Extra! Extra! Armistice Signed: 100 years ago, the RE prematurely called the end of WWI
One hundred years ago today, Red Wing's Daily Republican newspaper rushed to print a one-page Extra edition announcing that the World War would end at 2 p.m. that day.
But wait. Today is Nov. 7. World War I did not end until 11-11-11 — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
A copy of that Nov. 7 press run survives — perhaps the only copy that was not destroyed by the newspaper when word came that the announcement was premature.
Former Red Wing resident Gordon Krantz is donating the paper to the Goodhue County Historical Society, along with the story of how his father, Claus Krantz, happened to pick up a copy of the Daily Republican that morning.
"On Nov. 7, 1918, news came by wire that the Great War was over and the Armistice was signed," Krantz wrote in an explanation attached to the back of the frame that holds the paper.
"Newspapers, (specifically the Red Wing Republican and the Red Wing Eagle) rushed to print Extras! Then came the news flash, 'False Alarm!' There had only been agreement that the war should end.
"The papers shamefacedly destroyed their press runs and broke up the type."
However, Krantz said, "my father, Claus Krantz, had been in the Republican office and took a copy home." It truly was "hot off the press."
The elder Krantz, who had been exempted from military service because he had two young children, we wanted to share the good news with his family. They did not learn until later that the war had not yet ended.
False alarms are not unknown in the newspaper business. Papers rushed to print in an effort to beat out the competition.
Perhaps the most famous example is the Nov. 3, 1948, edition of the Chicago Tribune that incorrectly declared New York Gov. Thomas Dewey the winner in the presidential race with incumbent Harry S. Truman. A photo of Truman holding up that paper remains a classic.
The Daily Republican's Nov. 7 Extra was tucked away for decades. About 30 years ago, Gordon Krantz decided to have it preserved in a frame.
He has shared it with friends and groups in the Richfield area, where he now lives, but decided the 100th anniversary of the end of the war is an appropriate time to place it in a museum. Krantz previously donated local Extras that were published on the correct date, Nov. 11.
The premature Armistice Extra announced the news in 4-inch handset type:
It went on to declare:
Hostilities Cease 2 p.m. Today
War Now At An End
The United Press story, datelined Paris, states that Germany's Armistice Commission that morning had signed the Allies' Armistice terms "which are understood to be very severe and very complete, preventing resumption of hostilities while peace terms are formulated."
The local paper took the opportunity to remind its readers that it also played an important role in the announcement. In small print at the bottom of the one-sided broadsheet it reads:
"This Extra Edition of the Republican presents the greatest news in the history of mankind and is the first to announce to the people of Red Wing and vicinity the end of the World War. Preserve it as a souvenir to be treasured by your children and children's children."
Krantz, who has written several books, also is donating to the museum four memoirs that relate to his family's presence in the Red Wing area dating back to the turn of the century.
• "Claus and Christine" tells the story of Claus Krantz, from Sweden, and Christine Mikkelson, from Norway, came to the U.S. and met at Red Wing's Pearl Café. They married and started their family here, including Gordon, who was born in 1924 in the upper front bedroom of their home at 1817 W. Fifth St. The story includes reminiscences of Gordon and his sisters working at Red Wing Pottery and other local businesses.
• "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?" includes Gordon Krantz's memories of graduating from Red Wing High School in 1942 then being drafted and shipped overseas.
• "What Did You Do for a Living, Daddy?" capsulizes Krantz's experiences at work in Red Wing and during his many years in the Twin Cities in jobs related to his education as a rehabilitation psychologist.
• "That's My Story" is older sister Carol Krantz's story, as told to Gordon and Eileen Parfrey. She shares vivid memories of growing up in Red Wing and later living on a farm near Diamond Bluff — including the challenge of getting from there to Red Wing to attend high school. She worked for many years at Red Wing Pottery then in the Twin Cities, returning here upon retirement.