Teacher's Guide: Lost Peace

After the horror of World War I, a widespread antiwar mood prevails, inspiring the formation of the League of Nations to resolve conflicts between countries and thus prevent war. The League's efforts do not satisfy every nation and bitterness grows into nationalism, fascism, militarism -- and eventually World War II.

Unit Themes and Topics:
antiwar movements
human rights
isolationism and interventionism
self-determination and nationalism
Treaty of Versailles

Connections Across History
connection: when: where: program:
World War I 1914-1918 France, Germany Great Britain "Killing Fields"
Nazi Germany 1926-1945 Germany "Master Race"
World War II 1939-1945 France, Germany Great Britain, Italy "Total War"

Walter Hare
(World War I infantryman, Great Britain)

"When I saw there was another war, I felt pretty down. I thought . . . 'It's not fair that I did my bit, and now my son's going to have to do what we failed to do.'"
photographic portrait of Walter Hare


Before Watching

1. What does Walter Hare's quotation suggest about World War I and World War II? What does it imply about how soldiers and ordinary citizens may have viewed World War I?

2. Divide the class into four groups. As students watch the program, have each group follow one of these speakers: McKinley Wooden, Marcel Batreau, Walter Hare, and Karl Nagerl.

After Watching

1. How did each of the four speakers react to the end of World War I? What hopes and fears did they share? How did similar hopes and fears influence international efforts to forge a permanent peace and put an end to war?

2. How did Batreau and Hare respond to problems in Germany after the war? Compare their attitudes to Nagerl's attitude. How did the actions of France, Great Britain, and Germany each contribute to the start of World War II?


As a class, create a timeline of the steps that led from World War I to World War II. Then ask students to identify how each event could have had a different outcome and discuss whether a different outcome might have helped to prevent World War II. Ask students to write a brief response to the question, "Was World War II inevitable?"

Ask students to hold a mock town meeting, circa 1920, in which they debate the issue of whether or not America should adopt an isolationist or an interventionist policy. Have them take on the roles of various citizens (e.g., farmer, banker, secretary, laborer). What viewpoint do they favor and why? Now ask students to hold a second meeting, circa 1945. How have their opinions changed? How might their opinions change if the meeting were held today?

FOCUS: The Failure of Pacifism

The following lesson focuses on a program segment about efforts to promote disarmament and peaceful negotiation after World War I. Pacifists, veterans, and politicians discuss their hopes, their lives between the wars, and the events and attitudes that influenced rearmament and World War II

Program Segment
approximately 13 minutes

All Quiet on the Western Front movie clip

George Watt decides to fight in Spain.


Before Watching

1. How would you define the term pacifism? What goals or images do you associate with it? Why might pacifism have been popular following World War I?

2. As students watch the program segment, have them write down George Watt's pacifist views.

After Watching

1. At the end of World War I, how did people try to prevent future wars? What were their successes and failures?

2. How did Watt's views on pacifism change over time and why? Why did he believe that what was at stake in fighting Mussolini was "the entire future of all humanity"?

3. Why do you think wars happen? Do you agree with how the soldiers in All Quiet on the Western Front explained the causes of war? In your opinion, can pacifism, disarmament, and peaceful negotiation prevent wars from ever happening again?


Ask students to write a letter advising a young person who is considering enlisting in a military conflict. Conflicts could include World War II, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, or the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. The letters should reflect students' personal beliefs about justifications for war, patriotism, and duty, as well as their views on the specific conflict.

Have students prepare case studies on efforts to prevent war through pacifism, disarmament, collective security, and negotiation. Efforts could include the antiwar movement during the Vietnam War; the nuclear disarmament movement; the United Nations or United States peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Ethiopia, Haiti, or Rwanda; or the negotiation of peace settlements in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, or South Africa. Ask students to include the following information in their case studies: the underlying conflict, how participants sought to resolve it, how the United States public responded to the efforts to prevent war, and the results of those efforts.

Program Summary

November 11, 1918 - World War I ends.

Use the following information to assist in finding specific segments within the program. The times listed on the left indicate minutes into the program.

03:00Effects of the war are evident all over Europe. Everyone believes this to be the end of war.

06:00Woodrow Wilson is seen as bringing new age of peace to the world at the Paris Peace Conference.

08:00Treaty of Versailles: Britain and France seek revenge against Germany, undermining the Treaty. The US fails to join the League of Nations. Most nations are eager to leave the war behind and pay little attention to the underlying problems of the Treaty. Few heed Wilson's warning of another war to come.

13:00The effects of the Treaty: Austro-Hungarian Empire is destroyed; new nations are created, including Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.

16:00League of Nations meets for first time at Geneva in 1920. Many Europeans expectant and hopeful of "new order", but US, Russia, and Germany fail to attend. Global disarmament set as a priority by public.

19:30The Treaty and the Depression hits Germany hard. Gemany sees little pity from France and Britain, who are still trying to forget the war.

23:0010 years after war ends, pacifism and anti-war movements grow. Literature and movies reflect the anti-war sentiment of public, but disarmament treaties are still absent.

28:00Hitler comes to power in Germany, playing on German anger, the effects of the Depression, and resentment from the Treaty of Versailles.

30:00Effectiveness of the League of Nations is in question after Italy's invasion of Ethiopia. Arms production renews in Europe.

33:00US pursues isolationism and pacifist movements grow.

36:00Growth of Fascism in Europe suddenly evident in Spain. Pacifists torn between peace and fighting Fascism in Europe.

38:00Germany begins string of annexations, starting with Austria. Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia and then the whole of Czechoslovakia fall to Germany, as Britain and France are unwilling to confront Hitler and risk the current peace. The Czechs, betting on British and French assistance, feel betrayed.

46:00The gains of the Treaty of Versailles are now totally lost. Czechoslovakia no longer exists and Europe is engaged in a new arms race. Germany's unchecked aggression soon targets Poland. War has begun again.

49:00US declares intentions to remain out of war.

50:00Europe prepares for new war. Veterans from the first war see their sons drafted, or are sent back to war themselves.

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