Graduate Program


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Summer 2022

Thesis Director

Sace E. Elder

Thesis Committee Member

Jinhee Lee

Thesis Committee Member

Edmund F. Wehrle


The League of Nations’ effectiveness as a bureaucratic body has been hotly contested. Almost since its founding, critics of the League viewed its humanitarian and peacekeeping missions as failures. This thesis reevaluates these criticisms by studying the League’s work on behalf of refugees from Germany from the end of 1935 up through the Second World War. The thesis focuses on the activities of the League after James G. McDonald, High Commissioner for Refugees Coming from Germany, resigned in December of 1935 and during the time the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees (ICR) began its work on the issue of refugees fleeing from Nazi expansion. The thesis illustrates the limited options and complications League officials confronted while dealing with the severity of European migrations initiated by National Socialist persecution of Jews and political enemies of the Third Reich. It fills a gap in our understanding of League efforts to address the escalating problem of refugee protection. Some of the most important works of the League included its efforts to ease the difficulties faced by refugees coming from Germany, the Saar region, Austria, the Sudetenland, Poland and eventually all of Europe. This thesis shows that such works illustrate the potentials the League had when it came to encountering the question of refugees. It also argues that the League should be reassessed as an organization for refugee assistance and minority protection because it demonstrates that once the ICR emerged as an institution, the League did not halt its operations. Instead, the following thesis shows that the League’s refugee works during the war helped the ICR to contribute to what the League started doing as an organization, and that was ensuring minorities and refugees their place within the global community.

Included in

History Commons