World War I, also known as The Great War (as at that point in time, the second world war had not yet been foreseen), was a war between the Allies consisting of Britain, the Russian Empire and France, with Italy, Japan, USA joining in during the war; and the Central Powers consisting of Germany and Austria-Hungary initially, with the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joining in later on.
The scope of this article is to trace how World War I did not prove to be the war to end all wars, how even after the armistice conditions in Germany grew hostile and then culminated in World War II.
When the Allies were overpowering Germany, the country found itself alone as its allies had already sued for peace. During this time, the rule of The Kaiser in Germany was weakening due to civilian protests. Under pressure, he had to give in the demand for a civilian government in Berlin. This was the first time that peace was negotiated by civilians. With Germany’s defeat, the conditions of armistice were placed before her. Some of the demands of the Allies were:
Germany must forfeit its arms, ships, military equipment, aeroplanes and submarines, thus, breaking Germany's capacity to wage a war.
Germany must withdraw from the Banks of the Rhine and consent to foreign troops being stationed on German soil, for the first time.
German navy must allow her ships to be intervened and finished and the British Royal Navy's blockade of German ports would continue.
The Germans had found these demands to be unfair; however, they could only get concessions on the number of submarines and aeroplanes to be handed over to the Allies.
In 1918, the Crown Prince of Germany announced that his father, The Kaiser, will abdicate. He also renounced his own succession and left for Holland. This was followed by an armed revolution and riots in the country, which culminated in Germany being declared a Republic.
The humiliation of 1918 and, later, the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, wherein the armistice was confirmed, led to the rise of extremist politics in the form of Nazism and Fascism in Germany and Italy respectively. The Emissaries were labelled as the “November Criminals” (the armistice took place in November 1918). Matthias Erzberger, the head of German delegation, was assassinated by nationalists.
Therefore, Germany was facing turbulent times leading to the downfall of its economy, it was blamed for the war and had to pay reparations. At this crucial point in history, Adolf Hitler assumed leadership in Nazi Germany. The peace treaty at Versailles didn't lead to peace in absolute terms; it was only the beginning of the conditions which led to World War II.
The emergence of these conditions also stands testimony to the validity of the Realist theory of international relations. According to Realists, incidents of violence in international politics are inevitable because the basic structure international relations is anarchic, which means that each of the independent sovereign states consider themselves to be their own highest authority. While, domestic politics is hierarchical with different political actors subject to supervision and subordination. Therefore, state survival becomes the core national interest.