Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Armistice Glade at Compiègne

The Compiègne Armistice Glade

A must stop for visitors to the Western Front is the Armistice Glade at Compiègne north of Paris where both the Armistice of 11 November 1918 and the French surrender of 1940 were signed. There are several notable monuments on the site and the museum is quite good, with an outstanding collection of stereoscopic viewers for three-dimensional war images.

The site for the November 1918 Armistice negotiations in the forest of Rethondes on the outskirts of Compiègne was an artillery railway emplacement. It was hidden and out of the way but accessible for both delegations. Marshal Foch's train is shown on the left, the German delegation's to the right.

The central area today from approximately the same perspective (slightly shifted right). The enclosure holding a replica of Foch's car and the museum is in the distance. The large block in the left foreground bears the inscription (in French): "Here on 11 November 1918 the criminal pride of the German Empire was brought low, vanquished by the free peoples whom it had sought to enslave."

Entrance to the rail car and museum

Foch's Carriage. The original at the orders of Hitler was moved back to the 11 November  1918 location and used as the venue for executing the French surrender. The car was then moved back to Germany and destroyed at the end of World War II. The present car is considered a very accurate replica of the original.

Two of the notable statues at the Glade: the Foch statue was unveiled in 1937 with the good Marshal in attendance; the slain German eagle is the principal feature to the monument commemorating the return of Alsace and Lorraine that was built by public subscription after the war.


  1. The fallen eagle monument was erected after WW I. When Hitler came for the 1940 surrender, it was covered by a big German flag so that it would not show for the newsreels. Later the Germans smashed it. After WW II, the French rebuilt it as it looks today.

  2. Foch died in 1929 so he couldn't have been in attendance at his statue's unveiling. Or should the date of the unveiling be 1927 not '37?

    1. Thanks Adrian. You're correct, I muddled things up. The car was moved to the Glade in 1927 and the statue was dedicated in 37. Proof-reading is the hardest part of doing this blog. Mike