Armistice

Military historian Hew Strachan explains how a series of independently brokered agreements gradually achieved a fragile pause in hostilities in the First World War.

By the summer of 1918, the territory controlled by the German Empire stretched from France to Russia, and anticipated the reach of Hitler's Germany in 1941. Nobody looking at the map of Europe that July could have imagined that by mid-November 1918 Germany would be defeated.

But peace with Russia in the East in March 1918 had fragmented the alliance of Central Powers, led by Germany. Germany's partners - Bulgaria, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire - were not involved in the fighting on the Western Front and so had no reason to carry on hostilities, unless they wished to fight with each other over the division of the spoils. The war in the West was now Germany's alone.

In the autumn of 1918, armistice followed armistice as, one after another, the Central Powers sought peace. Military historian Hew Strachan explores how a series of independently brokered agreements gradually achieved a fragile pause in hostilities.

Sir Hew Strachan is Professor of International Relations at the University of St Andrews and an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford.

Producer: Catriona Oliphant
Executive Producer: Alan Hall
A ChromeRadio production for BBC Radio 3.

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