Vol. III No. 14
War and Peace After 1918
Ask almost anyone when World War I ended and the reply is likely to be : 11 November 1918. But that date is wrong, actually and legally. It was not even the end of the war for the United States. When did World War I end ? Armistice Day 1918 signified the end of formal, organized hostilities. The Versailles Peace Treaty was not signed until more than seven months later. Nearly two years elapsed before treaties were concluded with Germany’s confederates, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. Even this was not yet legal peace for the United States. Treaties had to be ratified. Finally, on 20 December 1921, more than three years after the Armistice, President Warren Gamaliel Harding was able to declare that “the state of war” involving us and all our enemies had ceased. As soon as “Cease Fire” sounded on that memorable Armistice Day most of the world expected a speedy return to “normalcy.” Millions of people took it as a signal that the war was over. They shared the belief that a sharp dividing bar separated “war” and “peace” – that the hurdle could be taken in one quick jump.