From: Los Angeles
11 November 1918
At 5:00 a.m., the German delegation signed the Armistice terms, to take effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In wars past, news of peace had taken some time to travel. (The famous Battle of New Orleans was actually fought two weeks after the signing of the treaty ending the War of 1812.) Now, the news was transmitted instantly across Europe. The reactions were many. In some cases, there was immense relief. In other cases, it made little difference for the next few hours. It was a point of pride for many of the Allies to push the Germans back as far as possible before the fighting stopped. It is estimated that nearly 11,000 men were killed or wounded in the six hours before the cease-fire took effect.
American Henry Gunther of the 313th Infantry Regiment had been demoted from sergeant to private for writing a letter to home criticizing conditions at the front and advising a friend to avoid being conscripted. He was apparently consumed with regaining his rank. When his squad approached a German roadblock with two machine guns, the squad leader ordered his men to stand down, but Gunther evidently hoped one more act of bravery would get him the promotion.
Bayonet fixed, Gunther charged. The Germans, knowing the cease-fire was about to come into effect, tried to wave him off. But he kept coming, and at 10:59 am, a burst from a machine gun killed him instantly. He was the last man to die in the official part of World War One. He was, however, posthumously promoted back to sergeant.
In the German Navy:
Heavens above! but the terms are crushing! All the U-boats to be surrendered, the High Seas Fleet interned; why not say "surrendered" straight out, it will come to that, unless we blow them up in German ports. The end of Kaiserdom has come; we are virtually a republic; it is all like a dream.
We have signed, and the last shot of the world-war has been fired. Here everything is confusion; the saner elements are trying to keep order, the roughs are going round the dockyard and ships, looting freely. "Better we should steal them than the English," and "There is no Government, so all is free," are two of their cries. There has been a little shooting in the streets, and it is not safe for officers to move about in uniform, though, on the whole, I have experienced little difficulty. I was summoned to-day before the Local Council, which is run by a man who was a Petty Officer of signals in the König. He recognized me and looked away. I was instructed to take U.122 over to Harwich for surrender to the English. I made no difficulty; some one has got to do it, and I verily believe I am indifferent to all emotions.
--The Diary of a U-boat Commander
In Austria, Emperor Charles, realizing no one was willing to obey him any longer, issued a proclamation. It acknowledged the right of the Austrian people to determine the form of government, and for himself relinquished “every participation in the administration of the State." The proclamation also released all officials from their oaths of loyalty to the crown, allowing them to participate in the new government.
However, Charles believed that this was only a temporary disruption. The proclamation was not an abdication, and to the end of his life he maintained that he was still the rightful king of both Austria and Hungary. The governments of those two countries would not agree, and when he left Austria, the Austrian Parliament would pass a law banning him from ever returning.
In London, the reaction was all that could have been hoped for:
And then suddenly the first stroke of the chime. I looked again at the broad street beneath me. It was deserted. From the portals of one of the large hotels absorbed by Government Departments darted the slight figure of a girl clerk, distractedly gesticulating while another stroke resounded. Then from all sides men and women came scurrying into the street. Streams of people poured out of all the buildings. The bells of London began to clash. Northumberland Avenue was now crowded with people in hundreds, nay, thousands, rushing hither and thither in a frantic manner, shouting and screaming with joy. I could see that Trafalgar Square was already swarming. Around me in our very headquarters, in the Hotel Metropole, disorder had broken out. Doors banged. Feet clattered down corridors. Everyone rose from the desk and cast aside pen and paper. All bounds were broken. The tumult grew. It grew like a gale, but from all sides simultaneously. The street was now a seething mass of humanity. Flags appeared as if by magic. Streams of men and women flowed from the Embankment. They mingled with torrents pouring down the Strand on their way to acclaim the King. Almost before the last stroke of the clock had died away, the strict, war-straitened, regulated streets of London had become a triumphant pandemonium. At any rate it was clear that no more work would be done that day. Yes, the chains which had held the world were broken. Links of imperative need, links of discipline, links of brute force, links of self-sacrifice, links of terror, links of honour which had held our nation, nay, the greater part of mankind, to grinding toil, to a compulsive cause—every one had snapped upon a few strokes of the clock. Safety, freedom, peace, home, the dear one back at the fireside . . .
--Winston Churchill, “The World Crisis, Vol. 3”
< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 11/11/2018 3:11:09 AM >
Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?