This video is part of a series of 20 animated maps.

View series: The first World War, 1914-1918

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1918 the Last Quarter Hour

This map is part of a series of 20 animated maps showing the history of The first World War, 1914-1918.

At the beginning of 1918, the Russian Bolsheviks caused the negotiations to drag on and the German army went back on the offensive. Within fifteen days, it occupied all the Baltic countries, Belorussia and the Ukraine. Cornered, Russia signed the peace treaty of Brest‑Litovsk on 3 March.

Russia’s withdrawal from the war rapidly led to a surrender by Romania.

With the collapse of the Eastern Front, the German army was able to redeploy its resources. In the first half of 1918, it commanded more men than the Allies on the French front, but this numerical superiority was only temporary, due to a rapid increase in the number of American soldiers that had now landed.

Aware of this situation, the German military command wanted to push a quick victory and launched a series of offensives:

The first offensive was in the Somme. The German advance covered approximately 60 kilometers, and exposed the need for better coordination among the Allied armies. General Foch was therefore appointed Généralissime of the French front. The second, in Flanders. Portuguese troops, as part of the British army, were thrown back but the breach towards Dunkirk failed. The third, between Rheims and Compiegne. The Germans crossed the Aisne, and once again reached the Marne close to Paris, before being stopped by a counter‑attack led by General Mangin. The fourth, on July 15, attacking Rheims from both sides. The Marne was crossed, but the second line of defence, organized by General Petain, held up well.

During these 4 months, the German troops, although always advancing, nevertheless, failed to force a decision.

On 18 July, Franco‑American troops, strongly supported by tanks, victoriously launched a counter‑offensive from Villers‑Cotterets. From then on, the Allies had the initiative and a series of operations carried out during the summer and autumn gradually pushed the German front all the way back to Belgium.

On the other fronts, the victorious offensive of the Army of the Orient in the Balkans led Bulgaria to sign an armistice on 29 September.

On 27 October, the Italian army, with Allied support, launched a successful offensive and was able to enter Austria. The Empire, having faced a series of revolutionary uprisings, signed the armistice at Villa Giusti on 3 November.

Germany was now isolated. Confronted with insurrection within its borders, it accepted the conditions offered by the Allies in order to bring military operations to an end and signed the armistice on 11 November at Rethondes.