The peace settlements made at the end of the First World War are often blamed for creating the conditions which sent nations such as Germany and Japan down the road towards dictatorship and led Europe and the world towards the Second World War. The lecture will ask whether the accepted view, that what happened in Paris in 1919 doomed the world to another war is a fair one. It will examine the difficulties of making peace at the end of great wars and the particular challenges before the leaders who met in Paris in 1919. It will look at controversies such as the one over the German peace but also point to achievements such as the League of Nations. Finally, the lecture will also suggest ways we might learn from the past as we face a turbulent and uncertain present.
Lecture given as part of The National WWI Museum and Memorial's 2019 Symposium '1919: Peace?'