For our freedoms, from the country’s infancy to today, we thank all veterans who served with their honor, their distinction and their valor.
As a remembrance, we take a look back to when the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month became historically significant.
In the early newspapers, the Associated Press provided the headline news:
Washington, Nov. 11, 1918.
The world war will end this morning at 6 o’clock Washington time, 11 o’clock Paris time.
The armistice was signed by the German representatives at midnight.
This announcement was made by the state department at 2:50 o’clock this morning.
Later in the day, they provided information about the terms of the armistice:
The Armistice Terms Made Public
Washington, Nov. 11, 1918.
The terms of the armistice with Germany were read to Congress by President Wilson at 1 o’clock this afternoon.
Assembled in the hall of the House, where, 19 months ago senators and representatives heard the President ask for the declaration of war, they today heard him speak the words which heralded the coming of peace.
The President spoke as follows:
“Gentlemen of the Congress:
“In these times of rapid and stupendous change it will in some degree lighten my sense of responsibility to perform in person the duty of communicating to you some of the larger circumstances of the situation with which it is necessary to deal.
“The German authorities, who have at the invitation of the Supreme War Council, been in communication with Marshal Foch, have accepted and signed the terms of armistice, which he was authorized and instructed to communicate to them. The terms are as follows.”
Terms in Brief
The strictly military terms of the armistice are embraced in 11 specification which include the evacuation of all invaded territories, the withdrawal of the German troops from the left bank of the Rhine and the surrender of all supplies of war.
The terms also provide for the abandonment by Germany of the treaties of Bucharest and Brest-Litovak.
The naval terms provide for the surrender of 160 submarines, 50 destroyers, six battle cruisers, ten battleships, eight light cruisers and other miscellaneous ships.
All allied vessels in German hands are to be surrendered and Germany is to notify neutrals that they are free to trade at once on the seas with the allied countries.
Among the financial terms included are restitution for damage done by the German armies; restitution of the cash taken from the National Bank of Belgium and return of the gold taken from Russia and Romania.
The military terms include the surrender of 5,000 guns, half field and half light artillery; 30,000 machine guns, 3,000 flame throwers and 2,000 airplanes.
The surrender of 5,000 locomotives, 50,000 wagons, 10,000 motor lorries, the railways of Alsace-Lorraine for use by the allies. The stores of coal and iron also are included.
The immediate repatriation of all allied and American prisoners without reciprocal action by the allies also is included.
In connection with the evacuation of the left bank of the Rhine it is provided that the allies shall hold the crossing of the river at Coblentz, Cologne and Mayence, together with bridgeheads and a thirty kilometer radius.
The right bank of the Rhine land, that occupied by the allies, is to become a neutral zone and the bank held by the Germans is to be evacuated in 19 days. The armistice is for thirty days, but the President spoke of the war as “coming to an end.”
Germany troops are to retire at once from any territory held by Russia, Romania and Turkey before the war.
The allied forces are to have access to the evacuated territory either through Dantzig or by the river Vistula. The unconditional capitulation of all German forces in East Africa within one month is provided.
German troops which have not left the invaded territories, which specifically includes Alsace-Lorraine, within 14 days become prisoners of war.
The repatriation within 14 days of the thousands of civilians deported from France and Belgium also is required.
Freedom of access to the Baltic Sea with power to occupy German forts in the Kattegat is another provision. The Germans also must reveal location of mines, poisoned wells and like agencies of destruction and the allied blockade is to remain unchanged during the period of armistice.
These are the “high spots” of the terms as the President read them to Congress.
Germany’s acceptance of them, he said, signalized the end of the war because it made her powerless to renew it.
All ports on the Black Sea occupied by Germans are to be surrendered and the Russian war vessels recently take by the German naval forces also to be surrendered to the allies.
The President made it plain that the nations which had overthrown the military masters of German would now attempt to guide the German people safely to the family of nations of the democracy.
The Medal of Honor Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin shows against an image of the railroad car used for the signing of the armistice in November 1918.