Germany Receives Latest American Armistice Conditions

October 15 1918, Berlin–Since Germany’s armistice appeal and apparent acceptance of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, a series of notes had been exchanged across the Atlantic between the American and German governments, with Wilson attempting to get a firm commitment from the Germans.  On October 15, the Germans received a second note from Secretary of State Lansing on behalf of the President.  It stressed that the Allies were winning in the field, and that any armistice must “provide absolutely satisfactory safeguards and guarantees of the present military supremacy of the United States and of the Allies in the field.”  It demanded that Germany stop its unrestricted submarine warfare; the Germans had not given any signs so far of stopping on this front.  On the 10th, sunk the passenger vessel Leinster in the Irish Sea, killing over 500 British and American civilians.  

The United States also refused to consider an armistice as long as the Germans continued scorched earth tactics in the occupied territories of France and Flanders from which they were now retreating.  Finally, the note reminded Germany that their acceptance of the Fourteen Points and associated statements meant that they were committed to “the destruction of every arbitrary power anywhere that can separately, secretly, and of its single choice disturb the peace of the world,” and that the “power which has hitherto controlled the German nation” was one such arbitrary power.  While vague on specifics, the implication was clear–the military would have to be made subordinate to the people, and the Kaiser’s power would have to be reduced to that of a constitutional monarch.

The Kaiser was outraged by the note, calling it “a piece of unmitigated frivolous nonsense” in a letter to the new chancellor, Prince Max.  “You must use it to arouse the entire people to rally round their emperor in defense of their sacred heritage, just as the government must stand shoulder to shoulder behind him.  This impudent intervention in our political affairs must be exposed to all.”  Prince Max, however, knew that the war was lost, and was determined, at the very least, to draft a conciliatory reply.  

Today in 1917: Germans Secure Ösel Island
Today in 1916: Originator of Lafayette Escadrille Dies
Today in 1915: Bulgarians Cut Main Serbian Railway Line
Today in 1914: “Race To The Sea” Ends

Sources include: Robert B. Asprey, The German High Command at War; David Stevenson, With Our Backs to the Wall.

Intelligence Report, Battery E, 129th Field Artillery. 10/15/1918

File Unit: World War I File, 1917-1919: Ammunition Reports, 1914 - 1936Series: Military Files, 1914 - 1936 Collection: Harry S. Truman Papers Pertaining to Family, Business and Personal Affairs, 1876 - 1964.

Uncover more World War I Centennial Resources at the National Archives

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate the pitch perfectness that was setting Wonder Woman during WW1? I mean, at first I was like…WWI? Why WWI? There was no clear cut bad guy in WWI. It was one of the most tragically pointless wars in human history.

But then I realized that was the point. In WWII it’s easy to point at Hitler and the Nazis and say, that’s them! that’s the bad guy. Just KILL THEM AND BE DONE WITH IT.

But the Point of Wonder Woman is that people, all people, are part of the problem. From Steve Trevor, who’s people, my people, massacred the Native Peoples, to the teenage German soldiers putting gas canisters on a plane, EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING IS  MIX OF GOOD AND BAD CHOICES, and a victim and a perpetrator of choices that lead to death and suffering and tragedy.

And that makes Diana’s choice to keep fighting for peace even better. Because she’s not out to defeat one big bad and get it over with. She’s out to fight for peace, and that is a war that will NEVER end. How is that not 10000 times braver than just killing one person and ending a war?

It is Tolkien’s long victory, the victory you only see after the end. And that fight is braver than anything else you can do because it is step by step, day after day, choice after choice.

1917  A French Red Cross dog wearing a gas mask

During the First World War there were ‘Red Cross dogs’, also known as ‘ambulance dogs’. These dogs detected wounded people. They were trained to ignore the dead and not to bark when finding an injured person, but to alert their owner in silence. The dogs were also used to bring medicine back and forth. They carried a backpack in which bandages, some food for the dog and a bottle of liquor were stored. There were around 10,000 Red Cross dogs during the First World War.

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The Great War 100: Decisive Battles of the War

Battle of Verdun - February 21, 1916 - December 18, 1916
- An attritional battle instigated by Germany to destroy the French Army
-On the opening day of the battle, 1,220 German artillery pieces fired over 1,000,000 shells on Verdun and the surrounding areas in a 9 hour period.

Battle of the Somme - July 1, 1916 - November 18,1916
- Originally planned as a French offensive with minimal British support, intended to smash the German army and deplete their manpower.
- With the German attack at Verdun, the French instead asked the British to carry out a large diversionary attack to relieve pressure on the French army.
-The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of the First World War, by the time fighting had petered out in late autumn 1916 the forces involved had suffered more than 1 million casualties, making it one of the bloodiest military operations ever recorded.

3rd Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele - July 31, 1917 - November 10, 1917
- Haig was convinced the fighting of 1916 (Somme and Verdun) had weakened the German Army and wanted to deliver the knockout blow in Flanders
- As well as being Haig’s preferred region for a large attack, the Royal Navy were worried about intense German submarine activity emanating from the Belgium ports and implored Haig to capture these areas.

Gallipoli - March 18, 1915 - January 9, 1916
- Originally a Naval operation, the main reason to attack this area was to open up more reliable trade routes with Russia, via the Black Sea.
- There was also a feeling among senior British leaders that due to a stalemate on the Western Front, a new front was needed to ensure progress in the war.

Kaiserschlacht, The German Spring Offensive of 1918 - March 21, 1918 - June 12, 1918
Germany knew that their only chance of winning the war was to knock out the Allies before the extra resources of men and material from the USA could be deployed. The main thrust of the attack was against the British towards the town of Amiens. It was thought that after the British were defeated the French would quickly look for peace.
- Amiens was a strategically important supply town with a large railway hub that supported both British and French armies. If this town was captured, it would severely impede Allied supply.

The Forgotten American Hero Of The Great War

Meet Alvin C. York, one of the most decorated American soldiers during the First World War. He received the Medal of Honor for one spectacular attack during the Battle of the Argonne. He was put in a group of 17 Americans soldiers who were ordered to infiltrate the German lines and take out one machine gun position. They were able to capture a number of German soldiers, but then small arms fire killed six and wounded three. Suddenly, York was the highest ranking remaining soldier.

He took command, and immediately ordered his men to guard the prisoners while he – by himself– went to attack that one machine gun position they had been ordered to take out. He attacked the German machine gun nest – again, by himself! – with just his rifle and his pistol. That’s right: he took a rifle to a machine gun fight. York ended up taking 35 machine guns, killing at least 25 enemy soldiers, and capturing 132 enemy soldiers.

York was lionized for decades, although he has largely been forgotten by newer generations. A 1941 film about him, Sergeant York, was that year’s highest-grossing film. And the man who played York, Gary Cooper, won the Academy Award for Best Actor that year.

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What Happens When You Imprison an Old Timey Strongman,

Born in 1888 in Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire, Alexander Zass was an old time strongman circus performer who is now known as the “Father of Modern Isometrics”. Zass taught that the key to superhuman strength was not just weightlifting, but by strengthening the hands, wrists, and arms through isometric exercise. Zass was very strong. VERY STRONG. Just how strong was he? Working as a circus performer as “The Great Samson”, he would bend iron bars around his legs, neck, and teeth, break chains with his chest, tie bars into knots, he would appear on stage carrying two lions, or suspend a piano from his teeth. One time he even carried on his shoulder a piano compete with pianist and a dancer.

When World War I broke out in 1914, Zass was conscripted into the Russian Army in order to fight the Germans and Austro-Hungarians.  In the midst of battle he was captured by the Austrian Army.  While a prisoner of war, he quickly gained a reputation as an escape artist, making three escape attempts.  On his fourth and successful attempt, the guards locked him in a cell, then shackled him to the floor by his arms and legs for good measure.  One day, when the guards checked his cell, they were astounded to discover that he had broken his shackles, bent the iron bars of his cell window, and climbed to his escape.

Why Do People Put Locks On Bridges To Declare Their Love?

The first “love locks” bridge was not in Paris, which has the most famous example, but in Serbia! Specifically in a town called Vrnjačka Banja. Shortly before the World War I, a young man and woman fell in love in Vrnjačka Banja. They would meet every night at the Most Ljubavi bridge. But the man went into the military, and while abroad, he met and fell in love with someone else. The young woman died of heartbreak, or so the story goes. Superstitious local women began going to the bridge, writing the names of themselves and their lovers on padlocks, and locking them to the bridge, in the hope that it would bind their paramours to home.

The tradition was slowly forgotten after World War I. Until a Serbian poet, Desanka Maksimović, heard the story and wrote a poem about it. The tradition was revived but only in Vrnjačka Banja.

So how did love lock bridges become a worldwide phenomenon? It probably comes from a single Italian writer named Federico Moccia. He wrote a book, published in 2006, called I Want You. It featured a couple who put a love lock on a lamp post on Rome’s 2100-year-old Ponte Milvio bridge. The book took off, and a movie was made, and the rest as they say is history!

Take That, Anti-Semites

In 1916, in the middle of World War I, the German military conducted the Judenzählung: a census of German Jews. It was intended to confirm accusations of lack of patriotism among German Jews. But the census not only disproved the anti-Semitic rumors, it crushed them. Not only were German Jews enlisting in the army, a higher percentage of German Jews fought than of any other ethnic, religious or political group in Germany.

The results of the census were not made public at the time.