THE GREAT WAR ENDS: November 11, 1918


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November 11, 1918

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends.
At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with
imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad
car outside CompiƩgne, France. The First World War left nine million
soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary,
France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In
addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or
exposure.On June 28, 1914, in an event that is widely regarded as sparking the
outbreak of World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian
empire, was shot to death with his wife by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip in
Sarajevo, Bosnia. Ferdinand had been inspecting his uncle's imperial armed
forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the threat of Serbian nationalists who
wanted these Austro-Hungarian possessions to join newly independent Serbia.
Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use
the incident as justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism
once and for all. However, as Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian
declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German
leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of
a Russian intervention.On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and
the tenuous peace between Europe's great powers collapsed. On July 29,
Austro-Hungarian forces began to shell the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and
Russia, Serbia's ally, ordered a troop mobilization against Austria-Hungary.
France, allied with Russia, began to mobilize on August 1. France and Germany
declared war against each other on August 3. After crossing through neutral
Luxembourg, the German army invaded Belgium on the night of August 3-4,
prompting Great Britain, Belgium's ally, to declare war against Germany.For the
most part, the people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation.
Most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months.
Of the initial belligerents, Germany was most prepared for the outbreak of
hostilities, and its military leaders had formatted a sophisticated military
strategy known as the "Schlieffen Plan," which envisioned the conquest of France
through a great arcing offensive through Belgium and into northern France.
Russia, slow to mobilize, was to be kept occupied by Austro-Hungarian forces
while Germany attacked France.The Schlieffen Plan was nearly successful, but in
early September the French rallied and halted the German advance at the bloody
Battle of the Marne near Paris. By the end of 1914, well over a million soldiers
of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and
neither for the Allies nor the Central Powers was a final victory in sight. On
the western front--the battle line that stretched across northern France and
Belgium--the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of
attrition.In 1915, the Allies attempted to break the stalemate with an
amphibious invasion of Turkey, which had joined the Central Powers in October
1914, but after heavy bloodshed the Allies were forced to retreat in early 1916.
The year 1916 saw great offensives by Germany and Britain along the western
front, but neither side accomplished a decisive victory. In the east, Germany
was more successful, and the disorganized Russian army suffered terrible losses,
spurring the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. By the end of 1917, the
Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia and immediately set about negotiating
peace with Germany. In 1918, the infusion of American troops and resources into
the western front finally tipped the scale in the Allies' favor. Germany signed
an armistice agreement with the Allies on November 11, 1918.World War I was
known as the "war to end all wars" because of the great slaughter and
destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the
conflict--the Treaty of Versailles of 1919--forced punitive terms on Germany
that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.


I thought that I would post my "This Day in History Email" because the feed we use here at the Blog seems to have forgotten to add what today really means. Anyone who has read "Rilla of Ingleside" cannot forget what today means. At the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns finally fell silent. The loss of life was devastating, and we should always "keep faith." We should never forget. Don't let this day just be a day for sales and such at stores. In Canada, it's called Remembrance Day. I like that more than just Veterans Day. Remember.
3 Responses
  1. Elouise82 Says:

    A chilling but necessary reminder. I'm ashamed to say I'd forgotten that today was Veteran's Day. Thanks, Adrienne.

  2. Beatle Chic Says:

    Before WWII, Veteran's Day was originally called Armistice Day in remembrance of those who gave their lives in the Great War. It was changed to Veteran's Day to honor all veterans who have fought in the wars since then and before then, I think. So we should remember the sacrifices these men and women gave us so we could live in a better world today. Thank you veterans!

  3. It's also called REMEMBERANCE DAY here in Australia!!!!!!!