It is very easy to see how the Treaty of Versailles did not bring peace after the carnage of 1914 onwards. The reparations and national humiliation of the demilitarization of regions enabled the exploitation of grievances that meant the emergence of extremists. Nor should we forget that the war enabled the Russian revolution with the subsequent involvement of foreign powers in the civil war on the side of the "White Russians".
The legacy of those "inter-war" years was to last well beyond 1945. While most obviously the USSR continued to present a Cold War threat and the Soviet-American rivalries led to many proxy wars, we should not forget that the dress rehearsal for WWII left the Iberian penninsular under military dictatorships and specifically the Spaniards had a fascist government until after the death of the Caudillo, Francisco Franco in 1975 (while there is an official date of November 20, Spaniards I knew at the time thought he could well have been kept "on ice" before then as the succession was sorted out) While Portugal's true fascist party had been suppressed as pagan in a very Catholic country, the dictatorship was a close political sibling. Old ties with Britain rather than Spain's lack of a formal co-operation treaty with Germany or Italy probably contributed more to their neutrality in WWII. For those of us who lived through them, those short years in the early 1970s that saw the crumbling of the military dictatorships in Portugal, Spain and Greece were only overshadowed by the fall of the Berlin Wall and everything that followed.
If, in that it signalled a stop to a period of mass killing, November 1918 was the "end of the begining", we can trace the "begining of the end" to May 9, 1950 when the French foreign minister Robert Schuman presented his Plan, written in cooperation with Jean Monnet, to ensure no one of the western European beligerants could solely control the means of producing the basic building blocks of war, coal and steel. The British and Americans often forget that the Founding Fathers of what was to become the European Union did not aim for a free trade zone but thier aim was to "wage peace" rather than waging war.
In the following three decades, unlike the two after 1918, the idea of a war between the three traditional enemies of Britain, France and Germany (in different permutations!) became such an alien idea that it led to some complacency and inertia when Yugoslavia broke up so tragically. But while as the western part of Europe prospered, there remained that great scar across its center, the division between the spheres of influence from Yalta and the Soviet Union holding the countries of central and eastern Europe in thrall. To some extent the Soviet position was understandable. It wanted a buffer to protect "Mother Russia" from the beligerant stance of the West and avoid a repeat of the tens of millions of deaths in the "Great Patriotic War". Just like Portugal and its colonies, the Soviet Empire became too expensive and the subjects too assertive of their independence and self determination for the empire to endure.
When with thousands of others, I enjoyed the fireworks over Prague Castle at 00:01 on May 1, 2004; we were in many ways celebrating an end. The countries of central Europe were rejoining the European family. A false division was over. The countries of the Hanseatic League could again trade freely. Bulgaria and Romania would soon join. Even the special arrangements for Kaliningrad seem like an opening to ever closer relations with Russia.
The last five years have perhaps been an anti-climax. While cheap flights and pre-wedding parties have made Prague familiar to the British, it is Brussels that is now the "far away city of which we know little" to misquote Chamberlain. Continued ignorance of the EU, deliberately fostered by some political parties, is a potential danger for a British retreat into sulky isolationism. Russia with its propensity for strong men in control and an increasing wealth from oil and gas has shaken off the Reagan "defeat of the Soviet Union" and is starting to re-assert as a military power. It has never given up control of Belarus as an old fashioned Soviet satellite and is interfering in Georgia and Ukraine.
Even on the European continent, there are still potential causes of conflict which have their roots in 1914 that are to be resolved. For decades Henry Allingham refused to talk of his experiences but in his later years used them to, in the words of the BBC piece, "make sure new generations did not forget the toll of war". I hope we can remember his lesson as we break down walls and build new bridges.
Did Henry see the final end of his war? I am not too sure. Henry though, for one, is at peace at last.