In just a few days we will be Remembering, in part, the day 96 years ago when the Armistice to end The War to End All Wars was signed and World War I ended at the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month.
Armistice Negotitations in Compiegne, France 1918
Signing of the Armistice, Compiegne, France, 1918
The painting above depicts the signature of the armistice in the railway carriage at Compiegne, France. Behind the table, from right to left, General Weygand, Marshal Foch (standing) and British Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss and fourth from the left, British Naval Captain Jack Marriott. In the foreground, Erzberger, Major General Detlof von Winterfeldt (with helmet), Alfred von Oberndorff and Ernst Vanselow.
Here is a brief outline of what occured: ” On 3 October 1918, Erzberger entered the government of Prince Max von Baden as a Staatssekretär (Secretary of State) without a specified portfolio. On 6 November 1918, a reluctant Erzberger was sent to negotiate with the Allies in the Forest of Compiègne. Prince Max supposed that Erzberger, as a Catholic civilian, would be more acceptable to the allies than a Prussian military officer; in addition, he believed that Erzberger’s reputation as a man of peace was unassailable.
Against hopes that Erzberger would be able to obtain better conditions from the Allies, Ferdinand Foch, the chief Allied negotiator, was unwilling to make any concessions, with the exception of a slight extension of the time alloted to the German army to withdraw. Erzberger was unsure whether he should hold out for further changes in Germany’s favour. On 10 November, Paul von Hindenburg himself telegraphed back that the armistice should be signed, modifications. A while later, the new Chancellor, the Social Democrat Friedrich Ebert, telegraphed authorizing Erzberger to sign.
As the head of the German delegation, he signed the armistice ending World War I on 11 November 1918 at Compiègne with French representative Ferdinand Foch. He made a short speech on the occasion, protesting the harshness of the terms, and concluded by saying that “a nation of seventy millions can suffer, but it cannot die”. Foch ignored Erzberger’s attempt to shake his hand and is said to have replied, “Très bien”.
click the link to learn more about Ezberger and: “The Rest of the Story“.