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September 13, 2009

The real lesson of Versailles

David Warren cites Rudyard Kipling, waxes war-mongerish.

That poem begins (and is entitled) For All We Have and Are. It was quite frankly a call to arms, such that the line immediately preceding the passage I quoted reads: “The Hun is at the gate.” It tells Englishmen they are now at war, that they must stand and fight, and that even if everything dear to them is lost, the old Commandments stand. “In courage keep your heart, / In strength lift up your hand.”

So far so “war-mongering,” and I am perfectly aware that far fewer of my own contemporaries have the stomach for this kind of instruction, than had Kipling’s. Part of the reason is our taught memory of that First World War. It has been presented in our schoolbooks as a great waste of lives.

It was not, says Warren. RTWT for the real lesson of Versailles and precisely what made the Hitler phenomenon possible in Germany.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 13, 2009 07:28 AM


It was indeed a great waste of lives, but not every means of preventing such things are equal.

Posted by: Varenius [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2009 01:58 PM

I have often questioned, however, the logic of making a sharp distinction between Prussian militarism and British empire-building. The back-projection of WWII onto the war distorts the fact that it was simply another power-struggle between European empires. Yes, I'd rather be ruled by the British if forced to choose between them, but I'd most prefer being free of both.

Posted by: Varenius [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2009 02:37 PM