June 28, 1919: Treaty of Versailles Signed

 

A century ago the Treaty of Versailles was signed.  It turned out to be a twenty year truce prior to the onset of World War II, but none of the signatories of course knew that at the time.  At 198 pages it is a bloated document, never a good sign.  It rambles along for 440 articles.  Go here to glance at it.  Perhaps the man who understood the implications of the Treaty of Versailles best was Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies, in 1918 in France and Italy, who thought it was too lenient on Germany.  As the treaty was being signed, he remarked:  “This is not peace. This is an armistice for twenty years.”   Foch died in 1929 at age 77, a decade before he would have learned how much of a prophet he was.

 

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The War to Give Birth to Other Wars

No one expected a renewal of war in the lifetime of the generation that had known its horror and its squalors.

Winston Churchill, The World Crisis:  Aftermath

 

 

Indy Neidell of The Great War looks at the wars that followed in the wake of World War I.  The Allied slogan of The War to End War may be forgiven as the type of puffery that states engaged in huge wars will often resort to in order to mobilize their populations.  However, the fact that so many people believed it demonstrated that a strong element of the irrational entered into the West during World War I.  Few people looking at the world in  1914 thought that humanity was on the verge of eternal peace, certainly not those at the heads of great powers.  By the end of the War many statesmen were actually thinking that  a world without war was an attainable goal.  Utopianism is always a poor basis for governmental action, and so it turned out after World War I.

Published in: on June 11, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The War to Give Birth to Other Wars  
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May 15, 1919: Big Idea

 

A century ago the Greeks occupied the port of Smyrna in Asia Minor.

 

Abandoning its neutrality, Greece had entered World War I on the side of the Allies in 1917.  Conflict between Greeks favoring neutrality, led by King Constantine, and those favoring Allied intervention led by Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos.  Eventually the forces favoring intervention won out, and King Constantine was forced to abdicate in favor of his son King Alexander.  This all turned out to be disastrous after the War as Venizelos, a Cretan by birth, was a strong proponent of the Big (Megale) Idea which proposed Greek control of the regions in Asia Minor along the Mediterranean Sea that had Greek majorities.  After the War the Greeks seized Smyrna in Asia Minor which led to the disastrous, for Greece, Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922.  The Greeks were resoundingly defeated by the Turks under Kemal Ataturk, and 1.5 million Greeks were expelled from lands in Asia Minor that they had occupied since the beginnings of Greek recorded history.  A half million Turks and Muslim Greeks were expelled from a Greece that they had lived in for almost half a millennium.

Published in: on May 15, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on May 15, 1919: Big Idea  
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