The Eleventh Hour – the true legacy of 11.11.18

WW1 ended as senseless as it had begun.


Traditionally, history books tell us that the Treaty of Versailles signed in June 1919 humiliated the Germans and created the conditions for Hitler to seize Germany that led to WW2. In fact, whenWW1 ended, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, few Germans considered themselves defeated. The resentment was forged by the Armistice which was in effect a surrender. Their resentment was the result of unrelenting propaganda, presenting the army as unconquered – the illusion aided by the fact that almost all combat had been, to the very end, on foreign soil. Hitler had an easy time claiming that the Army has been robbed of victory by the sinister machinations of socialists, pacifists and Jews.

The Germans requested peace negotiations for 5 weeks before 11th November and half a million casualties have been added to the war’s toll.

The call from Germany for WW1 ceasefire started after 8pm on 7th Nov 2018 at La Capelle. I didn’t know that the code bugle calls was a white flag of course but a single high tone repeated in rapid succession 4 times, then 4 times again, with the last note lingering.

Marshall Foch (presented as a hero in French history schoolbooks) actually refused an immediate ceasefire while the Armistice was being negotiated. This meant that 6,750 lives were lost and nearly 1,500 men were wounded. The German high command in Belgian resort town of Spa (where the word “spa” comes from) radioed its approval and the Armistice, taking effect at 11am, was signed at 5am on 11th November 1918 (the hapless German delegates were branded the “November traitors” and the delegation’s chief was assassinated in 1921 by a right-wing death squad).

Final spasm of madness unfolded on the day it was signed: British, French, and American commanders made certain that the bloodshed continued at full pitch for six hours after the Armistice had been signed; Allied soldiers scheduled to attack that morning did so until the very last minute.

And so thousands of men were killed or maimed during the last six hours of the war for no political or military reason whatever.

The men of the American 92nd Division were black (their higher ranking officers were white) and were ordered to make their last attack at 10:30am. This led to 17 deaths and 302 wounded or missing.