The War's End
"In the November 15, 1918, issue of The Stars and Stripes, read about the jubilation on the front when soldiers got the news of an armistice: On the stroke of 11 the cannon stopped, the rifles dropped from the shoulders, the machine guns grew still. There followed then a strange, unbelievable silence as though the world had died. It lasted but a moment, lasted for the space that a breath is held. Then came such an uproar of relief and jubilance, such a tooting of horns, shrieking of whistles, such an overture from the bands and trains and church bells, such a shouting of voices as the earth is not likely to hear again in our day and generation. ...
The man from Mars, coming to earth on the morning of November 11, 1918, would have been hard put to it to say which army had won, for, if anything, the greater celebration, the more startling outburst, came not from the American but from the German side. At least he could have said — that man from Mars — to which side the suspension of hostilities had come as the greater relief."
Read the report of the German revolution and the exile of the Hohenzollerns in the same issue:
- How did The Stars and Stripes report on rumors about the whereabouts of members of the German royal family and military leaders?
- How did the reporter contrast the German revolution to the Russian Revolution of the previous year?
- What were the terms of the armistice? Why was there a lapse of six hours before it was to take effect?
Negotiations over a peace treaty continued for some months. Read the article "Germany Faced With Peace Pact Dictated by Victor Nations" in the May 9, 1919, edition of the paper:
- What were the salient points in the treaty?
- To what extent did the final treaty of peace with Germany conform to President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points?
- What alternative course of action could have been taken at Versailles considering previous relationships between France and Germany (e.g., settlement at the end of the Franco-Prussian War)?
- According to the article, what were the prospects for the establishment of a League of Nations?
Soldiers began shipping home at the end of November 1918, but many remained in Europe for some months. Opportunities for education while waiting to return to the United States were made available to soldiers, but some still sought a quicker return home:
"Flat feet that weathered months and months of war with the A.E.F. suddenly became an acute infirmity when the armistice was signed. Soldiers who had been suffering from wartime colds developed unbearable pains in the chest shortly after firing ceased along the front. Rheumatic pains began to twinge the joints of buck privates about the same time, but medical officers handling sick call usually found that the rheumatism, flat feet or suspected tuberculosis had complications of homesickness or 'pressing business responsibilities back in the states.'"
"...Nobody under God's great tranquil skies can tell of the rottenness of war but the men who suffered through it.
Upon them rests a solemn duty. They must go home and choke the coward jingo who masks himself behind his false and blatant patriotism, and the merchant-politician, not content with stuffing his home coffers till they burst-but anxious to barter the blood of his country's young manhood for new places in the sun!
The Prussian Guardsman died hard, fighting for such a place. The men in frock coats who make the laws never had to stand up against him. They never took a machine gun nest or saw a barrage roll down, stop and then uncurtain a wall of shrieking steel. We know what the Prussian Guardsman means-his code, his cold courage and the blind patriotism that sent him forward, granting none the right to live but those who wore his uniform."
- What was the author's tone in this piece? What images helped convey that tone?
- Who were the cowardly "jingoes" and the "merchant-politicians"?
- What specific action did the writer urge veterans to take? What did he predict would happen if that action was not taken?