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

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Recommended: Did the End of the Great War Come Too Soon?

11 November 1918, London

Presented at New Statesman America 

By David  Reynolds


One hundred years ago, the war ended. But had it lasted into 1919 the future of the world might have been very different. . .

[D]uring Hitler’s war of 1939–45, President Franklin D. Roosevelt demanded Germany’s “unconditional surrender” and complete demilitarization and democratization. He wanted to rub German noses in the reality of Nazism’s utter defeat.

Since we in Britain take the Armistice for granted, it is worth noting that some senior Allied commanders in November 1918 seriously pondered a similarly hard policy. The German Army, though still on Allied soil, was now a shadow of what it had been and would probably not be able to resist. Foch sought armistice terms that required Germany to evacuate France, Belgium, and Alsace-Lorraine and allowed the Allies to occupy the west bank of the Rhine and bridgeheads east of the river—from which they would be in a position to march on into Germany.

Pershing was even more extreme. He wanted to continue the offensive and compel what he explicitly called Germany’s “unconditional surrender,” rather than accept a ceasefire now and “possibly lose the chance to secure world peace on terms that would insure its permanence.”

Some policymakers soon regretted not heeding Foch and Pershing. “Had we known how bad things were in Germany,” mused the British politician Eric Geddes on 12 November, the day after the Armistice was signed, “we might have got stiffer terms.” French prime minister Georges Clemenceau spoke in a similar vein the following year. Yet for the Allies to impose their will on Germany to such a degree would have required more fighting and more casualties.

Read the full article here:


  1. My father said that during World War II they tried to make clear to the Germans that they were beaten, by destroying landmarks like smokestacks, etc., because they were there because their fathers had not been allowed to do so.

  2. I suspect that General Pershing had the right idea.

  3. Definitely think Pershing was correct. But so was Patton. Push those Russians back to their border. Germany was no longer a threat. But the Russians have been for 76 years.

  4. The German nation crushed by the war and the terms of the Treaty. It is naieve
    to think the largest and most powerful country in the center of Europe was going to allow its people to starve to death. Hitler promised relief and desperate people bought it. I am not his apologist and surely he was cruel and insane. He made the mistake of fighting the West when Soviet Russia was
    his real enemy. The sinking of the munitions bearing Lusitania was a false
    flag of sorts to give Wilson an excuse to get us into their quarrel. Surely the citizens of the USA were mostly against it. W. ran for re-election opposing American involvement but declared war just a couple of months after
    second inaugural. Then WWII as continuation, then Korea contiuation, then
    Vietnam {got my 'Greeting...}, and the beat goes on to the Middle East and maybe Iran. Every bit of it a waste of lives and treasure. We were much more secure at the beginning of the 20th century/