Armistice Day and the End of the Great War
The 11th of November marks 101 years since the end of the First World War. An armistice was signed and took effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 The day is still marked with somber ceremonies as World War I led to the deaths of millions of people, revolution, and the end of empires, and it is called Armistice Day in the UK, and Veterans Day in the US.
The Great War began four years earlier with the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Before this event occurred, the imperial powers of Europe had been in an arms race for decades and several other crises almost ended in war. There was a flurry of negotiation that summer and many assumed the conflict would be avoided again.
The talks failed and armies began to march into what they thought would be a quick campaign. The elaborate plans for such a fight lacked flexibility and stalled. Both sides dug in and built highly fortified trenches, parallel to each other. The battles would barely shift over the next four years and a whole generation of young men was ordered to the slaughter. Machines guns on both sides quickly mowed them down. Before the call to leave the trenches, the soldiers lived in filth and terror. Unlike any war before it, the horrors and heroism were captured on vintage photography and film.
After the armistice, one of the longest and most important peace conferences took place in Paris. It would set the stage for the Second World War and beyond. Germany had to pay punishing reparations to the allies and arbitrary borders were drawn in the former Ottoman Empire that still inflame conflicts to this day. World War I was the last straw for many Russians: the October revolution and a brutal Civil War followed. The Soviet Union was founded and tensions between east and west would dominate the rest of the century.
The battles were fought and were narrated in black and white all over the world. Images from this unique battlefield were captured in war photography. Now, these Vintage prints are available in the IMS archive and you can easily access them: we offer to our customers the possibility to own a piece of history on our website, you can find only original genuine vintage photographs, no copies.
The historic railway car in which the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, was signed, shown in its permanent resting place in the Foret of Compiegne, where the signature took place. Formerly it was kept in the open air in the courtyard of the Invalides, together with other war souvenirs mainly in the form of captured cannon, but the authorities found its deterioration from the ravages of the weather too great to permit of its being left there.