chapter  5
24 Pages


The Disarmament Debate
ByLorna S. Jaffe

Germany’s overture for an armistice in October 1918 made the question of German disarmament an immediate issue for British policy-makers. When the Allied military advisers recommended disarming the surrendering German forces, the political leaders had to decide whether to demand disarmament as a condition of armistice. An overriding consideration for Britain’s political leaders as they deliberated armistice terms was the possibility that a demand for disarmament of the withdrawing German forces would lead Germany to reconsider its desire for an armistice, thereby prolonging the war. General Woodrow Wilson took advantage of the opportunity to argue forcefully for the necessity of disarming the German forces during the period of the armistice. Sir Douglas Haig concurred in Wilson’s appraisal of the Allied armies’ fighting ability and of the German army’s capacity for resistance, but this analysis led him to quite a different conclusion from Wilson’s.