Sunday, November 11, 2007

11/11/1918 11:00 AM

Today is Armistice Day, the original name for what we now call Veterans Day. My Grandmother always called it Armistice Day.

The date in the title marked the end of the fighting in what was originally called the Great War and later become known as the First World War.

The war didn't actually end until June 28, 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

The red poppy has been the symbol of Veterans Day from the beginning, referring to the famous poem In Flanders’ Fields by Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian.

I remember as a child the day was a solemn day of quiet remembrance. Veterans organizations, sold red poppies on the street and many people decorated the graves of veterans with them.

Today that seems largely forgotten.


Cait said...

I might actually argue (history dork that I am) that given that it was an armistice, the war didn't really end until 1945. After all, didn't Hitler cite the humiliation of the Armistice as reason to detest the very origins of Weimar?

In fact, central Europe just sat simmering for 20 years, waiting to lunge again at one another.

mominem said...

Some have argued that the war didn't actually end until the collapse of the Soviet Union, everything in between was simply a hiatus.

But officially that war ended with the Treaty of Versailles.

Hitler and many Germans felt that the Armistice was a prelude to a negotiation, not a surrender, and that they were betrayed.

Germany and Austria however were militarily exhausted and could not have continued the war for long. The French and British were also almost on the verge of collapse, especially after Russia disintegrated and the Central Powers were able to concentrate in the West.

The true tipping point was the entry of the United States, which didn't have much military effect but did provide the potential resources for the French and British to continue.

That's what ultimately pushed the Central Powers over the edge, the prospect of millions of fresh American troops.

The Treaty of Versailles was viewed as unfair in Germany and widely resented. It's not widely acknowledged that German rearmament actually started before the Nazi's came to power, although the Nazi's greatly accelerated it.

Cait said...

Absolutely - the fact of the matter is that the Nazi Party was actually LOSING seats in the Reichstag by 1932, and that Hitler basically had to insinuate himself into Hindenburg's place. So the steps Germany was taking can't be fully blamed on the Nazi Party - they just took it to a whole new level.

Article 231, baby. Oh yeah.