The decision to seek an end to hostilities on the Western Front was made on 29 September 1918 by Paul von Hindenburg* and Erich Luden-dorff.* In view of the later Dolchstosslegende,* it is crucial to note that the army s Supreme Command initiated the Armistice. This does not suggest that Hindenburg and Ludendorff understood the forces that they had unleashed; both men probably foresaw a temporary cessation to hostilities, a respite that might provide an opportunity to regroup before launching a new offensive. Their in-sistence that the Chancellor, Prinz Max* von Baden, seek a truce based on Wilson's Fourteen Points confirms their political naivete: Point Eight of Wil-son s blueprint demanded German withdrawal from Alsace-Lorraine,* a proce-dure that would undermine defenses on the Western Front.
   Prinz Max spent much of October exchanging correspondence with Wilson to gain prearmistice terms. The President s note of 23 October is critical to an understanding of following events. Emphasizing that he was representing his Allies, Wilson told the Chancellor that any truce must nullify Germany s ability to resume hostilities; when Ludendorff objected to this, Prinz Max had the Kai-ser fire him (an indication of both the Kaiser's and Ludendorff's diminished authority). The same note claimed that if the United States were to "deal with the military masters and the monarchical autocrats of Germany either now or in the future, "it must demand, not peace negotiations, but surrender. Two important implications were conveyed by this statement: first, the Kaiser's ab-dication was not, at least on 23 October, a requirement of the Armistice; second, and more important, a negotiated settlement might result if Wilhelm s autocratic powers were removed. Upon reading the note, Gustav Noske,* a prominent Social Democrat, remarked, "If the Kaiser goes, we'll get a decent peace." This interpretation was less a proper reading of Wilson s note—although, Wilhelm was a clear liability—than a reflection of a domestic debate as to whether Wil-helm should be retained.
   On 6 November Matthias Erzberger,* Center Party* leader and State Secre-tary without Portfolio, was appointed at Hindenburg s behest to lead Germany s Armistice delegation. When Erzberger arrived in the Compiegne Forest on the morning of 8 November, Marshal Foch presented conditions whose earlier ne-gotiation had threatened to sever the Western alliance. To Germany s six dele-gates, they were unexpectedly onerous: indeed, they seemed the terms of a conqueror aiming to permanently incapacitate an enemy. Divided into seven sections and thirty-four articles, the Armistice specified evacuation of territories as far east as the Rhineland,* surrender of an abundance of war materiel (in-cluding locomotives, rolling stock, and naval shipping), reparation for war dam-ages, withdrawal from the Baltic Sea, and continuation of the naval blockade.* With little recourse, the Germans signed the Armistice at 5 A.M. on 11 Novem-ber. Article 34 provided for its extension in the event that a peace treaty was not ready after thirty-six days. Since it was late April 1919 before the Versailles Treaty* was ready, the Armistice was renewed, with some important changes, for an additional month on 17 December 1918, for a further month on 16 Jan-uary 1919, and indefinitely on 16 February.
   REFERENCES:Klaus Epstein, "Wrong Man ; Kent, Spoils ofWar; Rudin, Armistice 1918; Vincent, Politics of Hunger.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .


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