • Danzig was made a free city under the League of Nations, Poland could use it to trade
  • All land Germany took in the treaty of Brest-litosovk from Russia in 1918 (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania became independent states
  • Germany and Austria were forbidden to unite
  • Germany lost all of its colonies they were give to victourious countries as mandates
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Terms of the Treaty: Military Restrictions, War Gu

Military Restrictions

  • Army size was limited to 100'000 men 
  • Conscription was banne all soilders had to be volunteers
  • No tanks , submarines or aircraft were allowed
  • They could only have six battleships
  • the Rhineland was demilitarised- No german toops were allowed in this area near the French border. It included all the land on the west of the Rhine as well as an are of 50km on the east bank
  • Allied forces were to keep and ramy of occupation on the west bank for 15 years

War Guilt and Reparations

  • Clause 231 forced germany to accept all responsibilty for the war this provided the reasonfor punishing th German people in the peace settlement
  • The Reparations were not set at the Paris Conference but in 1921 at £6600 million. germany was supposed to pay it off in 42 years the amount was changed during the 1920s and stopped altogether in the 1930s could be paid sing good or money
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Terms of the Treaty: The League of Nations

The League of Nations

  • The League of Nations was set up to keep international peace in the future. The covenant was included at the beginning of the peace treaties. It meant the league was made responsibe for maintaining the details of the peace settlement as its centeral job
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Strengths and Weaknesses of the Treaty


  • It brought peace to Europe after four years of fighting
  • Self determination was encourgaed
  • league of nations was set up to discuss future issues
  • Popular Worldwide signed by 45 countries
  • Got rid of huge empires helping to ease tensions
  • New countries e.g. czechoslovakia
  • many of the public liked the Treaty as it punished Germany


  • Too harsh and germany refused to pay reperations 
  • many people disliked the Treaty from the start e.g. US Public
  • Angered many countires -germany wanted revenge
  • World trade damaged due to reperations


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German Reaction to the Treaty

Why wree the Germans unhappy about the Treaty of Versailles

  • Many didnt believe germany had lost the war 
  • Humiliated by the Guilt Clause
  • Saw it as unfair as they didnt start the war
  • Military restrictions left them defenceless
  • reperations were very high they ruined the german economy
  • germany lost 10% of their land e.g. factories and farmland
  • They lost 12.5% of their people meaning less money from taxes, fewer workers and soilders
  • Unhappy as they were invited to discuss terms described the treaty as a Diktat
  • Germans blamed Jews and Communists
  • Blamed weimar goverment
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League of Nations: Background

  • Formed in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles, Wilson belived it would help to prevent a repeat of World War One. most people thought it would work, with the USA taking a leading role.
  • TheCovenant was a set of 26 artivles or laws that allmembers agreed to follow. these encouraged countries to cooperate in trade, improve social condtions and bring about disarmament
  • The most important artice was Article !0 which said mebers of the League would act together to ensure any member threatened by war would be protected by other members - Collective security
  • At first 42 countries joined and by the 1930s there were 59 members. Defeated countries and Russia (for being communist) were not allowed to join. The biggest suprise was that the USA decided not to join
  • Original Members of the League of Nations - January 10, 1920
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League of Nations: Americas Absence

Why didnt they join the League

  • Many americans were recent immigrants and millions came from germany, they had never wanted to join the war in the first place adn didnt want America to support the League as they squeezed reperations out of Germany
  • Many Americans thought the plans for the League of Nations suggested the US would have to send its troops to settle every conflict around the world and after seeing the carnage of WWI they didnt want to lose anymore soilders and wanted to stay out of such disputes
  • Some Americand worried that joining the League would cost them large sums of money as if signing a blank cheque, many buissness leaders said America had become powerful through isolationism so should stay out of such affairs
  • Some Americans were against the league as they were Anti-British or Anti-French and thought the League would be under their control. Americans also believed in the idea of freedom and opposed Britian and France empires
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League of Nations: Americas Absence- Part 2

Why was it significant that the USA didnt join the League?

  • As America had helped draw up the Treaty of Versailles, it would be more difficult for the League to enforce the Treaty terms without them
  • The USA was the richest country in the world. The League now lacked resources
  • The League was their idea and therefore it would reduce the respect other countries had for the League 
  • America had the most powerful armed forces in the world, without their help it would be more difficult to deal with problems
  • America was the main trading nation in the world. It would be difficult to take out economic sanctions against aggresive nations ithout them.
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Structure of The League of Nations

All member countries formed The Assembly which meet once a year in Geneva to talk about problems. Each member country would have one vote.

The assembly was led by the council which was a much smaller group that met sveral times a year and for emerginces. it included permenant members: Britian, France, Italy and Japan. It also included non-permenant mebers elected by the assembly for three years. Each permenant member had a veto. Councils had powers to act if persuasion did no stop a wrongdoer
The League also contained a number of much smaller groups and commisions:

  • The Disarmament Commision- This would work to persuade members to reduce the size of their armed forces and cut down their weapons
  • The Secretariat- A group of organisers to handle paperwork, communications and publicity. It was based in Geneva, the first chairman was Sir Eric Drummond; an Englishman
  • The Permanent Court of Justice- Based in Holland would work as a world law court to solve disputes between countries
  • The Mandates Commision- Kept an eye on German and Turkish colonies under the temporary rule of Britian and France
  • The International Labour Organisation - Aimed to improve working condtions. There were other special commiteesfor womens rights, to stop drug smuggling etc.
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Powers of The League of Nations

  • Hearing was held to discuss problem; Cahired by a neutral country
  • A ruling by the International Court of Justice
  • The council would carry out an inquiry
  • Moral Persuasion the leagues members would band together and condem the actions of a particular country
  • Economic sanctions member countires would refuse to trade with the offending country
  • Military Force considered a lastr resort
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Strengths and Weaknesses of The League of Nations


  • Many supported it as they wanted to avoid another conflict
  • Most major countries had joined e.g. Britian and France 
  • Defeated countries were not allowed to enter 
  • Split into divisions meaning they could focus on specific tasks
  • Improved communications between countries assisted by modern inventions e.g. Planes
  • Solved some political disputes in the 1920s e.g. Sweden
  • Permenant Court of Justice had the power to investigate arguements and reach a legal decision
  • Collective Security- All countries defended each other
  • Should have been powerful enough to enforce the Treaty of Versailles


  • The USA did not join; lack of resources and soilders
  • Organisation relied on good will and pesuasion
  • Very little power
  • No Permenant Army - relied on members voluntering soilders
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Strengths and Weaknesses of The League of Nations

Weaknesses Cont.

  • Hope of disarmament never became a reality
  • Defeated countries could not join - meant Germany was more difficult to control
  • USSR did not join - unable to help deal with Japan in 1930
  • Veto by Permenant members of the council made it difficult to make descions 
  • Lacked money in the 1930s due to the Great Depression
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The Manchurian Crisis, 1931- 1932: Causes

  • Powerful Country who wanted more Power - Japan had a large and powerful army and navy, and a growing empire. Japan felt the Western countries were pushing their leadersaround and thought atttacking Manchuria would demostrate their power
  • Economic Depression - The Depression after the Wall Street Crash in 1929 hit japan hard. Tariffs were put on Japanese goods by the USA so Japan could not sell as many goods. Without this trade Japan could not survive , Japanese industrial production and employment fell by 30% between 1929 and 193. They though invading Manchuria would give them the resources they needed 
  • Very Powerful Army Leaders - The army leaders had been pushed around by the west e.g. Washington Naval Agreements(1929) Japan had agreed to have only three ships to every five built by Britian and the USA , they were fed up of looking weak nad wre angry at the T of V as they had gained nothing from it. They believed the on;ly way to fix japans problems was by territorial conquest
  • Railway in Manchuria Attacked- Japanese railway line in manchuria was bombed in September 1931. Japan blamed China and invaded Manchuria as punishment( really an excuse)
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The Manchurian Crisis, 1931- 1932: Events

What Happened?

  • After the Chinese had been blamed for damaging the Railway, Japan invaded Manchuria and threw out all the chinese forces
  • In February 1932 they set up a Puppet Goverment and renamed it Manchukuo
  • China complained to the league but Japna argued they were only acting in Self-Defence and persisted in invading land. After one year the League published the Lytton report which said Japn was at fault for the invasion
  • Japan ignored the League and announced they would continue to invade more of China. When the rpeort was voted n, the Japanese lost by 42 votes to 1 so Jpan and carried on invading China
  • In 1933 Japan invaded the Jehol province and in 1937 it launched a full scale invasion of china
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The Manchurian Crisis, 1931- 1932: The Leagues Act

What did the League do?

  • The League was too scared to take on Japan 
  • The League produced the Lytton report in 1932 but it took a yer to produce ; report stated Japan were at fault and Manchuria should be returned to China
  • The assembly took a vote and decided that Manchuria should be returned to China; 42-1 example of Moral Pressure
  • They discussed economic sanctions but America were their main trading partner so they would have ad little effect
  • A ban was suggested on selling weapons to japan but was never passed as Great Britian and France still wanted to trade
  • Military action was also suggested but never took place as Britian and France did not want to attack Japan as it had such high cost, at a time they could spare little money; The Great Depression
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How did the Manchurian Crisis weaken the League?

Why they failed

  • There were to many complications between member countires to agree on a policy e.g. britian and France wanted to remain friendly with Japan; no one wanted to lose out on arms sales; France and britian lacked the military power to stop countires invading each other
  • Lack of permenant army to send to Japan
  • Lytton report took too long
  • Japan too far away; People in Europe not intrested
  • Needed USA for sanctions to work
  • Great Depression meant many countries lacked the money to help (1929-33)

How it damaged the League

  • Japan completely ignored the League of Nations and many countries started to lose confidence in it
  • Japan one of the most powerful countries in the League had now left it
  • The League was seen to be powerless if a strong country decided to invade others
  • It was clear that without America or the USSR the league lacked the authority to enforce its decisions
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The Abyssinian Crisis, 1935-1936: The Causes

Why did Mussolini invade Abyssinia?

  • Abyssinia was poor and undeveloped so was an easy target
  • It was one of the few countries in Africa not under European control
  • Abyssinia was next to the Italian colonies if Eritera and Somaliland so was easily accessible
  • Italy had tried to invade Abyssinia in 1896 but the Italians had been beaten at the Battle of Adowa, causin many Italians to feel humiliated and wanting revenge
  • Mussolini wated the glory of a military victory and from owning a large empire
  • In December 1934, Italian troops and Ethiopian troops clashed at the Wal-Wal Oasis( 50 miles inside Abyssinia) Mussolini claimed this was Italian territory and demanded an apology! He then prepared to invade Abyssinia 
  • Mussolini wanted to copy the Roman Empire
  • Jealous of Britian and Frances empires
  • He had seen Japan get away with the invasion of Manchuria, so felt he had nothing to fear
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The Abyssinian Crisis, 1935-1936: The Events

  • Stresa Pact, 1935
    • Agreement between GB, France and Italy. Effectively a Treaty of Friendship; Abyssinia not mentioned, GB and France hoped Italy would be their ally against Hitler
  • Italy attacks Abyssinia, October 1935
    • Mussolini launched a full scale invasion of Abyssinia. Abyssinians were no match for italian planes, tanks and poison gas. The Abyssinian Emporer Haile Selasie asked the League for help
  • League sets up a commitee to investigate
    • League set up a commitee to discuss who was to blame for the incident at the Wal-Wal Oasis decided neither side was to blame and put foward plan that would give Mussolini some of Abyssina took 8 months to produce
    • A second commiteewas set up to discuss sanctins and made the desion not to close the Suez canal
  • League brings in economic sanctions
    • The league imposed immediate bans on the sales of arms, loans, rubber, tin and other metals to Italy. All imports from Italy were also banned (January 1936). League delayed the descison on whether to ban oil exports to Italy for two months. Britian did not stop coal exports
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The Abyssinian Crisis, 1935-1936: The Events; Part

  • Hoare-Laval Pact, Dec. 1935
    • The british and French foreign ministers, Hoare and Laval planned to offer Mussolini two-thirds of Abyssinia in return for calling off the invasion, but the plan was leaked to the french press. Hoare and Laval were sacked but the real damage was done to the League
  • Hitler remilitarises Rhineland
    • Hitler took advantage of the League distraction and marched his troops back into the Rhineland; The League lost intrest in Italy
  • Italians invade Addis Ababa
    • By May 1936, Italy had taken xontrol of the Abyssinian Capital, Addis Ababa, Abyssinia was anexed to the Italian Empire
  • Haile Selassie Speech, 1936
    • haile Selassie resigned as emporer and left the countr. He made aspeech blaming the League as they had  done nothing
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How did the Abyssinian Crisis weaken the League?

  • Italy walked out of the League in May 1936
  • Sanctions were withdrawn in July 1936- partially due to the Geat Depression  and they had't worked
  • Abyssinia marked the end of the League as a means of keeping the peace
  • Of the Great powers only Britia, France and the USSR remained in the League - other means had to be found to prevent war
  • Hitler took advantage of the Abyssinian crisi by remilitarisnig the Rhineland
  • The crisis also ended the Stresa Front. In 1936, Mussolini signed the Rome-Berlin axis with Hitler,ending Britian and Frances hopes of keeping him as an ally
  • In 1937 japan joined the Axis and it became the Anti-Comintern pact
  • Italy formally withdrew from the league in 1937 -Europe was dividing into two opposite sides
  • Showed problem of having no permenant armt
  • Distarcted by Hitler and the Rhineland
  • Too slow to produce a Report it took 8 months
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Why did the League Fail?: Part 1

Membership & Structure / Powers of the League

  • The assembly only met once a year
  • Moral persuasion didnt work e.g. 42-1 vote against Japan
  • Japan and italy left the leaguethey were two of its most powerful members
  • Some thought Britian and France had too much power
  • Some key powers were absent e.g. USA could have provided funds and USSR could have helped with Manchuria

The Treaty of Versailles

  • Due to the unpopularty of the Treaty, some countries disliked the League from the start because it was set up to enforce the Treaty
  • Too harsh on germany they wanted revnge and it made them difficult to control
  • T of V didnt reward everyone equally e.g. Japan gained nothing and so wanted manchuria , USSR excluded
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Why did the League Fail?: Part 2

Countries Self Interest

  • Countries didnt want to donate troops as they were short of money due to the Great Depression
  • Britian and France didnt want to put economic sanctions in place, specifically coalin the case of Britian

Lack of support from GB and France

  • Britian and france both reused to send troops
  • They didnt close the Suez Canal because they wanted Mussolini on side against Hitler
  • They undermined the League e.g. Hoare-Laval Pact and Stresa pact

The Great Depression

  • They didn't go through with economic sanctions e.g. coal
  • Couldn't  afford to send an army
  • Due to the Depression Japan, Italy and Germany want more land as they need resources and money
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Why did the League Fail?: Part 3

Manchurian Crisis

  • It showed powerful countries could get away with invasion
  • It showed the League was powerless; Japan ignored the 42-1 vote.
  • Too slow to produce the Lytonn report it took a yeat
  • Japan left the league weakining th league futher
  • Showed that the USA and USSR were really needed

Abyssinian Crisis

  • Italy left the League 
  • Encouraged/Gave Hitler the oppurtunity to reverse the Treaty of Versailles
  • weak countries were shown not to be protected didnt use colective security
  • Too slow commitees took 8 months to come to a decision
  • It showed the selfishness of Britian e.g. Suez Canal
  • It was the last crisis the League dealt with
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