Little Bits of History

The War to End All Wars

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 11, 2010

Photograph taken in the forest of Compiègne after reaching an agreement for the armistice ending World War I.

November 11, 1918: World War I, The Great War, The War to End All Wars, the First World War ends at 11 AM when Germany signs an armistice agreement. On June 28, 1914 one of those shots heard ′round the world was fired when Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Black Hand group fighting for Slavic independence, shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The Archduke was in line for the throne of Austria-Hungary.

The escalation from a civil war for independence to a world conflagration was swift. The two sides were eventually to include the Allies with member nations: France, Italy, Russia, Serbia, British Empire, the US, and other minor players against the Central Powers with member nations: Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire.

During the four years of warfare, the Allies suffered over 5.5 million dead, nearly 13 million wounded, and more than 4 million missing. The Central Powers lost nearly 4.4 million, with close to 8.4 million wounded and over 3.6 million missing. The battles raged across Europe and into Africa.

The end came in the same swift manner as the beginning. Bulgaria signed an armistice on September 29, 1918. The Ottoman Empire followed on October 30 and Austria-Hungary signed on November 3. Germany succumbed within days. The victors met in Paris and created the Versailles Treaty which laid blame for the entire war at the feet of Austria-Hungary and Germany. They were made to pay war reparations and were saddled with the guilt of the vast war and monumental death toll. Thus the war to end all wars laid the seeds for the next outbreak of worldwide violence.

“If any question why we died / Tell them, because our fathers lied.” – Rudyard Kipling

“Cannon is expensive, cannon fodder cheap.” – John Gunther

“Soldiers are made on purpose to be killed.” – Napoleon

“They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.” – Carl Sandburg

Also on this day, in 1620 the Mayflower Compact was signed.

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