7 juin 2018

The 1918 Armistice clauses

The discussions

Talks concerning an eventual armistice began on 8 November within the very same Armistice Carriage. There, the Germans were informed of the conditions imposed by the Allied delegation. General Weygand read out the text proposed by the Allied governments.

Erzberger requested that the 72-hour deadline for a reply be extended by 24 hours, to allow him to communicate the conditions to his government. He also requested that all military operations come to an immediate standstill following this meeting. But faced with Marshal Foch’s firm refusal, the Germans sent on to Spa a text presenting the Armistice clauses.

These discussions would continue on 9 and 10 November via exchanged notes, in which the Germans examined observations made relative to the Armistice conditions. 

The final decision

Finally, the Allied delegation received a wireless telegram between 7 and 8 PM. It read:

1. The German government accepts the armistice conditions imposed on 8 November;

2. Under Secretary of State Erzberger is authorized to sign the Armistice.”

The clauses

On 11 November, the last meeting preceding the signing began at 2:15 AM. The Armistice clauses finally included 18 articles, notably:  

  • no. 1: The Armistice takes effect 6 hours after its signing. 
  • no. 2: The evacuation of Belgium, France and Alsace-Lorraine within 14 days.
  • no. 3 : The abandonment of much heavy military equipment (canons, aircraft, etc.).
  • no. 4 : Allied occupation of the cities of Mainz, Koblenz and Cologne.
  • no. 7 : Abandonment of railway equipment (5,000 locomotives and carriages).
  • no. 13: Return of all war prisoners, with no reciprocity. 
  • no. 18: The armistice is effective for 30 days. 

Following 3 hours of further discussion, the Armistice agreement was signed at precisely 5:30 AM between the German plenipotentiaries and the Allies. It therefore came into effect on 11 November at 11 AM, thereby officially ending fighting on all fronts. At 7 AM, Marshal Foch left for Paris carrying the full Armistice text.