100 years ago: Tribune’s front page from day WWI ended describes a joyful city, a dark future

It was said to be the “war to end all wars.” It wasn’t. Sadly and ironically, World War I sowed the seeds of a more deadly conflict fought over the same turf by many of the same parties. But on Nov. 11, 1918, the bloodletting that cost Europe nearly a generation of young men, and killed millions more civilians, was over. The world and the city rejoiced.

The front page of the Chicago Tribune on Armistice Day captured history midstream: It recorded the jubilation of one war’s end, and yet, unknowingly, many of the factors in the creation of the next: debilitating, humiliating surrender terms for Germany, the establishment of liberal governance under immediate pressure by revolutionaries, industry under threat of seizure and the breakaway of young countries whose reclamation would prove irresistible to coming tyrants.

No Tribune reader in the fall of 1918 could have predicted the political rise of an unassuming (many thought dimwitted) German corporal named Adolf Hitler, who was at that moment lying in a hospital bed recovering from a gas attack. Across the world, Nov. 11, 1918, was a cause for celebration — a cartoon on Page 5 of the Tribune called it “Humanity’s Greatest Day.” But 100 years later, the front page of the paper on that historic day feels both joyful and eerily prescient.

Note: The service the Tribune used to generate this interactive story now no longer makes it available on this page. Click “view this image” below to see the front page on ThingLink.

Sources: “The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic” by Benjamin Carter Hett; “The Arms of Krupp” by William Manchester; “The House that Krupp Rebuilt” by Time magazine; “The Last Day of WWI” by the History Channel; the Chicago Daily News Almanac; the Chicago Public Library system; ThyssenKrupp.com; History.com; HistoryNet.com


Twitter: @Charliemagne