Why had international peace collapsed by 1939?

In 1920, League was started to sort out disputes between nations without resorting to war. In 1939, just 19 years later, the Second World War broke out. When Hitler came to power in 1933, he pledged to overthrow the Treaty of Versailles. He hated the treaty and felt that the treaty was harsh and unfair. He felt it a reminder of Germany’s defeat in the First World War. The Treaty had taken away territory from Germany, and Hitler was determined to regain lost land. He wanted the unity of all German speaking people and also wanted to carve out an Empire in eastern Europe to give living space or ‘Lebensraum’ for Germans. His first step to accomplish the abolishing of the Treaty, was to rearm Germany. In 1933, soon after he was elected, Hitler began rearming Germany and withdrew from the League. He also re-introduced conscription in 1936. He claimed that the only reason for rearming was because other countries refused to disarm. Germany had Britain’s support on this issue. Britain thought that the restrictions on Germany’s armed forces had been too tight and felt that a strong Germany would be a good buffer against Communism. In 1936, a year after a Germany regained lost land of the Saar region through a plebiscite, Hitler took a massive risk by moving his troops to the de-militarized region of the Rhineland. By remilitarizing the Rhineland, Hitler had broken another one of the terms of the Treaty. However, due to the attention of the League of Nations focused on the Abyssinian crisis, the League simply condemned Hitler’s action but had no power to do anything else. Neither France nor Britain reacted in any way. To accomplish his aim of uniting all German speaking people, Hitler, through numerous staged demonstrations and riots, managed to form an ‘Anschluss’ with Austria in 1938. Britain and France were, yet again, not prepared to take any decisive action. In the same year, after the Munich Agreement, Hitler invaded the Sudetenland, he claimed that he was not interested in occupying the rest of Czechoslovakia. However, only a few months later, Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. Due to Britain and France’s policy of appeasement, nothing was done to stop Hitler’s quest of overthrowing the Treaty. In addition to the League’s failure to prevent Hitler’s antics, there were two incidents that really tested the League of Nations in the 1930’s. In 1931, the Japanese invaded Manchuria. Invading Manchuria was the perfect opportunity to build Japanese empire, and save it from the massive toll the depression had taken on the country. In 1932, China appealed to the league for help. The League’s officials sailed to Manchuria to assess the situation for themselves. The League concluded that Japan had acted unlawfully and Manchuria should be returned to the Chinese. However, instead of withdrawing, Japan announced that it intended to invade more of China. The League’s official report in February 1933 was approved by 42-1 votes. Smarting at the result, Japan withdrew from the League and invaded Jehol the following week.

if need be. Even more damaging to the League. such as stopped him from remilitarising the Rhineland (France’s army was much stronger than Germany’s at that stage) war might have been averted. meanwhile. Closing the Suez Canal would have ended the campaign for Abyssinia. Stalin decided to befriend his arch enemy and signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Britain and France were concerned about keeping good relations with Italy and failed to take any action. Though it was Hitler’s actions which led to war. a dispute the League was designed to sort out. they declared war on Poland. Hitler was in for a nasty surprise: on 2 September. However. but Britain and France were worried about a possible war with Italy as a result. In August 1939. help fight Hitler. but the League never actually did anything to discourage Mussolini.The fatal blow to the League came in 1935. He claimed the land was actually Italian territory and began preparing the Italian army for an invasion. following the policy of Appeasement and letting Hitler get away with his antics simply encouraged him to gamble further. Haile Selassie appealed to the League for help. an act prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles. was fatal. who formally annexed the entire country by May 9th 1936. Though Hoare and Laval were sacked. The League’s authority had been undermined by Mussolini. Italy’s main route to Abyssinia. In October 1935 Mussolini launched a full scale invasion of Abyssinia. On 1 September. and how Britain and France had not resisted Hitler’s quest to rearm and invade new territories. Hitler was sure France and Britain would not go to war over Poland. Mussolini invaded Abyssinia. who despised Communism and showed an open interest of conquering Russian land. Stalin hoped Britain and France would. With the League’s focus on the Abyssinan crisis. it promised Italy two-thirds of Abyssinia in return for calling off the invasion. was very worried about the German threat to the Soviet Union ever since Hitler came to power in 1933. without the consultation of the League or Haile Selassie. Mussolini continued preparing for a fullscale invasion of Abyssinia. Stalin. was the leak of the Hoare-Laval pact. After joining the League of Nations in 1934. After following the policy of Appeasement for almost a decade. the German army invaded Poland from the west and on 17 September Soviet forces invaded Poland from the east. and privately. there was public outcry against Italy’s behavior and there was much talking and negotiating. Even after the Abyssinian emperor. Hitler marched his troops into Rhineland. the League’s failure to close the Suez Canal. he saw how powerless the League was after Mussolini’s successful invasion of Abyssina. As the year went on. when the Italian dictator. However. convinced that France and Britain would not make strong allies against Hitler. Hatched by Britain and France’s foreign ministers. Had either France or Britain taken some serious action earlier. agreed to divide Poland between them. Another element contributing to the . sanction discussions lost all momentum and no decision was made to ban oil sales to Italy. They agreed not to attack one another.

countries wouldn't have undermined its authority. Had the League fulfilled its aim to encourage disarmament and dealt with problems such as the Abyssinian Crisis more effectively. for he knew that there was little the League could and would do to defend the USSR against a possible Nazi attack. . The failure of the League as an effective peacekeeping body prompted Stalin to sign the Nazi-Soviet pact. Due to the member countries being more focused on individual problems and the League lacking an army. it was unable to put a stop to Hitler’s actions.collapse of peace was the failure of the League of Nations.

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