Throughout the late summer and autumn of 1918 the Allies had pushed the enemy back towards Germany in a series of costly actions. The German Army, demoralised and poorly supplied with basic food and equipment, was effectively defeated and the German people were at starvation level and utterly weary of war. As early as 29 September the commander of the German Army, Erich Ludendorff, knew an end to warfare should be sought.
Similarly, the leaders of the Allies did not want the war to extend into 1919. Their armies also faced logistical strains in October 1918 and they feared a German retirement to their borders so remaining an effective force.
The German government had already, on 5 October, sent a request for peace negotiations to President Wilson, based on 14 points outlined by Wilson in an earlier speech. In a sudden change of heart, Ludendorff suddenly demanded the war should continue but he was rapidly replaced just as Britain and France joined the Americans’ negotiations.
On 5 November the German delegation departed for France. They crossed the Front line in 5 cars and were taken to Marshall Foch’s secret hideout in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiègne. They were in no position to make demands but did register a protest at the harshness of Armistice terms. The suspension of hostilities had to be renewed at monthly intervals and, should the Armistice terms be breached, fighting could resume within 48 hours.
Six months of complicated peace talks followed, leading to the signing of the Versailles Treaty on 28 June 1919.