From hope ... to hope : story of the Australian League of Nations union, featuring the Victorian Branch, 1921-1945

Summy, Hilary (2007). From hope ... to hope : story of the Australian League of Nations union, featuring the Victorian Branch, 1921-1945 PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Summy, Hilary
Thesis Title From hope ... to hope : story of the Australian League of Nations union, featuring the Victorian Branch, 1921-1945
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Bonnell, A. G.
Total pages 312
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Subjects L
430101 History - Australian
Formatted abstract

This thesis is a study of the League of Nations Union movement in Australia from 1921 to 1945, with particular emphasis on the Victorian branch. The League of Nations Union (LNU) was first formed in Britain by liberal peace advocates in 1918 to promote the creation of a world organisation for the securing and maintenance of world peace. After the formation of the League of Nations at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the LNU's goal was to mobilise support for the new world organisation and to pressure government leaders to uphold the principles embodied in the Covenant. The movement spread to the Dominions, as well as a number of other allied nations, and LNUs were established in each of the Australian capital cities. 

The LNU movement in Australia has been a neglected area of research. This thesis argues that the LNU played an important and unrecognised role in the peace movement throughout the interwar period and World War II. The LNU was unique in that its leadership comprised intellectuals who were a part of the establishment, unlike the traditional peace bodies that were grassroots based. As a 'respectable' organisation, it had the backing of the Government at various times. While it remained an elite-led organisation, it gradually gained broader grassroots participation at the height of its influence, at the same time losing favour with a Government that no longer championed the League. Towards the end of its life, the LNU once again found favour with a new Labor Government that supported its liberal international perspective on world politics. The LNU, it is contended, contributed to the Labor Party's conception of a radically new post-war international order. 

Themes in the thesis are presented in a framework of an evolution of hope, agony and despair, with a return to hope, to convey the mood swings that League of Nations supporters experienced over this turbulent quarter century. The 1920s were generally a time of optimism and hope that future war would become obsolete, or at least more difficult to wage, due to the League and other initiatives. Hope began to fade during the 1930s as the League suffered some major setbacks and conditions threatening world peace became increasingly apparent. A mood of anguish turned into one of despair by the end of the 1930s as governments around the world ignored a League that was deemed to have failed. Ultimately there seemed no alternative but a war to defeat forces more evil than war itself During the war years, the Victorian LNU gradually returned to a mood of hope as a committed core group planned for post-war reconstruction and a new, more improved world organisation. In 1945 the LNU changed its name to the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) to coincide with the new world body.

Keyword League of Nations -- Australia
Additional Notes

Variant title: Australian League of Nations union 1921-1945

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Created: Fri, 23 May 2008, 15:05:09 EST by Ms Emma Pursey on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry