Victory and Armistice of World War I
Victory and Armistice
In the fall of 1917, French troops began to mutiny. They had been fighting in the trenches for what seemed like forever, making no advance, seeing their comrades blown to pieces beside them, and knowing that all the while the generals were safe, well behind the lines of fire. They refused to go on fighting. New heart was brought to the French and the other allied troops by the arrival of the Americans.
Events took an unexpected turn when Russia decided to abandon the war. A socialist revolution had been stirring in Russia for some time, and it finally boiled over in the streets in 1917. The czar abdicated. The radical Bolsheviks won a power struggle with the Socialists; Bolshevik leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin became the new head of the Russian government. Wanting to get out of the war in Europe as quickly as possible to settle its own domestic affairs, Russia signed an armistice with Germany in early 1918.
The Germans now launched a final, massive attack on the Western Front. With the aid of fresh U.S. troops, the Allies were able to beat them back. Then the Allies launched a counterattack. Fighting raged into the autumn of 1918. Finally, in the Battle of the Argonne Forest, it became clear that Germany would have to surrender. One African-American regiment fought so bravely at the Argonne Forest that France later awarded it the nation’s highest military honor, the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War).
On November 9, Germany announced the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Early in the morning of November 11, the leaders on both sides signed the armistice. At 11A.M., the guns stopped firing for the last time.
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