On Tuesday 2nd October, as part of the commemoration of the 100 years since the end of World War I, Eton College had the pleasure of hosting Dr Margaret Macmillan for the Gladstone Lecture. A distinguished biographer of Lloyd George as well as an author of a book on the Treaty of Versailles, she delivered a thought-provoking lecture titled, “Looking back – World War One in a century’s perspective.”
Dr Macmillan started by briefly discussing the general effects of WWI and how it profoundly shaped the 20th century and more generally how it led to the world that we know today. Next, the causes of WWI were discussed including some details on the arms race that took place between Germany and the United Kingdom. Following that, Dr Macmillan discussed the war itself and the way in which the technology of the time made it much easier to defend ground rather than to attack it, which resulted in enormous casualties on all sides. However, she then went to talk about the benefits that the war brought to certain causes, such as that of women’s suffrage in the UK, as it achieved voting rights for women over 30 in 1918.
Dr Macmillan finished her thought-provoking lecture with an equally insightful Q&A, during which the boys asked a wide range of questions, treating the Bolsheviks’ success in the Russian empire and the potential causes of Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.