Was the League successful in the 1920s?

During the 1920s the League assimilated new members, helped settle minor international disputes, and experienced no serious challenges to its authority.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (1994)



Simple evaluation  


Successes and failures in peacekeeping during the 1920s

The League and Disarmament



•   The League in the 1920s  ppt.  swf.


   What were the successes and failures of the League of Nations in the 1920s?



Did the League stop wars in the 1920s?


The main aim of the League of Nations was to stop wars.   In the 1920s, there were many small disputes between countries, which the League tried to solve - for example:


Corfu, 1923


The Dispute:

An Italian general was killed while he was doing some work for the League in Greece. The Italian leader Mussolini was angry with the Greeks. He invaded the Greek island of Corfu.

The Greeks asked the League to help.


What the League did:

The Council of the League met. It condemned Mussolini, and told him to leave Corfu.

It told the Greeks to give some money to the League.


What happened:

Mussolini refused to accept its decision. He refused to leave Corfu.

The League changed its decision. It told Greece to apologise to Mussolini, and to pay the money to Italy.

The Greeks did as the League said. Then Mussolini gave Corfu back to Greece.  


Bulgaria, 1925


The Dispute:

Some Greek soldiers were killed in a small fight on the border between Greece and Bulgaria.   The Greeks were angry. They invaded Bulgaria.

Bulgaria asked the League to help.


What the League did:

The Council of the League met. It condemned the Greeks, and told them to leave Bulgaria.


What happened:

The Bulgarian government told its army not to fight back.

The Greeks did as the League said. They left Bulgaria.  



Activity 1:

Was the League successful in Corfu?

Activity 2:

Was the League successful in Bulgaria?

This spread looks at only two disputes.

Click this link for more information about the League's successes and failures in peacekeeping during the 1920s.

Did the League manage to stop wars in the 1920s?

Decide if you think the League was a success or a failure.


Powerpoint presentation explaining the cartoon



◄  Source A

A British cartoon of 1925 shows Greece and Bulgaria fighting –  like Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee in the story Alice in Wonderland. 

The League, like a dove of peace, stops the fight.  A poem under the cartoon reads:

     'Just then came down a monstrous dove

             Whose force was purely moral

      Which turned the heroes' hearts to love

             And made them drop their quarrel.'

Click here for the interpretation






Activity 3:

In 1925, Greece complained that there seemed to be one set of rules for small countries such as Greece, and a different set of rules for big countries such as Italy. Do you agree ?



The League's other Work in the 1920s

Besides its aim to Stop Wars, the League of Nations had three other aims:

  • Improve people’s lives and jobs,

  • Disarmament,

  • Enforce the Treaty of Versailles.

As you study what the League did, you will be able to decide if you think the League was a success or a failure.


a.      Commission on Armaments (1921)

The League set up an independent commission, but it failed to get agreement on disarmament because Britain objected.

h.      Jobs

The International Labour Organisation failed to persuade countries to adopt a 48-hour week.  

b.      Poland (1920)

Poland took land from Russia, breaking the Treaty of Versailles. The Poles ignored the League’s order to stop.

i.      Economic problems

The League sent economics experts to help Austria and Hungary.  

c.      Slaves

The League attacked slave traders in Africa and Burma and freed 200,000 slaves.  

j.      Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928)

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

d.      Disease

The League worked to prevent malaria and leprosy.  

k      Refugees (1922)

The League set up camps and fed Turkish refugees.  

e.      Disarmament Commission (1926)

The League set up a Commission to organise a conference (but when it eventually met in 1932, it failed because Germany demanded equality of armaments with everybody else).

l.      SS Wimbledon case (1923)

The Court of International Justice ruled that Germany was wrong to refuse right of passage through the Kiel Canal (given in the treaty of Versailles) to a French ship.

f.      Prisoners of War

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

m.      Drugs

The League closed down four big Swiss companies which were selling drugs.  

g.      Reparations (1921)

When the Germans refused to pay, France and Britain invaded Germany and made them pay (as the Treaty of Versailes said).  

n.      Invasion of the Ruhr (1923)

France invaded the Ruhr in 1923 to force the Germans to pay Reparations (as the Treaty of Versailles said).




1.   Divide boxes a–n up into ‘successes’ and ‘failures'. 

2.   Divide up the 'successes' into the four kinds of 'other work' done by the League:

          a.  Improving lives and jobs;

          b.  Disarmament;

          c.  Enforcing the Treaty of Versailles.

3.   Now divide up the 'failures' into the four kinds of work done by the League.

4.   Overall, was the League a success or a failure in the 1920s?