The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armistice signed at Le Francport near Compiègne that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponent, Germany. Previous armistices had been agreed with Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Also known as the Armistice of Compiègne from the place where it was signed at 5:45 a.m. by the French Marshal Foch, it came into force at 11:00 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender.
The actual terms, largely written by the Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, included the cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of German forces to behind the Rhine, Allied occupation of the Rhineland and bridgeheads further east, the preservation of infrastructure, the surrender of aircraft, warships, and military materiel, the release of Allied prisoners of war and interned civilians, eventual reparations, no release of German prisoners and no relaxation of the naval blockade of Germany. Although the armistice ended the fighting on the Western Front, it had to be prolonged three times until the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on 28 June 1919, took effect on 10 January 1920.
Fighting continued up to 11 o'clock with 2,738 men dying on the last day of the war.
On 29 September 1918, the German Supreme Army Command at Imperial Army Headquarters in Spa of occupied Belgium informed Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Imperial Chancellor, Count Georg von Hertling, that the military situation facing Germany was hopeless. Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff, probably fearing a breakthrough, claimed that he could not guarantee that the front would hold for another two hours and demanded a request be given to the Entente for an immediate ceasefire. In addition, he recommended the acceptance of the main demands of US president Woodrow Wilson (the Fourteen Points) including putting the Imperial Government on a democratic footing, hoping for more favorable peace terms. This enabled him to save the face of the Imperial German Army and put the responsibility for the capitulation and its consequences squarely into the hands of the democratic parties and the parliament. He expressed his view to officers of his staff on 1 October: "They now must lie on the bed that they've made for us."
On 3 October 1918, the liberal Prince Maximilian of Baden was appointed Chancellor of Germany (prime minister), replacing Georg von Hertling in order to negotiate an armistice.After long conversations with the Kaiser and evaluations of the political and military situations in the Reich, by 5 October 1918, the German government sent a message to President Wilson to negotiate terms on the basis of a recent speech of his and the earlier declared "Fourteen Points". In the subsequent two exchanges, Wilson's allusions "failed to convey the idea that the Kaiser's abdication was an essential condition for peace. The leading statesmen of the Reich were not yet ready to contemplate such a monstrous possibility." As a precondition for negotiations, Wilson demanded the retreat of Germany from all occupied territories, the cessation of submarine activities and the Kaiser's abdication, writing on 23 October: "If the Government of the United States must deal with the military masters and the monarchical autocrats of Germany now, or if it is likely to have to deal with them later in regard to the international obligations of the German Empire, it must demand not peace negotiations but surrender."
In late October 1918, Ludendorff, in a sudden change of mind, declared the conditions of the Allies unacceptable. He now demanded to resume the war which he himself had declared lost only one month earlier. However the German soldiers were pressing to get home. It was scarcely possible to arouse their readiness for battle anew, and desertions were on the increase. The Imperial Government stayed on course and Ludendorff was replaced by Wilhelm Groener. On 5 November, the Allies agreed to take up negotiations for a truce, now also demanding reparation payments.
The latest note from President Wilson was received in Berlin on 6 November 1918. That same day, the delegation led by Matthias Erzberger departed for France.
A much bigger obstacle, which contributed to the five-week delay in the signing of the Armistice and to the resulting social deterioration in Europe, was the fact that the French, British and Italian governments had no desire to accept the "Fourteen Points" and President Wilson's subsequent promises. For example, they assumed that the de-militarization suggested by Wilson would be limited to the Central Powers. There were also contradictions with their post-War plans that did not include a consistent implementation of the ideal of national self-determination.As Czernin points out:
The Allied statesmen were faced with a problem: so far they had considered the "fourteen commandments" as a piece of clever and effective American propaganda, designed primarily to undermine the fighting spirit of the Central Powers, and to bolster the morale of the lesser Allies. Now, suddenly, the whole peace structure was supposed to be built up on that set of "vague principles", most of which seemed to them thoroughly unrealistic, and some of which, if they were to be seriously applied, were simply unacceptable.
The sailors' revolt which took place during the night of 29 to 30 October 1918 in the naval port of Wilhelmshaven spread across the whole country within days and led to the proclamation of a republic on 9 November 1918 and to the announcement of the abdication of Wilhelm II.However, in various areas soldiers challenged the authority of their officers and on occasion established Soldiers' Councils. Thus for example the Brussels Soldiers' Council was set up by revolutionary soldiers on 9 November 1918.
Also on 9 November 1918, Max von Baden handed over the office of Chancellor to Friedrich Ebert, a Social Democrat. Ebert's SPD and Erzberger's Catholic Centre Party had enjoyed an uneasy relationship with the Imperial government since Bismarck's era in the 1870s and 1880s. They were well represented in the Imperial Reichstag, which had little power over the government, and had been calling for a negotiated peace since 1917. Their prominence in the peace negotiations would cause the new Weimar Republic to lack legitimacy in right-wing and militarist eyes.
The Armistice was the result of a hurried and desperate process. The German delegation headed by Matthias Erzberger crossed the front line in five cars and was escorted for ten hours across the devastated war zone of Northern France, arriving on the morning of 8 November 1918. They were then taken to the secret destination aboard Ferdinand Foch's private train parked in a railway siding in the Forest of Compiègne.
Foch appeared only twice in the three days of negotiations: on the first day, to ask the German delegation what they wanted, and on the last day, to see to the signatures. The Germans were handed the list of Allied demands and given 72 hours to agree. The German delegation discussed the Allied terms not with Foch, but with other French and Allied officers. The Armistice amounted to complete German demilitarization (see list below), with few promises made by the Allies in return. The naval blockade of Germany was not completely lifted until complete peace terms could be agreed upon.
There were very few negotiations. The Germans were able to correct a few impossible demands (for example, the decommissioning of more submarines than their fleet possessed), extended the schedule for the withdrawal and registered their formal protest at the harshness of Allied terms. But they were in no position to refuse to sign. On Sunday 10 November 1918, the Germans were shown newspapers from Paris to inform them that the Kaiser had abdicated. That same day, Ebert instructed Erzberger to sign. The cabinet had earlier received a message from Hindenburg, requesting that the armistice be signed even if the Allied conditions could not be improved on.
The Armistice was agreed upon at 5:00 a.m. on 11 November 1918, to come into effect at 11:00 a.m. Paris time (noon German time), for which reason the occasion is sometimes referred to as "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month". Signatures were made between 5:12 a.m. and 5:20 a.m., Paris time.
The occupation of the Rhineland took place following the Armistice. The occupying armies consisted of American, Belgian, British and French forces.
The Armistice was prolonged three times before peace was finally ratified. During this period it was also developed.
Peace was ratified at 4:15 p.m. on 10 January 1920.
For the Allies, the personnel involved were all military. The two signatories were:
Other members of the delegation included:
For Germany, the four signatories were:
Among its 34 clauses, the armistice contained the following major points:
A. Western Front
B. Eastern and African Fronts
C. At sea
The British public was notified of the armistice by a subjoined official communiqué issued from the Press Bureau at 10:20 a.m., when British Prime Minister David Lloyd George announced: "The armistice was signed at five o'clock this morning, and hostilities are to cease on all fronts at 11 a.m. to-day." An official communique was published by the United States at 2:30 pm: "In accordance with the terms of the Armistice, hostilities on the fronts of the American armies were suspended at eleven o'clock this morning."
News of the armistice being signed was officially announced towards 9 a.m. in Paris. One hour later, Foch, accompanied by a British admiral, presented himself at the Ministry of War, where he was immediately received by Georges Clemenceau, the Prime Minister of France. At 10:50 a.m., Foch issued this general order: "Hostilities will cease on the whole front as from November 11 at 11 o'clock French time The Allied troops will not, until further order, go beyond the line reached on that date and at that hour." Five minutes later, Clemenceau, Foch and the British admiral went to the Élysée Palace. At the first shot fired from the Eiffel Tower, the Ministry of War and the Élysée Palace displayed flags, while bells around Paris rang. Five hundred students gathered in front of the Ministry and called upon Clemenceau, who appeared on the balcony. Clemenceau exclaimed "Vive la France!"—the crowd echoed him. At 11:00 a.m., the first peace-gunshot was fired from Fort Mont-Valérien, which told the population of Paris that the armistice was concluded, but the population were already aware of it from official circles and newspapers.
Although the information about the imminent ceasefire had spread among the forces at the front in the hours before, fighting in many sections of the front continued right until the appointed hour. At 11 a.m. there was some spontaneous fraternization between the two sides. But in general, reactions were muted. A British corporal reported: "...the Germans came from their trenches, bowed to us and then went away. That was it. There was nothing with which we could celebrate, except cookies." On the Allied side, euphoria and exultation were rare. There was some cheering and applause, but the dominant feeling was silence and emptiness after 52 exhausting months of war.
The peace between the Allies and Germany was subsequently settled in 1919, by the Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles that same year.
Many artillery units continued to fire on German targets to avoid having to haul away their spare ammunition. The Allies also wished to ensure that, should fighting restart, they would be in the most favourable position. Consequently, there were 10,944 casualties, of whom 2,738 men died, on the last day of the war.
An example of the determination of the Allies to maintain pressure until the last minute, but also to adhere strictly to the Armistice terms, was Battery 4 of the US Navy's long-range 14-inch railway guns firing its last shot at 10:57:30 am from the Verdun area, timed to land far behind the German front line just before the scheduled Armistice.
Augustin Trébuchon was the last Frenchman to die when he was shot on his way to tell fellow soldiers, who were attempting an assault across the Meuse river, that hot soup would be served after the ceasefire. He was killed at 10:45 a.m.
Earlier, the last British soldier to die, George Edwin Ellison of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, was killed that morning at around 9:30 a.m. while scouting on the outskirts of Mons, Belgium.
The final Canadian, and Commonwealth, soldier to die, Private George Lawrence Price, was shot and killed by a sniper while part of a force advancing into the Belgian town of Ville-sur-Haine just two minutes before the armistice to the north of Mons at 10:58 a.m., to be recognized as one of the last killed with a monument to his name.
Henry Gunther, an American, is generally recognized as the last soldier killed in action in World War I. He was killed 60 seconds before the armistice came into force while charging astonished German troops who were aware the Armistice was nearly upon them. He had been despondent over his recent reduction in rank and was apparently trying to redeem his reputation.
News of the armistice only reached African forces, the King's African Rifles, still fighting with great success in today's Zambia, about a fortnight later. The German and British commanders then had to agree on the protocols for their own armistice ceremony.
After the war, there was a deep shame that so many soldiers died on the final day of the war, especially in the hours after the treaty had been signed but hasn't taken effect. In the United States, the U.S. Congress opened an investigation to find out why and if blame should be placed on the leaders of the American Expeditionary Forces, including John Pershing.In France, many graves of French soldiers who died on 11 November were backdated to the 10th.
Celebration of the Armistice became the centrepiece of memories of the war, along with salutes to the unknown soldier. Nations built monuments to the dead and the heroic soldiers, but seldom aggrandizing the generals and admirals.11 November is commemorated annually in many countries under various names such as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, and in Poland it is Independence Day.
The end of the Second World War in China (end of the Second Sino-Japanese War) formally took place on 9 September 1945 at 9:00 (the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month). The date was chosen in echo of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 (on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month); and because "nine" is homophone of the word for "long lasting" in Chinese (to suggest that the peace won would last forever).
Coincidentally, the license plate of Franz Ferdinand's Gräf & Stift Double Phaeton that he was riding at the time of his assassination reads "A III 118", which can be read as "Armistice, 11/11/1918".
The myth that the German Army was stabbed in the back, by the Social Democratic government that was formed in November 1918, was created by reviews in the German press that grossly misrepresented British Major-General Frederick Maurice's book, The Last Four Months. "Ludendorff made use of the reviews to convince Hindenburg."
In a hearing before the Committee on Inquiry of the National Assembly on November 18, 1919, a year after the war's end, Hindenburg declared, "As an English general has very truly said, the German Army was 'stabbed in the back'."
The stab-in-the-back myth was the notion, widely believed and promulgated in right-wing circles in Germany after 1918, that the German Army did not lose World War I on the battlefield but was instead betrayed by the civilians on the home front, especially the republicans who overthrew the Hohenzollern monarchy in the German Revolution of 1918–19. Advocates denounced the German government leaders who signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, as the "November Criminals".
The Treaty of Versailles was the most important of the peace treaties that brought World War I to an end. The Treaty ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919 in Versailles, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which had directly led to the war. The other Central Powers on the German side signed separate treaties. Although the armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of Allied negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty. The treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21 October 1919.
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, between the new Bolshevik government of Russia and the Central Powers, that ended Russia's participation in World War I. The treaty was signed at German-controlled Brest-Litovsk, after two months of negotiations. The treaty was agreed upon by the Russians to stop further invasion. According to the treaty, Soviet Russia defaulted on all of Imperial Russia's commitments to the Allies and eleven nations became independent in Eastern Europe and western Asia.
The Western Front was the main theatre of war during the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France, which changed little except during early 1917 and in 1918.
An armistice is a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, as it may constitute only a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace. It is derived from the Latin arma, meaning "arms" and -stitium, meaning "a stopping".
Maxime Weygand was a French military commander in World War I and World War II.
Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France at 5:45 am, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. But, according to Thomas R. Gowenlock, an intelligence officer with the U.S. First Division, shelling from both sides continued for the rest of the day, only ending at nightfall. The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days and had to be extended several times. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year.
Ferdinand Foch was a French general and military theorist who served as the Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War. An aggressive, even reckless commander at the First Marne, Flanders, and Artois campaigns of 1914–1916, Foch became the Allied Commander-in-Chief in late March 1918 in the face of the all-out German spring offensive, which pushed the Allies back using fresh soldiers and new tactics that trenches could not contain. He successfully coordinated the French, British and American efforts into a coherent whole, deftly handling his strategic reserves. He stopped the German offensive and launched a war-winning counterattack. In November 1918, Marshal Foch accepted the German cessation of hostilities and was present at the armistice of 11 November 1918.
Matthias Erzberger was a German publicist and politician, Reich Minister of Finance from 1919 to 1920.
Portugal did not initially form part of the system of alliances involved in World War I and thus remained neutral at the start of the conflict in 1914. But even though Portugal and Germany remained officially at peace for over a year and a half after the outbreak of World War I, there were many hostile engagements between the two countries. Portugal wanted to comply with British requests for aid and protect its colonies in Africa, thus clashes occurred with German troops in the south of Portuguese Angola, which bordered German South-West Africa, in 1914 and 1915. Tensions between Germany and Portugal also arose as a result of German U-boat warfare, which sought to blockade the United Kingdom, at the time the most important market for Portuguese products. Ultimately, tensions resulted in declarations of war, first by Germany against Portugal in March 1916.
The Hundred Days Offensive was a series of massive Allied offensives which ended the First World War. Beginning with the Battle of Amiens on the Western Front, the Allies pushed the Central Powers back, undoing their gains from the Spring Offensive. The Germans retreated to the Hindenburg Line, but the Allies broke through the line with a series of victories, starting with the Battle of St Quentin Canal on 29 September. The offensive, together with a revolution breaking out in Germany, led to the Armistice of 11 November 1918 which ended the war with an Allied victory. The term "Hundred Days Offensive" does not refer to a battle or strategy, but rather the rapid series of Allied victories against which the German armies had no reply.
The Macedonian front, also known as the Salonica front, was a military theatre of World War I formed as a result of an attempt by the Allied Powers to aid Serbia, in the fall of 1915, against the combined attack of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. The expedition came too late and in insufficient force to prevent the fall of Serbia, and was complicated by the internal political crisis in Greece. Eventually, a stable front was established, running from the Albanian Adriatic coast to the Struma River, pitting a multinational Allied force against the Bulgarian Army, which was at various times bolstered with smaller units from the other Central Powers. The Macedonian front remained quite stable, despite local actions, until the great Allied offensive in September 1918, which resulted in the capitulation of Bulgaria and the liberation of Serbia.
The Armistice of Salonica was signed on 29 September 1918 between Bulgaria and the Allied Powers in Thessaloniki. The convention followed a request by the Bulgarian government for a ceasefire on 24 September.
The Blockade of Germany, or the Blockade of Europe, occurred from 1914 to 1919. It was a prolonged naval operation conducted by the Triple-Entente powers during and after World War I in an effort to restrict the maritime supply of goods to the Central Powers, which included Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. It is considered one of the key elements in the eventual Allied victory in the war. The German Board of Public Health in December 1918 claimed that 763,000 German civilians died from starvation and disease caused by the blockade up until the end of December 1918. An academic study done in 1928 put the death toll at 424,000. An additional 100,000 people may have died during the continuation blockade in 1919.
Henry Nicholas John Gunther was an American soldier and likely the last soldier of any of the belligerents to be killed during World War I. He was killed at 10:59 a.m., about one minute before the Armistice was to take effect at 11:00 a.m.
The Last Day of World War One is an episode in the 2008 season of the Television series Timewatch. The programme was a co-production between the Open University and the BBC and aired in November 2008 on BBC 2. The material was presented by Michael Palin who reveals the shocking truth that soldiers continued to be killed in battle for many hours after the Armistice had been signed. Palin recounts the personal stories of the last soldiers to die in the final days, hours and minutes of World War I.
The Hungarian–Romanian War was fought between Hungary and Romania from 13 November 1918 to 3 August 1919. It started as a Romanian military campaign on the eastern parts of the self-disarmed Kingdom of Hungary on 13 November 1918, and continued against the First Hungarian Republic, and from March 1919 against the Hungarian Soviet Republic. The Romanian Army occupied eastern Hungary until 28 March 1920.
The Vardar Offensive was a World War I military operation, fought between 15 and 29 September 1918. The operation took place during the final stage of the Balkans Campaign. On September 15, a combined force of Serbian, French and Greek troops attacked the Bulgarian-held trenches in Dobro Pole, at the time part of the Kingdom of Serbia. The assault and the preceding artillery preparation had devastating effects on Bulgarian morale, eventually leading to mass desertions.
Pierre Renouvin was a French historian of international relations.
The Glade of the Armistice is a French national and war memorial in the Forest of Compiègne in Picardy, France, near the city of Compiègne and approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Paris. It was built at the location where the Germans signed the Armistice of 11 November 1918 that ended World War I. During World War II, Adolf Hitler chose the same spot for the French and Germans to sign the Armistice of 22 June 1940 after Germany won the Battle of France. The site was destroyed by the Germans but rebuilt after the war.
We unearthed many heart-breaking stories, such as that of Augustin Trébuchon, the last Frenchman to die in the War. He was shot just before 11 a.m. on his way to tell his fellow soldiers that hot soup would be available after the ceasefire. The parents of the American Pte Henry Gunther had to live with news that their son had died just 60 seconds before it was all over. The last British soldier to die was Pte George Edwin Ellison.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to World War I Armistice .|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|