The ceasefire

Happy Christmas, (war is over)

The Armistice of November 11, 1918, was an agreement between the Entente and Germany, their final adversary in the First World War, that put an end to warfare on land, sea, and in the air.

It was signed at Le Francport near Compiègne. Previous armistices had been reached with Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire.

The agreement was reached after the German government contacted American president Woodrow Wilson to negotiate terms based on his most recent speech and the previously stated "Fourteen Points," which later served as the foundation for Germany's capitulation at the Paris Peace Conference the following year.

Newspapers around the world were quick to announce the end of hostilities.

End of German resistance

Since the Battle of Amiens at the beginning of August 1918, which caused the Germans to retreat to the Hindenburg Line and lose the advantages of their spring advance, the military situation for the Central Powers had been steadily worsening.  

The Allied advance, later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, entered a new phase on September 28 when the Meuse-Argonne offensive was launched by a sizable American and French attack, while to the north, the British were preparing to launch an assault at the St. Quentin Canal, posing the threat of a massive pincer movement.

German prisoners are pictured arriving from Tilloloy after being captured in August 1918 Germany, chronic food shortages brought on by the Allied blockade were increasingly causing unrest and disorder...

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was in disarray, the Ottoman Empire was on the verge of collapse, and in the Macedonian front, the Bulgarian Army's resistance had crumbled, resulting in the Armistice of Salonica on September 29.

Although morale on the German front line was reasonable, a severe manpower shortage had been caused by battle casualties, starvation rations, and Spanish flu.

Those recruits that were still available were war-weary and disenchanted. In Germany, chronic food shortages brought on by the Allied blockade were increasingly causing unrest and disorder.

Carrying party of the 1/7th King's Liverpool Regiment, 156th Brigade, 55th division bringing up rations in containers to the men in the trenches in the La Bassee Canal Sector. 15 March 1918.

Amazing World War One Images Transformed into Color ~ Vintage Everyday

...he could not guarantee that the front would hold...

Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Imperial Chancellor, Count Georg von Hertling, were notified by the German Supreme Army Command at Imperial Army Headquarters in Spa in occupied Belgium on September 29, 1918, that Germany's military condition was hopeless.

Erich Ludendorff, the quartermaster general, demanded that an appeal be made to the Entente for an urgent ceasefire, claiming that he could not guarantee that the front would hold for another two hours due to fears of a breakthrough.

German prisoners of war captured near Amiens in late August 1918.

David McLellan / Imperial War Museum

...he was able to preserve the reputation of the Imperial German Army...

Additionally, he advised accepting the Fourteen Points, which include putting the Imperial Government on a democratic footing in the hopes of obtaining more favourable peace terms. By doing so, he was able to preserve the reputation of the Imperial German Army and assign full accountability for the surrender and its effects to the democratic parties and the parliament.

On 1st October, he told the cops in his staff that they needed to "They now must lie on the bed that they've made for us."

In order to negotiate an armistice, Georg von Hertling was replaced as Chancellor of Germany on 3rd October by the liberal Prince Maximilian of Baden. By the fifth of October 1918, the German government had sent a message to President Woodrow Wilson requesting that they negotiate terms based on his most recent speech and the previously stated Fourteen Points after extensive discussions with the Kaiser and assessments of the political and military situations in the Reich.

The prominent statesmen of the Reich were not yet prepared to consider such a terrible option, thus Wilson's remarks in the following two discussions "failed to convey the idea that the Kaiser's abdication was an essential condition for peace. The leading statesmen of the Reich were not yet ready to contemplate such a monstrous possibility." must demand not peace negotiations but surrender...

As a precondition for negotiations, Wilson demanded the retreat of Germany from all occupied territories, the cessation of submarine activities and the Kaiser's abdication, writing on October 23:

"If the Government of the United States must deal with the military masters and the monarchical autocrats of Germany now, or if it is likely to have to deal with them later in regard to the international obligations of the German Empire, it must demand not peace negotiations but surrender."

A crowd of soldiers on the Western Front celebrating as an officer announces the news of the Armistice.

Breathtaking Photos Showing the Moment World War I Ended in Color For the First Time ~ Vintage Everyday

Ludendorff intervenes

Late in October 1918, Ludendorff experienced a change of heart and considered the terms of the Allies to be intolerable. He now asked that the war, which he had declared over just one month earlier, resume.

However, the German Army was already experiencing low morale and a rise in desertions at this point.

The Imperial Government continued on its course, and the Emperor dismissed Ludendorff from his position and appointed Lieutenant General Wilhelm Groener in his place.

On the 5th November, 1918 the Allies decided to resume talks for a cease-fire while also requesting compensation.

On the 6th November, 1918, President Wilson's most recent letter was delivered to Berlin. The delegation headed by Matthias Erzberger left for France on the same day.

Matthias Erzberger

A cheerful looking General Wilhelm Ludendorff 

Getty Images

The fact that the French, British, and Italian governments had no willingness to accept the "Fourteen Points" and President Wilson's following promises was a considerably stronger barrier that contributed to the five-week delay in the signing of the Armistice and the ensuing societal disintegration throughout Europe.

For instance, they believed that Wilson's proposed de-militarization would only apply to the Central Powers. Their post-War plans contained ambiguities and did not consistently carry out the objective of national self-determination.

The "fourteen commandments" presented a challenge for the Allied statesmen because, up until that point, they had viewed them as a clever and successful piece of American propaganda intended primarily to undermine the fighting spirit of the Central Powers and to boost the morale of the weaker Allies.

All of a sudden, the entire peace structure was to be based on a set of "vague principles" that, to them, were mostly utterly impossible and, if truly applied, some of which were just intolerable.

The German revolution

The sailors' uprising, which occurred the night of October 29 to 30, 1918, in Wilhelmshaven, a naval port, quickly spread over the entire nation and resulted in the proclamation of a republic on November 9 and the announcement of Wilhelm II's abdication.

In certain places, soldiers questioned the authority of their leaders and occasionally formed Troops' Councils, such as the one that was established in Brussels on November 9 by soldiers participating in a revolution.

Germans stand guard with an armored car in front of the Chancellor’s Palace in Berlin during the German Revolution 13 May, 1919.

Richard White

...The new Weimar Republic would be seen as having no legitimacy...

Additionally, on November 9, Max von Baden appointed Social Democrat Friedrich Ebert as the next Chancellor. Since Bismarck's reign in the 1870s and 1880s, Ebert's SPD and Erzberger's Catholic Centre Party had a tense relationship with the Imperial government.

Since 1917, they had been advocating for a negotiated peace in the Imperial Reichstag, which had little influence over the administration.

The new Weimar Republic would be seen as having no legitimacy in the perspective of the right-wing and militarists due to their role in the peace negotiations.


The outcome of a rushed and frantic procedure was the Armistice.

The German delegation, led by Matthias Erzberger, crossed the front line in five automobiles and arrived on November 8, 1918, after being driven for 10 hours across the ravaged combat zone of Northern France.

Then they were transported onboard Ferdinand Foch's private train, which was stationed in a siding in the Forest of Compiègne.

The people involved were all military for the Allies. Marshal of France Ferdinand Foch and First Sea Lord Admiral Rosslyn Wemys, who represented Britain, were the two signatories.

The mission also included Foch's chief of staff, General Maxime Weygand (later French commander-in-chief in 1940).

Captain Jack Marriott, a British navy officer, is the First Sea Lord's naval assistant. Rear-admiral George Hope is the First Sea Lord's deputy.

Representatives of the allies and the German government pose outside the railway car in which the armistice that ended the war was signed.


...the list of Allied requests was presented to the Germans, and they had 72 hours to accept them...

The four signings for Germany were: Count Alfred von Oberndorff, a member of the Foreign Ministry; Major General Detlof von Winterfeldt [de], an army general; Captain Ernst Vanselow, a member of the navy.

In the three days of negotiations, Foch only made two appearances: on the first day to inquire about the German delegation's requests and on the final day to oversee the signatures. The list of Allied requests was presented to the Germans, and they had 72 hours to accept them.

Instead of Foch, the German team spoke with other French and Allied officers on the Allied terms.


The German military was completely demilitarised as a result of the Armistice and the Allies made little commitments in exchange. Up until final peace agreements could be reached, the naval blockade of Germany was only partially removed.

Very few negotiations took place. The Germans were able to modify a few unrealistic conditions (such as the decommissioning of more submarines than their fleet possessed), delay the pullout timeline, and officially protest the harshness of the Allied terms. However, they had no choice but to sign.

The abdication of the Kaiser was reported around the world.

...following the Armistice, the Rhineland was taken over...

The Germans were informed of the Kaiser's abdication by being shown newspapers from Paris on Sunday, November 10, 1918.

Ebert gave Erzberger the go-ahead to sign the same day. Paul von Hindenburg, the chief of the German High Command, had already sent a note to the cabinet asking that the armistice be signed even if the Allied terms could not be altered.

Following the Armistice, the Rhineland was taken over. There were American, Belgian, British, and French forces among the occupying armies.


Before the peace was formally formalised, the Armistice was extended three times. 

  • Initial Armistice (11 November 1918 – 13 December 1918)
  • First extension of the cease-fire (13 December 1918 – 16 January 1919)
  • Second extension of the cease-fire (16 January 1919 – 16 February 1919)
  • Trèves Agreement, January 17, 1919 
  • Third extension of the cease-fire (16 February 1919 – 10 January 1920)
  • 14 March 1919, Brussels Agreement 

On January 10, 1920, at 4:15 p.m., peace was declared.

Crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace to celebrate the end of the fighting.


Among its 34 clauses, the armistice contained the following major points:


Western Front

  • Termination of hostilities on the Western Front, on land and in the air, within six hours of signature.
  • Immediate evacuation of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Alsace-Lorraine within 15 days. Sick and wounded may be left for Allies to care for
  • Immediate repatriation of all inhabitants of those four territories in German hands.
  • Surrender of matériel: 5,000 artillery pieces, 25,000 machine guns, 3,000 minenwerfer, 1,700 aircraft (including all night bombers), 5,000 railway locomotives, 150,000 railway carriages and 5,000 road trucks.
  • Evacuation of territory on the west side of the Rhine plus 30 km (19 mi) radius bridgeheads of the east side of the Rhine at the cities of Mainz, Koblenz, and Cologne within 31 days.
  • Vacated territory to be occupied by Allied troops, maintained at Germany's expense.
  • No removal or destruction of civilian goods or inhabitants in evacuated territories and all military matériel and premises to be left intact.
  • All minefields on land and sea to be identified
  • All means of communication (roads, railways, canals, bridges, telegraphs, telephones) to be left intact, as well as everything needed for agriculture and industry.

Soldiers in a field wave their helmets and cheer on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.

Royston Leonard /

Eastern and African Fronts

  • Immediate withdrawal of all German troops in Romania and in what were the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire back to German territory as it was on 1 August 1914, although tacit support was given to the pro-German West Russian Volunteer Army under the guise of combating the Bolsheviks. The Allies to have access to these countries.
  • Renunciation of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Russia and of the Treaty of Bucharest with Romania.
  • Evacuation of German forces in Africa.

The U-48 was one of 39 German U-Boats to surrender, most of them in perfect condition. The White Ensign can be seen flying above the Imperial German Navy flag.


At sea

  • Immediate cessation of all hostilities at sea and surrender intact of all German submarines within 14 days
  • Listed German surface vessels to be interned within 7 days and the rest disarmed
  • Free access to German waters for Allied ships and for those of the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Sweden
  • The naval blockade of Germany to continue
  • Immediate evacuation of all Black Sea ports and handover of all captured Russian vessels.


  • Immediate release of all Allied prisoners of war and interned civilians, without reciprocity.
  • Pending a financial settlement, surrender of assets looted from Belgium, Romania and Russia


The armistice was struck at five o'clock this morning, and hostilities are to halt on all fronts at eleven o'clock today, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George declared in a subjoined formal communiqué released from the Press Bureau at 10:20 a.m. In line with the conditions of the Armistice, hostilities on the fronts of the American soldiers were ceased at eleven o'clock this morning, according to a statement made public by the United States at 2:30 pm.


...Hostilities will cease on the whole front as from November 11 at 11 o'clock...

Around 9:00 a.m., Paris received official word that an armistice had been signed. After arriving at the Ministry of War an hour later with a British admiral, Foch was welcomed there right away by French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau.

Foch issued the following general order at 10:50 a.m "Hostilities will cease on the whole front as from November 11 at 11 o'clock French time. The Allied troops will not, until further order, go beyond the line reached on that date and at that hour."

The announcing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, was the occasion for large celebrations in the allied nations.

Royston Leonard /

...fighting persisted in several areas of the front...

Clemenceau, Foch, and the British admiral arrived at the Élysée Palace five minutes later. The Ministry of War and the Élysée Palace flew flags as bells rung around Paris in response to the first shot fired from the Eiffel Tower. Clemenceau answered the appeal from the 500 students who had assembled in front of the Ministry by appearing on the balcony. "Vive la France!" said Clemenceau, and the crowd repeated him.

The armistice was officially declared at 11:00 a.m. by firing the first peace shot from Fort Mont-Valérien, but the general public already knew this due to official channels and publications.

Even though word of the impending ceasefire had filtered among the frontline troops in the preceding hours, fighting persisted in several areas of the front until the scheduled hour. There was some impromptu friendly interaction between the two sides at 11 a.m. However, responses were often subdued. 

Celebrations in the USA..

...quiet and emptiness predominated...

According to a British corporal: "...the Germans came from their trenches, bowed to us and then went away. That was it. There was nothing with which we could celebrate, except cookies."  Exultation and ecstasy were uncommon on the Allied side.

After 52 arduous months of battle, there was some applause and cheering, but quiet and emptiness predominated.

The 1919 Paris Peace Conference and Treaty of Versailles ultimately brought about the peace between the Allies and Germany.

A front page headline taken from The Daily Mirror on 12 November 1918.

How did World War One end and what happened next? - BBC Bitesize

Further reading

A compelling examination of the intricate factors leading to the First World War. Meticulously researched and eloquently written, the book explores the political miscalculations, diplomatic failures, and societal shifts that paved the way for global conflict. MacMillan skillfully navigates the complexities, offering a thought-provoking analysis of the era's tensions. A must-read for those fascinated by the events preceding the Great War.

A masterful historical account that delves into the complex dynamics of the Great War. Keegan's narrative skillfully weaves together military strategy, political maneuvering, and personal experiences of soldiers. With insightful analysis, he presents a comprehensive overview of the conflict, offering readers a deep understanding of the war's causes and consequences. An engaging and informative read for anyone seeking a nuanced perspective on the First World War.

A haunting portrayal of the physical and psychological toll of war. Set during the First World War it follows the harrowing journey of German soldier Paul Bäumer. The novel powerfully depicts the dehumanizing effects of combat, offering a stark anti-war message. Remarque's prose is poignant, capturing the bleak reality faced by soldiers. A timeless classic, this novel forces readers to confront the senselessness of war and its profound impact on the human spirit.

A vivid account of the armistice ending the First World War, Persico's narrative skillfully captures the final moments of the conflict. Detailing the emotions, decisions, and repercussions, the book provides a poignant examination of the war's conclusion, shedding light on the delicate balance between victory and lasting peace.

In "1918: War and Peace," Dallas intricately dissects the final year of the First World War, emphasizing the pivotal events leading to the armistice. Rich in historical context and personal accounts, the book immerses readers in the complexities of the war's end, offering a comprehensive understanding of the diplomatic, military, and human dimensions.

Guy Cuthbertson offers a poignant exploration of Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. Delving into the profound impact of the ceasefire that ended the First World War, Cuthbertson's narrative is a compelling blend of historical analysis and personal stories. Through vivid storytelling, the book beautifully captures the complex emotions and societal shifts that marked this momentous day, providing a nuanced portrait of the war's conclusion.