Trench warfare, as practiced by these Russian soldiers awaiting a German assault, characterized World War I.
Photograph by George H. Mewes, National Geographic

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  • On November 11, 1918, at 11:11 a.m., Germany signed an armistice agreement in a railroad car in the Compiégne Forest, 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Paris, officially ending World War I. The German surrender brought to an end the most destructive conflict in all of human history to that point. More than 15 million people were killed in the four-year “Great War,” and the damage to cities and landscapes throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East was almost beyond imagination.
    For more than 20 years, the railroad car where the armistice was signed—the so-called “Armistice wagon”—remained in a nearby museum. In 1940, during World War II, the invading German army moved the railroad car back to its original location. There, Nazi officials and French leaders signed another armistice, one that signaled French defeat and recognized a massive German occupation zone in the north of the country. Today, a replica car stands on the site.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Allied Powers Noun

    alliance of countries that participated in World War I, led by the United Kingdom, France, and Russia. Also called the Triple Entente.

    conflict Noun

    a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

    damage Noun

    harm that reduces usefulness or value.

    defeat Verb

    to overcome an enemy or obstacle.

    destructive Adjective


    massive Adjective

    very large or heavy.

    Nazi noun, adjective

    (1919-1945) (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) having to do with the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

    surrender Verb

    to give up.

    World War I Noun

    (1914-1918) armed conflict between the Allies (led by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France) and the Central Powers (led by Germany and Austria-Hungary). Also called the Great War.

    World War II Noun

    (1939-1945) armed conflict between the Allies (represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) and the Axis (represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan.)

    zone Noun

    area separated from others by artificial or natural divisions.

    Encyclopedic Entry: zone