With the War now behind us, we take a moment to reflect on its most important lessons.
The United States had a mid-term election just before the Armistice. The UK had a general election just after. Both elections would help shape the post-war world. Also, we say goodbye to Theodore Roosevelt.
The influenza virus that emerged in 1918 was more deadly than was typical for the disease. Because of the Great War, the virus was carried to every corner of the world, including into populations of human beings who had never known the disease before. The death toll was staggering. This epidemic was the deadliest in human history, in terms of absolute number of persons killed.
Influenza has plagued the human race for some 12,000 years. It is caused by a virus, an infectious agent barely understood in 1918.
Once Bulgaria quit the war, the dominoes began to fall. By early October, both Germany and Austria were in diplomatic exchanges with the US over peace terms. When news of this became public, both of those governments experienced domestic political collapse.
The German commanders and their African askari soldiers fought a smart and determined guerilla campaign against the British that actually lasted longer than the war in Europe had. But when news of the Armistice reached them, it was time to lay down their weapons.
The German spring offensives of 1918 were intended to force an end to the war before Allied numerical superiority became decisive. But the offensives failed, the German Army is crumbling, and mobile warfare has returned to the Western Front.
It was poetic that the war would end where it began, in the Balkans. An Allied offensive against a weary Bulgaria led to an armistice, forcing the Ottoman Empire--and Austria and Germany--also to sue for peace.
The policies of the new Bolshevik government befuddled both the Allies and the Central Powers. Both sides in the war sought better relations with Moscow, but the murders of the Imperial family signaled that the Bolsheviks were not ready to make nice.
The end of the war on the Eastern Front and the Italian defeat at Caporetto gave Austria-Hungary a badly needed military respite. But domestically, the country was crumbling, economically, socially, and politically. Discontent has reached critical mass.