Recent events have shown that the British people's hope
that [the League of Nations] would be adequate for the maintenance of
peace is premature...
existing conditions, [a government White Paper suggests that] an additional expenditure on the armaments of the
Defence Services can no longer be postponed.
The Times newspaper (5 March 1935)
reports a decision by the British government that growing
German, Russian and Japanese
aggression required a new policy to defend Britain.
In June 1935, Britain made a naval agreement with Hitler, to let Germany
have a navy one-third of the size of Britain's. It was the
sign that Britain had given up on the League as a way to keep the peace,
and was trying a new policy - appeasement.
The modern historian John Duncan suggests that Britain's
naval agreement with Germany was
a decision by the British government to abandon
'collective security' (2004).
The Covenant of the League has been violated... We
shall therefore have to climb down, and Hitler has
scored. We must swallow this humiliation as best
we may, and be prepare to become the laughing stock of
Europe. I do not mind that very much. We can rebuild our shattered name. But it does
mean the final end of the League and that I do mind
dreadfully. Quite dreadfully.
A letter written by the British diplomat Harold Nicolson to a
Hitler had marched into the Rhineland (12 March 1936).
This cartoon by the British cartoonist David Low,
drawn during the Spanish Civil War, appeared
Evening Standard newspaper, 14 December 1936.
The headline on the newspaper reads: 'SPAIN - League Discussion'.
The soldiers are saying: 'The League! Pah! Fancy suggesting
nations could unite for peace'.
Click here for the interpretation
events of the 1930s doomed the League of Nations. By 1936, after the Disarmament Conference had failed, few
people looked to Geneva for the answers to Europe's
problems. As civil war erupted that summer, Spain
was added to Manchuria, Abyssinia and the Rhineland in the
roll-call of the League's failures. Hardly
surprising, then, that the Spanish foreign minister should
accuse the League of following 'a strange theory which said
that the best way to help the League was to stop making any
attempt to keep the peace or defend the Covenant'.
The historian Mark Mazower sums up the effect that these
the League's reputation (1998).