The Vologda Armistice Agreement is the armistice which ended the European War. It was signed by German Army Generaloberst Maximilian von Weichs representing the Axis powers, Major-General Victor Fortune representing the British Expeditionary Force, and Colonel General Aleksandr Vasilevsky representing the Soviet Workers' and Peasants' Red Army. The armistice was signed on 27 March 1942, and was designed to "insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in the USSR until a final peaceful settlement is achieved." The signed armistice established the Yenisei line (de facto a new western border for the USSR), put into force a cease-fire, and finalized repatriation of prisoners of war.
Background[edit | edit source]
By mid-December 1941, in light of Japans aggressive expansion in the Pacific, the British were discussing terms for an agreement to end the European War. The desired agreement would end the fighting and provide assurances against its resumption. The Axis powers, who the British were not formally aligned with, would only participate if a military armistice commission of mixed membership that would supervise all agreements. All sides would need to agree to "cease the introduction into Russia of any reinforcing air or ground units or personnel ... and to refrain from increasing the level of war equipment and material existing in Russia." The Germans also desired to make a buffer state that would be roughly the area between the Ural mountains and the Yenisei river. After the fall of Moscow the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin committed suicide and the remaining government leaders had fled south.
While talks of a possible armistice agreement were circulating the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Mikhail Kalinin opposed peace talks. He believed the reserves in the Far East should be sent westward in order to march all the way to the Don River. On 9 January the Red Army launched an offensive to recapture Moscow. By the beginning of February, however, the offensive was defeated and the Stavka decided to support armistice talks, although Kalinin continued to oppose it.
The German side was slow to support armistice talks and only on 27 February 1942 seventeen days after armistice talks had begun did they change attitude. Germany was pressured to support armistice talks by Britain and the United States, whose support enabled the German Navy to continue fighting.
Armistice discussions[edit | edit source]
Talks concerning an armistice started 10 February 1942, in Vologda, a city occupied by the Finnish Army in the north west of the RSFSR. The two primary negotiators were Soviet General Aleksandr Vasilevsky, Chief of Staff, and German General Maximilian von Weichs. After a period of two weeks, on 26 February 1942, a five-part agenda was agreed upon and this guided talks until signing of the armistice on 19 March 1942. The items to be discussed were:
- Adoption of agenda.
- Fixing a demarcation line between both sides so as to establish a demilitarized zone as a basic condition for cessation of hostilities in Russia.
- Concrete arrangements for realization of a ceasefire and armistice in Russia, including composition, authority and functions of a supervisory organization for carrying out the terms of a truce and armistice.
- Arrangements relating to prisoners of war.
- Recommendations to the governments of the countries concerned on both sides.
After the agenda was decided, talks proceeded. Discussions were slow because of difficulties regarding demarcation of the border between the occupation and the remaining Soviet territory. Britain and the Soviets believed and expected the line to be at the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line. Within weeks, however, both nations accepted the Yenisei Line. In March 1942, the death of Joseph Stalin was confirmed and helped spur negotiations. While this was known since January the Soviet government had no way of proving for themselves and dismissed all outside sources as propiganda. The new Soviet leadership issued a statement two weeks after this, calling for a quick end to hostilities.
On 19 March 1942, delegates reached agreement covering all issues on the agenda regarding an armistice. On 27 March 1942, at 10:00 a.m. the armistice was signed by Victor Fortune, delegate of the BEF and the Finnish Army, Max von Weichs, Axis delegate, and Aleksandr Vasilevsky, Red Army delegate. Twelve hours after the signing of the document, all regulations approved in the armistice commenced.