Hitler’s Greatest Revenge

Video highlights from Apocalypse: The Second World War

How Hitler avenged the German’s WWI defeat on 11 November 1918

When the French government called on Germany for an Armistice during World War II, Hitler finally had the chance to enact his greatest revenge.

The Fuhrer dictated that the surrender be formalized at Compiègne, the very spot where Germans had signed the Armistice ending World War I on 11 November 1918 – just 22 years earlier.

At 5.00am on 11 November 1918, Germany, faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War was over. 

The treaty that officially ended the WWI was signed at Versailles Palace on 28 June 1919. But the Treaty Of Versailles forced harsh penalties and enormous reparations on Germany that laid the groundwork for World War II. 

So when it came time to negotiate the Franco-German Armistice in June 1940, Hitler was hell-bent on revenge. 

Already demanding the location was the very spot where Germany signed the WWI Armistice, Hitler also ordered that the signing take place in the same railway carriage in which Germany had surrendered.

The carriage, which had been housed in a French museum, was retrieved by Hitler’s engineers and taken to the forest northeast of Paris.

Arriving at the scene, it was clear to the French what Hitler was doing – his aim was to disgrace the French as much as possible and avenge Germany’s defeat.

Despite Hitler's intention to humiliate the French being clear to all, the drafters of the Armistice inserted, “Germany does not have the intention to use the armistice conditions and armistice negotiations as a form of humiliation against such a valiant opponent.”

The Armistice, signed on 22 June and going into effect three days later, forced 400,000 French troops to stop fighting.

France was divided into two zones, one to be occupied by Germany and the other to remain under the control of the French government. In just ten months, Hitler’s regime had devastated Western Europe.

See the re-mastered historical footage of France’s surrender below.

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