How did the Great Depression make the work of the League of Nations more difficult?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Fundamentally, the League of Nations was a difficult concept to enforce.  The basic idea of a world government organization is a challenge to implement and create in a politically sustainable manner.  This was compounded during the Great Depression. The economic chaos that enveloped so many nations, in particular the United States, made international commitments difficult, if not impossible, to maintain.  Add to this the growing isolationism that ended up becoming embraced by the United States public after World War I already made participation in the League of Nations a fundamental problem.  The economic fragmentation that resulted in the Great Depression almost made isolationism an accepted reality in America. Lack of economic security, employment opportunities, as well as the general feel of material claustrophobia made international issues dwindle and wither away.  There was a lack of coherent effort in serving in a communally international League of Nations when there was so much of an economic challenge in the lives of so many in America.  Economics trumped the idealism of the League of Nations during the Great Depression.  This made a concept whose embrace was weak, tenuous, and impossible to fully support impossible during the Great Depression.

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jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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During the Great Depression, the Japanese economy was in dire straits, as exports had dropped by 50%. To help the economy, the Japanese Prime Minister, Tsuyoshi, turned to the production of weapons and armaments. When Tsuyoshi decided to cut back on armaments production, he was assassinated in 1932. At that point, the army took control of Japan and pursued a path of conquest in search of more raw materials. In addition, Italy under Mussolini increased the size of its army to combat unemployment during the Great Depression. Mussolini also took over countries such as Abyssinia to build an empire that could provide Italy with raw materials. In Germany, the American loans that had helped the country pay reparations after World War I were stopped in 1928, sending the German economy into a tailspin. As a result, people were drawn to Fascism and Hitler, who, after becoming Chancellor in 1933, embarked on a program to conquer other countries. Under Hitler, Germany ceased following the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. In these ways, the Great Depression made it difficult for the League of Nations to function.