Leader: The long shadow of the First World War

As we mark the centenary of the Armistice, all that is clear is that the peace was as intractable as the war.

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In 1918, at the end of the First World War, some 17 million soldiers and civilians lay dead and 23 million were wounded, yet the ensuing peace was riddled with inconsistencies that were to have dire outcomes later in the century.

What would have happened had the voices that argued for continuing the war and taking it into Germany itself prevailed? What if John Maynard Keynes had won the day with his conviction that a pragmatic settlement imposed on Germany was the only credible outcome? And was the war really as futile as it now seems or was it a mercifully short conflict that could have been much longer and bloodier? This issue, four distinguished historians consider these questions. As we mark the centenary of the Armistice, all that is clear is that the peace was as intractable as the war.

This article appears in the 02 November 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The Great War’s long shadow