In August of 1918, the Allied commanders on the western front decided to go on the offensive. Starting on August 8th, a series of battles were fought called the Hundred Days Offensive. These battles included the Battle of Amiens, the Second Battle of the Somme, and several battles along Germany's Hindenburg Line. The Germans were pushed out of France and were forced to retreat back into Germany.
People celebrating after the armistice
By the end of the Hundred Days Offensive, the German forces were exhausted and running out of food and supplies. On November 11, 1918 they requested an armistice. An armistice is when both sides agree to stop fighting while a peace treaty is negotiated. The Allies agreed to the armistice and at 11 AM on November 11, 1918 the fighting in World War I came to an end.
The Allied Nations met in Paris at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 to decide the fate of Germany and the Central Powers. Although a number of nations took part in the negotiations, the major decisions and discussions were between the leaders of the "Big Four" nations which included Georges Clemenceau (Prime Minister of France), David Lloyd George (Prime Minister of Great Britain), Woodrow Wilson (President of the United States), and Vittorio Orlando (Prime Minister of Italy).
The Big Four by Edward N. Jackson
Each of the four nations had different opinions on how Germany should be treated. President Woodrow Wilson felt that the best solution was to incorporate his Fourteen Points. He thought that Germany should not be blamed for the war or punished too harshly. However, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau felt that Germany was responsible for the war and should take the blame and be forced to pay large reparations.
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was signed between the Allied Powers and Germany on June 28, 1919. This officially ended World War I. The treaty was extremely harsh on Germany. It forced Germany to "accept the responsibility for causing all the loss and damage" of the war. Germany was forced to disarm, give up land to France, and to pay reparations of 132 billion Marks (around $442 billion in 2014 money).
New National Borders
The map of Europe changed significantly after World War I. Several new independent countries were formed including Poland, Finland, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. Russia became the Soviet Union and the Ottoman Empire later became the country of Turkey. Germany also had to give up the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine to France.
League of Nations
As part of the Paris Peace Conference, an organization called the League of Nations was formed. The League of Nations was formed in an effort to establish world peace. Its member countries hoped to prevent wars by helping to settle disputes between countries. The League also aimed to establish fair labor conditions, improve global health, control the global arms trade, and protect minorities in Europe. The League was officially founded by the Treaty of Versailles and had 42 founding member countries.
Interesting Facts about the End of World War I
The United States did not sign the Treaty of Versailles, but established its own treaty with Germany.
The United States also did not join the League of Nations which was first introduced by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his Fourteen Points.
The reparations that Germany owed from the Treaty of Versailles were renegotiated several times and were not finally paid off until well after World War II.
Four European Empires disappeared after World War I including the German, Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian Empires.