Prelude to War, 1919-1939

In the eleventh month, on the eleventh day, at the eleventh hour in 1918, the world powers brought an end to one of the most violent conflicts in the history of civilization. The Great War, involving most of Europe, Britain and its allies, Russia, Japan, the United States, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and others, saw the slaughter of more than 16 million people – military and civilian, the upheaval of empires, the transformation of borders, the political and economic destabilization of Europe, and contributed to a financial instability that caused worldwide economic collapse a decade later. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, 1914-1918.

It was called the Great War and “the war to end all wars.” As we know now, it was not the war to end all wars. The Treaty of Versailles which held Germany and its allies financially responsible for damages laid the groundwork for the global war to come.  In the twenty year period that followed the Armistice, the world witnessed increasing turmoil in Europe and elsewhere, the rise of Fascism, Communism, and Nazi Germany, the collapse of the financial system and the Great Depression. The interwar period ended in September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland and the start of World War II. It is undeniably a fascinating period of history.

Dr. Gary Hylander examines the years between the wars – the events, personalities and issues that led to World War II – in a series of three lectures, Prelude to War, 1919-1939, at the Raynham Public Library beginning Sunday, October 21, at 2:00. Central to the presentation will be the results of the Paris Peace Conference, the rise of Nazism in Germany, Mussolini’s fascist Italy and the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and China in the 1930s. The subsequent lectures will be on Sunday, November 18 and Sunday, December 16, at the library. These are free public events, but we ask that you reserve a space. Reservations can be made by calling the library at 508.823.1344 or online in the Events Calendar at

For reading on this subject, we recommend The Deluge: the Great War and the Remaking of Global Order, 1916-1931, by Adam Tooze, The Long Shadow, the Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century, by David Reynolds, The Time Between the Wars: Armistice to Pearl Harbor, by Jonathan Daniels, and To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914-1949, by Ian Kershaw.

Posted in Readers, Services

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