The armistice in 1918 (5-9-45)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 9, 1945)

Background of news –
The armistice in 1918

By Bertram Benedict

The end-of-the-war-in-Europe celebration now is like the similar celebration nearly 27 years ago in that it comes several days after a premature report of the complete German capitulation. And although in 1918 the German Armed Forces signed an armistice in one fell swoop, instead of piecemeal as now, the German delegates had gone to Marshal Foch’s headquarters several days before they signed the armistice, so that the actual signing caught no one unprepared.

In 1918, the armistice signed on November 11 meant the end of all hostilities; in 1945, the war against Japan is still with us.

The popular celebration in the United States on November 11 was less spontaneous than the premature celebration four days before. The actual one began early in the morning with the ringing of church bells and blasts of air-raid sirens. Airplanes flew over many cities. Schools let out the children, who filled the streets. The stock exchanges closed. So did the courts.

Factories and stores released their employees, many of whom formed impromptu parades, in which effigies of the Kaiser were prominent. Bunting-clad trucks roamed the streets. Theaters, food stores and saloons stayed open, and the rule against selling liquor to men in uniform was widely disregarded. At 10 o’clock in the morning, President Wilson issued an armistice proclamation.

Dancing in Paris streets

In England, King George V made a brief speech from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Prime Minister Lloyd George spoke to the people from a window of 10 Downing Street. A crowd stopped the car of Col. Winston Churchill, Minister of Munitions, and compelled him to say a few words. In Paris, there was dancing in the streets.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, President Wilson read the 35 items of the armistice terms to a joint session of Congress, after which he pronounced:

The war thus comes to an end; for, having accepted these terms of armistice, it will be impossible for the German command to renew it… The object of the war is attained… Armed imperialism is at an end; who will now seek to revive it?

Secretary of State Lansing also warned: “Before us lie new tasks and new burdens.” Sen. Borah called for an end of party politics in the “stupendous work of reconstruction ahead.”

Post-war warnings

Food Administrator Herbert Hoover warned that much food would have to be shipped to Europe to prevent famine. Secretary of the Treasury McAdoo warned that taxes would stay high. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels announced that the warship-building program would continue as planned; the Shipping Board made the same announcement for the merchant shipbuilding program,

Secretary of War Newton D. Baker said that perhaps a million of the 2,200,000 American soldiers in Europe would remain there for the task of occupation; those with the longest service would be replaced by men from home.

On the next day, the War Industries Board and the Fuel Administration lifted some of the restrictions on non-essential industry. Two days after the armistice, President W. H. Barr told the National Founders Association that the high wages, the 8-hour day, and the trade union domination of the war period would have to go if America was to prosper.