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The Great War
Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Timeline Maps & Battles The Shaping of the 21st Century Historians
Historians OverviewSir Michael Howard

Unfinished Business at War's End
Sir Michael Howard
"All wars are tragedies, and, arguably, the Great War was one of the greatest tragedies of all of them because it was so inconclusive.

"It did achieve certain things. It did, so far as Britain was concerned, like the Napoleonic wars, it insured that we did preserve our independence and for awhile, preserve our empire. So far as the French were concerned, it meant that the Germans did not overrun them and they preserved that independence also. In Eastern Europe, it did lead to the creation of nation states, and by and large, I think, the destruction of the old empires.

"The tragedy of the war was that it left so much unfinished business.

"It did not settle the balance of power in Europe. The Germans were still potentially the most powerful state in Europe, and once they had recovered their morale, once they had got industries going again, once they had rebuilt their armies – Hitler or no Hitler – they would have wanted to reverse the judgment which they regarded as a totally unfair one; and above all, restore their frontiers in Eastern Europe which they felt had been taken away quite unjustly.

"So their unfinished business was still there, which made the First World War not simply a tragedy in the sense that all wars are because of the suffering that they impose, but a fruitless and a pointless one because the major issue of the war, which was the position of Germany in Europe, had not yet been settled, and another war had to be fought to settle it."

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