November 1918: end the war

November 1918: end the war

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  • Armistice negotiations by the Allied War Council at Versailles in October 1918.


  • Signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918 in Compiègne in a wagon.


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Title: Armistice negotiations by the Allied War Council at Versailles in October 1918.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1918

Date shown: October 1918

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Storage place: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin) website

Contact copyright: © BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown website

Picture reference: 04-505531 / 2419D

Armistice negotiations by the Allied War Council at Versailles in October 1918.

© BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown

To close

Title: Signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918 in Compiègne in a wagon.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Date shown: November 11, 1918

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: From left to right: Captain Vanselow, Count Oberndorf, General Winterfeldt, Captain Marriott, Matthias Erzberger, Vice-Admiral Hope, Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss, Marshall Foch, General Weygand

Storage place: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin) website

Contact copyright: © BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais © All rights reserved

Picture reference: 04-505531 / 2419D

Signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918 in Compiègne in a wagon.

© BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais All rights reserved

Publication date: October 2007

Historical context

The signatories of the treaties, agents of breathless powers

At the end of the First World War, the immense human losses and the unprecedented geopolitics born of the Russian revolution and the collapse of the Central Empires strike the minds of contemporaries. But, in truth, has this war had any victors? Historians agree in considering the USA The "imperial societies" - Germany, France and the United Kingdom - emerge to varying degrees very weakened from the confrontation: at the beginning of November 1918 they are societies in mourning shaken by social unrest. scale, revolutionary in nature in the German case. The conditions of the armistice can be quickly summed up: an end to the fighting, surrender of the German army and almost all of its equipment, and withdrawal across the Rhine. The serenity of the actors as they appear here should not conceal the tensions amid which this handful of men find themselves in charge of sealing the destinies of millions of others.

Image Analysis

Discussion and conclusion of the armistice

The photograph taken in the Versailles room a few days before the armistice shows the Supreme War Council in the process of ratifying the conditions for the cessation of fighting worked out, not without bitter discussions, by France, England and the United States. It is only then that the second rank allies, such as Serbia or Japan (its representative is at the bottom left of the image) are invited, for the parade in short. The end of the fighting therefore depends on when the feathers are dipped in inkwells such as those placed prominently on the table in the Rethondes wagon. This painting seems in fact to represent November 8, the date of the first talks, rather than the 11, the day of the signing. This is done at 5:10 am, which is in contradiction with the daylight observable in the background. A text written by General Weygand about November 8, 1918, moreover provides key points compatible with this representation: “We had done things well. From their wagon to ours, they had a hundred yards to cover on the forest path. I had a slatted floor installed so that they could walk on it without getting their feet wet on the damp grass (...) I was warned that they were coming. I walked down the stairs to the last step to greet them. I saw them. (…) That moment will undoubtedly remain the most moving of my life. You understand, don't you? These silent figures approaching, it was all the same the German Empire and its fortune "(General Weygand, cited in The 11th of November, p.427). His misfortune, one tempted to correct at the sight of the sinister faces of the members of the German delegation ... Foch, on the other hand, is staged by the artist in the haughty but inflexible position of the victorious warlord. Archetypal of the posture of a great historical figure, it is clearly already a prefiguration of his statue, installed in the same place on September 26, 1937.


The history of the Rethondes clearing is in fact not over, it was a major issue of memory until the 1950s. France celebrated the place by inaugurating the "clearing of the armistice" in 1922. Hitler there will come to sign the other armistice, that of 1940, and will take the opportunity to degrade the commemorative monument. France in the 1950s will restore the integrity of the place. This crossover is a bit like the conditions of the end of the war, in which many agreed at the time already to see the seeds of further conflict. Thus Erzberger, present in Rethondes but also in Versailles in June 1919 to sign the peace treaty, did not harbor any illusions about the imposed peace, inflicting heavy reparations on Germany, attributing to it the responsibility for the outbreak of the confluence, and making from this powerful country a diplomatic and military dwarf: “When you are forced to sign, you are no longer guilty of insincerity. We only have to say that we are giving in to force "(Matthias Erzberger, cited in J. Galtier-Boissière, The Great War 1914-1918, p.558). Erzberger, like millions of Germans in the following years, did not consider himself bound to any real commitments by the peace of 1919, which was to become the diktat vituperated by Hitler. Knowing the sequence of events, such a painting of the tranquility of those who signed the peace treaties - at least as the authorized iconography shows them - cannot fail to cause some confusion.

  • November 11th
  • War of 14-18
  • Clemenceau (Georges)
  • Foch (Ferdinand)
  • Treaty of Versailles
  • Versailles


Pierre VALLAUD, 14-18, World War I, volumes I and II, Paris, Fayard, 2004. André DUCASSE, Jacques MEYER and Gabriel PERREUX Life and death of the French, 1914-1918 Paris, Hachette, 1962, p.468 Jean -Baptiste DUROSELLEClemenceauParis, Fayard, 1988.Jean GALTIER-BOISSIERELa Great War 1914-1918Paris, Productions de Paris, 1966.John Maynard KEYNESThe economic consequences of peace1919.Pierre RENOUVIN November 11, 1918, the Armistice of RethondesParis, Gallimard, 1968.

To cite this article

François BOULOC, "November 1918: putting an end to the war"

Video: Armistice 1918


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