GCSE History Revision: First World War: End of War
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Everything you need to know about: First World War: End of War!
On the 21st March Germany launched operation Michael, their last ditch attempt to defeat the allied forces. They were, however, pushed back on Aug 8th 1918 and by this point the German generals knew they had lost. This defeat was later known as the German Armies ‘Black Day.
At 5am, 11th November 1918 delegates met in Ferdinand Foch’s (A French commander) railway carriage in the Forest of Compiègne and agreed a ceasefire to begin at 11am on the 11th of November. By 5:40am many of the cities knew about the armistice but the soldiers at the front did not. The CWGC records Private George Edwin Ellison of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers to be the last British soldier killed in World War one, at 9:30am. Officially, the last man to die in World War one was Private Henry Gunter, an American soldier who died at 10:59, 1minute before the Armistice came into action. It is said as he fell, the ceasefire began and an eerie silence fell upon the land with him.
This Armistice was the prelude to peace negotiations and the resulting treaties. The Armistice was greeted with joy and hope by the majority of the world but negotiations were tough and compromises had to be made by all countries. The most important issues were arranged by ‘The Big Three’, France, Britain and USA.
Britain. The president at the time was David Lloyd George. He was instrumental in insuring the armistice and treaty remained on track, introducing the Fontainebleau Memorandum to keep both France and the USA happy and ‘on board’. He wanted a ‘just peace’ to appease electors (who wanted Germany punished) but still enable trade, safeguard the Navy and secure land for the British Empire. He was aware that if Germany was punished too severely it might give rise to communism and German radical alternatives
France. Georges Clemenceau took a harder stance and wanted revenge. He didn’t want a League of Nations and argued that France had suffered the most by providing the most men and the battleground. He demanded the region of Alsace-Lorraine given back to France and claimed an independent Rhineland was essential to Frances future survival against future attack. The Rhineland had been invaded four times by Germany between 1814 and 1914. He also wanted Germany to pay huge reparations and disband the army.
USA. The USA however, wanted long lasting peace and not to anger the German citizens. They did not ask for any territorial gains or demand any reparation and were therefore seen as the ‘honest broker’ and ‘conscience’ between countries. Woodrow Wilson suggested 14points to help keep the peace and to help prevent the complete destruction of Germany. These included no secret treaties, the reduction of military power and the League of Nations. Not everyone could agree on all these points and eventually, only 6 were kept and used in the Armistice. These were: Disarmament (the reduction of military strength); League of Nations (where countries could discuss disputes and vote); freedom of colonies (Germany had to give back what they took); freedom of seas (blockages lifted and re-distributed ports); free trade (access of trade routes and Germanys supply of free coal to France); self-determination for Europeans (Those who were now free could choose to be independent from Germany and join other countries. Much of the world map changed after the First World War).
Germany would saw the Armistice and subsequent treaty very differently. They were angry at being forced into a democratic republic with a non-negotiable treaty (signed in 1919 in the hall of mirrors) making them responsible for the start of the war and therefore paying all the reparations (a type of compensation).
Armistice Day is still remembered with the wearing of poppies and a 2minute silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month every year in honour of those who fought in the First World War and subsequent wars.
SUMMARY: The Armistice came into action at 11am on 11th November 1918. It was a ceasefire whilst a peace treaty was arranged. The Armistice was put together through negations led by Britain, France and USA. Germany did not have a say and were not happy with many of the terms. It presented 6 points in which Germany had to comply. These were Disarmament; A League of Nations; Freedom of Colonies; Freedom of seas; Free trade; and self-determination of Europeans.
Armistice Day is still remembered on the same day at the same time every year in honour of those who died in WW1 and the wars that followed.
Make sure to check out our music video on "First World War: End of War!" and try to remember every lyric, and then have a go at our test!
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