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A Twenty Year Armistice

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Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the Allies’ Commander-in-Chief of World War I, once said upon the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, “This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years” (Churchill 7). Looking back on history, one realizes the validity of Foch’s statement. Approximately twenty years after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, another monstrous war overtook Europe. That war, World War II, appeared to have its origins in unresolved disputes from the first war. This raises the question of whether or not the treaty and the war have a strong connection, as Foch predicted they would. While historians do not all agree on the matter, a slight majority argues that the Treaty of Versailles had a pronounced impact on bringing about the war. The treaty enacted unnecessarily rigorous punishments on Germany that greatly angered its citizens to desire retribution. Those injustices provided the perfect arena for the National Socialists, or Nazis, to rise to power in Germany, and inevitably started World War II.
The process of drafting the Treaty of Versailles had questionable methods which aid in explaining some of the problems it caused. On November 11, 1918, Matthias Erzberger, the Secretary of State for Germany, agreed to an armistice with the Allied Powers to bring an end to World War I (Buchanan 70). Germany signed the cease-fire under the belief that the terms of the peace they agreed to would look similar to then-US President Wilson’s proposed fourteen points (Buchanan 107). Wilson’s plan for the treaty encouraged Europe to abandon the grievances the war brought and did not harshly punish Germany as the defeated nation (Stevenson 194). This agreeable answer on how to handle Europe did not last long; in fact, the Allie...

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