The Vanuished Why the First World War Failed to End 1917

The Vanuished Why the First World War Failed to End 1917 1923 A Times Literary Supplement Best Book of 2016An epic groundbreaking account of the ethnic and state violence that followed the end of World War I conflicts that would shape the course of the twentieth centuryFor the Western Allies November 11 1918 has always been a solemn date the end of fighting that had destroyed a generation but also a vindication of a terrible sacrifice with the total collapse of the principal enemies the German Empire Austria Hungary and the Ottoman Empire But for much of the rest of Europe this was a day with no meaning as a continuing nightmarish series of conflicts engulfed country after countryIn The Vanuished a highly original and gripping work of history Robert Gerwarth asks us to think again about the true legacy of the First World War In large part it was not the fighting on the Western Front that proved so ruinous to Europe's future but the devastating aftermath as countries on both sides of the original conflict were savaged by revolutions pogroms mass expulsions and further major military clashes In the years immediately after the armistice millions would die across central eastern and southeastern Europe before the Soviet Union and a series of rickety and exhausted small new states would come into being It was here in the ruins of Europe that extreme ideologies such as fascism would take shape and ultimately emerge triumphantAs absorbing in its drama as it is unsettling in its analysis The Vanuished is destined to transform our understanding of not just the First World War but the twentieth century as a whole


10 thoughts on “The Vanuished Why the First World War Failed to End 1917 1923

  1. Nigeyb Nigeyb says:

    Having finished this exceptional book I now realise that my rather lazy and Anglo centric view of the period following WW1 as a relatively peaceful era was completely wide of the mark Robert Gerwarth brilliantly describes how for many countries and regions the Armistice on 11 November 1918 was just the start of five years of violence and upheavalFour empires broke up in the aftermath of WW1 Austria Hungary Germany tsarist Russia and the Ottoman empire 'The Vanuished Why the First World War Failed to End' is a fast paced fluent and authoritative analysis of the turmoil in the territories of the four shattered empires as well as in Greece and Italy Civil wars overlapped with revolutions counter revolutions and border conflicts between emerging states many sowing the seeds for WW2 This turmoil was freuently characterised by extreme violence and political disorder with racial and religious minorities often suffering than most 'The Vanuished Why the First World War Failed to End' makes a convincing and compelling argument that “the story of Europe in the years between 1917 and 1923 is crucial for understanding the cycles of violence that characterised the continent’s 20th century” 45


  2. Mikey B. Mikey B. says:

    Page 169 my book Joseph P Roth “Nationalism is the new religion”This book demonstrates convincingly how November 111918 was not the end of war – particularly in Germany and Eastern and Central Europe And the nature of war changed – it became ethnic based With the dissolution of the Austro Hungarian Empire at war’s end into several nation states there was a violent nationalistic struggle This was also encouraged by Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points which inspired the formation of new nations particularly Point #10 The people of Austria Hungary should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development Victimhood too became a significant theme in all the defeated Central Powers – Germany Hungary Bulgaria and Austria Italy too felt victimized; Italy was not rewarded territories that the Allies had earlier promised for aligning with them The extreme violence and upheavals of the Russian Revolution made all the new nations tremble with fear of the spread of Bolshevism To counter potential Bolshevik threats many countries became right wing dictatorships like Poland Italy and Hungary Of these perceived threats scapegoats were the Jews – this would culminate in the HolocaustPage 122 23 Germany Freikorps The paramilitary groups were bastions of soldierly camaraderie and “order” in what the activist perceived as a hostile world of democratic egalitarianism and communist internationalism They perceived themselves as the nucleus of a “new society” of warriors representing both the eternal values of the nation and new authoritarian concepts for a state in which the nation could thrivePage 254 Entire countries in Central and Eastern Europe were to be purged of those deemed racially or politically undesirable The distinction between civilians and combatants already blurred during the First World War completely vanished during 1918 – 1923This book traces the origins of the Second World War to the nationethnic cleansing that took place from 1917 to 1923 After there was a brief respite – then it started all over again as the democracies lost ground and courage – and the dictatorships built up their powerNote that this book has 267 pages of actual text with many pages devoted to footnotes and bibliography The maps were inadeuate cities and regions mentioned were not on the maps I used google map


  3. Geevee Geevee says:

    The war to end all wars as the Great War later the First World WarWorld War One was contemporarily described and indeed thought of; but as we know today with civil wars Spain and imperial uests Abyssinia Second Sino Japanese war in the 1930s the Second World War the Middle East the Korean War the end of Empires Dutch British French etc and many others stretching to the current day the list of wars conflicts and revolts is long and terribly costly in lives We now know that the 1914 18 war ushered in considerable change of not just Europe's boundaries but also those in the nearmiddle East and further afield changes to monarchies and political systems; legal treaty arrangements and importantly alongside these changes in people's aspirations aims and the approaches to achieve or stymie these Many who read the 1914 1919 to Versailles period and indeed prior appreciate the complexity of the period's politics and monarchies technical and social changes and how these influenced the war its aims alliances strategies tactics and outcomes that led to WWII Those who read WWII also have this baseline of how we get to Poland in 1939 and indeed beyond with ramifications still to be seen and felt from both wars even into 2019At a top level it is understood and well known that the large old empires such as Romanov Hapsburg Ottoman and Wilhelminian died in or by 1919 What perhaps readers of the period and certainly myself here don't uite appreciate is the detail and multitudinous level of conflict of the post war period from 1917 Russian revolution as well as worries such as the French mutiny to the years into 1923 where civil wars surge anarchy rises and those aforementioned empires flail and crash leading to even turmoil death murder as well in battle and destruction Alongside Versailles and other end of wat treaties new models of politics rise and fall and rise again adapting to or taking advantage of circumstances where they settle scores and seek to meet objectives; negotiated or not; treated or not Simply put the guns never fell silent on 11th November 1918 of if they did in some areas they continued or started afresh in many othersProfessor Gerwarth has weaved these complexities of nations especially the vanuished peoples ethnicities aims objectives and politics together in such an informative read that leaves the reader in no doubt that his subtitle to The Vanuished of Why The First World War Failed To End is case provenWhere the author excels is his ability to clearly show the key points and players with clarity whilst linking and weaving events from other nations or areas to the current narrative I never lost track or sight of national events nor the events surrounding these both locally and wider The Russian civil war Poland Turkey Italy and of course Germany are well covered but that is not to say that other defeated nations are not The complexity of the Balkans and southern Europe the old Ottoman Empire and the middle East are all given time and page space In fact so lucid and dare I say enjoyable I appreciate a difficult word to use when one is reading of people being killed is this book that I would happily have seen it extended by 300 pages just to get even detail on Bulgaria Hungary Romania Greece Armenia Yugoslavia the SlavCzech nationsThe book benefits from some 90 pages of notes and a solid possibly near exhaustive bibliographysources listing The photos in my copy that was a Penguin paperback from 2017 had some fine black and white photos and clear and very welcome mapsAll in all a fine read that shows Professor Gerwarth's skill and knowledge as a writer of this period As he says in his final sentences in his Epilogue It is not without grim historical irony that the centenary of the Great War was accompanied by civil war in Syria and Ira revolution in Egypt and violent clashes between Jews and Arabs over the Palestinian uestion as if to offer proof that at least some of the issues raised but not solved by the Great War and its immediate aftermath are still with us today


  4. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    This book is way too short to contain the vast and furious events it tries to explain In 1917 18 four empires collapsed German Russian Habsburg Ottoman and dozens of new countries were born or imposed from above; the Bolshevik revolution in Russia drove everyone completely crazy with the notion that either you were a Red and you wanted to exterminate all the capitalist exploiters who had just caused the misery of four years of war or you wanted to kill all the dangerous Reds before they hung you and your children from a lamp post; so that great paranoid battle was raging across all of Europe at the precise time that everyone was trying to create these newfangled nation states Because after you have lived in a huge multicultural empire like Austro Hungary and then you are allowed to inaugurate your new nation state what is it that you will be thinking about? Making your new state ethnically pure of course Expelling from your ancestral lands the scurvy foreigners you have had to put up with for so many generations that’s what So here was a rich recipe for chaos indeed – left right civil wars mixed with land seizures by freebooting militias with a taste for ethnic cleansing All done under the benign gaze of Woodrow Wilson president of the USA who believed that liberal democracy could replace despotic empire as easily as a man could swap a top hat for a bowler A FEW FLAVOURSOME UOTESMunich 1919 As the army and Freikorps troops moved into the city than 600 people were killed during the fighting many of them civilian bystanders Summary executions of prisoners continued53 Russians who had served in the Red Army were tortured and shot in Pasing an outskirt of MunichHungary 1919 A Red News article said “Before they stifle the revolution suffocate them in their own blood” Political violence in the second half of 1919 and the early 1920s took the lives of up to 5000 people Ruhr Valley Germany 1920The army leadership had no reservation about opening fire on striking workers In the event some 1000 “Red Army” insurgents were killed before the March Rising was finally put down by government troopsSofia 1925An underground group of communist activists detonated a bomb on 16 April 1925 in the roof of Sveta Nedelya Cathdral during a public funeral service for General Konstantin Georgiev who had been assassinated by communists a few days earlier The explosion led to the collapse of the cathedral’s roof killing over 130 mourner including many senior army officer and politiciansNow you can see that this book is 446 pages long in paperback so that seems adeuate surely? But no – a whole 178 pages are taken up with end notes and the index so this book is a mere 267 pages long and that’s why I say it is too short So many revolutions counter revolutions coups purges riots strikes assassinations – they all begin to blur together Professor Gerwarth brings the gruesome whirligig to a halt in the year 1923 and tells us that relative peace descended upon Europe finally It lasted for a whole six years In 1929 the effects of the Wall Street crash swept over Europe bringing massive economic destabilisation leading to another round of extreme politics the abandonment of democracy and the coming of the jackboot with World War Two and the Holocaust a few years down the lineThis history I think explains why many Europeans of today hold so dearly to the idea of the European Union


  5. Margaret Sankey Margaret Sankey says:

    Covering much of the same ground as Watt's The Kings Depart Gerwarth looks at WWI and its aftermath as a case of the war weakening the containment and direction states had used on simmering violent tendencies by sending their young men into uniform playing groups off against one another uniting them around a ruler or religion winding them up for pogroms against minorities etc and unleashing a storm of people who engaged in acts of annihilation against economic religious or ethnic enemies While treaties might have ended conflict between states the riots purges coups and genocides spilling across flimsy and often newly minted boundaries didn't stop in 1919 seeding ambitions of treaty revisions personal vengeance including the stat that people who lost property in post WWI redrawings or seizures were SIX times represented in Holocaust perpetrators gender hatreds there's a lot work to be done on German loathing for Latvian Bolshevik women snipers and Nazi female enshrinement and reversals of minority majority populations Richly sourced and pan Eurasian in scope although with endnotes which makes me itch this also has a 17 page introduction which is a perfect encapsulation of WWI through a constructivist lens


  6. Ashley Stokes Ashley Stokes says:

    A fascinating book that explores how the strife experienced by the defeated and other combatant nations of world war one seeded the expansively genocidal second war The opening chapter which begins with the expulsion of Greeks from Smyrna in 1923 and the uite horrific murder of the Orthodox archbishop by a Turkish mob sets out the line of the thesis clearly that the varied civil wars revolutions counter revolutions ethnic conflicts and border disputes that visited Russia Germany Turkey Italy and the Hapsburg successor states marked a distinct change in the way some European societies saw themselves and others and how war was perceived and conducted The 1919 1923 period is essentially a precursor to 1939 1945 The first throb of Barbarossa starts here What follows in the book are a series of potted histories of the course of various conflicts For the uninitiated these will serve as a useful primer especially for those used to seeing world war one through an Allied filter For the non layman it's debatable whether Gerwarth adds anything new to the better documented histories say Weimar insurrections or the Russian Civil War However Gerwarth does shine his light in some unusual places like Hungary and Bulgaria and an emphasis on Turkey and the example Ataturk provided for western fascists is welcome Overall it's a pretty good book to recommend to anyone who needs reminding of what can happen when multiculturalism is trumped by rampant nationalism and catastrophist notions of the enemy within the enemy other who lives just down the road


  7. Liviu Liviu says:

    interesting take on the defeated nations of WW1 Russia Germany Austria and Hungary Turkey Bulgaria but uneven as it is of a short summary than a detailed analysis and the book has probably 13 of the number of pages in references the actual text is about 200 pages or soAbsorbing most of the time but needed detail to be really good


  8. Tariq Mahmood Tariq Mahmood says:

    The book is a historical masterpiece covers the history just after the end of the First Great War detailing all the travails of the new republics and nations which came into existence after the demise of the great Landed empires Romonovs German Riche Habsburg and the Ottomans of the 19th century The fall of these mighty empires resulted in a great chaos and rude political awakening for millions of its subjects who suddenly found themselves confronting a variety of hitherto unknown and untested political ideologies which led to civil war in some places and putsch in others Some of the new nations went into a revivalist spiral of vengeful hate against their conuerors which resulted in the Second Great War of 1940 The growth of right wing fascism makes completes sense to me now after reading about the whole context of the aftermath of the First Great War It's a fascinating read for any fan of history


  9. Stefania Dzhanamova Stefania Dzhanamova says:

    Highly enjoyable readRobert Gerwath presents an engaging in depth account of the violence that followed the Armistice of 1918 The author traces the aftermath of WWI in the territories of the four broken empires as well as in Greece and Italy The post war conflicts had been often dismissed by contemporary observers as “wars of the pygmies” a condescending term maintaining the misconception that Eastern Europe was innately violent and not worth the attention of the “inherently peaceful West” However the conflicts after 1917 18 had a logic and purpose much dangerous Unlike WWI which was fought to force the enemy to accept certain conditions of peace the post war violence was uite ungovernable; this conflicts were fought for annihilation – a genocidal logic which would prevail later in 1939 1945 The sanguinary Russian Revolution a striking example of class cleansing which resulted in the universal fear of widespread Bolshevism led to dictatorships as a defensive measure in some countries In his book Gerwath analyzes the effect of changing Europe on the sentiments of the people Soldiers that returned from the front suddenly found themselves in a hostile unfamiliar world torn by civil wars and ethnic genocide and their desire to return to the front only intensified thus carving the path for another war Robert Gerwath has masterfully connected all the pieces of his narrative; “The Vanuished” is a high paced compelling although rather short read I especially enjoyed that author had examined the “less popular” belligerents like Bulgaria and Greece “The Vanuished” is a brilliantly written insightful account of the Great War’s aftermath its longterm effects and the reasons behind the prolonged violence that followed the Treaty of Versailles


  10. Colleen Browne Colleen Browne says:

    This thoroughly researched book covers the time between the end of WWI and 1923 ish This time period is often overlooked so it is a great addition to the research I highly recommend


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