IGCSE History Component-2: Specimen Questions with Answers 3 - 3 of 6

Passage

Section C: International Option

The Search for International Peace and Security, 1919 - 45

The Soviet Union and the League of Nations

3. Read the sources and then answer both parts of the question.

Source A

The Soviet Union is not a member of the League of Nations and does not participate in it’s work. The Soviet Union is not prepared to share the responsibility for the imperialist policy of the League of Nations, for the ‘mandates’ which are distributed by the League for the exploitation and oppression of colonial countries, for the war preparations which are approved by the League, preparations which must inevitably lead to imperialist war. The Soviet Union does not participate in the work of the League because the Soviet Union is fighting with all it’s energy against all preparations for imperialist war. The Soviet Union is not prepared to become a part of that camouflage for imperialist ambitions represented by the League of Nations. The League is the meeting place of imperialist leaders who settle their business there behind the scenes.

From the speech by Stalin, speaking to foreign delegates in 1927.

Source B

The Soviet Union is about to join the League of Nations. The latest turn in Soviet diplomacy, which marks such a sharp departure from former days, is being justified in the Russian governmental press. Japan has quit the League; Germany has quit the League – which eliminates from its ranks the two most direct enemies of the Soviet Union. The departure of Germany and Japan from the League changes its political complexion, however little it alters its imperialist character. For Russia, joining the League is a major change of policy. Faced on the eastern and western fronts by two powerful enemies whose immediate aim is military attack, the Soviet Union hopes to take advantage of their leaving the League by joining with those who have remained within it. But what a price is being paid! It means that the Soviet Union will be helping to cover up all the misdeeds, crimes, hypocrisies and deceptions of the League.

From an article in an American communist magazine, 1934.

Source C

The organisation of peace! Could there be a more urgent task for the cooperation of all nations? Very little has been done so far to encourage peace. Once it was believed that war could be averted by resolutions and declarations. Now, everybody knows that the exponents of war are not to be intimidated by paper obstacles. We are now confronted with the task of averting war by more effective means, especially since the failure of the Disarmament Conference, on which such high hopes were placed. It is quite clear that peace and security cannot be organised simply by promises and assurances. I am aware that the League does not possess the means for the complete abolition of war. I am, however, convinced that, the determination and cooperation of all its members, a great deal could be done to prevent war.

Litvinov, first delegate of the Soviet Union to the League of Nations, addressing the League of Nations’ Assembly, 1934.

Source D

The League of Nations is twenty years old but, judging by outward appearance, it could be two thousand years old. Dishonourably born, dishonourably buried will be the fate of the League of Nations. The League is the child of the criminal Versailles Treaty. It was created to strengthen Anglo-French power in Europe. With the expulsion of the Soviet Union, the League simply confirmed its political and moral bankruptcy. Soviet proposals for disarmament were ignored by the League. Small countries cried in vain for help from the League. Under the strict supervision of its Anglo-French masters, the League did nothing. The weakness of the League became more and more evident. If there was still any authority left, it was only because the Soviet Union was a member. She gave some lease of life to this failing institution. The League couldn’t act as the instrument of peace. The expulsion of the Soviet Union is clear proof of this.

From an article in the Soviet newspaper ‘Pravda’, 1940. [Note: The Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations following its invasion of Finland in 1939. ]

Answer both parts of the question with reference to the sources.

Question number: 3 (1 of 2 Based on Passage) Show Passage

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Essay Question▾

Describe in Detail

Compare and contrast Sources A and B as evidence of communist attitudes towards participation in the League of Nations. [Marks 15]

Explanation

Differences between A and B concerning communist participation in the League of Nations include:

  • While Source A is opposed to Soviet participation, Source B accepts it.

  • While Source A sees the League as approving preparations for [imperialist] war, Source B sees it as helping to prevent war preparations by Japan and Germany.

Similarities include:

  • Both sources see war as likely.

  • Both see the League as hiding dubious practices via camouflage [A] or deceptions [B].

  • Source A is a [public? ] speech, made by the leader of the USSR at a time when it faced few, if any threats. Stalin speaks in general and ideological terms. There are no references to specific events or countries. Source B is a magazine article written by American communists in 1934, when the USSR, the leader of the communist world, was facing direct threats on its western and eastern borders. Its language is less Generalised, less ideological. It has some specific examples. Its portrayal of the League of Nations is likely to be more reliable than that of Source A. At least, its statements can be more easily tested by reference to contextual knowledge than can Source A’s.

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