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Webmatters : Armistice 1918: The First German Note


The Armistice Terms

11th November 1918

The details of the Armistice as provided to the British House of Lords.

In the course of the final meeting Maréchal Foch used his discretion to change some of the requirements and these have been highlighted.

My Lords, I beg to announce to your Lordship the terms of the Armistice which were accepted and signed this morning.

The terms as I shall communicate them to the House are not verbally quite complete.

Messages have been constantly exchanged with Paris since early this morning, while the terms were under discussion, and certain modifications of the actual words may in effect be found necessary later on.

Substantially, however, your Lordship may take the terms as I communicate them to you as accurate.

Military Clauses on Western Front

  1. Cessation of operations by land and in the air six hours after the signature of the Armistice.
  2. Immediate evacuation of invaded counties: Belgium, France, Alsace-Lorraine, and Luxembourg, so ordered as to be completed within fourteen days from the signature of the Armistice. German troops which have not left the above-mentioned territories within the period fixed will become prisoners of war. Occupation by the Allied and United States Forces jointly will keep pace with evacuation in these areas. All movements of evacuation and occupation will be regulated in accordance with a Note.
  3. Repatriation, beginning at once, to be completed within Fourteen days, of all inhabitants of the countries above enumerated (including hostages, prisoners under trial or convicted).
  4. Surrender in good condition by the German Army of the following equipment: 5,000 guns (2,500 heavy, 2,500 field), 30,000 machine guns (25,000), 3,000 minenwerfer, 2,000 aeroplanes (1,700) (fighters, bombers – firstly D 7’s – and night bombing machines). The above to be delivered in situ to the Allied and United States troops, in accordance with the detailed conditions laid down in the Note.
  5. Evacuation by the German Armies of the countries on the left bank of the Rhine. These countries on the left bank of the Rhine shall be administered by the local authorities under the control of the Allied and United States Armies of Occupation. The occupation of these territories will be carried out by Allied and United States Garrisons holding the principal crossings of the Rhine (Mainz, Köblenz, Köln), together with bridge-heads at these points of a thirty kilometre radius on the right bank, and by Garrisons similarly holding the strategic points of the regions. A neutral zone shall be set up on the right bank of the Rhine between the river and a line drawn ten kilometres distant (originally 40km), starting from the Dutch frontier to the Swiss frontier. In the case of inhabitants, no person shall be prosecuted for having taken a part in any military measures previous to the signing of the Armistice. No measure of a general or official character shall be taken which would have as a consequence the depreciation of industrial establishments or a reduction in personnel. Evacuation by the enemy of the Rhinelands shall be so ordered as to be completed within a further period of sixteen days, in all thirty-one days after the signature of the Armistice (originally 25 days). All movements of evacuation and occupation will be regulated according to the Note.
  6. In all territory evacuated by the enemy there shall be no evacuation of inhabitants. No damage or harm shall be done to the persons or property of the inhabitants. No destruction of any kind to be committed. Military establishments of all kinds shall be delivered intact, as well as military stores of food, munitions, equipment not removed during the periods fixed for evacuation. Stores of food of all kinds for the civil population, cattle, etc., shall be left in situ. Industrial establishments shall not be impaired in any way and their personnel shall not be moved.
  7. Roads and means of communication of every kind, railroads, waterways, main roads, bridges, telegraphs, telephones shall be in no manner impaired. All civil and military personnel at present employed on them shall remain. 5,000 locomotives, 150,000 wagons, and 5,000 motor lorries (originally 10,000) in good working order, with all necessary spare parts and fittings, shall be delivered to the Associated Powers within the period fixed for the evacuation of Belgium and Luxembourg. The railways of Alsace-Lorraine shall be handed over within the same period together with all pre-war personnel and material. Further, material necessary for the working of railways in the country on the left bank of the Rhine shall be left in situ. All stores of coal and material for upkeep of permanent way, signals, and repair shops shall be left in situ and kept in an efficient state by Germany, as far as the means of communication are concerned, during the whole period of the Armistice. All barges taken from the Allies shall be restored to them.
  8. The German Command shall be responsible for revealing all mines or delay action fuses disposed on territory evacuated by the German troops, and shall assist in their discovery and destruction. The German Command shall also reveal all destructive measures that may have been taken (such as poisoning or pollution of springs, wells, etc.) under penalty of reprisals.
  9. The right of requisition shall be exercised by the Allied and United States Armies in all occupied territory, save for settlement of accounts with authorised persons. The upkeep of the troops of occupation in the Rhineland (excluding Alsace-Lorraine) shall be charged to the German Command.
  10. The immediate repatriation without reciprocity, according to detailed conditions which shall be fixed, of all Allied and United States prisoners of war; the Allied Powers and the United States of America shall be able to dispose of these prisoners as they wish. However, the return of German prisoners of war interned in Holland and Switzerland shall continue as heretofore. The return of German prisoners of war shall be settled at Peace preliminaries.
  11. Sick and wounded who cannot be removed from evacuated territory will be cared for by German personnel who will be left on the spot with the medical material required.

Disposition Relative to the Eastern Frontiers of Germany

  1. All German troops at present in any territory which before the war belonged to Russia, Rumania, or Turkey shall withdraw within the frontiers of Germany as they existed on August 1, 1914, and all German troops at present in territories which before the war formed part of Russia must likewise return to within the frontiers of Germany as above defined as soon as the Allies shall think the moment suitable having regard to the internal Situation of those territories (Originally they were required to leave immediately).
  2. Evacuation by German troops to begin at once; and all German instructors, prisoners and civilians as well as military agents now on the territory of Russia (as defined on August 1, 1914) to be recalled.
  3. German troops to cease at once all requisitions and seizures and any other undertaking with a view to obtaining supplies intended for Germany in Rumania and Russia, as defined on August 1, 1914.
  4. Complete abandonment of the Treaties of Bucharest and Brest-Litovsk and of the Supplementary Treaties.
  5. The Allies shall have free access to the territories evacuated by the Germans on their Eastern frontier, either through Danzig or by the Vistula, in order to convey supplies to the populations of those territories or for the purpose of maintaining order.

Clause Concerning East Africa

  1. Unconditional evacuation of all German forces operating in East Africa within one month.

General Clauses

  1. Repatriation, without reciprocity, within a maximum period of one month, in accordance with detailed conditions hereafter to be fixed, of all civilians interned or deported who may be citizens of other Allied or Associated States than those mentioned in Clause 3.
  2. With the reservation that any future claims and demands of the Allies and United States of America remain unaffected, the following financial conditions are required:
    1. Reparation for damage done
    2. While the Armistice lasts, no public securities shall be removed by the enemy which can serve as a pledge to the Allies for the recovery or reparation for war losses.
    3. Immediate restitution of the cash deposit in the National Bank of Belgium, and, in general, immediate return of all documents, specie, stock, shares, paper money, together with plant or the issue thereof, touching public or private interests in the invaded countries. Restitution of the Russian and Romanian gold yielded to Germany or taken by that Power. This gold to be delivered in trust to the Allies until the signature of Peace.

Naval Conditions

  1. Immediate cessation of all hostilities at sea, and definite information to be given as to the location and movements of all German ships. Notification to be given to neutrals that freedom of navigation in all territorial waters is given to the Naval and Mercantile Marines of the Allied and Associated Powers, all questions of neutrality being waived.
  2. All Naval and Mercantile Marine prisoners of war of the Allied and Associated Powers in German hands to be returned, without reciprocity.
  3. Handing over to the Allies and the United States of America all submarines (160 submarines – which they may not have had !), cruisers, and mine-layers which are present at the moment with full complement in the ports specified by the Allies and the United States. Those that cannot put to sea to be deprived of crews and supplies, and shall remain under the supervision of the Allies and the United States. Submarines ready to put to sea shall be prepared to leave German ports immediately on receipt of wireless orders to sail to the port of surrender, the remainder to follow as early as possible. The conditions of this Article shall be carried out within fourteen days after the signing of the Armistice.
  4. The following German surface war ships, which shall be designated by the Allies and the United States of America, shall forthwith be disarmed and thereafter interned in neutral ports, or, failing them, Allied ports to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America, and placed under the surveillance of the Allies and the United States of America, only caretakers being left on board – namely, six battle cruisers, ten battleships, eight light cruisers (including two mine-layers), fifty destroyers of the most modern types. All other surface warships (including river craft) are to be concentrated in German Naval bases to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America, and are to be paid off and completely disarmed and placed under the supervision of the Allies and the United States of America. All vessels of the auxiliary fleet (trawlers, motor-vessels, etc.) are to be disarmed. All vessels specified for internment shall be ready to leave German ports seven days after the signing of the Armistice. Directions for voyage will be given by wireless.

My Lords, there is a further paragraph of Clause 23, the exact terms of which are not in possession of His Majesty’s Government. Briefly, however, that supplementary sentence provides that in the event of these naval terms not being duly carried out, Heligoland shall be occupied by the Allied Powers.

  1. The Allies and the United States of America shall have the right to sweep up all minefields and obstructions laid by Germany outside German territorial waters, and the positions of these are to be indicated.
  2. Freedom of access to and from the Baltic to be given to the Naval and Mercantile Marines of the Allied and Associated Powers. To secure this the Allies and the United States of America shall be empowered to occupy all German forts, fortifications, batteries, and defence works of all kinds, in all the entrances from the Cattegat into the Baltic, and to sweep tip all mines and obstructions within and without German territorial waters without any questions of neutrality being raised, and the positions of all such mines and structions are to be indicated.
  3. The existing blockade conditions set up by the Allied and Associated Powers are to remain unchanged, and all Germany merchant ships found at sea are to remain liable to capture. The Allies and the United States of America contemplate the provisioning of Germany during the Armistice as shall be found necessary.
  4. All Naval aircraft are to be concentrated and immobilised in German bases to be specified by the Allies and the United States of America.
  5. In evacuating the Belgian coasts and ports, Germany shall abandon all merchant ships, tugs, lighters, cranes, and all other harbour materials, all materials for inland navigation, all aircraft, and air materials and stores, all arms and armaments, and all stores and apparatus of all kind.
  6. All Black Sea ports are to be evacuated by Germany; all Russian warships of all descriptions seized by Germany in the Black Sea are to be handed over to the Allies and the United States of America, all neutral merchant ships seized are to be released, all warlike and other materials of all kind seized in those ports are to be returned, and German materials as specified in Clause 28 are to be abandoned.
  7. All merchant ships in German hands belonging to the Allied and Associated Powers are to be restored in ports to be specified by the Allies and the United States of America, without reciprocity.
  8. No destruction of ships or of materials to be permitted before evacuation, surrender, or restoration.
  9. The German Government shall formally notify the neutral Governments of the World, and particularly the Governments of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Holland, that all restrictions placed on the trading of their vessels with the Allies and Associated countries, whether by the German Government or by private German interests, and whether in return for specific concessions such as the export of ship-building materials or not, are immediately cancelled.
  10. No transfers of German merchant shipping of any description to any neutral flag are to take place after the signature of the Armistice.

Duration of Armistice

  1. The duration of the Armistice is to be thirty-six days, (originally 30 days) with option to extend. During this period, on failure of execution of any of the above clauses, the Armistice may be denounced by one of the contracting parties, on forty-eight hours previous notice.

The Limit for Reply

  1. This Armistice to be accepted or refused by Germany within seventy-two hours of notification.

Your Lordships are aware that the Armistice was accepted at an early hour this morning.