The March Toward War: The March of Time as Document and Propaganda
Introduction The Time Empire MOT as Document Marching into War Voice of Conscience Timeline/Index
The Shadow of War
Germany's Rising Power
The World Prepares for War
America Prepares for War
American Neutrality
Failure of the League
Failure of Versailles
England's Failures
Ambiguous Russia
Plight of the Jews
Humanizing Dictators
Americans All
War Zones
Italy Seizes Ethiopia
Japanese Conquests
Chinese Resistance
Spain's Civil War
The Mediterranean
Pearl Harbor
 World War I graves

Failure of the League

May 14, 1936: Where Now Is Our Victory? Play audio

Edmund Viscount Allenby, the first Viscount Allenby of Megiddo and the "second Christian conqueror of Jerusalem," dies at 75. Two weeks ago he looked back at his life and upon wars and "rumors of wars." Allenby's re-enactor says in a shuddery voice that all of the best minds are working on devising new means of death and destruction. "Is this the sole conclusion of the war which was to end all wars? Where now is our victory? And where is the glory of our conquests? The gains of that war are the fruits of a dead sea and their legacy is a cup of bitter memories."

March 31, 1938: LOST CHANCES WITH COLONEL HOUSE Play audio

The death of Colonel House, the personal emissary of President Woodrow Wilson, afforded The March of Time a chance to look back at the Versailles Treaty and conclude that it was so harsh it may have fueled the current crisis. Furthermore, if the Europeans had listened to the more reasonable Americans, the clip suggests, the crisis might not have happened at all. The show flashes back to June 1, 1914 in Potsdam, Germany. Colonel House is meeting with the Kaiser. Europe is divided into two armed camps, prepared and waiting for war—to the east, Russia, to the west, France. "Your majesty, the key to the peace of Europe is not in Russia or in France, but in England," said House. If England and the United States stood together, the world would have lasting peace, he contends, adding that he will talk to England about it. Kaiser Wilhelm responds that in the past six months matters have gone far, "perhaps too far." He tells House he may assure Wilson he wants peace. The Voice of Time brings listeners back to the present as the older Kaiser notes that the talk "very nearly" prevented the world war. Even after the outbreak of war, the narrator says, House worked beside Wilson, and helped keep the United States out of the war.

House was also involved in Versailles Treaty discussions. In a re-enacted meeting, House turns to French Prime Minister Clemenceau:

"I wish, Monsieur Clemenceau, that it was a more generous treaty, more just," House says.

"It is a just treaty Mr. House!" exclaims Clemenceau.

"But it will destroy Germany!" House protests.

"Then let Germany be destroyed. France has been invaded too often. They are our enemies monsieur. They are on their knees. And say long as I have the power to prevent it, they shall never rise again!"

House asks how long could he prevent it? "I would prefer a different peace. A peace based on justice, not on force. Then if those who follow us make peace impossible, Monsieur Clemenceau, the responsibility will rest with them. As it is, the blame must be entirely ours," said House.

Back to this week in 1938—Hitler says a union with Austria would help right the wrongs of peace treaties. How could Germany stop at the boundaries set up by the "ridiculous" Treaty of Versailles, he asks.

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain makes his first statement on foreign policy since the seizure of Austria. He notes "with satisfaction" the steps taken by Czechoslovakia to meet the "reasonable demands" of Germany. A parliamentarian interrupts that is ridiculous to speak of Germany's "reasonable demands." He asks whether Britain will back up Czechoslovakia against Germany. Chamberlain responds that he cannot plunge England into war to defend any and everyone—only for Belgium and France (contradicting earlier policies). Another parliamentarian needles, "If you had dared to stand up against the dictators of Spain and Austria, you wouldn't now have to defend Belgium and've left us and the world in the same situation as in 1914." Chamberlain refutes that the situation is as desperate as in 1914, but it's true that "confidence in peace [has] been severely shaken."

"We can work earnestly in the hope of preserving peace. And at same time we shall do everything in our power to make this country strong enough to meet whatever call may be made upon us."

The Voice of Time returns to point out that one-time German Corporal Hitler has raised his standing army size to 1 million strong—100,000 more men than the Kaiser's army in the summer of 1914.