Faced with an effective British blockade, fierce resistance from the
British and French Armies, the entrance of the United States Army, political
unrest and starvation at home, an economy in ruins, mutiny in the navy,
and mounting defeats on the battlefield, the German generals requested
armistice negotiations with the Allies in November of 1918.
Under the terms of the armistice, the German Army was allowed to remain
intact and was not forced to admit defeat by surrendering. U.S. General
John J. Pershing had misgivings about
this, saying it would be better to have the German generals admit defeat
so there could be no doubt. The French and British were convinced however
that Germany would not be a threat again.
The failure to force the German General Staff to admit defeat would
have a huge impact on the future of Germany. Although the army was later
reduced in size, its impact would be felt after the war as a political
force dedicated to German nationalism, not democracy.
The German General Staff also would support the false idea that the
army had not been defeated on the battlefield, but could have fought on
to victory, except for being betrayed at home, the infamous 'Stab in the
This 'Stab in the Back' theory would become hugely popular among many
Germans who found it impossible to swallow defeat. During the war, Adolf
Hitler became obsessed with this idea, especially laying blame on Jews
and Marxists in Germany for undermining the war effort. To Hitler, and
so many others, the German politicians who signed the armistice on November
11, 1918, would become known as the 'November Criminals.'
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