November 01, 2019

The War to End All Wars Ends

The War to End All Wars Ends
American troops land in Vladivostok, 1918

The final shots of the First World War (“The War to End All Wars”) were fired on November 11, 1918. In France’s Forest of Compiègne, an armistice was concluded between German commanders and Marshal Foch, the Supreme Allied Commander. The war was over and the world breathed a sigh of relief.

In Russia, this event went largely unnoticed. The country had withdrawn from the war a year earlier, when the Bolsheviks issued a Peace Decree on November 8, 1917, before many Russians even knew that the Reds had seized power in Petrograd.

By the time of Russia’s withdrawal from the war, Europe was exhausted, and this call for peace was embraced by many and increased Lenin’s popularity. The governments of the warring countries, of course, took note that the decree was addressed to “peoples and their governments.” The message was clear: if governments did not want to end the war, the people should rise up and do it for them. Russia’s departure from the war was a great relief for Germany and its allies, who were in a critical situation. As a result, they managed to keep fighting for another year, until November 1918.

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