The Armistice of Compiègne, which ended the First World War, was signed on November 11, 1918 in a railroad car. This event established an unstable peace for the next twenty years.
The hopelessness of Germany's martial law
On September 25, 1918 (just over two weeks before the signing of the Armistice of Kopje), the German top military leadership informed Kaiser Wilhelm II and Chancellor von Gertling that the situation of the Second Reich was hopeless. One of the generals, Erich Ludendorff, even assumed that the front was unlikely to hold out even for the next twenty-four hours. He advised higher leaders to ask the Entente for an immediate ceasefire, to accept Wilson's Fourteen Points, and to democratize the government. Erich Ludendorff assumed that such actions would make it possible to obtain more favorable peace conditions for Germany, save the face of the empire, and subsequently shift the responsibility for the loss to parliament and democratic parties.
Change of chancellor and start of peace talks
Third of October Georg vonGertling was replaced by Maximilian of Baden, the last chancellor of the German Empire, who would later announce the abdication of Wilhelm II. He was instructed not only to negotiate a truce, but also to preserve the monarchy.
Negotiations on the terms of the Armistice of Compiègne began on October 5, 1918. Wilson insisted on the obligatory renunciation of the Kaiser as a mandatory condition, but the statesmen of the Second Reich were then completely unprepared to consider such an option. Wilson also pointed out the need to liberate all occupied territories and end the submarine war. Since the conditions did not suit the German government, negotiations stopped for a while.
Rebellion of the German Navy and Revolution
The ruling elite of the Second Reich, despite the extremely difficult situation, still expected to negotiate acceptable terms for a truce. In order to strengthen its positions during the negotiations on the truce of Kompien, the government conceived a real adventure. On the twenty-fourth of October, Admiral Scheer gave the command, according to which the German fleet was to give a decisive battle to the British forces, reinforced by the American ones. From the point of view of the war, such a step was completely hopeless, since the Entente enjoyed a clear advantage.
Among the sailors of the Second Reich at that time, anti-war sentiments were already very common. Some of the crews refused to obey the order. The sailors, who remained subordinate to the commanders, arrested the rebels and returned the ships to the base. But in the verythere were much more like-minded people arrested in the city than on ships. In the next few days, demonstrations and rallies began in the city, which quickly escalated into armed clashes with government forces. Soon the revolution, which began in Kiel, swept the whole of Germany.
Decisive thirty-six hours
As a result of illness, Maximilian of Baden fell into oblivion for the decisive thirty-six hours from the first to the third of November. When he came to, the most important allies of the Second Reich - Austria-Hungary and Turkey - had already withdrawn from the war, and riots broke out throughout Germany. Maximilian understood that the Kaiser would not be able to keep the throne, and urged him to abdicate in order to prevent bloodshed. Wilhelm II was adamant, but he was already beginning to waver. Without waiting for the final decision of the Kaiser, Maximilian of Baden announced the abdication of the throne of Wilhelm II and his resignation. This happened on November 9, 1918 - three days before the signing of the Compiègne armistice. A republic was proclaimed in Germany.
Truce in the marshal's car
With the abdication of Wilhelm II from the throne, the main obstacle to the signing of a peace treaty was eliminated, but now the parties were forced to speed up the process, as there were fears that events in Germany would develop according to the "Russian" scenario (on the ships of the German fleet already on November 5, red flags were raised).
On the eighth of November, the German delegation arrived at the Compiègne forest in French Picardy -it was there that the headquarters of Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch was located. The Compiègne truce, the reasons for signing which in haste are already clear, was concluded on November 11 at five o'clock in the morning in the Compiègne car. On the German side, the armistice was signed by Major General Detlof von Wintefeldt. The Entente was represented by Ferdinand Von himself, and the English Admiral Rosslyn Wimyss was also present.
The 1918 Armistice of Compiègne went into effect at 11 am on the same day. The end of hostilities was heralded by 101 salvos.
Terms of the peace agreement
According to the signed document, hostilities ceased within six hours, that is, at eleven o'clock on the afternoon of November 11, 1918. In addition, the terms of the Compiègne truce determined that Germany was obliged to:
- Within fifteen days, evacuate all your troops from Belgium, France, Alsace and Lorraine, Luxembourg.
- Within seventeen days, evacuate the troops on the banks of the Rhine with the occupation of these territories by the Allies and the United States.
- Evacuate all troops not on the eastern front to positions as of August 1, 1914.
- Abandon treaties with Romania and the Soviet Union (Bucharest peace treaty and Brest-Litovsk peace respectively).
- Give the victorious countries their entire submarine fleet and land vessels.
- To hand over in good condition five thousand military guns, twenty-five thousand mortars, more than one and a half thousand aircraft, five thousandlocomotives, one hundred and fifty thousand wagons and so on.
Final consolidation of peace terms
The Compiègne truce was finally secured by the Treaty of Versailles, the terms of which were extremely difficult for Germany. Germany did not have the right to form an army of more than a hundred thousand people and have modern weapons, and also paid reparations to the victorious countries. The last reparations payment was on October 3, 2010. Marshal Ferdinand Foch, having read the text of the treaty, noted that this was not peace, but a truce for twenty years. He was wrong by only two months.