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League of Nations Union Summer School

International youth gatherings
League of Nations Building, Geneva (now United Nations Building)

League of Nations Building, Geneva (now United Nations Building)

The League of Nations Union (LNU) held an annual Summer School at Geneva for members of the junior branches of the LNU. Margaret Barratt of Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School won a free place at the 1932 Summer School, by entering ‘The Children of the Nations’ competition. She wrote about the Summer School experience in her school magazine. Over ten days the students attended 12 lectures, her favourite being ‘Co-operation for social progress’ by Duncan Hall. He explained that the illicit world drug trade had been practically exterminated. Senior LNU speakers, such as Frederick Whelen, also lectured to the students. There were optional discussion groups, which focused on three key problems of economic crisis, disarmament and international organisation. All groups concluded that public opinion must be educated. Excursions to Geneva’s ‘International City,’ as well as other places of interest, such as Chamonix, were enjoyed by the students. (1)

The last Summer School was held in 1939, just weeks before the outbreak of the Second World War. Historian and author, Jo Vellacott, attended it and later wrote that she heard ‘from speakers on all sides and earnestly discuss[ed] with idealism but little optimism what yet might be done.’ Afterwards she went on a week’s walking holiday in France and barely made it home before war broke out. (2)

References/Further Reading:

(1) Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Magazine, Spring Term, 1933. Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School Archive.
(2) J. Vellacott, 2007. Pacifists, Patriots and the Vote, p.176. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.