Home The Columnists In The Beginning GERMANY SURRENDERS



By Robert A. Fisk

November 7, 1918 Headlines in the Tribune; “GERMANY SURRENDERS

“Bulletin To St. Cloud Tribune.”

“A telegram from Washington, phones to the Tribune states that Germany accepted the Allied terms for an armistice which means an unconditional surrender.”

“The Armistice Was Signed And Becomes Effective at Two O’clock This Afternoon.”

“German emissaries were reported to have been permitted to enter the allied lines at daylight this morning to learn from Marshall Foch on just what conditions Germany would be granted an armistice, and it was known the terms to the Huns would be stricter than those on which Bulgaria, Austria and Turkey were granted on cessation of hostilities, therefore doubt existed whether German  emissaries could act without referring the Allied Terms given by Marshall Foch, to the General Headquarters at Berlin.”

“As this issue goes to press whistles are blowing, church bells ringing and the St. Cloud fife and drum corps is telling the populous that the worlds greatest war is at an end, with America’s troops victorious”



“President Wilson appearing in person before a joint meeting of the National Senate and the National House of Representatives at 1 o’clock Monday afternoon November 11, formally announced to the American people that Germany had accepted the drastic armistice terms prescribed by Marshall Foch and his associates. At the same time the same announcement was made in all other belligerent and neutral nations.”

“The President of the United States read to the assembled Senators and Representatives the terms which the German people have been forced to accept by the armies of the United States and its allies. With solemnity and impressiveness, the President then stated:


“All fighting ceased at 6 o’clock Monday morning (Washington time). The armistice had been signed at midnight – sunrise in France.”

“Germany’s defeat is complete and decisive – so overwhelming that it is hard for the mind to accept it without effort.”

“Her representatives have signed an armistice which not only delivers her great army and navy unreservedly into the hands of the United States and our allies, but at the same time gives to the victorious democracies of the world the permission to and the right to move their armies across German soil and into Russia, to occupy German fortifications on the seacoast, and to supervise the government of a great stretch of territory on both sides of the Rhine river.”

“It is the end of the great German empire – an end so absolute that even the abdication of Wilhelm Hohenzollern and of his dynasty is regulated to the position of a mere incident. The German empire passes into history along with the empires of Alexander the Great, of Carthage, of Rome, of Charlemagne and of Napoleon.”

“President Wilson has ordered the cancellation of all outstanding draft calls, but this does not mean that the great army of more than 2,000,000 fighting Americans now in France will return at once to their country.”

“The peace treaties have not been signed. The Germans at home have not yet seen the American and allied armies policing their cities and town but the sight will not be long without them. Therefore, the American army must remain in Europe some time yet.”

I was in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1945 when the Japanese surrendered and I can remember every ship in the harbor firing everything that had a tracer and the joy of the occasion –                we would soon be going home!

That same front page gave a synopsis of the Armistice disarming Germany:

“Secession of war operations on land and in the air six hours after the armistice is signed.”

“Immediate evacuation of Belgium, France, Alsace, Lorraine and Luxemburg, to be completed within fourteen days.”

“German troops that have not left the above territories within this period will be made prisoners of war.”

“Occupation of the above countries by Entente Allies will keep pace with evacuation by Germans.”

“Return of all citizens deported from the above countries, including hostages and persons under trial or indictment. Return to be completed within fourteen days.”

“Surrender in good condition by German armies of 5,000 guns (2,500 heavy and 2.500 field), 10,000 machine guns, 3,000 minuenwerfer, and 2,000 airplanes.”

“German armies must evacuate all territory west of the Rhine river. This evacuated territory shall be administered by the local authorities under the control of the Entente Allies.”

“Entente Allies garrison shall hold international crossings of the Rhine, at Mayance, Coblenz and Cologne, and hold also the bridgeheads on the right (German) bank of these crossings, and hold also the strategic points of these regions.”

“A neutral zone shall be reserved on the right shore of the Rhine between the river and a line drawn parallel to it forty kilometers to the east from the frontier of Holland to the parallel of Gerosheim and as far as practical a distance thirty kilometers east of the river from this parallel upon the Swiss border.”

“German evacuation of these territories shall be completed within nineteen days after signing the armistice.”

“There shall be no evacuation by inhabitants of territory evacuated by German armies. No damage or harm shall be done to the persons or property of such inhabitants – no destruction of any kind permitted.”

“Military establishments of all kinds in evacumented territory shall be surrendered intact, as well as stores of munitions and equipment.”

“Supplies of food of all kinds for civilians (cattle, etc.) shall be left as situated. Industrial establishments to be left unimpaired; their personnel, or attaches, shall not be removed. Roads, railroads, bridges, telephones and telegraph equipment, and waterways shall not be impaired in any manner. All civil and military personnel employed on these means of transportation shall remain.”

“Five thousand motor lorries, in good working condition and with all parts, etc. shall be delivered to the Entente Powers within the time set for the evacuation of Belgium, etc.”

“The railways of Alsace and Lorraine shall be surrendered within fourteen days, with all their prewar equipment.”

“Further material necessary for working railroads west of the Rhine shall be left as situated.”

“All stores of coal, etc. for the upkeep of permanent ways, signals, and repair shops shall be left as situated and kept in an efficient state by Germans during the whole period of the armistice.”

“All barges taken from the entente Powers shall be restored to them.”

“The German command shall be responsible for revealing all mines or delayed action fuses dropped on territory evacuated by German troops and shall assist in their discovery and destruction.”

“The German command shall reveal also all destructive measures such as poisoning or polluting of wells, springs, etc. under penalty of reprisal for failure to make such revelations.”

“The right of requisition shall be exercised by Entente Allies armies in occupied territory.”

“The upkeep of Entente troops of occupation in Rhine territory (excluding Lorraine) shall be charged to the German government.

“An immediate return, without reciprocity, of all Entente Allies prisoners of war. The Entente Allies may dispose of the poisoners as they wish to do.”

There were about 30 more items on the list, too numerous to include here but in essence they were, any sick or injured repatriates too sick to be moved from the evacuated areas will be cared for by Germans left for that purpose; must withdraw from East front; territory belonging to Russia, Romania or Turkey must be evacuated by Germans; German troops and personnel must begin evacuation of Russian territory; Germans must nullify and abandon treaties with Romania and Russia; Entente Allies shall have free access on the eastern front through either Danzig or by the Vistula to convey supplies to the populations of Poland; unconditional capitulation of all German forces in East Africa within one month; reparation within one month all civilians of any nation who were deported; restitution of Russian and Rumanian gold taken by Germany; definite information must be imparted concerning the location of all German ships; all naval and merchant marine prisoners of war to be released and returned immediately; surrender of 160 German submarines submarine cruisers and mine laying U boats; crews of all submarines to be paid off and vessels placed under supervision of the Entente Allies; six battle cruisers, ten battle-ships, eight light cruisers must be disarmed and interned in neutral ports; all other surface warships (including river craft) shall be concentrated at naval bases; German auxiliary fleet (motor trawlers)shall be disarmed; the Entente Allies have the right to sweep up all mine fields laid by Germans outside of German territorial waters, the positions indicated by the Germans; free access to and from the Baltic sea for naval and mercantile ships of the Entente Allies; existing blockade conditions set up by the Entente Allies shall be unaltered; Entente Allies shall specify what air-ships are to be immobilized; all coast tugs, lighters, cranes, other harbor materials, materials for inland navigation, airships, stores, arms, munitions, and apparatus of all sorts must be abandoned by the Germans when they evacuate the coast of Belgium; Germans must evacuate Black sea ports; all Russian war-vessels of any kind seized in the Black sea by Germans must be released; all merchant vessels seized in the Black sea by Germans must be released; all merchant vessels in German possession belonging to Entente Powers to be restored to ports controlled by these powers; German government shall formally notify all neutral governments – particularly Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Holland – that all German restrictions placed against their merchant ships are abandoned; the armistice shall be in force thirty days; the Entente Allies may occupy Helgoland (German Gibralter in the North sea) as an advance base to enforce the terms of the armistice. President Wilson had a copy of the armistice terms two weeks before the armistice. The German government said the terms were too harsh and that the surrendering of the transport would mean starvation of millions.

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