How Peace Came in 1918

March 16, 1944

Report Outline
Armistice in the War to End War
Decisive Military Operations
Home Fronts of the Belligerents
Peace Offensives in World War I
Special Focus

Armistice in the War to End War

The armistice that brought World War I to a close was signed in a railway car—the headquarters of Marshal Ferdinand Foch, supreme commander of all Allied military forces—in the Forest of Compiegne at 5 A.M., Paris time, on November 11, 1918. Hostilities ceased six hours later. Formal announcement of the Armistice in the United States was made by President Wilson at 1 P.M. before a joint session of the two houses of Congress. After reading the severe terms of the Armistice, the President said: “The war thus comes to an end; for, having accepted these terms of armistice, it will be impossible for the German command to renew it.”

All of the nations allied with Germany bad capitulated before November 11, 1918. The Austro-Hungarian empire had been torn apart by revolts of its subject nationalities; the Reich itself was in the throes of a general revolution.

On the Western Front, Germany's armies were everywhere in retreat at the time the last shot was fired. At the Brenner Pass, and through Austria-Hungary to the east of Switzerland, millions of men, freed from other fighting fronts, were gathering for an attack on Germany's southern flank. Erich von Ludendorff, chief of the German High-Command, had resigned. Unrestricted submarine warfare, once a dangerous threat, had been largely neutralized; mutinies of submarine crews at German home ports when their vessels were ordered to sea demonstrated the effectiveness of Allied counter measures against the U-boat. The United States, in the war for a relatively brief period, was already exerting clearly decisive military strength at the time of the Armistice.

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General Defense and National Security
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War and Conflict
World War I