100 years ago today, World War I officially ended— on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month—when Germany signed an armistice with the Allies, a moment that is annually honored throughout the Western world with two-minutes of silence.

Known as the Great War and one of the deadliest conflicts the world has known, it killed 16 million civilians and soldiers in four years—and it all started when a Bosnian Serb nationalist assassinated an Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne in 1914… (1918)

The great powers of Europe quickly divided into two camps: France, Russia and Britain against Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The U.S entered the war 3 years later, only after 7 US merchant ships were sunk by German submarines and a telegram was intercepted that has offered troops to Mexico to help win back the territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in exchange for them joining the Germans.

Although the post-war Treaty of Versailles brought into being the League of Nations, the first international organization dedicated to maintaining world peace, the collapse of four empires at one time (the German, Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian), the shifting of so many national boundaries and the creation of new countries in the war’s aftermath, as well as a heavy financial burden falling to Germany, resulted in ongoing resentments, revolutions, and the rise of Totalitarianism, Fascism, and Nazism. (See all the new countries labeled in red, and empires divided in the map below)

By Fluteflute, CC license

Today is marked as Veterans Day in the US, also known in other countries as Remembrance Day and Armistice Day.

More Good News on this Date:

  • 175 years ago today, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling was first published (1843)
  • The Tomb of the Unknowns soldiers was dedicated at Arlington Cemetery (1921)
  • The final recording session for The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album produced the last two new songs to finish the album—Paul’s ‘You Won’t See Me’ and John’s ‘Girl’ were completed in two takes and the LP was in record shops a couple weeks later (1965)
  • Rhodesia (now, Zimbabwe) proclaimed its independence from Britain (1965); Angola gained its independence from Portugal (1975)
  • Three US prisoners of Vietnam war were released by Viet Cong to antiwar activist Tom Hayden (1967)
  • The Church of England voted to allow the ordination of women to become priests (1992)
  • New Zealand Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was dedicated in Wellington (2004)