The eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 marked the signing of the Armistice and the end of World War I.
At the start of 1918, Germany believed that their army was capable of winning the war. Several attempts at quickly conquering France and obliterating British and American forces were made, but all in vain.
As well as the Michael and Spring offensives, which tried to win the war in as little time as possible, the Verdun and Somme attacks had failed, leaving the German army exhausted and depleted.
The Schlieffen Plan failed shortly after the beginning of the war, and stalemate set in on both sides where a long, virtually unmoving trench line formed along Northern France.
Germany mobilised too many forces at too high a speed in 1918 and consequently all advances were quickly sacrificed. They failed to take the city of Amiens and their troops quickly starved, stranded and running out of resources.
Additionally, with the entering of the United States into World War I in 1917, Allied forces were massing against the Triple Entente. The Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, Bulgaria) only realised this after they made the mistake of believing that it would be easier to destroy France now that Russia had dropped out.
“Germany had also lost their great gains from the start of the war”
France and Britain met secretly to discuss an Armistice Agreement. The Armistice forced Germany to completely remove all forces from war territory and cancel any other offensive mobilisation. Kaiser Wilhelm stepped down on the 9th of November, and at 5 in the morning of the 11th, the truce was signed, becoming effective at 11 o clock.
During the war, are Allies suffered over 5 million deaths and a total of 22 million casualties. Britain was responsible for 3 million of these whilst France was responsible for 6 million.
The Triple Entente had over 3 million killed soldiers and almost 2 million of these were German. America’s deaths were in the hundred thousands.
All of this totals to over eight million dead soldiers and civilian deaths hugely increase the number. Casualty Statistics
The news took a while to reach home fronts, but when it did, massive celebrations took place and thousands of people gathered to shout in relief – and some in grief for sons and brothers that had been killed during the war’s four year lifespan.
An enormous crowd met in Trafalgar Square and people rode standing on the top of buses to spread the news.
In 1919, leaders of European nations met to discuss the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which Germany was forced to sign. The treaty demanded that they pay for all damages suffered in France and accept complete blame for the war. Additionally, they had to massively reduce the size of their army and allow lands to be given back to France – including Alsace Lorraine. The League of Nations was formed which intended to keep peace between countries, and Germany was forbidden from joining.
Today, the dead of World War I, both Allies and Central Powers, are honoured and remembered in the sign of a red poppy. The icon has been adopted for many other conflicts since the First World War, including WWII.