Hannes Trautloft's picture

The Armistice of 22 June 1940 was signed at 18:36 near Compiègne, France, by the top military officials of Nazi Germany and more junior representatives from the French Third Republic. They included General Wilhelm Keitel, the commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht (the German Army), and General Charles Huntziger for the French side.

Following the decisive German victory in the Battle of France (10 May–21 June 1940), this armistice established a German occupation zone in Northern and Western France that encompassed all English Channel and Atlantic Ocean ports and left the remainder "free" to be governed by the French.

Adolf Hitler deliberately chose Compiègne Forest as the site to sign the armistice due to its symbolic role as the site of the 1918 Armistice with Germany that signaled the end of World War I with Germany's surrender, in so-called armistice car (the same which had signed the armistice on November 11, 1918 which ended the First World War), car No. 2,419 of the Cie. Intl. Wagons Lits.

Earlier German troops had dragged the railway carriage out of a French museum. After the 1940 signing it was taken to Germany but apparently destroyed in a later bombing raid (Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2004-0147)

Left to right: Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Keitel, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Hitler, and Walther von Brauchitsch in front of the Armistice carriage, 21 June 1940 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-M1112-500)

Hitler (hand on side) and German high-ranked nazis and officers staring at, WWI French marshall, Maréchal Foch's memorial statue before entering the railway carriage in order to start the negotiations for the 1940 armistice, at Rethondes in the Compiègne forest, France. The armistice will only be signed the next day (June 22), Hitler being absent, by General Keitel on the German side and by General Huntziger on the French side (Screenshot taken from the 1943 United States Army propaganda film Divide and Conquer (Why We Fight #3) directed by Frank Capra and partially based on, news archives, animations, restaged scenes and captured propaganda material from both sides)

On 21 June 1940, before the "wagon de l'Armistice" at Rethondes, in the "clairière de l'Armistice" of the Compiègne forest, Hitler speaks with German high-ranked Nazis and Generals, before launching the negotiations of the armistice to be signed the next day (on 22 June 1940) between defeated France and the victorious Third Reich. The signing will take place at the very same place where the 1918 armistice was signed when Germany was instead defeated : in the rail car which hss been towed from its shelter for this special occasion. Recognizable people are, from left to right : Joachim von Ribbentrop, Foreign Office minister of the Reich ; Adolf Hitler, chancellor of the Reich ; Hermann Göring viewed from behind, Generalfeldmarschall, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe ;Erich Raeder partly hidden, Großadmiral, commander-in-chief of the Kriegsmarine ; probably Walther von Brauchitsch partly hidden, Generaloberst, commander-in-chief of the Heer (the "field" Army) ; probably Rudolf Hess viewed from behind, deputy to Hitler as leader of the Nazi party, chief of the Party Chancellery (LIFE Magazine - Internet)

Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and others before the railroad car that hosted the French surrender, Compiègne, France, 22 Jun 1940 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 101-III)

French General Charles Huntziger (Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1971-015-30)

Wilhelm Keitel hands the terms of the Armistice to the French General Charles Huntziger (Bundesarchiv, Bild-146-1982-089-18)

General Charles Huntziger signs the armistice on behalf of France on 22 June 1940 (Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-P50284)

Generaloberst Keitel, read the following Preamble for the conditions of the armistice (Via)

CBS war correspondent William L. Shirer in Compiegne, reporting on the negotiations or the signing of the armistice. The building in the background enshrines the railcar in which Marshal Foch accepted the German request for an armistice ending WWI on November 11, 1918. Hitler had the railcar removed from the building two days before the signing of the June 22, 1940 armistice (Kreigsberichter Jager Oberkommando der Wehrmacht - Stereoptican card of photo attributed to Kreigsberichter Jager Oberkommando der Wehrmacht)

William Shirer the American journalist, seen here on the right, types up his despatch on the signing of Armistice at Compiègne (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-L10879)

This video was recorded by the German army. Shows the Armistice ceremony held in the French town of Compiegne (where was, and is, the car 2,419 of our company). Hitler, accompanied by Rudolf Hess, Guering and other high level military, expect the representatives of the French army for the signing of the Armistice. We can see how these French representatives are surprised, inside the car, by the presence of the cameras. This document of great historical importance.


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