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BBC Two Among all the vital telly stuff this year about the centenary of the first world war, I wonder if we should spare a tiny reflection, this very morning of any morn, on the role played by a plump former teacher from Württemburg. Matthias Erzberger, variously described as “mild-mannered” and “self-serving”, was the German signatory to the armistice, in the Compiègne forest 100 years ago as of precisely… now… and, by scratching out his signature at 11 o’clock, against aching reproaches from every patriotic bone in his body, prevented, it might be strongly argued, thousands if not tens of thousands of further needless deaths.
This and much more was being explored in the drama WWI: The Final Hours, a sober, lucid, devastating exploration of the three days in a railway carriage in which the armistice was being negotiated by Erzberger, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, “a short man with a fondness for cheap cigars”, and dashing naval hero Rosslyn Wemyss. The two military men bonded, but not with Erzberger, a propagandist who had never seen combat, much