Here is the great Victor Davis Hanson on the anniversary of the armistice from 100 years ago tomorrow:
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — 100 years ago.
The First World War ended 100 years ago this month on November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. Nearly 20 million people had perished since the war began on July 28, 1914.
In early 1918, it looked as if the Central Powers — Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire — would win.
Czarist Russia gave up in December 1917. Tens of thousands of German and Austrian soldiers were freed to redeploy to the Western Front and finish off the exhausted French and British armies.
The late-entering United States did not declare war on Germany and Austria-Hungary until April 1917. Six months later, America had still not begun to deploy troops in any great number.
Then, suddenly, everything changed. By summer 1918, hordes of American soldiers began arriving in France in unimaginable numbers of up to 10,000 doughboys a day. Anglo-American convoys began devastating German submarines. The German high command’s tactical blunders stalled the German offensives of spring 1918 — the last chance before growing Allied numbers overran German lines.
Nonetheless, World War I strangely ended with an armistice — with German troops still well inside France and Belgium. Revolution was brewing in German cities back home.
The three major Allied victors squabbled over peace terms. America’s idealist president, Woodrow Wilson, opposed an Allied invasion of Germany and Austria to occupy both countries and enforce their surrenders.
By the time the formal Versailles Peace Conference began in January 1919, millions of soldiers had gone home. German politicians and veterans were already blaming their capitulation on “stab-in-the-back” traitors and spreading the lie that their armies lost only because they ran out of supplies while on the verge of victory in enemy territory.
The Allied victors were in disarray. Wilson was idolized when he arrived in France for peace talks in December 1918 — and was hated for being self-righteous when he left six months later.
Read more: National Review
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