In early October 1918, with the war lost, the German chancellor made informal overtures for peace, citing US President Woodrow Wilson’s even-handed proposals from his ’14 Points’ speech in January as a template. After over four years of ruinous war, the Allies – Britain, France and Italy, who had joined the Allies on 26 April 1915 – were not disposed to leniency. The Armistice, which was signed and took effect on the morning of 11 November, effectively demilitarized Germany. It had to surrender the bulk of its weaponry, including all its aircraft and submarines, and its fleet was interned, with Allied garrisons to occupy Mainz, Koblenz and Cologne in a Rhineland buffer zone. No negotiation was offered or entertained, but the signatory for the Germans was the secretary of state, Matthias Erzberger, which allowed a canard to be spread later that the Army had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by its own government.
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