Armistice 1918

Armistice 1918

Armistice 1918

Armistice 1918

Synopsis

The five armistices arranged in the fall of 1918 determined the course of diplomatic events for many years. The armistice with Germany, the most important of the five, was really a peace treaty in miniature.

Bullitt Lowry, basing his account on a close study of newly available archives in Great Britain, France, and the United States, offers a detailed examination of the process by which what might have been only simple orders to cease fire instead became extensive diplomatic and military instructions to armies and governments. He also assesses the work of the leading figures in the process, as well as supporting casts of generals, admirals, and diplomatic advisors.

Excerpt

In October 1918, the Germans asked the Allied and Associated Powers for an armistice. Victory was coming to the Allies and the United States because of the Germans' failure in their 1918 offensive and the effect of that failure on the other Central Powers—Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire, and Austria-Hungary.

The Bulgarians, with German aid ended and their front collapsing, had already asked for an armistice, which the Allies granted at the end of September, and Bulgaria left the war. the leaders of the Ottoman Empire also wanted out of the war as quickly as possible. They saw the morale of their soldiers fading, British armies advancing from three directions, and further German help blocked because of Bulgaria's surrender. Finally, Germany's oldest and most important ally, Austria-Hungary, was spinning apart, with national group after national group claiming the right to decide its own destiny. That situation, explosive for years, was now getting worse daily.

In all cases, the decisive point, geographically and chronologically, was Germany and its failed 1918 offensive. Begun in March, the offensive was General Erich Ludendorff's fierce attempt to end the war before fresh American troops could tilt the balance. By midsummer, the offensive's second phase had lost momentum, and Allied counterattacks started the great German retreat.

The constantly worsening military situation led Ludendorff, late in September, to demand that the German government get an immediate . . .

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