Monday, February 22, 2010

The signature that killed 60 million

This photo, from the magnificent Iconic Photos blog, shows the German delegation signing the armistice treaty that ended the First World War in the train carriage of Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the French commander of the Allied forces who claimed that he had defeated Germany by smoking his pipe (ie, by not getting over-excited).

I've probably got a bit over-excited myself with the headline of this blog (the pipe is getting unblocked this week) but a case could be made that this signature helped to shape the events of the next 20 years that led to the world joining battle once more. Adolf Hitler felt the humiliation of the armistice so keenly that he made the French sign an armistice in the same train carriage after their capitulation in 1940.

What really grabs me about the picture is the quality of facial hair on display, from the neatly clipped bespectacled chap on the left looking like a ticket inspector, to the drooping walrus in the topper on the right and then the mad monk with the wild eyes and what is possibly a fake beard lurking at the back.

It is a great shame that politicians today don't go in for such magnificent whiskers. Just think what a soup-strainer and mutton chops could do for Gordon Brown's image...

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