First World War (1914-1918) = The Great War = The War to End all Wars = Total War Long Term Causes: [animal]

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The Economic Impacts

  • It was what the Treaty of Versailles did not do that affected the European economic situation most 

  • No economic questions where dealt with directly apart from reparations

  • It did not find a solution for the problems of allied war debts

  •  Countries where struggling to pay off their debts and this created bad relations between the debtors and the United States

  • This resulted in economic instability and tension

  • The debt situation helped contribute to the Ruhr crisis

  • A number of international meetings had taken place to try and resolve the debt issue however these had no impact as the United States did not want the debts of its allies canceled. 

  • This weakened the allied countries as they had to keep demanding reparations from Germany to pay these debts

  • After the Ruhr Crisis the United States offered financial help to Germany (Dawes Plan) so that Germany could then pay its reparations to the allied countries which in turn could then pay off their loans to the United States. 

  • JM Keynes was particularly against the economic terms of the Versailles Treaty. He maintained that by punishing Germany the allies where only punishing themselves. He claimed that the high reparations, territorial losses and loss of resources on Germany would affect Europe negatively as Germany was the economic engine of Europe. 

  • The United States and Britain started to see the need to revise the treaty

  • This created tension between France and Britain as France did not want the German economy to strengthen again and demanded the high reparations that had been imposed on Germany

  • Another issue was that the treaty did not create an organization to introduce and promote international trade. Trade barriers where a big issue for the newly created European states. This added to the catastrophic impact of the Great Depression of 1929

The Mandate System

  • There was an agreement amongst the allies to create a mandatory system to distribute the colonies of the defeated powers 

  • This would be supervised by the League of Nations

  • The main priority of the mandate system was to ensure the well being of the people and the development of these territories

  • The League of Nations was also responsible for making sure that trade was possible for each territory and that no slavery occurred 

  • The main purpose was to create independent democratic states and help improve the populations education and ways of life

  • Three classes of mandates existed; mandates A, B and C. Each territory was put into a class according to its stage of development and to which extent it was ready to becoming independent. 

  • The territories which in the near future would be ready for independence where placed in "mandates A". This included Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Transjordan. 

  • The territories that where less advanced and where not going to become independent for quite some time where placed in "mandates B". This included the German colonies in Africa which were distributed to Britain, France and Belgium.

  • The territories which had a low population and where underdeveloped fell into "mandates C" and where handed over directly to the countries that had conquered them. Japan, New Zealand and Australia received the German colonies in the Pacific and South Africa received Southwest Africa. 

  • Some countries like Japan treated its new colonies as an addition to its territory which went against the system

  • The mandate system did however create a system in which the countries in power of these colonies had responsibilities to the people who lived them and if these countries actions went against the system they could be subjected to an international body.

  • There was a lot of controversy around the distribution of the mandates especially because most of them went to France and the UK which were already in possession of the world’s largest empires

  • The Italians where very unhappy as they had been promised territories which they had not received and in addition they were not given any mandates even though they were on the winning side of the war

  • The Arabs in the Middle East where also very unhappy about the mandate system as they wanted land and independent status which they were not given despite the fact that they helped the UK conquer the Ottoman Empire

  • Another controversy emerged when the British decided to go ahead with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 


The Washington Conference 

  • 1921-1922

  • It was the most successful of the disarmament conferences

  • The major naval powers met in Washington in November 1921

  • A number of treaties where signed between December 1921 and February 1922

  • There were two reasons for which the conference was called. Firstly, Japan and the UK could not afford the costs of the arms race and the United States wanted to reduce its own costs. Secondly there was growing tension between Japan and the United States in Asia and the United States wanted to avoid conflict which could involve many countries

The Four Power Treaty 

  1. USA, Japan, France and Britain

  2. The Anglo-Japanese alliance was ended

  3. An agreement to recognize each other’s possessions in the Pacific and if problems arose there was an agreement to reach a diplomatic solution

The Five Power Treaty 4:5:3

  1. USA, Britain, Japan, France, and Italy

  2. Agreed to maintain a fixed constant ratio of naval armaments 

  3. No new naval armaments where to be constructed for the next ten years

  4. The United States and Britain were not allowed to build new fortresses or naval bases in the western Pacific

The Nine Power Treaty

  1. USA, Japan, France, Britain, Italy, China, Belgium, Netherlands and Portugal

  2. An open door for trade on China was agreed on so that all countries had equal trading rights with China

  3. Agreed to respect China's authority

  4. An agreement was also made to discuss problems of common interest

The London Naval Conference 1930

  • It was a revision and an extension of the Washington treaty

  • US, Japan, Britain, Italy and France met in London

  • Ratio of capital ships moved from 5:5:3 for the US, Britain and Japan respectively to 10:10:7

  • France and Italy did not take part in this agreement however they did agree to continue to not build new naval armaments for the next five years

  • Submarine warfare rules where made more strict

  • The Treaty was to remain valid until 1936

The London Naval Conference 1935-1936

  • The major powers met again in 1935 to discuss the treaty of London (1930) as it was to expire the following year

  • Japan wanted equality in terms of ratio of fleets with the US and Britain but this was denied and so Japan walked out of the conference, as did Italy

  • France, Britain and the US did agree on limiting the size and number of their naval armament however this collapsed in 1936 with the Japanese and German rearmament programs and the increasing conflicts arising in the world

  • All in all, the conference was a failure 

The Geneva Conference 1932-1934

  • There was an increased demand to revise the Paris Peace Settlement

  • A number of crises had occurred in the last few years

  • The Great Depression of 1929 had reduced the optimistic outlook and international co-operation

  • The United states wanted the elimination of offensive weapons, however there where disagreements to what weapons where offensive and which were defensive

  • France was worried about German regaining its strength and so it did not want to reduce its military spending unless it got a guaranteed agreement with the other major powers to support France

  • The other major powers were not interested in a guaranteed agreement and so France refused to reduce its military spending

  • Germany wanted the major powers to either reduce their military spending to Germanys level or Germany should be allowed to increase its military spending to their level

  • This was not accepted by the major powers and so Germany walked out of the conference in 1932

  • Germany rejoined the conference in 1933

  • Adolf Hitler was now chancellor and wanted Germany to have equal treatment to the major powers

  • Once again this was denied and so Germany walked out of the conference

  • This caused Germany to embark on a rearmament scheme

  • France had no choice but to increase its military spending as it did not gain the military guarantee from either the United States nor the UK. It was well aware of Germany's larger population and industrial capacity. Decreasing its military spending was not an option for France

  • Italy was also not interested in reducing its military spending

  • The conference was a failure as no agreement was reached

  • Tension was rising in Europe and countries where starting to consider what was best for themselves 

  • Disarmament was not possible at this point as tension started to rise and there was a potential source of conflict

Major Developments 1921-1933

  • The occupation of the Ruhr (1923)

    • When Germany could no longer keep up with repayments French and Belgian troops marched into the most important industrial region

    • People (Germans) in this area refused to cooperate. Passive resistance led to further decline of the area’s industry, more unemployment, and poverty

    • The French and the Belgian intervened but the cost of intervention outweighed any benefits made by the seizure of German goods.

    • The German Economy collapsed — there was high inflation & it was unable to pay reparations

    • There was social unrest in Germany (led to the rise of movements like the fascists) however, a coup led by Hitler and General Ludendorff failed

    • Britain refused to support France/Belgium

  • Locarno and the “Locarno Spring” (1925)

        • The appointment of Gustav Stresmann as chancellor of Germany changed everything

        • Stresmann called off the resistance in the Ruhr and announced that Germany would agree to the obligations set by the Treaty of Versailles, it would also accept its current borders with France and Belgium

        • This resulted in the Locarno Treaty which was signed in 1925

        • The Locarno Treaty was an agreement made between Belgium, France, the UK and Germany in which Germany agreed to accept its western boundaries as it was agreed in the Versailles Treaty

        • Germany accepted its borders with France and Belgium and these borders where guaranteed by the UK and Italy. In addition, Germany would become a member of the League of Nations.

        • This was a step towards Franco-German reconciliation and it meant that Germany could start to grow economically again without being a threat to Western Europe

        • It also meant that France and Britain could reconcile over the differences that drove these two apart (how to deal with Germany)

        • The Eastern borders of Germany had not been fixed however as Britain refused to guarantee the countries to the east of Germany. This lead Germany to believe that it could change its eastern borders with little objection from the Allies.

    • The Results of the Locarno Treaty

  • The Locarno Treaty resulted in a sense of excitement and optimism

  • Tension between the Allies and Germany was finally resolving which meant that a sense of peace was present

  • Germany obtained a permanent seat on the League council

  • The Allied troops from the left bank the Rhine where removed

  • The supervision of Germany's disarmament stopped in 1927

  • By 1930 Germany was an independent state again

  • However Germany was still in co-operation with the USSR in the Treaty of Rapallo

  • This meant that Germany could still avoid the disarmament that had been imposed on it

  • Germany had not agreed on its eastern borders and it was co-operating with the USSR who's goal was to redraw the map of Europe

  • This meant that even though the Locarno Treaty had been successful in bringing about peace, the League of Nations was not strengthened and the collective security remained uncertain

  • The Dawes Plan (1924)

    • End of occupation of the Ruhr

    • Two year moratorium of German reparation payments

    • International loan for Germany

    • Introduction of an annuity basis on reparations

    • Financial controls imposed on Germany

  • The Young Plan (1929)

    • The total sum owed by Germany was cut down by 25%

    • Annual payments fixed to run until 1966

    • In the event of financial difficulties a part of the payment could be deferred for up to two years

    • 1/3 of payments could be made in kind

    • International controls (established by Dawes Plan) were abolished

    • Bank for International Settlements established

    • International loan made to Germany ($200 million)

  • October 1929: Wall Street Crash

    • 1931: Germany stops reparation payments

    • 1932: Lausanne conference: fixed reparation payments very low

    • 1933: Hitler became chancellor

League of Nations Review

Aims, organizations and powers

The Covenant of the League of Nations was built into the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the First World War. The League was Wilson's dream for a new world order - a new way of conducting foreign affairs that would abolish war and keep the world safe. Yet less than a quarter of a century later, Wilson's dream lay in ruins and Europe was starting an even longer and more deadly war.

  • Aims

      • stop wars

      • encourage disarmament

      • make the world a better place

      • tackling disease.

  • Strengths

      • set up by the Treaty of Versailles, which every nation had signed

      • 58 nations as members by the 1930s.

      • offer arbitration through the Court of International Justice

      • apply trade sanctions against countries that went to war

  • Weaknesses

      • Ambitious

      • set up by the Treaty of Versailles (which every nation hated)

      • Germany, Russia and the USA were not members

      • no army

      • decisions had to be unanimous.



3. Set up the assembly - a meeting of all members of the League.

42 countries were members (rising to 58 in 1934). The USA, USSR and Germany - the three greatest powers in the world - were not members.

4. Set up the council (Britain, France, Italy and Japan, plus four other countries elected by the assembly), which met four to five times a year and in times of crisis.

Allowed the League to respond quickly to crises. However, the council members were not the most powerful countries in the world, and were not prepared to use their armies. Also sometimes council members were involved in the trouble.

5. Said that agreements of the assembly and council had to be unanimous.

Made it very hard to get anything done.

6. Set up the Secretariat.

Too small to handle the vast work of the League.

8. Promised to seek disarmament.

Conferences in 1923 and 1932-33 failed.

11. The League shall... safeguard the peace of nations.'


13. Planned for the arbitration of disputes.

Only worked if both sides agreed.

14. Set up the Court of International Justice.

Could advise on international law and arbitrate in disputes, but had no power to enforce its decisions.

15. Planned for trade sanctions against any country that went to war.

Trade sanctions damaged the countries of the League as well as the country that had gone to war.

22. Set up the Mandates Commission to look after the former colonies of Germany and Turkey.

The mandates were administered by France and Britain, two council members.

23. The League promised to improve conditions for workers, stop drug trafficking, help trade and control disease.


Successes and failures in the 1920s

The League of Nations has been commonly regarded in history as a dismal failure. Although it did suffer major failures during the 1920s and 1930s, its successes must not be overlooked. In fact, its drive to wipe out world disease was taken on by the United Nations with campaigns ongoing today.

In the 1920s, the League was very successful in its work for a better world - it took half-a-million POWs home, helped Turkish refugees, attacked slave traders and drug sellers, and supported measures against leprosy and malaria.
It was also quite successful in settling border disputes - for example, it settled a dispute between Sweden and Finland over the Aaland Islands, and stopped a war between Greece and Bulgaria.
However, when it was faced with a strong nation prepared to ignore it - for instance Italy in 1923 over Corfu - the League could do nothing.

Events and Outcomes

1. Prisoners of war


The League took home half a million First World War prisoners of war.

image: tick denotes success

2. Aaland Islands


Sweden and Finland accepted the League's arbitration to give the Aaland Islands to Finland.

image: tick denotes success

3. Poland


The Poles invaded Vilna (the capital of Lithuania). The League ordered Poland to withdraw. Poland refused; the League could do nothing

image: cross denotes failure

4. Turkey


The League set up camps and fed Turkish refugees.

image: tick denotes success

5. Corfu


Mussolini ignored the League's orders to pull out of Corfu, and made Greece pay money to Italy.

image: cross denotes failure

6. Disarmament

1923 and 1932

Disarmament talks failed, because Germany demanded as many weapons as everyone else.

image: cross denotes failure

7. Austria


The League sent economics experts to help Austria when its government went bankrupt.

image: tick denotes success

8. Bulgaria


Greece obeyed the League's orders to pull out of Bulgaria in 1925.

image: tick denotes success

9. Kellogg-Briand Pact


Sixty-five countries signed a treaty to end war - but then they just ignored it.

image: cross denotes failure

10. Slaves


The League approved the Slavery convention; altogether, the League freed 200,000 slaves.

image: tick denotes success

11. Drugs


After more than ten years of work, 26 League nations signed an international convention to combat the drugs trade - a law that is still in force.

image: tick denotes success

12. Disease


The League worked to prevent malaria and leprosy.

image: tick denotes success

13. Jobs


The International Labor Organization failed to persuade countries to adopt a 48-hour week.

image: cross denotes failure
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