Harvest of Despair



The League of Nations was established in the aftermath of WWI, as part of the Treaty of Versailles, in 1919. The aim of the League was the preservation of world peace through a system of collective security and the promotion of cooperation between member states. The government of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) attempted to gain admission for Ukraine into the League, but was rebuffed in 1920. A number of states that occupied Ukrainian territory – Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia and, from 1934-9, the USSR – were members of the League.

The League was responsible for ensuring that the rights of national minorities guaranteed by member states were observed. Thus, when Ukrainian national rights were violated, especially on Polish territory, Ukrainian leaders protested to the League. The League proved uninterested in guaranteeing the rights of minorities, and no action was taken against the Polish government for the violations. Only once did the League discuss Soviet Ukrainian affairs – in a secret Council meeting on the Famine in 1933. Once again the League did not act, and admitted the USSR into its ranks a year after the Famine ended.

Largely because the United States did not participate in the League, the organization proved mostly toothless; numerous resolutions were passed condemning German and Italian aggression in the interwar years. Although the countries were expelled from the League, no further action was taken against their misdeeds. The League was dissolved in 1946, a year before the establishment of the United Nations.