New Connections for an Old Continent: Rail, Road and Electricity in the League of Nations’ Organisation for Communications and Transit

Frank Schipper, Vincent Lagendijk, Irene Anastasiadou

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


During the second world war, former league of nations official john e. Wheeler contemplated what international organizations would look like after the war’s end. At that time he was authoring a study for the prestigious london-based royal institute of international affairs on pre-first world war and interwar organizations with a strong focus on infrastructures.1 wheeler argued that ‘there is no official european body whose field of activity extends to all branches of transport and communications, but the league of nations transit organisation, […], has concerned itself very largely with europe’.2 the ‘transit organisation’ to which wheeler referred was the organisation for communications and transit (oct), a body not originally founded with a european scope, but as part of the universal league of nations (1919).3 wheeler’s suggestion that the oct might have been an effective body in dealing with european affairs raises two important and, as we will argue, closely related issues about the league of nations: its ‘european’ focus and its overall success (or rather failure) as an organization. Both these issues are central to the way in which historical scholarship has framed the league up to now. By taking the oct’s activities in the field of infrastructure as central rather than peripheral aspects of the league’s method and mission, we look here to revise these narratives. In so doing, we point to the ways in which technology, and in particular technological expertise, formed a central plank in efforts to integrate and unify europe before the second world war.keywordsroad traffictechnical committeerailway networkpeace treatyinternational regimethese keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEurope Materializing? Transnational Infrastructures and the Project of Europe
EditorsAlexander Badenoch, Andreas Fickers
Place of PublicationHoundsmills
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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