Two important events

In the early 1930s, two events destroyed people's belief in the ability of the League to stop wars. In both situations, the League did not act quickly enough or made poor decisions about how to suppress the aggressor nation. This served to show that smaller countries could not expect protection from the League and that aggressors (such as Hitler) had nothing to stand in their way.

  • By February 1932, Japan (a member of the League's Council) had invaded and conquered Manchuria. It took the League nearly a year to send a commission and declare that Japan ought to leave - whereupon Japan left the League. The League couldn't send an army, and it needed America's support to impose sanctions successfully. In the end, it did nothing.
  • In 1935, Italy invaded Abyssinia. Although the Abyssinian emperor Haile Selassie went to the League himself to ask for help, all the League did was to ban arms sales, which did Abyssinia more harm than Italy. A League commission offered Italy part of Abyssinia, but Italy invaded anyway. Far from stopping Italy, Britain and France tried to make a secret pact to give Abyssinia to Italy.
Black and white photograph of Haile Selassie, the Abyssinian emperor
Haile Selassie, the Abyssinian emperor