The summer of 1919 is mostly remembered for just one thing: the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty, which took place in late June of that year. One might be tempted, therefore, to call the summer of 1919 the “Summer of Peace” – but the truth is that it was anything but. World War One did not end in universal peace, but in something that looked very much like its opposite: the tensions within many of the warring nations, fed by but also kept largely at bay during the years of the global conflict, finally erupted.
In the summer of 1919, there was revolution and civil war in Germany, Russia, Hungary and the Baltic States, and unrest in many other countries – ranging from the general strike in Canada to the start of the May Fourth Movement in China. (Both Hitler and Mussolini made their first appearances, too.) The USA saw the worst race riots in its history, and anarchists staged a bombing campaign aimed at leading politicians. Other conflicts that started during that remarkable summer, including, for example, the Turkish War of Independence, were triggered by the very terms of the Treaty of Versailles.Summer of Peacewon’t be just a catalogue of the woes of peace, however, but an intricate tapestry that will weave together the run-up to the signing of the Peace Treaty and the strange weather that seemed to haunt Europe for months; the first transatlantic flight and the important gains made in the struggle for women’s suffrage; the solar eclipse in late May, which proved once and for all that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was correct; and the introduction of jazz in Great Britain and the creation of the Bauhaus school in Germany.
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