No One Really Knows When World War I Ended

Warfare History Network

Key Point: Yes, the end date is in question. 

At least ostensibly, World War I ended first with the cessation of armed hostilities between the warring powers at the famed “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,” that is November 11, 1918. The official, or diplomatic, end of World War I came later at the Treaty of Versailles, June 28, 1919.

Conflict Rages on in Russia

However, the conflicts that remained unresolved with the 1918 armistice or the 1919 treaty meant that World War I did not end until some time later. The political and ideological upheaval that gripped Russia for at least a decade prior to World War I did not cease when the new Bolshevik government of that nation made a separate peace with Germany, signing the treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918, and exiting the war.

Germany had facilitated the return of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the Bolshevik revolutionary leader, to Russia to foment civil unrest and knock Russia out of World War I. Although the German tactic succeeded, the Russian Revolution began in late 1917, and on the heels of the seizure of power in the country by the Bolsheviks a civil war was underway. The Russian Civil War did not end until 1922.

The End of the German Colonial Empire

Further, following the end of hostilities in 1918, the German colonial empire was dismembered. In the South Pacific, German New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Nauru came under Australian mandate, while German Samoa was ceded to New Zealand. Of primary importance, Japan took control of the Marshall, Caroline, Mariana, and Palau island groups, encouraging Japanese imperialistic and territorial ambitions in the region. The Japanese established permanent installations and military fortifications on a number of these islands, which became the scenes of violent combat with American forces during World War II.

What the Treaty and Versailles Meant for Germany

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