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The Interwar Years

The Rise of Adolph Hitler

 The Interwar Years Book Cover
The InterWar Years
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The InterWar Years details the path from Versailles in 1919 to the invasion of Poland in 1939.  It considers the failings of the Treaty, the influence of communism, the rise of fascism, and the role of economics as they led to war.  It provides a detailed chronology of the path to war beginning with Hitler’s ascension to power in 1933.   It concludes with a discussion of why European democracies were unable to stop Hitler.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Overview
  3. The Poisoned Legacy of World War I
    1. The Specter of Communism
    2. A Fatally Flawed Treaty
    3. U.S. Isolation
  4. The Slowly Unfolding Crisis
    1. The Weimar Republic
    2. German Inflation
    3. The Rise of Fascism
    4. Japanese Aggression in Asia
    5. The Great Depression
    6. The Spanish Civil War
    7. The Rise of Adolph Hitler
  5. The Path to War
    1. Rearmament
    2. Invasion of the Rhineland
    3. Anschluss
    4. Sudetenland/Munich
    5. The Rest of Czechoslovakia
    6. Berlin-Moscow Non-Aggression Pact
  6. Reflections
    1. Why the Germans Embraced Hitler
    2. Why the Western Democracies Couldn’t Stop Hitler
      1. Traditional theory of appeasement
      2. Revisionist theory of appeasement
      3. Appeasement as abettment
  7. Final Word
  8. Timeline


At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, all was quiet on the Western Front.  The most bloody war in the history of the world was over.  But within only another twenty years, Europe would be back at war, with a new generation of fresh young men ready to be thrown to the slaughter.  And this next World War, the Second, would prove even more devastating than the First.  More than 50 million people would die, versus only 10 million in the First.  Economic damage would be ten times what it was in the earlier war.  Genocide would become a formal act of national policy.

What happened in these twenty brief years that led from one World War to the next?  Why did the calamity of the First World War not provide reasonable men the means to avoid the Second?  In fact, why did the events and settlement of the First World War seem to make the Second World War all but inevitable?  And was it, in fact, inevitable, or, was it a matter of choice?

This book addresses the years 1919 to 1939:  The World Between the Wars.  It explores the poisoned legacy of World War I and how that legacy laid a path directly to World War II.  It explains the major events that happened in this period and how each added fuel to what would become the fire of war.  It details the sequence of events that led to the lighting of the fire and the start of World War II. Finally, it briefly examines why Hitler was so successful in seducing Germany to its doom and why the Western democracies were so unsuccessful in resisting Hitler’s aggression.

If ever there was a society that had lost its moorings, even its sanity, it was Europe in these InterWar years.  The “Great War,” as the First had been called, had destroyed not only vast empires and centuries of accumulated wealth, it destroyed Europeans’ own belief in their judgment, their values, their institutions, and their competence to produce a shared, durable peace.  They tried to navigate these years with a kind of ad hoc-ery, imagining that the world that had been, still was.  But it wasn’t.  Because of their inability to recognize this, Europeans surrendered control of their civilization to a mad man who plunged it into the greatest horror the world has ever known.  This is that story.

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