The following is taken from the special edition of LIFE World War I: The First World War and the American Century
. From the time the ceasefire began, Harry Truman saw a German gunner. At 11 o'clock in the morning the man took off his helmet, bowed and walked away. Truman wrote that "a great cheer came up everywhere on the line." When he was about to go to bed that night, "members of the French battery insisted on marching around my cot and shaking hands, calling"
Vive le Capitaine Américain! Vive le President Wilson! '"
Celebrations took place in Paris, London and New York, as well as in small towns in Europe and America. The people danced and cried. The New York Times reported that in London "everywhere the soldier ruled and the American boys in khaki had the time of their lives" …
But while the truce was celebrated, peace still had not proclaimed peace For Wilson, the war revealed the folly of military and peaceful alliances. He had already told Congress about his vision for the future when, in January 1
And so he tried to believe in the divine fate of the United States Realize his dream of a harmonious post-war period. He sailed to Europe to attend the Paris Peace Conference. As his train approached Paris, the citizens were kneeling on the tracks to pray. When he arrived in the capital, the Parisian flowers threw themselves in his path and cheered: " Vive Wilson! Vive Wilson! "
The Peace Conference began on January 18, 1919. A disagreement among the participants quickly became clear: Although the United States wanted to leave Germany in an economically viable form, many other nations set out to punish their former adversary In the subsequent Versailles Treaty, the latter camp had found its way. The conditions of peace expropriated Germany, robbed the territory, demilitarized the Rhineland and limited its army to 100,000 soldiers. Since the victors believed that a settlement required financial compensation, Article 231 "War Guilt" clause blamed Germany for "all losses and damages" of the war and demanded overwhelming reparations: sign up for the weekly TIME History Newsletter to
Although the Germans reject the War Guilt clause, the Germans had little choice but to sign the treaty on June 28 by Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
After the Kaiser left, the new Weimar Republic ruled Germany. Many former soldiers who were unable to return to their former lives joined paramilitary societies and rejected the liberalism of the new government. At a meeting of the German Workers' Party on September 12, 1919, someone handed over a promilitary, anti-Semitic, nationalist leaflet to a young Adolf Hitler, who worked in counterintelligence in the army. Hitler was attracted by what he read, and he soon joined the party. He remembered that moment as the point from which "there was and could not go back." The following February, the group changed its name to National Socialist (Nazi) German Workers' Party.
In the meantime, the treaty no longer contained most of Wilson's Fourteen Points, but his League of Nations pact. The revolutionary organization called on members to respect the territories of other nations and punished those who start a war. When Wilson returned to Washington in July, he presented the Senate to the Senate for approval and possible US ratification.
The agreement was vehemently rejected. The most passionate critic was Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, who spoke out against his call for collective security, which in his opinion would violate American sovereignty. While Lodge tried to modify the document, Wilson – who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in founding the League of Nations – fought all the changes.
Hoping to gain the support of both parties, Wilson and his wife Edith set off The Mayflower a presidential car, located behind a train of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The nearly 10,000-mile journey crossed cities like Columbus, Ohio. Omaha; Spokane, Washington; and San Francisco. Hundreds of thousands flocked to him along the way, and Wilson told 20,000 visitors in St. Louis, "I came back from Paris bringing one of the largest documents in human history." However, the train journey proved to be exhausting for the president. He had had a number of minor strokes over the years, and during the 22 days he stumped for his contract, he suffered headaches that were so severe that they almost blinded him. When he returned to the White House, he suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed his left side.
Wilson was too weak to fight, but Wilson still refused to compromise on the treaty changes. The Senate rejected the contract on 19 November. The following March, the Chamber defeated a new version. It was not until August 1921 that the Berlin Treaty officially ended the war between the United States and Germany. Meanwhile Warren G. Harding occupied the Oval Office, and the nation was trying to declare war in the past.
Read more in the special edition of LIFE, World War I: The First World War and the American Century available at Amazon.