Sunday, November 11, 2018 –
Armistice Day, World War I: It arrived on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. The war ended after 4-years of fighting including an estimated 11,000 lives killed in the last day of fighting. Henry Gunther was among them, the last American soldier to die. And then, it was over.
From the battlefields of France, Belgium and beyond men who were once enemies shook hands, swapped cigarettes, sang songs and danced. From Paris to London, Washington, and New York, armistice celebrations unfolded. The suffering of war replaced by rejoicing. In the video below watch scenes of the WWI armistice countdown and subsequent celebration.The armistice meant both sides of the war agreed to stop fighting. It was a defeat for Germany, but not a surrender. The Allies and Germany agreed to the following:
- Germany would accept blame for the war with reparations paid for all damages
- Occupied lands in Belgium, Luxembourg, and France–plus Alsace-Lorraine would be evacuated by Germany within 14 days
- German forces must also withdraw from Austria-Hungary, Romania, and Turkey
- The Allies would occupy Germany west of the Rhine River
- Germany would surrender 10 battleships, 6 battlecruisers, 8 cruisers, and 160 submarines
- Germany would be stripped of heavy armaments, including 5,000 artillery, 25,000 machine guns, and 2,000 airplanes
- 5,000 locomotives, 150,000 railway cars, and 5,000 trucks would be confiscated from Germany
- The Allied naval blockade would continue
Armistice Day brought relief, celebrations, and joy for millions of people. It also brought a permanent loss of innocence for those countries, including America, and lives, including Americans, who were forever changed by WWI. An estimated 9-million soldiers died in the fighting. Millions more were wounded, gassed and permanently scarred in the war. On 11/11/1918, the bloodiest, most miserable conflict in history until that time was finally over.
World War I, the “war to end all wars” wasn’t. World War II would follow 22-years later. History would revisit mankind with another terrible lesson. Millions of lives again would be lost in battle. “It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.” – Aristotle