Turning Enemies into Allies


Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

At the 1919 Versailles peace conference after World War I, the French Prime Minister Georges Clémenceau insisted that Germany be held solely responsible for starting World War I, and be forced to pay huge reparations over the next fifty years, to bring Germany to its knees, so that it would never be able again to build up its industrial capacity and become a military threat to its neighbors.

John Maynard Keynes, who was a member of the British delegation to the peace talks, warned that this would inevitably lead to deep German resentment and a desire for revenge, laying the foundation for another round of war. When his advice was ignored, he resigned in protest from the British delegation, and denounced the Versailles Treaty in his book Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919).

Sadly, history proved him right. German resentment against the Versailles Treaty helped Hitler win the 1933 elections in Germany with the promise to abrogate it.

After World War II, the United States learned that lesson. By helping its former enemies Germany and Japan (and many other devastated European countries) rebuild their countries with assistance in form of the Marshall Plan, the U.S. turned its former enemies into allies.

Nelson Mandela pointed out, “Peace is something you make with your enemies, not with your friends.”


Any identification with 2015 European political/economic affairs is not mere coincidence.


Dietrich Fischer, born in 1941 in Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 Jul 2015.

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