This is a review of “The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End” by Robert Gerwarth, in the New York Times Books section. The book examines a prevailing historical sentiment, which is that the First World War never really ended, but instead merely gave way to a period of relative calm before conflict began again, in the form of World War Two.
- A significant minority of Europeans welcomed violence as ennobling, and as a way to degrade their enemies while creating new types of societies.
- The standard view of the 1920 s has been that they were merely the brief pause before the 1930 s and the inevitable slide into a second world war.
- hopeful moment came to an abrupt end with the Great Depression, which destroyed the faith of millions in capitalism and democracy and made the alternatives of Communism and fascism seem attractive.
“This war is not the end but the beginning of violence, the German war hero Ernst Junker wrote in 1928. And many of his contemporaries, including Junker himself, did not shrink from that. A significant minority of Europeans welcomed violence as ennobling, and as a way to degrade their enemies while creating new types of societies.”