THE WAR AND THE ARMISTICE
ALL her Allies have paid tribute to the greatness of the part played by France in the war. Geography and history alike ordained it. The violation of Belgian neutrality deprived France of the only guarantee which was hers by international law. For weeks and months, she was the sole protection of the western Powers. Had France been beaten at the Marne, the world would have fallen under the German yoke. By her victory she saved it.
If France was able to play so great a part, it was due to the extraordinary union into which the German aggression had welded her whole people in a few hours, and to the military virtues displayed by her eight million soldiers all through the atrocious strain imposed by fifty-two months of invasion. When the troop trains left to carry her forces to the frontier, men 's souls were stirred by passionate love for France, passionate longing for justice and passionate confidence in victory. War declared by Germany stunned France for a moment and then aroused her wrath. The whole nation revolted at the thought of its long patience so ill rewarded. It rose strong in the justice of its cause. The proud spirit of France awoke. Puisqu'il fallait y aller, on irait and with how whole a heart. France would for ever have shrunk from the responsibility of war. War forced by aggression upon a free people, strong in their own right---that was something for which men could die.
The troop trains passed bedecked with flowers. On them was chalked the slogan "à Berlin" and from them hung in effigy figures capped with spiked helmets. Beneath the August sun bare-chested artillerymen lovingly caressed their guns and bandied jest and laughter with the comely maidens who flocked to the stations to cheer them. Thus after a fortnight of concentration we started for Belgium. We said of the Germans, "Where are they?" We sought the enemy. Surely we should soon find him. In the compact villages of the Borinage and in the thickets of Belgian Luxemburg the shock came. By evening a great silence had fallen over our decimated regiments. We had thrown ourselves in the open against an enemy we had not yet learned to know. Now we knew. Machine guns concealed in cellars had mowed down our columns. Heavy artillery hidden away in the folds of the Hauts-Faings had overwhelmed our lines with murderous high explosives. Barbed wire and trenches had proved too much for our valour. France's furious onslaught had been broken by German stratagems.
Then came the day of the retreat. Retreat? Whither? For what reason? No one knew. Retreat with all its physical strain, with all its moral strain far harder to bear! Effort without enthusiasm; weariness of soul added to weariness of body. At times the order came for us to stand and fight. The old spirit returned. On the Meuse and at Guise the enemy paid the price of such awakenings. But at nightfall our victorious troops, their confidence restored, heard once more the order to retire. To win and to withdraw. To win and leave the field of battle after having driven Germans from it was cruel and refined torture, hardest of all for Frenchmen.. Not once but again and again it was inflicted upon us. We got so that we could no longer reason. We felt that we were following the funeral of France along endless roads leading drearily towards the south. On September 5, an order was read calling on us to attack. We listened, but faith was lacking. We said to one another. "We are going to attack to-morrow morning. We shall win, but to-morrow night we shall again withdraw."
We fought furiously nevertheless to vent upon the Boche the rage that was in our hearts. We kept it up, that evening---then through the night---then through the next day! We were very weary, but we were no longer retreating! After two days, we found that we were advancing. At first no one believed it. How could the soldier understand? But soon the joy of making headway spread through the ranks-we were advancing. Of that there could be no doubt. So we "had" them. En avant! In fagged and silent columns, we passed through villages and over plains. Victory was ours! Victory born in pain, in toil, in doubt! It was only later that we understood! The idea of Victory pieced itself together bit by bit, as we pushed the enemy back to the north. We had been told to die where we stood rather than give way. We had been asked nothing more. But of a sudden as we fought we felt within our grasp the fickle Goddess of Victory who for three weeks had eluded us. We had been the Army of Illusions. We had been the Army of Retreat. From now on, we, were the Army of Confidence. The name of Joffre was in the hearts of his soldiers.
But before reaching the end, we had more than four years to wait. At first we had hoped it would be only a few weeks. After the Marne, Ypres, a titanic struggle less known but not less great, had strengthened our hopes. We expected to leave the trenches in the spring. It was the first winter. We thought it would be the only one and bore it as a short and nasty test of our patience. Four winters instead of one passed. As early as 1915, the men in the trenches realized that it would go on like this so long as strength of material was not added to the strength of numbers and courage. The men higher up were slower to understand. We attacked often. We never broke through. Neither did the enemy. We lived face to face, rifle in hand, between attacks. There were local engagements in 1915. Then came 1916 and Verdun. Verdun, the supreme test after so many tests---Verdun, where, as at the Marne, France saved the world on land as the British fleet saved it on the seas. Once more Germany believed she could force the road to Paris. Six months of carnage closed it to her. Our defensive victory made possible Italian success in Galicia and Bukowina; made possible the coming in of Roumania, so ill exploited; made possible the counter-offensive on the Somme, the first which inspired Ludendorff with fear of the future. Verdun did something more. Verdun won the fight for material and after two years hammered into bureaucratic brains the long ignored but sovereign-importance of rapid-fire. From Verdun dates the beginning of intensive output without which final victory would have been impossible.
Truly was it long! The loophole through which one peered at the ragged sandbags of a Boche trench; the firing bank where one sat in the mud while a comrade watched; the icy water in which one's feet froze; the slimy shelter where straw rotted; the fatigue duty and the trench work; the bringing up of grenades and grub; then billets in desolated villages; inspections and reviews; all the burdens of barrack life,---such with death at the end was the. lot of all---officers and men alike. In 1917, an offensive---badly prepared and badly directed, both by the High Command and by the Government,---for the first time brings discouragement and disquiet into our ranks. Pétain, the saviour of Verdun, restores order in men's souls. He gives back to us that Admirable Army of national sacrifice in which officers and men are ready to die for one another. Time hangs heavy. But we feel new things stirring in the air. A menace; that of the onslaught of enemy troops released by the Russian revolution. A hope; that of a mighty young nation which beyond the seas is getting ready to bear its share of battle. Our energies grow taut. Our hearts take on new courage. We feel the thrill of moral force added to material force. The year 1918 begins. Once again, in this last year as in the first the French Army is to save the day. Twenty-four of Pétain's divisions are hurled into the gap caused by the German thrust against Gough's Army. Two months later, the French Army in turn, taken by surprise at the Chemin des Dames, is thrown back to the Marne. This danger overcome, our troops are at a fighting edge. National in spirit as in origin, the French Army has acquired the technical qualities of professional armies. It has experience, it has self-possession, it has adaptability and it has science. It is ready for the war of movement now inaugurated by the fluctuations of the battle front. The lack of training from which so many troops suffered at the start has disappeared. War material is in abundance. Confidence reigns. The stern and serious spirit of war is at its height. It is no longer as in 1914 an army of heroic, youth rushing light-hearted into danger. It is an army of men---for youth matures rapidly in the school of war---who do their duty calmly and do it to the end. It is the Army of Victory.
France behind the lines was worthy of fighting France. She furnished in full measure that effort without which the heroism of her soldiers would have been vain. She too did her full duty. When war began---the first great European war in forty-three years---both France and Germany had to face the surprise of fire: our 75's inflicted losses on the Germans which their General Staff had not foreseen. Their heavy artillery for months smashed the morale of our Armies. To tell the truth no one was really ready---France even less than Germany---to meet the demands a successful war of artillery was going to make. Our manual of attack in 1913 said: "Ground is won by infantry." Three years later our experience dearly bought proclaimed: "Ground is won by artillery." Both perhaps were exaggerations, but the fact remains none the less that the French Army lacked the support in attack and the protection in defense which quick-firing heavy artillery affords and that its field artillery perfect in design was woefully short of ammunition. When we went to war, we had 1,300 rounds per gun, later on there were days when the expenditure was 4,000 rounds per gun. We had counted on a production of 15,000 three-inch shells a day and the total expenditure on certain days reached 400,000. In 1916, to demolish a yard of enemy trench. it took 407 kilogrammes of "75" shells, 203 kilogrammes of trench shells, 704 kilogrammes of heavy shells and 128 kilogrammes of high explosive shells. The lessons of battle obliged us first to keep our field artillery supplied, then to create quick firing heavy batteries. A doubly onerous task in almost impossible circumstances. All our iron and steel plants were near our frontiers, and invasion had robbed us of them! The Germans estimated that our loss in this way would be 60,000 workmen out of 112,000, 40 per cent. of our coal, 80 per cent. of our coke, 90 per cent. of our iron, 70 per cent. of our pig iron, 80 per cent. of our steel, 80 per cent. of our machinery. The estimate was correct. What did we do?
The story of this prodigious effort has never been written. We had, in 1914, 3,696 pieces of 75. Despite loss and destruction, we had 6,555 when hostilities ceased. As to heavy artillery, the supply rose from 288 pieces in 1914 to 5,477 in 1918. In other words, we increased our field artillery by 77 per cent. and our heavy artillery by 1,943 per cent. One-tenth of this latter increase was obtained by reconstruction of old pieces, nine-tenths by new construction. All our artillery combined in 1914 had less than five million shells. The monthly output at the end of the war exceeded nine millions.
So much for round figures. Now for details. In 1914, the production of 75's was negligible and there was no regular service of repair. In October, 1918, our workshops were turning out, for this caliber alone, 550 new tubes and 573 repaired, 593 new brakes and 195 repaired, 267 new carriages and 114 repaired. To these must be added shells, more shells and ever more shells. The battle of Champagne and Artois in 1915, lasting two months, cost us seven and a half million 75 shells---an average of 121,000 a day. The battle of Verdun and the Somme in 1916---lasting ten months---cost us more than forty-three million 75 shells---an average of 144,000 a day. The offensive of 1918, lasting four months, cost us nearly thirty-three million shells, an average of 272,500 a day. We met this increasing expenditure.
The output of 75 shells at the beginning of the war was theoretically 13,000 a day, as a matter of fact it was 6,000. It rose to 150,000 a day in October, 1915,---to 173,000 in August, 1916,---to 203,000 in the following November, to 233,000 in May, 1917, which level is maintained and even exceeded to the end of the war. This increase of production---3,782 per cent.---was obtained under almost hopeless conditions brought about by invasion. It is to the everlasting honour of our Government, of our Parliament and of our industry that they were able to achieve it, in spite of everything.
But to the first weapon, the 75---the use of which was developed so tremendously,---it was necessary to add the war weapons of modern warfare, the 105, 155 short, 155 long, 220, 270, 280, 370, 420. Here everything had to be built up from the bottom. Up to the very eve of war, experts had discussed the question of quick firing heavy artillery in scientific papers to no result. When war broke out, we had 104 pieces of quick firing 155's---and that was all. But follow the expenditure from battle to battle: Champagne and Artois in 1915 (two months) cost us 510,000 rounds of 155, or 8,500 a day, and 5,400 rounds of 220, or 900 a day. Verdun and the Somme in 1916 (ten months) cost us 5,280,000 rounds of 155, or 17,600 a day, and 413,000 rounds of 220, or 1,343 a day. The Aisne in 1917 (two months) cost us 2,700,000 rounds of 155, or 45,000 a day, and 237,000 rounds of 220, or 3,900 a day. For the offensive of 1918, the expenditure reached 6,530,000 rounds of 155 or 54,416 a day. I sum up these figures in the following table.
DAILY EXPENDITURE OF AMMUNITION
|Champagne and Artois||1915||121,000||8,500||900|
|Verdun and the Somme||1916||1447000||17,600||1,343|
|Offensive of||1918||272,500||54,416||. . . . .|
This heavy expenditure of heavy shells, as in the case of the 75's, was completely covered by production. The daily output of 155's, which did not even exist in September, 1914, had grown to 3,600 in September, 1915, to 30,000 in October, 1916, to 39,000 in July, 1918. The output of 220's rose from 460 in September, 1915, to 2,100 in September, 1916, and to 3,400 in April, 1917. The total increase was 3,782 per cent. for the 75's, was 983 per cent. for the 155's, and 639 per cent. for the 220's. And all this, I repeat and insist, was after invasion had robbed us of about 85 per cent. of our pre-war iron and steel metallurgic resources.
The following table gives the daily productions:
DAILY PRODUCTION OF MUNITIONS
|Third Quarter of 1914||6,000||. . . . .||. . . . .|
|Third Quarter of 1915||150,000||3,000||460|
|Last Quarter of 1916||203,000||30,000||2,100|
|End of War, June 1917 to Nov. 1918||233,000||39,000||3,400|
If we take into account other sizes than the 75, the 155 and the 220, we have during the last period of the war, a total daily production of 330,000 shells, and for the entire war a total production of 300 million projectiles.
I do not want to prolong this enumeration. Let me merely add that, in September, 1914, our Armies had 140 aeroplanes in action and that in October, 1918, they had 3,609; that at the beginning of the war, we were producing 62 a month and at the end 2,068. I note that in December, 1916, we had 8 tanks and on the day of the Armistice 3,400. Finally, let me emphasize the point that this production for the needs of the French Army did not exhaust our manufacturing capacity, for we furnished our various Allies with 7,000 guns, 10,663 aeroplanes, and 400 tanks. Thus, after three and a half years of war and invasion, we were able to lend the splendid American Army that assistance without which their entry into action might have been indefinitely delayed. Not to mention the 2,500 officers, the 25 instruction camps, and the 135,000 hospital beds placed at their disposal, we furnished the Americans with 4,000 guns, 4,000 aeroplanes, 240 tanks. On the day of the Armistice, of the U. S. Army's war material then in line, France had manufactured 100 per cent. of the 75's, 100 per cent. of the 155's, howitzers, 100 per cent. of the tanks, 81 per cent. of the aeroplanes, 75 per cent. of the long guns. All of the 65 million rounds of 75 and 155 shells used by the American artillery came from French factories. Of the 14 million tons of supplies which they used in Europe, half, or 7 millions, came from France.
Such was our material contribution. What of our contribution in manpower? Despite her low birthrate France did not hesitate before the mortality of war and-by means of a Spartan system of mobilization---always kept her forces up to the maximum.
3,781,000 men in August, 1914.
4,978,000 men in July, 1915.
4,677,000 men in July, 1916.
4,327,000 men in September, 1917.
4,143,000 men in November, 1918.
In November, 1918, we had 362,000 more men in line than in 1914, and yet our losses from the beginning had been 2,594,000 men---1,364,000 killed, 740,000 severely wounded, and 490,000 prisoners. Throughout the war, we bore the brunt of the enemy's attacks on the Western front. We held three-fourths of this front up to the spring of 1917. At that time the British Army was facing 42 German divisions, the French Army 82. Our line reduced about this time by 50 kilometers, was increased by another 80 kilometers after the German push on General Gough's Army in March, 1918. Up to the war of movement in 1918, the German Army always maintained its maximum density on the Western front---1,293 battalions out of 1,692 in November, 1914; 1,456 battalions out of 2,316 in February, 1917, and it was always the French sector that bore the brunt of the burden on the Western front. If, for example, taking the first 35 months of the war (August, 1914, to August, 1917) and the number of enemy battalions in line, we figure the total German strength deployed as 4 on the Belgian front, it was 8 on the British front, 22 on the Russian front and 35 on the French front.
I have told our industrial effort and our human sacrifice. There remains the story of our French genius. I am not one of those small-minded Frenchmen who believe that, in order to be great, France must needs be ungrateful. I have always said that France could not have won without her Allies. And I have always counted on our Allies' sense of justice to recognize that without France they could not have waged the war. Have I not the right to add that besides her contribution in war material and her contribution in man power, France made the splendid contribution of her genius? The war full of surprises was pregnant with its own lesson. Success came to those who from this lesson were able to unriddle their course of action. No cut-and-dried doctrine stood the test of events. The doctrine of the war shaped itself from day to day in the turmoil of accumulated happenings, reserving the crown of victory to him who could coordinate its ever changing demands. But whether for artillery-strategic plans, barrage fire, plunging fire, liaison, range-finding, signalling; whether for infantry; transformation of equipment, specialization of missions, organization of terrain, accompanying aviation, acceleration of reliefs, attacks by infiltration; passage through the lines, defense by withdrawal to second line positions,---France during the whole war was the laboratory of the Powers. Nothing was more natural; for under the cruel stress of defeat we had more deeply studied these problems. How could one not recall that it was a French mind that conceived and carried out the strategic plan which led to final victory; that substituted for local and intermittent attacks which had wasted both sides for four years the general and continuous attack along the whole front? How could one not write here the name of Marshal Foch? Von Kluck said in 1914, "I have failed to take Paris, but they will never take Vouziers." They continued to fail to take Paris. But we took Vouziers. Ludendorff notwithstanding, French genius triumphed over German brains!
French genius triumphed not only on the field of battle but in the conception and organization of war. It was from France that went forth the first and most pressing appeals for that military and economic unity of command which, in 1918, turned the long-wavering scales in favour of the Allies. From the end of 1916, the French Parliament had made insistence upon unity of command the essential article of its programme. On October 5, 1917, M. Loucheur, Minister of Armament in the Painlevé Cabinet, had secured its endorsement by the French War Committee. Several weeks later, not without hesitation on the part of Great Britain, the War Council of Versailles was created. It was a step forward. But that was not enough. As soon as he assumed the reins of government in November, 1917, M. Clemenceau set to work to obtain more and better. I had informed him that he could count on President Wilson's aid. On the other hand opposition was still manifest in London and when during a brief stay in Paris at the end of 1917 I publicly declared that the American and French Governments were agreed on the necessity of a unity of command, several English newspapers protested. On the eve of my departure for New York, on December 30, 1917, I had a last talk with M. Clemenceau. I said to him:
"They are going to talk to me again over there about unity of command. And no doubt they will ask me, 'Who?' What shall I say?"
M. Clemenceau replied: "Foch."
Three months after, in the last week of March, 1918, the British Army commanded by General Gough was broken and flung back on Amiens. On March 23, the bombardment of Paris by long range guns began. The breaking of the Franco-British front brought us back to the darkest days of 1914. From the very first moment of the crisis, M. Clemenceau's mind was made up. From the extremity of the danger he would snatch the solution sought in vain for so many months. To German unity of command he would oppose Allied unity of command.
I have told above how on March 26, General Pétain sent up twenty-four divisions to fill the gap created between our Allies and ourselves. At four o'clock, the same day after a meeting held at Marshal Pétain's headquarters at Compiègne between MM. Poincaré, Clemenceau and Loucheur who had motored from Paris with General Foch and Lord Milner representing Great Britain, it had been decided to discuss the question at another conference the next day. Who would be present at the conference? M. Clemenceau at once designated Marshal Foch. It was later decided that General Pétain would come also. After the meeting M. Clemenceau took Lord Milner aside. He begged him insistently to bring to bear on Sir Douglas Haig all the pressure of his great authority in support of a reorganization of the Allied command. The battle of Amiens was at stake. Lord Milner promised his assistance.
On March 26, everybody met at Doullens. While General Haig was talking with Generals Byng and Plumer, MM. Poincaré, Clemenceau and Loucheur were in the Place du Marché with General Foch. The latter, in rapid and vigorous sentences, outlined the situation and the reasons for not giving way to despair. He said:
"We will not withdraw. We will fight where we are. We must not indicate a line of retreat, or everyone will take it. We must hang on---we must hold fast. We must not give up another metre of ground.. Remember October, 1914."
M. Clemenceau listens. He mutters:
"C'est un bougre!"
Minutes fly,---everyone waits around eating sandwiches taken from General Pétain's car. At noon Lord Milner arrives. Again very briefly M. Clemenceau talks to him ---one feels what he is saying---and Milner goes in alone to General Haig with whom he talks ten minutes. At twenty minutes past twelve the general conference begins. After a statement of the situation in which by his clarity and confidence General Foch wins the admiration of all, the measures to be adopted for the organization of the command before Amiens are taken up. It is at this moment that General Haig pronounces the following words---I cite textually from the notes of one who was present---the echo of his conversation with Lord Milner:
"If General Foch will consent to give his advice, I shall be very glad to follow it."
There is no question yet of unity of command. M. Clemenceau is not satisfied. He rises and takes Lord Milner off to a corner of the room; then General Pétain; then General Foch. These are brief à parté talks, in which short words are exchanged. The idea is suggested to attach General Foch to General Pétain and entrust him with liaison with the British.
M. Clemenceau answers sharply:
"That's not what we are talking about! What Foch needs is an independent post from which he can control."
General Pétain, a fine soldier, interjects at once:
"Everything you decide will be well done."
Then M. Clemenceau sits down again. He takes pencil and paper. He writes, and as he writes he reads aloud. He uses first the formula which everyone has used since the morning to define the battle which had to be won before Amiens:
"General Foch is charged by the British and French Governments with coordinating the British and French operations before Amiens."
Here General Foch stops the President:
"Better make it on the Western front.."
M. Clemenceau answers:
" Of course you are right !"
And he scratches out the last words for which he substitutes "on the Western front..." Then he goes on:
"He (General Foch) will come to an understanding to this effect with the two Commanders-in-Chief who are invited to furnish him with all necessary information."
It is now past one o'clock. Everybody goes to lunch together at the old Doullens Hotel Les Quatre Fils Aymon. On the threshold of the dining-room, M. Loucheur, who sees success in sight for the idea he had supported before the War Council on the previous fifth of October and who formerly as an artillery lieutenant had served under the orders of the new "co-ordinator," meets the latter and says laughingly:
" Well, General, so you have got your paper now!"
General Foch, laughing back, says:
"Yes, and a fine time to give it me."
Lunch is quickly over, and forty minutes later General Foch leaves for British Headquarters at Dury to take up his task. His task, the most difficult of all tasks, despite the burning desire of all to succeed and to stop the enemy's advance. For military life, with its simple formulae of command and obedience, lends itself reluctantly to combinations of this kind which are outside its normal sphere. For several weeks---as was inevitable---General Foch "coordinated more by negotiation than by command." Racing from one Headquarters to another-advising-suggesting-insisting-at times even hustling---he gained inch by inch the theoretic authority with which, thanks to M. Clemenceau, the crisis of March 26 had endowed him. More was needed. A few days later M. Clemenceau accompanied by M. Loucheur met Generals Foch, Fayolle, and Debeney at Breteuil in the Oise. It was agreed that the situation was improved. Then M. Clemenceau said to General Foch.
"You are doing very good work. But you do not command enough. I have just come from Haig. I have talked with him. I want you to go the whole hog and give orders."
On April 3, a new conference enabled M. Clemenceau to secure for his point of view the seal of official sanction. General Foch carries away from the conference a new paper which is an actual brevet of command. There is no longer any question of coordination. Henceforth General Foch is to have "the strategic direction of military operations on the Western front." The Commanders-in-Chief of each of the Allied nations are to retain "the tactical conduct of operations" with the right of appeal to their Governments if they deem it necessary. This clear definition despite the restriction mentioned has a most satisfactory effect. All the Commanders-in-Chief show the utmost will to obey and cooperate.
The front stiffens and hope again runs high. But on May 27, there is a new catastrophe; the Chemin des Dames. The French front had broken. Our troops are thrown back to the Marne. It is a bad start for unity of command. On June 2, M. Clemenceau in the Chamber defends it absolutely in the face of the most violent criticism.. He says:
These soldiers, these splendid soldiers have leaders, excellent leaders, great leaders---leaders worthy of them in every respect...
I shall reassert this as often as I have to, to make myself heard, because it is my duty, because I have seen these leaders at work.
These men are now fighting the hardest battle of the war and are fighting it with a heroism which I can find no words worthy to express.
And shall we---for a mistake which may have been made in such or such a sector, or even may not have been made at all---shall we, before even knowing, demand explanations! Shall we, while the battle is raging, go to a man who is worn out, a man so tired that his head droops over his maps as I have seen in awful moments, and ask this man why on such and such a day he did such or such a thing?
Drive me from this tribute if that is what you ask---For I will not do it.
Not satisfied with continuing his full support to the man he had picked out from the very first months of the war, M. Clemenceau continues his effort to increase this man's authority. On June 26 he decides that the right given at Beauvais to the Allied Commanders-in-Chief to appeal to their Governments shall be abolished as far as the French Armies are concerned and that their Commander-in-Chief shall be purely and simply placed under the orders of General Foch. On June 30, complying with a desire frequently and forcefully expressed by the latter, he removes the Chief of Staff of the French Armies and appoints General Buat to this post. In August, M. Clemenceau suggests to the Cabinet the elevation of the Commander-in-Chief to the dignity of Marshal of France. Thus, from the first day to the last, a single thought had dominated the actions of the French Government. From the first day to the last, France and her Prime Minister had willed the unity of command realized in the person of the great soldier whose unquestioned genius ensured its acceptance. History will tell how great the part played in our common victory by this decision to which all our Allies adhered.
I should be woefully remiss if I did not add one more word. I have spoken of French genius. But France is also great of heart. This it was that made our brotherhood of arms. Forty-three per cent. of all the men of France were mobilized. Thus our military commanders governed half of our male population. They governed them with tender care. They were sparing of their soldiers' lives. They took full advantage of the increasing potentialities of modern engines of war. At Charleroi and the Marne we lost 5.41 per cent. of the forces engaged; during the first six months of 1915, 2.39 per cent.; during the second six months, 1.68 per cent.; during the first six months of 1916, 1.47 per cent., and during the last six months of the same year, 1.28 per cent. Our losses fell in 1917 to .46 per cent. of the forces engaged and in 1918 in our final effort they did not exceed .75 per cent. A splendid showing indeed. But this is not all. France more than any other country, despite the demands of her war industry and thanks to a firm and just policy, maintained a high percentage of her fighting men in the divisions in line---86 per cent. in 1914, and 74 per cent. in 1918. France also had the secret of inspiring mutual affection between her officers and men. France understood-and here again in justice I must write the name of Marshal Pétain---that a democracy in arms fighting a five-year war is undeserving of the rigid discipline that can be imposed upon a professional army fighting a five-months war. France understood the inestimable .value of mutual sacrifice whereby officers and men are welded together; of "that subtle bond which makes of discipline a personal and a living thing, consciously or instinctively accepted out of gratitude or admiration or love---a bond the more binding because unforced and forged in the heart of the soldier." The French Army---thanks to the spiritual union of men and officers; thanks also to her admirable non-coms., sprung from the ranks of the nation, the epic artisans of the victorious effort planned by their leaders---has no need like the German Army of being picked over in order to find shock troops. The French Army remained itself all through the war, adapting itself to successive changes each of which was a fresh test of its endurance.
Just as in 1914, it had been almost the sole bulwark of civilization with its 22 Army Corps, its 26 Reserve Divisions, its 10 Divisions of Cavalry, against the onslaught on an Empire of Prey with a man power of fourteen million men, so to the very end, by the side of its great Allies, the French Army did what it had to do. What praise could be higher? Puisqu'il fallait y aller, on irait. This saying of our French peasant---whom I like so many others had the honour of leading into action---magnificently sums up our ideal of war. With it I will end this brief sketch of what France in arms contributed of her own free will to Victory.
The Armistice of November 11, 1918, was an unconditional surrender on the part of Germany. This was clear at the time it was signed, in the minds of those who imposed it and of those upon whom it was forced. It was the logical outcome of the military and political history of the four preceding months.
In the first week of July, 1918, Admiral von Hintze---appointed by the Kaiser to be Secretary of State in the Imperial Office of Foreign Affairs---wishing to be accurately informed as to the military situation before taking up his duties, left for the front.
At Avesnes he met General Ludendorff and asked him:
"In the present offensive are you certain to defeat the enemy completely and decisively?"
General Ludendorff replied without hesitation:
"My answer to your question is an unqualified 'Yes.'"
At that moment everything seemed to justify the assurance of the First Quartermaster General of the German Army. In March a lightning stroke had broken General Gough's Army and thrown the Allies back to the gates of Amiens. In May another push had broken the French line at the Chemin des Dames and carried the enemy to the banks of the Marne. The bombardment of Paris was the visible sign of German victory. Thousands of British and French prisoners, to say nothing of enormous stores of war material, had been captured. The German High Command was busy circulating among its troops that this was the final offensive, "the peace offensive." The enemy was powerfully equipped for it: 1,456 battalions---266 more than in 1916----made up a total of 207 divisions. Of these 207 divisions, 130 were in line and 77 in reserve. Of the latter, only twenty recently withdrawn from battle needed refilling. Twenty-six had been reinforced and thirty-one were fresh. Before dawn on July 15 the offensive was launched in the direction of Reims. By the seventeenth it had been halted between our first and second lines. On the eighteenth the Armies of Mangin and Degoutte counter-attacked on the German flank. On the nineteenth the enemy recrossed the Marne. By August 4 they had been thrust over the Vesle. On the eighth, farther north near Amiens, three German Divisions withdrew in disorder, almost routed before the Allied attack began..
Note well these events. They mark the beginnings of Victory and Armistice.
On August 13 a numerous company arrives at German General Headquarters at Spa. Besides the Kaiser, there are gathered there the Crown Prince, Field Marshal von Hindenburg and General Ludendorff, Count Von Hertling, Chancellor of the Empire, and Admiral von Hintze, Minister for Foreign Affairs. On the following evening, the Emperor of Austria and his Minister, Count Burian arrive. A Crown Council is to be held on the fourteenth. Late on the thirteenth von Hintze takes General von Ludendorff aside and questions him as he had done a month before on the general situation. Ludendorff replies:
"In July I told you that I was certain by the present offensive of breaking the enemy's will to fight and of forcing them to make peace. Now I am no longer certain of this."
"In that case," asks the Minister, "how do you imagine the war can be continued?"
"We are still able by defensive operations to paralyze the enemy's will to fight and thus bring them little by little to make Peace."
In a word, instead of the crushing triumph counted upon in July, the German High Command now pins its hope of success in the weariness of the Allies. The Crown Council meets the next day and General Ludendorff voices the same attenuated hope.
"A major offensive," he declares, "is no longer possible. We must confine ourselves to a defensive strategy combined with local offensives. Thus we may hope eventually to paralyze the enemy's will to fight."
The Kaiser gives his opinion. It is "to watch for a favourable moment for coming to terms with the enemy." His Chancellor agrees with him, recommending that "steps be taken at the opportune moment to arrive at an understanding." This moment is to be that of "the first success on the Western front." In other words to await developments, without undue haste. Von Hintze, less confident in the success of defensive strategy, asks to be given immediate authority "to initiate the work of peace by diplomatic means." By this he means "a reduction of the war aims heretofore proclaimed." This proposal is unanimously rejected. Marshal Hindenburg declares:
"We shall succeed in maintaining ourselves upon French soil and thus we shall eventually subject the enemy to our will."
So it is no longer a question as it was a month before of "nach Paris." But successes in France are still hoped for. They are confident of remaining on French soil. While there they hope to pave the way for negotiations which will lead to an advantageous peace. In consequence, the powers given to von Hintze for the preparation of diplomatic negotiations are strictly limited by "the maintenance of the war aims established in view to victory---and by the expectation of the favourable opportunity which will be created by the next success.(4)
From August 14 to September 20, events both political and military were to disturb these hopeful expectations. The "local successes" did not come off, on the contrary five times in five weeks the Allied forces advanced. The Franco-British attack which near Amiens throws back the Germans to their old Chaulnes-Ribécourt front. The Franco-British attack which from the eighteenth to the twenty-sixth of August reaches the Bapeaume-Pérrone-Nesles-Noyon line. The Franco-British attack which from August 30 to September 10 throws back the enemy from the Vesle to the Aisne and farther north almost to the Hindenburg line. The Franco-British attack which from September 18 to 22 pierces this line between Cambrai and Saint-Quentin. The Franco-American attack which from September 12 to 15 reduces the St. Mihiel salient. By September 20 the enemy has lost nearly all the ground he had gained from March to June. His forces have severely suffered. He has engaged 163 divisions of which 75 have been in line two or three times. He still has 68 divisions in reserve which is nine less than in June, but of these only 21 are fresh divisions---ten less than in June. To keep up the effectives of these units in the absence of sufficient reinforcements, he has had to break up 16 divisions and use them as replacements.
At the same time political difficulties have begun. On the evening of the fourteenth of August and on the fifteenth, at Spa, the Emperor Charles of Austria and Count Burian, expressed the opinion that direct overtures for peace should be made as soon as possible. We have noted the decisions arrived at by the German Crown Council on the fourteenth. The Kaiser, the Chancellor, the Generals protest against the suggestion of their Allies. They hold that such a step should only be taken later on and that then it should only be taken through neutral channels and not directly. The Austrians departed unconvinced and, on the twenty-first, telegraphed a plan for a direct appeal to the belligerents after having tried to obtain for this plan the support of Bulgaria and Turkey. Excitement runs high in Berlin and at Spa. The discussion continues three weeks. From September 3 to 5, von Hintze and his under Secretary of State, von Stumm, go to Vienna to preach resistance. They seek delay---at least till the German Army shall have finished the strategic withdrawal which is under way. Hindenburg intervenes on the tenth with a telegram disapproving the Austrian plan for a direct appeal "harmful to our arms and to our peoples." On the other hand he accepts "the intervention of a neutral power with a view to an immediate negotiation." Note the change compared to the decisions of August 14. Direct proposals of peace will not be made, but a neutral will be asked to suggest it immediately. The Austrians persist nevertheless in their idea and on September 13 launch their Note. Germany, at the same time, seeks the neutral who will undertake the mission. The search is long and vain. On September 21, Ludendorff telegraphs from the great General Headquarters that it might be possible to get in touch with the United States. It is a confused and anxious period. Anxiety and confusion are made worse on the twenty-sixth by news that Bulgaria intends to conclude a separate peace. Germany decides to send troops there. But it is already too late and on the twenty-ninth the Bulgarian Armistice is signed at Salonica. Chancellor von Hertling had declared on September 3 at the Council of Ministers:
"We must say to our enemies, 'You see that you cannot beat us .... but we are always ready as we have told you unequivocally on several occasions to conclude a peace full of honour.' "
The succession of Allied victories, the Austrian manifestations, the Bulgarian Armistice completely change this situation. Is Germany ready to sue for peace---not offer it? That is how the question now presents itself. Listen to the answer.
This answer comes from a quarter whence even yesterday it was the least expected and in a form which aggravates its astounding nature. It is the first of October. It is one o'clock in the afternoon. General Ludendorff sends for the two liaison officers of the Chancellery at Great General Headquarters, Baron von Grunau and Baron von Lersner, and says to them:
"I beg you to transmit an urgent request with a view to the immediate despatch of our offer of peace. To-day the troops are holding, but one cannot foresee what may happen to-morrow."
Half an hour later at 1:30 P. M. Marshal Hindenburg intervenes, and referring to the report that a new Chancellor will be appointed that evening or the next day, says:
"If the formation of the Government remains the least in doubt and is not certain for this evening between seven and eight o'clock, I am of opinion that it is necessary this very night to send our declaration to the foreign Governments."
At two o'clock the liaison officers confirm the preceding declarations., Baron von Grunau adds:
"My impression is that everyone here has lost his self-control."
He goes off to the Emperor who agrees with him that, in order to take steps for peace, it is necessary to await till the new Government has been formed. But General Ludendorff insists:
"We are still in honourable posture. But our line may be broken through at any moment and then our peace offer will arrive at the most unfavourable moment. I have the sensation of playing a game of Chance. At any moment and at any point, a division may fail in its duty."
At nine o'clock that night, he demands that to the offer of peace shall be added a request for the designation of the point of meeting for the negotiation of the Armistice. He even goes so far as to give the names of the men who will form the Armistice Commission including an Austrian and a Turk., At midnight he reiterates:
"The offer of peace must be transmitted immediately from Berne to Washington. The Army cannot wait another forty-eight hours."
Panic reigns. Events prove this: for the Army, which according to the General "cannot wait another forty-eight hours," will continue to fight without let-up till November 11 . This panic seems to be due to three reasons. The first is that the military situation, although not hopeless, is bad. The second is that the Great General Staff, so overbearing three months ago, is anxious to share its responsibility with civilians. The third is that like many Germans the Great General Staff cherishes extraordinary illusions about the terror Germany inspires, the weakness of President Wilson, the divisions among the Allies, and the nature of the terms it will be possible to obtain. Prince Max of Baden---who that very evening had become Chancellor of the Empire and head of a Cabinet chosen with the approval of the Reichstag---receives an avalanche of alarmist telegrams on taking up his duties. He becomes indignant and insists upon getting information before taking action. A representative of the Great General Staff---Major von dem Bussche---explains the situation on October 2. He is less pessimistic than his Chief but reserved and embarrassed, on the whole far from reassuring. Among other things he says:
"The Entente, by attacking along the whole front, obliged us to scatter our reserves. Of the divisions on the Eastern front which were intended for the Western front, seven were immobilized by the events in Bulgaria. The enemy has placed in action a great many more tanks than was expected. The German troops have fought well. But the strength of our battalions has fallen to 540 men---and that despite the breaking up for replacements of 22 divisions, equal to 66 regiments. No reinforcements are in sight. The Allies, on the contrary, thanks to the Americans, are in a position to make good their losses.... The German Army is still strong enough to withstand the enemy for months, to win local successes and to force the Entente to make fresh sacrifices. But the High Command believes, as far as man can judge---there is no longer any possibility of forcing the enemy to make peace.
The Chancellor would like to have at least eight days respite. General Ludendorff, for all answer, demands twice in succession the text of the peace offer. The Chancellor asks questions: "For how long can the Army hold the frontiers? Does the great General Staff expect the front to give way? If so, when? Does it realize that, if peace negotiations are initiated under the pressure of a critical military situation, it may lead to the loss of the Colonies, of Alsace-Lorraine and of the Polish provinces?" To these questions, there is only one reply made, on October 3, under the signature of Marshal Hindenburg who in Berlin on that day sends the following letter to the Chancellor:
The Supreme Command of the Army maintains its demand, formulated on Sunday, September 29, 1918, for an immediate offer of peace to our enemies.
As the result of the breakdown of the Macedonian front and of the reduction of reserves it has led to on the Western front, as a result also of the impossibility in which we are to make good the very losses that have been inflicted on us in the fighting of the past ten days, there no longer remains any hope---as far as man can judge---of forcing the enemy to make peace.
The enemy on its side is daily throwing fresh reserves into the struggle. Nevertheless the German Army remains firm and victoriously repulses all attacks. But the situation becomes more critical every day and may force the High Command to take measures the consequence of which will be very serious.
Under the circumstances it is better to cease the struggle to save the German people and their Allies from useless losses.
Every day lost costs us thousands of brave soldiers.
The Chancellor yielded to this pressure, and on October 5 telegraphs through the Swiss Government to President Wilson to beg him to summon the belligerents to peace negotiations upon the basis of the Fourteen Points, and to put an end to bloodshed by the immediate conclusion of an Armistice. Everybody, except Prince Max von Baden, the Vice-Chancellor von Payer, and the Secretary of State Solf, seems to believe that by itself this cable will suffice to relieve the crisis. As a matter of fact, Germany by sending this despatch, delivers herself into the hands of the Allies. The situation from now on to the eleventh of November is to develop with the relentless logic of triumphant Fate.
On October 6 the Ministers hold a meeting. They would like to hear other generals besides General Ludendorff. Von Payer says:
"We must; Ludendorff's nerves are no longer equal to the strain."
It is decided to seek the intervention of the Kaiser---for the resignation of the First Quartermaster General is feared if an attempt is made to consult his subordinates. On October 8 President Wilson replies to the German Note of the fifth. It is a brief reply which throws the recipients into consternation they cannot conceal. No conversation is possible, declares the President, either on peace or on an armistice until preliminary guarantees shall have been furnished. These are the acceptation pure and simple of the bases of peace laid down on January 8, 1918, and in the President's subsequent addresses; the certainty that the Chancellor does not speak only in the name of the constituted authorities who so far have been responsible for the conduct of the war; the evacuation of all invaded territories. The President will transmit no communication to his associates before having received full satisfaction on these three points.
The German Ministers hold a council again. There are successive conferences on the ninth, the tenth, the eleventh and the twelfth. General Ludendorff is present at the first. The Ministers make him feel that the responsibility for the present situation is his and therefore his also the responsibility for the answer which must be prepared. He addresses them at length. He begins with a long historical disquisition; ends in a profuse and contradictory sea of words. At times he is reassuring:
"I see no immediate danger for the Lorraine frontier. The Rhenish provinces can be held for a long time yet. Once we are back on our own frontier the Army will be able to repulse any enemy attack."
At times he gives way to alarmist outbursts:
"The danger of a break through is always there. I do not fear it. But it is possible. Yesterday its success hung upon a thread. The Armies must have rest."
But of positive conclusions none. He maintains that the offer of peace and even more so the Armistice are indispensable, but as to the attitude to be taken in presence of the conditions which are attached to the one and to the other by the President of the United States, not a word that is clear or plain:
"We cannot give up German fortresses. The demand for the evacuation of Metz would be contrary to our honour. I do not fear a catastrophe. But I am anxious to save the Army so as to be able to have it still as a means of pressure during the peace negotiations."
Here perhaps we have the true inwardness of his thoughts. To negotiate and gain time to recuperate, so as if need be to break off afterwards. As a matter of fact the German General Staff, during this period, sought a suspension of arms rather than a definite peace. On the ninth, it still thought that it could obtain it. Hence its interventions in the preparation of the reply; hence its attempts at equivocation and ruse. The reply was sent on the twelfth in the name of Germany and of Austria-Hungary. Germany accepts the Fourteen Points and assumes that its Allies will do likewise; the Chancellor, in full accord with the Reichstag, speaks in the name of the Government and of the German people; Germany is disposed to "accede to the proposals of evacuation"---that is where the rub comes ---but she thinks they ought to be the object of preliminary negotiations and suggests the appointment of a mixed commission to deal with this matter. If the Allies lend themselves to this, Germany is saved for the time being. She will be able to withdraw her material to the rear and regroup her forces. Pending the meeting of the mixed Commission and during the protracted discussion of evacuation,---"methodical evacuation" as Hindenburg said---she will have the time to rebuild an army. The Ministers agree to this draft. But they are careful to obtain from Marshal Hindenburg and General Ludendorff their approval in writing. The manoeuvre, unskilled though it be, inspires hope in all.
Then comes the thunderbolt. President Wilson refuses to fall into the trap and crossing swords in earnest presses his attack to the utmost in the Note of October 14. A mixed Commission for evacuation? No! These are matters which like the Armistice itself "must be left to the judgment and advice of the military advisers of the Allied and Associated Governments." Besides no Armistice is possible if it does not furnish "absolutely satisfactory safe guards and guarantees of the maintenance of the present military supremacy of the Armies of the United States and of its Allies." Besides, no Armistice "so long as the armed forces of Germany continue the illegal and inhuman practices which they still persist in." Finally no Armistice so long as the German nation shall be in the hands of the military power which has disturbed the peace of the world. As to Austria-Hungary, Germany has no interest therein and the President will reply directly. In a single page the whole poor scaffolding of the German Great General Staff is overthrown. The Armistice and peace are not to be means of delaying a disaster and of preparing revenge. On the main question itself the reply must be Yes or No! If it is no, war will continue, as it has gone on for the last three months, by Allied victories. If it is yes, the military capitulation must be immediate and complete by the acceptance pure and simple of terms which will be fixed by the military advisers of the Allies alone.
This time the Germans understand. As Colonel Heye of the German General Staff will say a few days later, on October 17, "One realizes that it is a question of 'to be or not to be,' " and the military shrink back fearful of the consequences of their pressing insistence on October 1. As soon as Mr. Wilson's answer is known, General Ludendorff has telegraphed to hasten the return of troops from the Near East---the usefulness of which had seemed to him questionable on the ninth---and has suggested that an appeal should be made to the German people---the outcome of which he had declared, on the same day, would be ridiculous. On the seventeenth, he arrives in Berlin and appears before the Government. The Chancellor reminds Ludendorff rather sharply that fifteen days previously he had been obliged, much against his will, to do the General's bidding and demands an explanation. Ludendorff becomes overbearing:
"I have already said to you, Mr. Chancellor, that I consider a break through possible, but not probable. If you question me I can conscientiously only give you this reply. I do not fear a break through. If I am given reinforcements I look upon the future with confidence. If the Army holds for four weeks and winter arrives, we shall be out of difficulty. The offensive strength of our enemies has recently been very weak. If our battalions were at normal strength, the situation would be saved. Neither aviation nor tanks alarm me. If the Armistice negotiations were to begin, the undertaking to evacuate occupied territory would alone and in itself constitute a real aggravation of our military situation. Already the mere fact that it is spoken of has had untoward consequences. Yesterday and the day before the enemy has made little progress. We ought to say to our enemies before accepting conditions which are too hard, 'Come and take them by force.' "
Such glaring contradictions exasperated the Ministers, especially Secretary of State Solf who reminds General Ludendorff of his appeals of October 1. The reply is:
"'Why didn't you send me long ago the reinforcements about which you are talking to-day?"
And Colonel Heye adds.
"When the Great General Headquarters decided to make an offer of peace, it believed that an honourable peace could be concluded. But we must accept the decisive battle if the conditions imposed upon us touch our honour."
Mr. Solf replies;
"If a refusal breaks off the negotiations with Wilson, will you take the responsibility?"
"Yes," answers the General.
They separate without coming to a decision and on the twentieth Ludendorff pushes forward Marshal Hindenburg who writes an embarrassed epistle of which this is the essential phrase:
If we were beaten, our situation which is bad would not be appreciably worse than if we now accept the terms it is sought to impose up on us... We cannot, I insist, give up submarine warfare without compensation. It is better to fight to the last man to save our honour.
These are only words. They are without effect, for the High Command has lost its face. It talks, it writes: no one believes it. Baron von Lersner, liaison officer at German Headquarters, telephones a few days afterwards:
The great General Staff is furious. But basing myself upon the long experience I have of it I can only place you on your guard in the most pressing manner against the possibility of having faith in its promises, and I recommend that you do not allow yourself to be turned away from the policy of peace which we have adopted. The military situation is to-day every bit as desperate as it was three weeks ago. No improvement is to be looked for and the invasion of our territory is only a question of weeks or at the very best of a few months.
The truth is that it is Ludendorff who is wrong and Lersner who is right. Since September 20, Marshal Foch, who had regained the initiative on July 18, has exploited his success. Three concentric and uninterrupted attacks on a wide front have deeply modified the strategic, situation. In the north, from September 18 to October 18, the enemy has been driven from the Belgian coast, from the region of Lille, from the basin of Lens and has been forced to-establish himself behind the Tervueren Canal, the Scheldt and the Northern Canal. In the center from September 27 to October 19, the Hindenburg line has everywhere been broken through and the enemy is thrown back beyond the Sambre Canal, the Oise and the Serre. In Champagne and in Argonne a hard and arduous battle brings us, between September 16 and October 12, up to the Aisne and the Aire. On October 20 the German Armies from the Sea to the Meuse are everywhere in retreat. In four weeks, they have had to engage 139 divisions out of a total of 191. They have only seven fresh divisions in reserve and forty-four are utterly worn out. The average strength of the companies is only fifty men, although 40 per cent. of the battalions have been reduced from four companies to three. Two-thirds of their divisions have been almost constantly in line since September 1. They are short seventy thousand reinforcements every month, although the class of 1920 is already called to the colours.
War material cannot be renewed. Compared to June there are 25 per cent. less machine guns, 17 per cent. less field pieces, and 26 per cent. less heavy artillery. The lateral railways which from one end of the front to the other permit transports of men and material, the voies de rocade, of which the German staff made so fruitful a use during the war, are no longer at their disposal---four of the secondary lines and one principal line are wholly or in part in the hands of the Allies. Those which remain are almost blocked with supplies and evacuations, so much so that in the three first weeks of October it has only been possible to displace three divisions laterally, instead of nineteen so moved in May. Remember also that an enormous amount of war material is scattered all along the front and behind it. To save this, Germany has abandoned the opportunity that a rapid retreat might have afforded. Besides, this retreat is difficult for the forces which are at a distance from the German frontier, that is to say for the group of Armies of the German Crown Prince and of the Crown Prince of Bavaria, 130 divisions in all that have only a zone of 75 kilometers in width through which to withdraw. Finally the morale is low, very low, Hopes had run so high in July! The Great General Staff says it is the fault of the Government which has not the interior well in hand. The Government is right in replying that it is rather the fault of events.
The Generals have demanded the Armistice, the Ministers take them at their word because they believe with von Lersner that "the invasion of German territory is only a matter of weeks or at most of a few months." Invasion: A word that for a hundred years Germany has been wont to apply only to its adversaries. It becomes the obsession of the Government. Capitulation on terms to be fixed by the victors alone in accordance with President Wilson's decision. Or invasion with the sole resources of a levée en masse peculiarly problematical in a country that has already called 14,000,000 men to the colours. But there is no other alternative. The Ministers make their choice.. They will capitulate.
After a week of consideration, of hesitation, of exchanges with the Great General Staff on which they are determined to pin the initial responsibility, the Ministers are to reply on October 21 to the American Note of the fourteenth. This time there can be no playing on words, no talk of negotiation, for it is only a question of submission. Evacuation of occupied territory? The demand is accepted. Armistice? Germany recognizes that its terms must be left to the appreciation of the competent military authorities. Illegal acts committed by the German forces? These are destructions necessary in a retreat and permitted by international law; strict instructions will nevertheless be given that private property shall be respected. Torpedoings? Not deliberate; orders however have been sent to the commanders to spare passenger ships. Suppression of the arbitrary power? It is already accomplished; the Cabinet is responsible to Parliament; the Constitution will be revised; the Government is free from any military or irresponsible influence. This time Germany bound hand and foot is rivetted to Wilsonian dialectics. Since she does not break, she gives herself up.
The President takes good note thereof on October 23, in announcing that having received all the undertakings demanded in his preceding Messages, he has informed his Associates. And once again so that there can be no doubt, he repeats the fundamental conditions from which Germany cannot escape.
1. The Armistice will be concluded only if the military advisers of the Allied and Associated Governments deem it possible from the military point of view.
2. The only Armistice which can be suggested to the Associated Governments will be an Armistice that will render impossible (where are the German hopes of the beginning of October?) any resumption of hostilities by Germany and leave the Associated Powers in a position to enforce any arrangements that may be entered into.
3. The peoples of the world have and can have no confidence in the word of those who have hitherto been the masters of Germany. Nothing could be gained by not stating these essential conditions.
On October 21, Germany had admitted her defeat. It remained for the Allied Governments to fix the conditions of their victory and the bases of their security.
On October 23 President Wilson who, since the fifth, has remained in daily contact with the European Governments and has given out, his correspondence with Germany, day by day, communicates this correspondence officially to his associates and asks them two questions:
1. Regarding the peace, and in view of the assurances given by the Chancellor, are the Associated Governments ready to conclude peace on the terms and according to the Principles already made public?
2. Regarding the Armistice and if the reply to the previous question is in the affirmative, are the Associated Governments ready to ask their military advisers and the military advisers of the United States to submit to them the necessary conditions which must be fulfilled by an Armistice such as will protect absolutely the interests of the peoples concerned and to assure to the Associated Governments unlimited power to safeguard and impose the details of the peace to which the German Government has consented, provided always that the military advisers consider such an armistice possible from a military point of view?
I do not believe that ever problem was more clearly defined.
First, the question of principle;---do the commanding generals believe that from a military point of view hostilities can be suspended, or do they believe on the contrary that they should be continued?
Second, the question of execution. If the Armistice is possible and desirable, what are the conditions necessary to prevent Germany from beginning the war again and to permit the Allies to impose their terms of peace?
It is to the military authorities that Mr. Wilson asks that these two questions shall be submitted. It is to them that he entrusts in this matter the sovereign rights of the Governments. M. Clemenceau is, on this point, in complete agreement with the President of the United States. To stop the hostilities otherwise than on the express advice and in the manner fixed by the chiefs who have had the responsibility of the military operations would be contrary to all the principles which have inspired his war policy. In the name of the Supreme Council of the Allies, over which he presides, he therefore transmits the correspondence to Marshal Foch, the Commander-in-Chief, who by virtue of his position and his responsibility is to answer the two questions asked.
On October 25, Marshal Foch summons to Senlis, General Pétain, Marshal Haig, General Pershing and General, Gillain, Chief of Staff of the Belgian Army. The latter however is delayed and does not attend the meeting. The Commander-in- Chief reads the correspondence to them and asks their advice. None of them proposes to refuse the Armistice. On the terms of the Armistice their opinions are divided. Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig speaks first. In his view the Armistice should be concluded and concluded on very moderate terms. The victorious Allied Armies are extenuated. The units need to be reorganized. Germany is not broken in the military sense. During the last weeks her Armies have withdrawn fighting very bravely and in excellent order. Therefore, if it is really desired to conclude an armistice---and this in his view is very desirable---it is necessary to grant Germany conditions which she can accept. That is to say the evacuation of the invaded territory in France and Belgium as well as Alsace-Lorraine, and the restitution of the rolling stock taken at the beginning of the war from the French and Belgians. If more is demanded, there is a risk of prolonging the war, which has already cost so much, and of exasperating German national feeling, with very doubtful results. For the evacuation of all invaded territories and of Alsace-Lorraine is sufficient to seal the victory.
General Pershing says that, as Chief of the American Army in France, he desires first to hear what General Pétain has to say and to give his opinion afterwards. General Pétain is of opinion, that if an armistice is concluded, it must be a real armistice complying fully and completely with the definition laid down by President Wilson in his Note of October 23; an armistice making it impossible for the enemy to resume hostilities and permitting the Allies to impose their own terms of peace. For that, two things are essential: the first is that the German Army should return to Germany without a cannon or a tank, and with only its carrying arms. To attain this, he makes practical suggestions. The specification of a time for withdrawal so short that it will be materially impossible for the enemy to carry away his war material. In addition to the evacuation by the Germans of all invaded territory and of Alsace-Lorraine, the occupation by the Allied Armies not only of the left bank of the Rhine but of a zone fifty kilometers wide on the right bank; at the same time the delivery of 5,000 locomotives and 100,000 cars should be demanded. General Pétain adds however that, although these conditions are indispensable in his opinion, it is hardly expected that the Germans will accept them.
General Pershing in a few words, says that he agrees with General Pétain. Marshal Foch thanks his guests for their suggestions which he will consider. The conference ends. The next day, October 26, Marshal Foch communicates his final conclusions to M. Clemenceau by letter. Extracts of this letter have been published. It is well to quote it here in its entirety as far as the Western front is concerned.
After having consulted the Commanders-in-Chief of the American, British and French Armies,(5) I have the honour to make known to you the military conditions under which can be granted an armistice "capable" of protecting absolutely the interests of the nations concerned and assuring to the Associated Governments unlimited power to safeguard and impose the conditions of Peace to which the German Government has consented.
I. Immediate evacuation of all territory invaded contrary to law: Belgium, France, Alsace-Lorraine, Luxemburg.
Immediate repatriation of their inhabitants.
Surrender of part of the enemy war material in the evacuated regions.
This evacuation to be effected with a degree of speed that will make it impossible for the enemy to remove a large part of the war material and supplies of all kinds now there; that is to say in the following delays:
At the end of four days the German troops must have withdrawn beyond the first line on the accompanying map;
At the end of four more days they must be beyond the second line;
At the end of a further period of six days they must be beyond the third line;
Belgium, Luxemburg and Alsace-Lorraine will thus be liberated within a total time of fourteen days;
The time limits will run from the day of the signature of the Armistice.
In any case the total material left behind by the enemy must amount to:
5,000 cannon (half heavy, half field pieces)(6).
30,000 machine guns(7).
To be delivered where they now are in a manner to be later determined.
The Allied troops will follow up in these regions the progress of the evacuation which will be carried out in accordance with regulations to be later determined.
II. Evacuation of the territory on the left bank of the Rhine by the enemy Armies.
The territory on the left bank of the Rhine will continue to be administered by the local authorities under the supervision of the Allied Armies of occupation.
The Allied forces will assure the occupation of this territory by garrisons holding the principal Rhine crossings (Mayence, Coblenz, Strassburg), with at these points bridgeheads of thirty kilometers radius on the right bank.
Holding also the strategic points of the region. A neutral zone will be established on the right bank on the river running parallel to the river and forty kilometers to the east of it from the Swiss to the Dutch frontiers.
The evacuation by the enemy of the Rhine territories must be completed within the following time limits:
Up to the Rhine, eight days over and above the time limits set above (that is to say twenty-two days in all from the signature of the Armistice).
Beyond the neutral zone; three additional days (twenty-five days in all from the signature of the Armistice).
III. In all the territories evacuated by the enemy there must be no destruction of any kind and no harm must be done to the persons or property of the inhabitants.
IV. The enemy must deliver under conditions to be determined 5,000 locomotives and 150,000 cars in good running order.(8)
V. The German High Command must be bound to reveal the position of all mines or retarded mines laid in the evacuated territories and to assist in their location and destruction under penalty of reprisals.
VI. The compliance by the enemy with these conditions will occupy a total of twenty-five days. In order to guarantee its execution, the blockade will be maintained during this period. It is only at the expiration of this delay and after these conditions have been fulfilled that the sending of food supplies to the enemy can be authorized on conditions to be determined by separate agreement.
VII. Allied prisoners to be returned in the shortest possible time in a manner to be determined later.
This letter calls for no comment. Marshal Foch has taken counsel and considered. He has put to himself the question he urged upon his pupils at the Ecole de Guerre. "What is the object?" To break the fighting strength of Germany; to oblige Germany to submit to conditions of peace whatever they may be. In order to make sure of this, can we confine ourselves to Marshal Haig's suggestions? No; for the German Army after evacuating the invaded territories, which it would leave with the honours of war, would find itself entire and whole inside its own frontiers and remain a danger to the Allies. Is it necessary to avert this danger to deprive the enemy of all his war material? No; it will be sufficient to take that without which he cannot resume hostilities, and in addition to hold the Rhine with bridgeheads at its principal crossings. In the absolute freedom of judgment which the Allied Governments solemnly conferred upon him, the Commander-in-Chief decides that this is what is necessary and sufficient. The opportunity is also to be afforded him within the next few days of developing his views and explaining on what his decision is based.
Between October 23 and 26, the heads of the European Governments and their Ministers of Foreign Affairs have all gathered in Paris. On the twenty-fourth Mr. House joins them six weeks ahead of President Wilson. The meetings begin at once. They have not yet the official character they will assume on the thirty-first when the Supreme Council meets at Versailles. Generally the meetings are held in the mornings at Mr. House's place in the rue de l'Université; in the afternoons at M. Clemenceau's office in the Ministry of War or at Mr. Pichon's at the Quay d'Orsay. The position on the various fronts (the Armistice with Austria-Hungary is momentarily expected) and the terms of the German Armistice are the subject of the discussions in which Marshal Foch on several occasions takes part. Some do not find these terms severe enough. Thus General Tasker H. Bliss, representing the United States on the Inter-allied Military Council, would prefer a shorter and in some respects a more rigorous. text. In his opinion two clauses would be sufficient: total disarmament and complete demobilization. This would make it quite certain that Germany could not resume hostilities. This would force her in advance to submit to all peace conditions. General Bliss, after a remarkable exposition of his views, summarizes them as follows in a Note which he hands to one of the members of the Supreme Council.(9)
For the reasons stated above I suggest:
1. That the Associated Powers demand the complete disarmament and demobilization of the military and naval forces of the enemy, leaving only to him such internal force as may be considered necessary to the maintenance of order in enemy territory. This implies the evacuation of all invaded territories and their evacuation not by armed or partially armed men but by disarmed men.
The German Army thus deprived of its arms cannot fight, and being demobilized cannot again be called together for the objects of this war.
II. That the Associated Powers inform the enemy that there will be no diminution of their war aims which will be submitted to a full and reasonable discussion between the nations associated in the war and that, even if the enemy himself is given a hearing, he will have to submit to everything that the Associated Powers shall finally decide to be necessary to assure now and in the future the Peace of the World.
On the other hand, in naval matters the representatives of Great Britain do not consider sufficient the delivery of 150 submarines demanded by Marshal Foch and think that nearly all the battle-ships and cruisers ought to be surrendered also. It is in these circumstances that the final discussion from October 27 to 31, begins. I reproduce its salient passages.
True to the mission entrusted to him by President Wilson, Mr. House first of all asks Marshal Foch the following questions:
"Tell us, M. le Maréchal, purely from the military point of view and without regard to any other consideration, whether you would rather that the Germans should reject or accept the Armistice on the lines we have just agreed upon."
Marshal Foch answers:
"The only aim of war is to obtain results. If the Germans sign an armistice on the general lines we have just determined we shall have obtained the result we seek. Our aims being accomplished, no one has the right to shed another drop of blood."
In other words, the Commander-in-Chief is of opinion that if the Germans accept the conditions laid down in his letter of October 23---and he still has his doubts upon this point---it is necessary to conclude the Armistice and cease the war without hesitation. The Commander-in-Chief goes even further and, replying to the suggestions of General Bliss and of Mr. Lloyd George, and to others of the same nature, firmly insists on the danger of additional demands. He says:
"Nothing is easier than to propose and even to impose conditions on paper. It is simple and logical to demand the disarmament of the German Armies in the field. But how will you make sure of it? Will you pass through the German Armies and occupy before them the Rhine crossings? Demobilization? I am willing. But do you intend to occupy the whole of Germany? For if we do not occupy the whole of Germany, we shall never be certain that demobilization has been carried out. As for the German surface fleet, what do you fear from it? During the whole war only a few of its units have ventured from their ports. The surrender of these units will be merely a manifestation, which will please the public but nothing more. Why make the Armistice harder, for I repeat its sole object is to place Germany hors de combat."
And Marshal Foch adds:
"What will you do if the Germans after having accepted the severe and ample conditions that I propose, refuse to subscribe to the additional humiliations you suggest? Will you on that account run the risk of a renewal of hostilities with the useless sacrifice of thousands of lives ?"
That was the whole question. Would harsher terms prolong the war? For how many months? What would be the risks? Colonel House and Lloyd George were anxious ---as was also M. Clemenceau---to obtain the maximum, so long as the military authorities considered the maximum necessary. On October 29 they ask the Commander-in-Chief to reply to these points. And Marshal Foch answers:
"I am not in a position and no one is in a position to give you an accurate forecast. It may last three months, perhaps four or five. Who knows? However if I cannot fix a date, I can reply to the main question. On the main question I say this: the conditions laid down by your military advisers are the very conditions which we ought to and could impose after the success of our further operations. so if the Germans accept them now, it is useless to go on fighting."
On October 31, the heads of Governments, assisted by Marshal Foch, decide upon the final text to be submitted to the Supreme Council of the Allies which is to meet on the afternoon of the same day. This text adopts all the proposals of the Commander-in-Chief with a few additions and specifications of details, the foremost of which are:
The surrender of 2,000 fighting and bombing planes, and firstly all the D 7's and all the night bombing machines.
In all German territory evacuated by the enemy all military installations of whatever nature to be delivered intact.
Ways and means of communication of all kinds, railways, waterways, roads, bridges, telegraphs, telephones, to be left undamaged. All the civilian and military employees actually working them to remain.
The right of requisition shall be exercised by the Allied Armies and the United States Armies in all occupied territory. The upkeep of all the troops of occupation in the Rhine districts (excluding Alsace-Lorraine) shall be charged to the German Government.
German prisoners of war to be returned only after the signature of Peace preliminaries.
Delivery to the Allies of 10,000 motor trucks.
The railways of Alsace-Lorraine shall be handed over together with all personnel and material.
On October 31 at three o 'clock the Supreme Council meets at Versailles. There are present Clemenceau, Pichon, Lloyd George, Balfour, Orlando, Sonnino, House, Venizelos, Vesnitch, Marshal Foch, Admiral Wemyss, Generals Sir Henry Wilson, Bliss and De Robilant. M. Clemenceau calls on Marshal Foch who explains the military position created by the victories of the last months. He describes the position of the German Army, after having stated its losses. He says:
"An Army which for three months has been forced to retreat, and which can no longer react is a beaten Army. But all the same it persists in methodical destruction, accepting battle everywhere.
"The military disorganization of the enemy is an undoubted fact. But the struggle goes on and continues."
After the Germans, the Allies. Marshal Foch expresses himself thus:
"On our side despite the approach of winter we can continue this battle on its 400 kilometers front. The effectives of our Army permit this. The British and French Armies have certainly suffered but they can go on. The American Army is still fresh and its reserves are arriving every day. The morale of the troops is excellent. This enables us to go on, if the enemy so desires, till complete victory is won."
No one asking to be heard in discussion of Marshal Foch's point of view which is already well known from the preceding meetings, the Austrian Armistice is next taken up and occupies the remainder of the meeting of October 31. On November 1 another meeting is held, followed by two others on the second and fourth, the greater part of which is devoted to the German Armistice. As a whole, except for few aggravations, the plan of the Commander-in-Chief is adopted purely and simply, for the Western as for the Eastern front.
On the naval clauses the discussion is more prolonged. Despite the objections put forward by Marshal Foch at previous meetings the Council of Admirals insists that the greater part of the German surface fleet must be surrendered and interned. It is curious to note that Mr. Lloyd George, who had opposed none of the land clauses, expresses fear that the demands of the naval experts may prolong the war to no purpose. He asks that the decision be put off at least till Austria has capitulated.
"We must ask ourselves," he says, "whether we want to make peace at once or to continue the war for a year. It may be very tempting to take a certain number of ships. But that is not the main issue. At present each of our Armies is losing more men in a week than at any time during the first four years of war. We must not lose sight of that. If Austria gives in, we shall know where we are. By Monday we shall be better able to say."
And so the discussion is resumed on November 4 when the following text is adopted:
The German surface war-ships which shall be designated by the Allies and the United States shall forthwith be disarmed and thereafter interned in neutral ports or failing them, Allied ports.
There remains a grave question put forward by the French delegation. The Question of Reparations. At the meeting of November 2, M. Clemenceau starts the discussion:
"I would like to return now to the question of Reparations and of damages. It would not be understood with us in France if we did not insert a clause in the Armistice to this effect. All I am asking for is the addition of three words, 'Reparations for damages' without further comment."
The following discussion ensues:
M. Hymans: "Would that be a condition of armistice?
M. Sonnino: "It is rather a condition of peace."
M. Bonar Law: "It is useless to insert in the conditions .of armistice a clause that cannot be rapidly fulfilled."
M. Clemenceau: "I only want to lay down the principle. You must not forget that the French people is one of those which have suffered most. They would not understand if we did not make some allusion to this matter."
Mr. Lloyd George: "If you are going to deal with the reparation of damages on land, you must also mention the question of reparations for the ships sunk."
M. Clemenceau: "That is all covered by my three words: 'Reparations for damages.' I beg the Council to understand the feeling of the French people."
M. Vesnitch: "And of the Serbian ...."
M. Hymans: "And of the Belgian .... "
M. Sonnino: "And of the Italian people also...."
Mr. House: "As this is a matter of importance to all, I propose the adoption of M. Clemenceau.'s addition."
Mr. Bonar Law: "It is already mentioned in our letter to President Wilson. It is useless to repeat it."
Mr. Orlando: "I accept it in principle although no mention has been made of it in the conditions of the Austrian Armistice."
The addition of "Reparations for damages" is then adopted. M. Klotz suggests that the addition be preceded by the words "with the reservation that any future claims by the Allies and the United States remain unaffected." This is decided. The Allied Governments, now agreed on everything the Armistice is to contain, are in a position to reply to President Wilson's telegram of October 23. They therefore request Mr. House to communicate to the President the conditions which have been agreed upon with two reservations. This communication is made in the following terms:
The Allied Governments have given careful consideration to the correspondence which has passed between the President of the United States and the German Government.
Subject to the qualifications which follow they declare their willingness to make peace with the Government of Germany on the terms of peace laid down in the Address of the President to Congress on January 8, 1918, and the principles of settlement enunciated in his subsequent address.
They must point out, however, that clause 2, relating to what is usually described as the "Freedom of the Seas" is open to various interpretations some of which they could not accept. They must therefore reserve to themselves complete freedom on this subject when they enter the Peace Conference.
Furthermore in the conditions of peace laid down in his address to Congress on January 8, 1918, the President declared that the invaded territories must be restored as well as evacuated and freed and the Allied Governments feel that no doubt ought to be allowed to exist as to what this provision implies. By it they understand that compensations will be made by Germany for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allies and their property by the aggression of Germany by land, by sea and from the air.
Mr. Wilson is at the same time asked to notify the German Government that it can send a duly accredited plenipotentiary to Marshal Foch who, assisted by a British Admiral, would be authorized to act in the name of the Allied and Associated Governments.
In what state of mind is this decision to find Germany! I have already shown that after her Note of October 21 and the American reply of October 23 she was bound without escape to submit to the conditions of the Allies. The days which follow make this abundantly clear. The German Great General Staff continues to be exasperated. Herr von Payer, who had been there on the twenty-sixth, asserts that he was repeatedly told, "We are not beaten. We must not capitulate." It is true that to his question, "What chances shall we have of making a better peace if we go on?" he gets no definite answer, unless it is that "Clemenceau is in disagreement with Foch about the conditions" and that "Foch by urging moderate conditions shows the high opinion he still has of German power of resistance." The Ministers question other Generals, Gallwitz, Mudra, who declare themselves confident, but furnish no grounds for their hopes. Everything goes to smash. On the twenty-sixth, Ludendorff resigns and his resignation is accepted. On the twenty-seventh, the Emperor of Austria announces that he is going to make a separate peace. On the thirtieth he asks for an armistice, announcing it is true that if the conditions are too severe "he will put himself at the head of his Austrian Germans." On the twenty-seventh, the German Government had already telegraphed to President Wilson that it was awaiting his proposals.
On November 5, General Groner, Ludendorff's successor, acknowledges that the military situation has grown worse. For Marshal Foch is continuing his concentric advance; the Armies of the North moving towards Brussels, the British Armies towards the Ardennes, the French Armies towards Givet, the Americans towards Mézières and Sedan. The Germans from November 4 to 9 lose the banks of the Scheldt on a wide front and are overwhelmed on the right bank of the Meuse. To finish them the Allied High Command prepares an offensive in Lorraine which with Sarrebourg for its objective will hurl twenty-eight divisions of infantry, three divisions of cavalry, six hundred tanks and an enormous force of artillery against five or seven mediocre German divisions. When on November 6 the American Note of the fifth arrives announcing that in accordance with the conditions stipulated, Marshal Foch is ready to receive the German plenipotentiaries, they are appointed the same day and set out the next. The Emperor abdicates.
The rest is known. The meeting of the two Armistice Commissions at Rethondes on the morning of the eighth in the train of the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies; the attempt by Erzberger to transform the capitulation into a negotiation:
"We have come to receive your proposals with a view to arriving at the conclusion of an Armistice."
Marshal Foch cuts him short with:
"I have no proposals to make. Do you ask for an Armistice?"
"We ask for an Armistice."
"Very well. The conditions decided upon by the Allied Governments will be read to you."
These seventy-two hours of delay passed quickly. On November 10, Secretary of State Solf makes known by wireless that "the German Government accepts the conditions imposed." The eleventh at five o'clock in the morning, the protocol is signed. It is the same as the text adopted on November 4 by the Supreme Council at Versailles. For technical reasons, Marshal Foch has granted to Erzberger three slight modifications: 25,000 machine guns instead of 30,000; 1,700 aeroplanes instead of 2,000; 5,000 motor trucks instead of 10,000; in addition to a promise of prompt measures to insure food supply. On November 11, at eleven o 'clock in the morning the Armistice takes effect on the whole front. The same day all the nations which had fought for Liberty and Justice celebrated the signature.
Such in its logical evolution was the origin of the Armistice of November 11. Misconception born of ignorance cannot withstand the light of facts. Linked together in cause and effect the facts throw their critical light upon the accumulation of legends and make the truth stand out. Absent from France in America from October 17 to November 20, in place of personal reminiscences I have consulted all the written and oral testimony. The German documents are taken from the official account published by the Government of the Reich, the authenticity of which has been challenged by none of those concerned. None of the texts reproduced here can be disputed. My account is true and I believe it to be complete.
What remains of the fiction believed by so many of an Armistice secretly determined upon by an American dictator; submitted to by the European Governments; imposed by their weakness upon the victorious Armies despite the opposition of the Generals! The Armistice was discussed in the open light of day. President Wilson only consented to communicate it to his associates on the triple condition that its principle be approved by the military authorities and its clauses would be drawn up by them; that it be imposed upon the enemy and not discussed with him; that it be such as to prevent all resumption of hostilities and assure the submission of the vanquished to the terms of peace. So it was that the discussion went on with Berlin till October 23, and in Paris from that date till November 5. It was to the Commander-in-Chief that final decision was left not only on the principle of the Armistice but upon its application. He it was who drew up the text. And it was his draft that was adopted. The action of the Governments was limited to endorsing it and making it more severe. That is the truth:---it is perhaps less picturesque but certainly more in accord with common sense.
May it in truth be said, after what I have just written of the German crises in October, that Marshal Foch made a mistake in not exacting more than he did---and that no matter what we had asked the people in Berlin would have accepted everything just as they accepted the surrender of their Navy? Of course this can always be asserted. I would point out, however, that criticism foretelling the past is not hard to level against action which had to take the future into account. To pass judgment on the decisions taken in October, 1918, by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the Entente, and approved afterwards by the Governments, it is necessary to place one 's self in his position of knowledge. The official German documents which I am able to insert in this work had not then been published. The facts they relate were not then known. Nothing was known of the extraordinary panic which on October 1 had seized the Great General Staff; nothing was known either of its unavoidable consequences. Marshal Foch was sure of victory and he said so. He added that the conditions fixed by him on October 26 were the very conditions which we should have been able to dictate after the success of further operations. But having done that, he fulfilled his duty in refusing to fix an exact date as to the duration of German resistance, the strength of which in critical junctures continued to be shown---contrary to the provisions of Ludendorff---up to the very day of the Armistice. He also fulfilled his duty in refusing to take chances with the morale of the troops and of the peoples, by confining himself to what he considered to be necessary and sufficient. It is easy two years afterwards to decide that the war would only have lasted a week longer. Marshal Foch could not guarantee that. Nobody even to-day could guarantee it absolutely. A few days before the Armistice one of our Army Commanders said to a public man:
"We are going to take up our positions for another winter."
The responsible Chief would have none of "another winter" which he did not consider essential to the achievement of victory. The Governments determined to impose everything that the Commander-in-Chief exacted but did not feel justified in demanding more. Moreover, the problem was to place Germany in a position in which she could not begin the war again---she was not able to begin it again; the problem was to force Germany to sign the Peace,---she signed it. Events have thus shown that Marshal Foch was right. The Armistice marked the capitulation of the enemy, a capitulation which was an unconditional surrender.
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