Chapter 25 Growing Aggression and World War II

In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles formally ended World War I. The agreement, however, left many questions unresolved. Upon hearing of its signing, France’s Marshal Ferdinand Foch prophetically warned: “This is not Peace. It is an Armistice for twenty years.” [i] In 1939, world war again erupted. Its roots reached back to Versailles. Britain’s Winston Churchill attributed the second war’s outbreak to mistakes made by the victors following World War I.  

“The crimes of the vanquished find their background and their explanation, though not, of course, their pardon, in the follies of the victors. Without these follies crime would have found neither temptation nor opportunity.” [ii]

The victorious Western democracies of World War I had demanded from a defeated Germany politically humiliating and economically ruinous terms, which they ultimately proved either unable or unwilling to enforce. New sources of conflict emerged with the peace settlement’s creation of new states in Eastern Europe. The peace left two Allied powers, Italy and Japan, dissatisfied. World War II followed twenty years later. It would prove even greater in scope and devastation than World War I.