Armistice Day is celebrated on Nov.11 every year to commemorate the day when the Allies of World War I signed an agreement with Germany bringing four years of fighting to an end.
“Bells burst forth into joyful chimes … bands paraded the streets followed by cheering crowds of soldiers and civilians, and London generally gave itself up wholeheartedly to rejoicing,” newspapers reportedly wrote at the time.
Though the word armistice refers to an agreement to end the hostilities of a war, nowadays it is generally used in reference to the end of World War I in particular.
Here are some interesting facts about Armistice Day:
1. The agreement was signed by representatives of France, Great Britain and Germany. It was signed at 5:00 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 11, 1918 and the fighting ended at 11:00 a.m. French time – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, North Bridge House reported.
2. Ferdinand Foch, French military commander, was one of the people who signed the armistice. It took place in Foch’s railway carriage in the Forest of Compiegne, about 37 miles (60 km) north of Paris, a location which was remote and discreet.
3. In 1940 during World War II, Germany forced France to surrender in the same railway carriage. Adolf Hitler sat in the same seat that Ferdinand Foch sat in 1918 and took the carriage back to Germany to put it on display. It was however destroyed in 1945.
4. By signing the armistice, Germany had to give up 1,700 airplanes, all submarines, 25,000 machine guns, 2,500 field guns and 2,500 heavy guns. This was to ensure that Germany wouldn’t restart the war in the immediate future, Soft Schools reported.
5. The agreement also forced Germany had to evacuate all specified areas, reveal the location of any mines or traps they had placed and handover their prisoners of war.
6. The Treaty of Versailles was signed six months later. Both agreements together forced Germany to take the blame for the war and pay compensation for the damage caused. The debt of approximately $35 billion was only paid off by the country only in 2010.
7. While Germany viewed the terms of both the agreements as too harsh, the French saw it as too lenient, Ten Facts About reported.
8. While some countries around the world have officially declared Nov. 11 as Armistice Day, others call it Remembrance Day or Veterans Day. Although it is known by different names, the day is marked as a remembrance to the end of World War I hostilities.
9. Armistice Day is observed in France, Belgium, Serbia, and New Zealand while Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands do not commemorate the day as they remained neutral during the war.
10. More than 15 million people died in the war.