Changing the ‘War No More’ Sentiment of Armistice Day to the War-Glorifying Propaganda of Veterans Day
99 years ago, on 11-11-1918, at precisely 11 am Paris time, a cease-fire (aka “truce” or “armistice”) was agreed to and signed by military negotiators from France, Britain and Germany. The terms of the truce ultimately resulted in the end of the “War to End All Wars” 7 months later when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919.
Germany’s surrender to the Allies was regarded as the prudent thing to do after Kaiser Wilhelm’s tyrannical monarchy was overthrown by democratic socialist forces earlier in 1918. Erich Ludendorf, a classic example of Prussian militarism, was one of the German generals who first broached the idea of starting the negotiations that eventually led to Germany’s surrender.
Ludendorf saw that 1) Germany’s army was terminally exhausted, demoralized and poorly equipped; 2) the United States had finally entered the war with fresh troops; 3) the fledgling government at home was in disarray; 4) the war had bankrupted the nation (as all wars eventually do – unless there is enough looting and plundering of the occupied territories); 5) that civilians at home were starving; and 6) that victory was an impossibility. The writing was on the wall; Germany had no choice but to surrender.
The armistice was signed at Compiegne, France by four French and British military officers, the German Foreign Minister, two German military officers and one German civilian.
According to the terms of the armistice, Germany agreed to immediately evacuate all occupied territories within two weeks and to surrender 5,000 cannons, 25,000 machine guns, 1,700 planes, and all German submarines. All Allied prisoners of war were to be released by Germany immediately, but German POWs were not to be released until a peace treaty was signed sometime in the future.
Ever since November 11, 1919 – one year after the signing – Armistice Day has been observed as a national day of remembrance in all Allied nations. It is called Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom and Armistice Day in the United States. Traditionally, 2 minutes of silence are observed at exactly 11 am.
For decades after the end of World War I, November 11 was intended to be a day of mourning and repentance for the satanic carnage that the up to 14 million dead combatants plus the hundreds of millions of wounded combatants and secondarily traumatized civilians had suffered.
The senselessness and stupidity of that war should have resulted in the courts-martial of every gung-ho officer and the demeaning of every war-mongering politician the de-certifying of every war-profiteering corporation that thought the war was worth engaging in. But it did not. The war-mongers and war-profiteers just went into hibernation.
But the war did result in the dissolution of four empires, their emperors and kings, and the assorted aristocrats and sycophants who had been so cruelly ripping off the multitudes of poor people for so many centuries. The four empires that collapsed were the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires. And good riddance it was.
Of course, Germany DOES NOT celebrate Armistice Day, because that November 11 and the date of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles (that ended the war) were irrationally regarded as the dates of treasonous acts that had been committed by Germany’s new civilian democratic leaders who signed the documents – holding blameless the German military officers who suggested that the German army surrender in the first place.
11/11/18 was despised by patriotic “Deutchland Uber Alles” Germans, especially the right-wing, pro-monarchist, proto-fascist and “Germany First” nationalists who repeatedly used the “Stab-in-the-Back” and “November Criminals” deception to weaken and then overthrow the Weimar Republic’s experiment in democracy. After 12 years of pro-war propaganda from militarists like Adolf Hitler, Ludendorf and the Nazi Party, democracy never had a chance, especially with all the economic turmoil that began with the unaffordable, poverty-inducing militarism, the war, inflation and the unemployment that came with the US Wall Street crash of 1929 – which affected the whole world.
According to WikiPedia, the “Stab-in-the-Back” Myth is the notion, widely believed and promulgated in right-wing, pro-militarist circles in pre-Nazi Germany, that the Imperial German Army did not lose World War I, but rather, the German military had been betrayed by the civilians on the home front, especially the pro-democracy groups that overthrew the tyrannical monarchy during the German Revolution of 1918-19.
The year after the war ended, most of the national leaders that considered themselves victors proclaimed November 11 to be Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, and they ordered all businesses to briefly stop doing business for two minutes and stand in silence at exactly 11 AM, expecting all citizens to ponder the meaning of war’s horrors and to pray that there will never be another war.
In 1926 the US Congress passed a resolution declaring that Armistice Day should be a day of “thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through goodwill and mutual understanding between nations.”
In 1938 the US Congress made Armi
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