NOVEM­BER 11, 1918

The Drumheller Mail - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -


The Armistice was an agree­ment signed by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of France, Great Bri­tain and Ger­many. It was an agree­ment to end fight­ing as a pre­lude to peace ne­go­ti­a­tions. The Treaty of Ver­sailles signed six months later would act as the peace treaty be­tween the na­tions. Although “armistice” is used as a term to de­scribe any agree­ment to end fight­ing in wars, “The Armistice” com­monly refers to the agree­ment to end the fight­ing of the First World War.


The Armistice be­gan at on 11th Novem­ber 1918 at 11am (French time) - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The Armistice it­self was agreed 6 hours ear­lier at 5am with the first term of it be­ing that fight­ing would end at 11am.


The sign­ing of The Armistice took place in Fer­di­nand Foch’s rail­way car­riage in the For­est of Com­piègne, about 37 miles (60 km) north of Paris. The lo­ca­tion was cho­sen as it was re­mote and dis­creet. Fer­di­nand Foch was a French mil­i­tary com­man­der who was one of the peo­ple who signed the Armistice.


In 1940, an­other armistice was signed in the same rail­way car­riage in the For­est of Com­piègne. This time it was Ger­many forc­ing France to sign an agree­ment to end fight­ing against them in World War Two, which was es­sen­tially a French sur­ren­der. To add to the de­lib­er­ate hu­mil­i­a­tion fur­ther, Adolf Hitler sat in the same seat that Fer­di­nand Foch sat in 1918. The car­riage was taken and ex­hib­ited in Ger­many, but was de­stroyed in 1945.


The Armistice was de­signed to end the fight­ing of World War One, and the terms of it would make it im­pos­si­ble for Ger­many to restart the war, at least in the short term. They were or­dered to give up 2,500 heavy guns, 2,500 field guns, 25,000 ma­chine guns, 1,700 aero­planes and all sub­marines they pos­sessed (they were orig­i­nally asked to give up more sub­marines than they ac­tu­ally had!). They were also asked to give up sev­eral war­ships and dis­arm all of the ones that they were al­lowed to keep.


If Ger­many broke any of the terms of the Armistice, such as not evac­u­at­ing ar­eas they were or­dered to evac­u­ate, not hand­ing over weapons or pris­on­ers of war in the timescales given or caus­ing dam­age to any in­di­vid­ual or their prop­erty, fight­ing would be­gin again with 48 hours no­tice.


Ger­many was or­dered to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about the lo­ca­tion of mines or traps they had placed and re­veal what other things they had de­lib­er­ately de­stroyed or caused dam­age too (such as pol­lut­ing or poi­son­ing springs or wells).


By sign­ing The Armistice and the Treaty of Ver­sailles, Ger­many were made to ac­cept the blame for the First World War and would have to pay repa­ra­tions for the dam­age caused, es­ti­mated to to­tal about £22 bil­lion ($35 bil­lion, €27 bil­lion) in cur­rent money. It was only in 2010 that Ger­many paid off its war debt, with a fi­nal pay­ment of £59 mil­lion ($95 mil­lion, €71 mil­lion).


Whereas Ger­many viewed the terms of the Armistice, and the Treaty of Ver­sailles signed the fol­low­ing year, as too harsh, the French saw it as too le­nient.


Armistice Day, Re­mem­brance Day or Vet­er­ans Day is com­mem­o­rated in many coun­tries in­volved in the First World War on Novem­ber 11th ev­ery year or on the Sun­day near­est to it (or, as is be­com­ing more com­mon, on both days). Sev­eral coun­tries re­mem­ber the peo­ple lost dur­ing the First World War and other wars by hold­ing a two minute si­lence at 11 a.m. on that day. Many com­mu­ni­ties com­mem­o­rate the day by hold­ing Ser­vices of Re­mem­brance.

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