100 Years Ago November 1918
11th Month, 11th Day at the 11th Hour
Selected from the pages of the Evening Press and lightly annotated by Sally Haase
Fighting To Be Over This Month. Washington, Nov. 1, 1918: The world war, so far as fighting is concerned, will be over this month. Official diplomatic Washington was extremely certain that Germany cannot hold out more than three weeks.
Emperor Of Austria In Flight. Copenhagen, Nov. 1, 1918: Emperor Charles of Austria has fled from Vienna to the north of Budapest. The flight was made in a special train of eighteen cars. Quantities of furniture, food, money and the crown jewels were carried along.
Headlines in the War:
* Pershing Launches a New Drive North of Verdun
* 23 Austrian Divisions Have Mutinied
* Italian Drive Takes 60,000 Austrian Prisoners
* No Armistice, Fight to the Finish
Kerensky Pleads For Russia. London, Nov. 4, 1918: Alexander Kerensky, former premier of Russia, said that Lenine, Trotsky and other autocrats of the Bolshevik regime should be treated along the lines of President Wilson’s demands on the Kaiser and the German autocrats to make Russia safe.
Congress Begins Reconstruction Plans. Washington, Nov. 4, 1918: None in congress expected the war to come to an end before next summer. Both democrats and republicans admit that the country is no better prepared for peace than it was for war. “The reconstruction period must be one of retrenchment,” said Senator Martin, “otherwise our children and our children’s children will be slaves condemned to a life struggle to wipe out the national debt.”
Premature Wild Celebration Of Armistice. Washington, Nov. 7, 1918: The unofficial reports received that Germany had signed the armistice caused enthusiastic demonstrations in cities and towns throughout the country. The terms of the allied armistice have not been signed. Sirens burst forth, and were joined by harbor and factory whistles. In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell rang. In New York, from the tops of skyscrapers bits of paper filtered down among the crowds. The terms of the allied armistice have not been signed. Great disappointment resulted when the truth is learned.
Headlines in the War:
* German Envoys Reach the Allied Lines While the Western Front was Aflame with Battle.
* Berlin Held to a Time Limit of 72 Hours To Sign The Agreement
* German War Cabinet In Session
* 22 German Divisions in Battle with Americans on the Meuse River
Influenza In Camps. Washington, Nov. 8, 1918: Influenza continues at all large military camps throughout the country. The surgeon general reports that the disease is now more prevalent in the south and west than in the north and east.
Wilson Announces War Brought To A Close. Washington, Nov. 11, 1918: President Wilson rode in his automobile to the Capitol unattended by secret service. The president was in a wonderful humor when he told the “Gentlemen of the Congress, “ “…the German authorities have accepted and signed the terms of the armistice…”
11th Month, 11th Day at the 11th Hour. [The armistice was signed at 5:00 am on November 11, 1918; the cease-fire was scheduled for 11:00. Although it was known the day before that the armistice was expected to be signed, Pershing insisted that French Marshal Foch gave no order to halt the fighting. He was just following orders. Or were zealous commanders ordering their troops into battle to push the line back just a little more? Within days or hours the allied troops would have been able to safely walk across the front line. Americans suffered more than thirty-five hundred casualties that morning. In total the allied and German casualties amounted to 11,000 men that day.]
Lid Thrown Off In New York. New York, Nov. 12, 1918: It’s the real thing this time. Go to it! The shouts echoed through the streets of the city as the populace began a series of demonstrations that surpassed last weeks “dress rehearsals.”
Anarchy Rages In Germany. London, Nov. 12, 1918: A Copenhagen correspondent describes the scene as an inferno with rifles flashing, the streets echoing with screams of the wounded and ambulances darting amongst the crowds. The hospitals of Berlin are filled with persons wounded in the fighting between revolutionaries and loyal troops. The food situation is grave and it is feared that the nation will not be able to feed returning soldiers. The socialist have secured their grip on Berlin, while red flags fly over the whole nation.
Hoover urges Food Conservation. Washington, Nov. 12, 1918: The American people were called upon by Food Administrator Herbert Hoover to exercise stringent conservation to enable the United States to furnish 20 million tons of food to the stricken peoples of Europe.
Headlines in the War:
* German Crown Prince Frederick Victim of his Orders to Fire Upon Those Escaping to Holland
* Starving People of Belgium Cheer Liberation from Germany
* Wilson To Do Everything To Relieve Famine in Germany
* Germany Begins Turning Over Fleet
Hoover urges Food Conservation. Washington, Nov. 12, 1918: Big business men’s opinion is that the United States is facing a period of the greatest prosperity in history. After industry readjusts itself to the new conditions, there will be work for every man, woman, and child now working as well as for the millions of soldiers and sailors who are to return to private life.
Send ‘Em Home. Washington, Nov. 14, 1918: Voices here insist that drafted troops in army cantonments in this country be discharged from the army at once. The men, drafted in the latest draft, are badly needed in industry.
Wilson Going To Europe. Washington, Nov. 12, 1918: President Wilson will go to Europe next month to fight for his league of nation idea. The president will meet with Premiers Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando in Paris ahead of the formal peace conference at Versailles. In addition to discussing his “world federation idea,” he expects to discuss the reconstruction of the map of a good part of the world along racial lines.
March To The Rhine. With the American Army of Occupation, Nov. 20, 1918: The Third American army of occupation resumed its triumphant march toward the Rhine. Our troops are passing increasing bands of liberated prisoners. Some of them commandeered abandoned German wagons, absent horses; the men pulled the wagons themselves. Others carried belongings in grain bags or on wheel barrows. One group of Scotsmen in kilts wore green German trousers to keep their legs. Liberated Yanks were laden with souvenirs as they picked their way through Germany. It was a motley throng, all cold, hungry and footsore, but happy to get within the American lines.
100 years ago, much has changed and, then again, nothing has changed.