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Author Topic: Armistice Day: November 11  (Read 13949 times)


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« on: 11 November 2009, 15:36:06 »

November 11: Armistice day

The term "armistice" means a cessation of hostilities as a prelude to peace negotiations.  In the context of the First World War 'the armistice' is generally referred to in context of the agreement between the Germans and the Allies to end the war on November 11, 1918.

Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day) is on November 11 and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning — the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month". While this official date to mark the end of the war reflects the cease fire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire.

The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations, to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war. An exception is Italy, where the end of the war is commemorated on 4 November, the day of the Armistice of Villa Giusti. Called Armistice Day in many countries, it was known as National Day in Poland (also a public holiday) called Polish Independence Day. After World War II, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Armistice Day remains an official holiday in France. It is also an official holiday in Belgium, known also as the Day of Peace in the Flanders Fields.

In many parts of the world people take a two-minute moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. as a sign of respect for the roughly 20 million people who died in the war, as suggested by Edward George Honey in a letter to a British newspaper although Wellesley Tudor Pole established two ceremonial periods of remembrance based on events in 1917.[1][2]

In the UK, beginning in 1939, the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest to 11 November in order not to interfere with wartime production should 11 November fall on a weekday. Both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday being commemorated formally in the UK.

Merkel makes history in France on Armistice Day
Two days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy attended Germany's 20th anniversary reunification festivities in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Paris to mark the 91st anniversary of the end of World War I.
Merkel, who is the first German leader to take part in a French Armistice Day parade, joined Sarkozy at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, where they laid a wreath and rekindled the flame at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Although not the first German Chancellor to attend Armistice Day events in France, Merkel's presence at the annual parade marking Germany's surrender, is unprecedented.
Standing in Paris 91 years after the end of World War I, Angela Merkel described the relationship between France and Germany as "something special, something unique," and urged "even closer" co-operation between the two countries.

An example to the world
As their national flags fluttered in the wind, the two leaders vowed that their countries would never again go to war against each other. Merkel said that although the past could not be erased, the power of reconciliation helped to bear the burden of what has gone before.
"We show other countries in the world that it is possible to rise above the pain of the past," Merkel said.
The French President told the crowds that it was not an occasion to celebrate, but to remember.
"We are not commenmorating the victory of one people over another but an ordeal that was equally terrible for each side," Sarkozy said.
He said Germany and France had a duty to uphold. "We owe it to the people of Europe, to the people of the world, to propose together, to act together."
Each leader finished their speech with the words "long live France, long live Germany, long live Franco-German friendship."

An official date in the calendar?
Earlier this week, Sarkozy said he would like to see November 11 -- which is already a national holiday in France -- become an official day of German-Frenco reconciliation.
In a statement, he said he thought the time had come "to join with Angela Merkel in Paris to together commenmorate the suffereing and to honor the momory of the combatants and celebrate the peace of which they dreamed in the bottom of their trenches."
But the idea has met with resistance from politicians on both sides. French Defense Minister Herve Morin told the Canal+ television network that he did not welcome the suggestion. He said Franco-German relations were a symbol for the European project.
Helmut Kohl was invited by former president French Jacques Chirac to attend the 80th anniversary commemoration of the 1918 ceasefire in Paris, and although he accepted, he had been voted out of office before the occasion came to pass. His successor Gerhard Schröder declined to attend.

picture of the Allied commanders present at the signing of the treaty in a trainwagon at Compiègne, France.

short World War I history:

The battle on the Eastern Front was brought to a close in December 1917 (and followed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk), as was Romania's war (resulting in the Treaty of Bucharest).

Germany may have agreed an armistice on November 11, but Bulgaria called it quits on 30 September of the same year, 1918.  Turkey and Austria-Hungary - the latter having essentially sparked the war in the first place - concluded an armistice within days of each other, on 30 October and 3 November 1918; both were exhausted and could no longer continue to prosecute the war.

However the most significant armistice was signed at 5 a.m. on the morning of 11 November 1918, and came into effect six hours later at 11 a.m. (hence the oft-quoted 'eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month').

President Woodrow WilsonInitiating the armistice negotiations on 4 October 1918, the Germans directed peace feelers towards the U.S. government led by President Wilson.  The Germans were keen to conclude a peace based upon Wilson's famous Fourteen Points.

Wilson was naturally willing to conclude a peace based upon his doctrine for future peace and stability; however his allies, never particularly keen on the Fourteen Points, raised immediate objections.  Britain, led by Lloyd George, opposed a ban on a policy of blockades; France was intent on imposing swingeing reparations upon the 'beaten' foe.

Wilson compromised by accepting both objections whilst threatening to negotiate a separate peace on behalf of the U.S. if Britain and France continued with their objections.  His ploy successful, details of a proposed settlement were sent to Germany on 5 November by the Supreme War Council.

A major potential stumbling block to peace was Wilson's insistence upon the abdication of the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II.  This was overcome by German Chancellor Max von Baden's exasperated decision to announce the reluctant Wilhelm's abdication to the public on 9 November 1918 (subsequently made official by the Kaiser's abdication proclamation on 28 November).

On 8 November a German delegation met with Allied Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch - who was to lead the military negotiations - in the forest of Compiegne, some 65 km north-east of Paris.

The armistice was formally signed in Foch's railway carriage on 11 November (in 1940 Hitler exacted revenge by forcing the French to sign an armistice - on German terms - in the same railway carriage).

The armistice initially ran for 30 days but was regularly renewed until the formal peace treaty was signed at Versailles the following year.  Should the Germans have deviated in any way from the terms of the armistice the Allies warned that a resumption of hostilities would begin within 48 hours.

The terms of the armistice required the Germans to evacuate German-occupied territories on the Western Front within two weeks.  Allied forces were to occupy the left bank of the Rhine within a month, and a neutral zone established on the right bank.

Notably, all German-occupied territories elsewhere were to be abandoned; and the treaties already negotiated with Russia and Romania were officially annulled (the Russian peace treaty in particular had been denounced by Trotsky as annexationist in character).

In terms of military equipment, under the terms of the armistice the Germans lost 5,000 artillery pieces, 30,000 machine guns, 3,000 minenwerfer, 2,000 aircraft, 5,000 locomotives, 150,000 railway wagons, 5,000 trucks and its entire submarine fleet.  The majority of Germany's surface naval fleet were interned; the remainder were disbanded.

The terms of the armistice were inevitably seen as punitive within Germany.  The country however was in no condition to resume hostilities and so reluctantly accepted the conditions.  The French nevertheless viewed the terms of the armistice - and the Versailles peace treaty that followed in 1919 - as overly lenient, indicating the widely contrasting views of both the armistice and the subsequent treaty.

Shortly after the armistice was agreed President Wilson announced details to Congress, and further celebrated the agreement in a Thanksgiving Address at the close of the month.



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« Reply #1 on: 11 November 2009, 15:51:22 »

In Flanders Fields

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.
    — Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

"In Flanders Fields" is one of the most famous poems written during World War I, created in the form of a French rondeau. It has been called "the most popular poem" produced during that period. Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote it on May 3, 1915, after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, only 22 years old, the day before. The poem was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch.

The poppies referred to in the poem grew in profusion in Flanders in the spoiled earth of the battlefields and cemeteries where war casualties were buried and thus became a symbol of Remembrance Day.

Poppies have long been used as a symbol of both sleep and death: sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of their (commonly) blood-red color.
The poppy of wartime remembrance is Papaver rhoeas, the red flowered Corn poppy.

In 1915 US professor Moina Michael inspired by the poem published a poem of her own in response, called We Shall Keep the Faith. In tribute to the opening lines of McCrae's poem -- "In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses row on row," -- Michael vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in the war. Thus the plant became a symbol for the dead World War I soldiers.

Poppy Appeal

The Royal British Legion, sometimes referred to as simply The Legion, is the United Kingdom's leading charity providing financial, social and emotional support to millions who have served or who are currently serving in the British Armed Forces, and their dependants.

The charity organises a fund-raising drive each year in the weeks before Remembrance Sunday, during which artificial poppies, meant to be worn on clothing, are offered to the public in return for a charitable donation. Over the course of the preceding year a team of around 50 people, the majority of them disabled and ex-Service connected – work all year round producing millions of poppies at the factory in Richmond. The idea of poppies dates back to the poem In Flanders Fields about the First World War, after which the Legion was founded. Poppies are worn until Remembrance Day to remember the fallen of the First World War, and implicitly of all wars.

The Poppy Appeal has a higher profile than any other charity appeal in the UK, with the poppies ubiquitous from late October until mid-November every year and worn by the general public, politicians, The Royal Family, and others in public life. Some Twitter users are adding poppies to their avtars as a Twibbon. However, some have criticised the level of compulsion associated with the custom.

In Scotland, a separate charity, the Earl Haig Fund Scotland (often using the name 'Poppies Scotland'), run the poppy appeal in association with the Royal British Legion. Until a few years ago the wording on the black button in the centre of the poppy, even outside of Scotland, was "HAIG FUND". Poppies in England and Scotland now bear the words "POPPY APPEAL" on their central buttons.

Since 1933, there has been a White Poppy run by the Peace Pledge Union, which is seen as an alternative by anti-war activists.


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« Reply #2 on: 11 November 2009, 15:56:57 »

Hitler's revenge for the armistice of November 11, 1918.

The Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed at 18:50 on 22 June 1940 near Compiègne, in the department of Oise, between Nazi Germany and France. Following the decisive German victory in the Battle of France (10 May–21 June 1940), it established a German occupation zone in Northern France that encompassed all English Channel and Atlantic Ocean ports and left the remainder "free" to be governed by the French. Adolf Hitler deliberately chose Compiègne Forest as the site to sign the armistice due to its symbolic role as the site of the 1918 Armistice with Germany (Compiègne) that signaled the end of World War I with a German defeat.

read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Armistice_at_Compi%C3%A8gne

Hitler Humiliates France
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« Reply #3 on: 11 November 2009, 17:54:32 »

November 11th is Veteran's Day as noted above.  School children these days (and even when I was in school in the '70s) that in the US we're showing respect and gratitude for all veterans of the US armed forces for sacrificing for us so we may live in a more free country.  The WWI aspect of this date is all but forgotten in the minds of most Americans. In part, I believe that we were not as involved and we have had 2 or 3 much more traumatic wars and events than WWI. (WWII, Vietnam and 9/11 for example.) 

My wife grew up in Hong Kong and has many British sensibilities.  When we were in London in 1996 on 11 November we were in Heathrow at 11 am.  Everyone stopped, a bell tolled and my wife sobbed.  Very moving indeed.
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