5.2

Views on a Prospective Armistice

Ferdinand Foch and John Pershing

Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies to Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau Personal and Secret

18 October 1918

You saw Field Marshal Haig last Sunday; perhaps he spoke with you about conditions for an armistice, but in any case, today on this subject I understand the following:

Field Marshal Haig considers German military strength strong enough that we should count upon it for the near future. Further, he judges that the advancing of the season makes possible a delaying action on the part of the enemy that would permit him to regroup his forces on a shorter front, delay through destruction and bad weather the pursuit of allied forces, and assure the dictatorial German government of the possibility of the defense of German soil; in sum, to continue the war for an indeterminate period of time. We could undercut this tactic with an armistice that would put a quick end to the war, while imposing on the enemy the necessary conditions: evacuation of Belgium, Luxembourg, and Alsace-Lorraine.

These conditions seem sufficient to Field Marshal Haig to permit the allies to invade the Southern and Northern German states simultaneously in the case of a rupture of the armistice.

Field Marshal Haig has just left for London, where he must stay until the 20th and where he will be consulted on the state of the British Army and the military situation. These are undoubtedly the views he will develop.

I cannot agree with this timid manner of viewing the situation:

1. The military power of the Germans is in such a state of material and moral disorganization that it will not be able to offer serious resistance if we do not give it respite, whatever its form of government.

2. The simple evacuation of Belgium, Luxembourg, and Alsace-Lorraine does not give us a single guarantee for necessary reparations and, if the armistice is broken, does not furnish us with the means for breaking enemy resistance beyond the Rhine River where the Germans will resist all crossings.

In communicating Marshal Haig's views, which you may already know, to you without delay, I have the honor of letting you know that I hold to the propositions contained in my letter of the 8th of this month.1

Foch

-294-

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