The League of Nations Health Organisation 1921-1946
IV. The Fail
IV. THE FALL 1. War The Second World War did not break out unexpectedly. Warfare approached Ge neva and most of Europe in stages. The League watched as violence erupted in China, Ethiopia and Spain, immobilized by the inability and unwillingness of its main members to subordinate their contradictory national interests to League rules. Unfairly, eventually, the League was blamed for the failure of governments to live up to the commitments they had once made to shun warfare as a means of politics and to stand up against military aggression through concerted League measures. The developments had an ambivalent influence on the LNHO. On the one hand, being part of the League, it could not help being affected by its declining prestige. It also obviously suffered when shrinking financial contributions restricted its fi nancial basis and when Secretary General Avenol tried to salvage the League with political concessions. In January 1939, Avenol dismissed Rajchman, ostensibly for financial rea sons, but it was an open secret that his socialist sympathies, his outspoken opposi tion to the Munich accord and his activities in China made him unpalatable to vari ous governments, above all Japan, as well as to conservative Avenol himself.1 From a purely organizational point of view, Rajchman’s departure should not have been traumatic. The loss of numerous staff during the last years had been more serious for the amount of work that could be managed, and the Section had already sur vived a year without him. But removing Rajchman had...
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