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Session 1: The League of Nations

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Session 1: The League of Nations

  • Textbook or other instructional resources

  • Information on the League of Nations

  • Video on the League of Nations

  • Teacher-prepared video-viewing guide (see p. 10)

  • World map of the Interwar Period
Instructional Activities

1. Introduce the League of Nations by outlining its creation. Make sure to include that it was an international cooperative organization whose purposes were to prevent future wars and to administer the colonies of the defeated countries through the mandate system.

2. Divide the students into groups. Instruct them to use the textbook or other instructional resources to determine the reasons for the failure of the League of Nations. When they are finished, have groups list these reasons without using the resources or notes. Have groups share their lists with the class to make a class list, making sure to include the following information:

  • The United States was not a member.

  • The League did not have power to enforce its decisions.

  • Major divisions existed among countries after World War I.

  • Strong isolationism existed after WWI among the democracies.

3. Ask students to suggest reasons why the United States did not join the League of Nations. Responses may include the following:

  • America did not sign the Treaty of Versailles ending the war.

  • Strong feelings of isolationism were pervasive in America.

  • Political feuding was taking place between President Wilson and Senate Majority Leader Lodge.

4. Distribute copies of the video-viewing guide, and go over it with the students. Then, show the selected video. Have students use the video-viewing guide while watching and immediately following the showing in order to summarize important points, make connections, and draw conclusions.

5. Display a world map of the Interwar Period, and point out specific areas as they are discussed. Explain that the League of Nations created the mandate system. Mandates were territories formerly controlled by nations that had been defeated, principally Germany and the Ottoman Empire. Under the mandate systems, various Allied Powers were to govern these lands until they were able to stand on their own. Great Britain and France were to administer most of the mandates in the Middle East, thereby establishing their foothold in that region. These mandates included Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine, which were now to be governed by Britain, and Syria and Lebanon, which were now to be governed by France. However, the policy became increasingly controversial as the foreign administration of these lands stretched on longer and longer.

Session 2: The Worldwide Depression


  • List of economic terms with definitions (optional)

  • Resources for pictures depicting the impact of the worldwide depression
Instructional Activities

1. Discuss with the students the causes of the worldwide depression, including the following information:

  • German reparations that led to high inflation: because Germany was required to pay for the cost of World War I, it printed large amounts of money to do this, causing the value of its currency to decline.

  • Expansion of production capacities and dominance of the United States in the global economy

  • High protective tariffs

  • Excessive expansion of credit

  • Stock Market Crash of 1929

  • European economies never recovered from WWI

2. Ask students whether they can explain how inflation weakens a currency, why overproduction leads to layoffs, and why protective tariffs hurt an economy. Then, use technology to display the following list of economic terms. Direct students to define the terms, or provide a handout with the definitions:

  • runaway inflation: As prices rise, the value of the currency declines; soon things become so expensive that people cut back on their buying, which leads to companies cutting back, which leads to layoffs of employees.
  • protective tariffs: When countries place high tariffs on imported goods, other countries retaliate, leading to a “tariff war.” As a result, jobs are lost in the import-export businesses.

  • overproduction: When companies overproduce, inventory accumulates and production is cut back, leading to layoffs of employees.

  • rapid rise in stock prices: When stock prices go up rapidly, buying stock increases until many stocks become overvalued and a panic occurs, dropping prices too quickly and wiping out many people’s investments.

3. Explain that the economic disruptions following World War I led to unstable political conditions. Worldwide depression in the 1930s provided opportunities for the rise of dictators in the Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Have students work in groups to develop a list of the impact or results of the worldwide depression. Then, have the groups share their lists, and display their answers. Responses may include the following:

  • High unemployment in industrial countries

  • Bank failures and collapse of credit

  • Collapse of prices in world trade

  • Nazi Party’s growing importance in Germany; Nazi Party’s blame of European Jews for economic collapse

  • Weakening of the democracies as they struggled to cope with the economic losses of homes

  • Popularity of fascism and its relation to National Socialism

4. Instruct students to create a chart on the worldwide depression, showing its causes and the impact. This can be used for their interactive notebook or as a review activity.

5. Instruct students to gather pictures of the time period that show the impact of the worldwide depression. Provide resources for students to search.

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