there was to be no repetition of the interwar years

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
the recurrence of an action or event
there was to be no repetition of the interwar years
OED

How do I undestand this sentence?
As I see it: Someone, e.g. a politician, said after World War II finished: "there is to be no repetition of the interwar years", meaning that there should not be another world war. Am I right?
Thank you.
 
  • tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    The interwar years were the years between WW1 and WW11 when Germany was able to rebuild its military strength. You can conclude that there will be no WW111 because the same mistakes made during those years will not be repeated. (If only that were true!)
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    The interwar years doesn't refer to a period when a country is at war. The interwar years usually is a way of referring to the period between the two world wars. That's how it's generally used, anyway. If we were talking about a specific country and had made reference two a couple of other wars, such as the United States' Korean and Vietnam wars, interwar could mean "the period between the Korean and Vietnam wars," but when it's used in reference to the 20th century and no other conflicts are specified, the meaning is "the period between World War I and World War II."

    (Cross-posted with Tepatria)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Yes, that's what I meant:)
    By "that there should not be another world war" I meant that there wouldn't be a period between WW2 and WW3 (or "another world war, WW3")
    So, actually s/he said "there is to be no repetition...", but s/he said that in the past, so it's "there was to be no repetition" in the original quote, am I right?
    That's what I was interested in:)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Vik

    Yes, your basic understanding is correct. The sentence given in the dictionary is essentially an abbreviated form of reported speech. You can think of it as an abbreviated form of something like {After the Second World War, politicians declared that} there was to be no repetition of the inter-war years, the direct speech version of which would be After the Second World War, politicians declared "There is to be no repetition of the inter-war years".

    As to the meaning, I suspect it probably has more to do with the hardship many people experienced in the years between 1918 and 1939: politicians in the late 1940s in the UK were determined that things should be better after the Second World War than they had been after the First World War.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    politicians in the late 1940s in the UK were determined that things should be better after the Second World War than they had been after the First World War.
    That is undoubtedly true as a statement of fact about UK politics at that time.
    It is also perfectly possible that the sentence given in the OED, 'there was to be no repetition of the interwar years', could be intended as an expression of that political purpose.

    However, it could alternatively be saying something different. It could be a retrospective summary of what actually happened in the end (rather than a statement of people's intentions as to what should happen). In other words, the meaning could equally well be:
    'as things turned out, there was no repetition of the interwar years'.

    Only the context of the original sentence could tell us which of these two meanings was the intended one.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    However, it could alternatively be saying something different. It could be a retrospective summary of what actually happened in the end (rather than a statement of people's intentions as to what should happen). In other words, the meaning could equally well be:
    'as things turned out, there was no repetition of the interwar years'.
    As I see here is this meaning:
    be to do something
    5. used about someone or something in the past to say what would happen at a later time
    the boy who was to become king
     
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