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By Mike Westrop

"No.10 Squadron of England's Royal Naval Air carrier used to be shaped at St. Pol, a suburb of Dunkerque, in February 1917, as a part of the fast naval aviation growth programme required by means of the Royal Naval Air Service's dedication to aid the Royal Flying Cor"

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Not surprisingly, it was with the publication of the Peace Treaty that the debate on the origins of the First World War began in earnest. The German ‘innocence campaign’ Essentially German historians studied the outbreak of war in order to absolve their country from guilt; the French and British – at first anyway – in order to justify the peace terms. W. Evans and H. qxd 46 8/2/02 1:28 pm Page 46 The question of war guilt during the War Of the Treaty’s many unpopular components, none proved more controversial in Germany than the famous ‘war guilt clause’, Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles.

Germany’s territorial losses amounted to one-seventh of the Reich’s prewar territory, and one-tenth of its population, in addition to its colonial possessions. 56 This ‘victor’s peace’ was difficult to accept, but reparations and the war guilt allegation made the Treaty even harder to endure. Such a Diktat was irreconcilable with German national pride. As Marshall Lee and Wolfgang Michalka point out, opposition to the peace treaty in Germany helped prolong the animosities between the former enemies: At virtually every political level, Germans considered the treaty a searing wound to their national pride and a deep affront to the German character.

What is more, Germans did not really ‘feel’ defeated. Since August 1914, they had been led to believe that peace would come in the shape of German victory. Little news of defeats and setbacks on the various fronts had ever reached them during the war. Germany had even defeated Russia, and in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918 had imposed harsh peace conditions on the enemy. It had come close to winning the war in the spring and summer of 1918, or so the official propaganda had made the German people believe.

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