November 11, 1918, Viewed from Tehran: Iranian Responses to the Armistice

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 4:10 PM
Columbia 8 (Washington Hilton)
Oliver Bast, Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle
Documents from Iranian archives, diplomatic as well as inter-departmental correspondence from mid-1917 through October 1918, reveal the high importance that Iranian statesmen accorded to preparations for the unique opportunities that might open as the hostilities ended. A significant part of these Iranian hopes and expectations came to be invested in the United States, which had gained record levels of interest and recognition amongst Iranians by November 11, 1918. Indeed, describing how the news of the Armistice was received in Tehran in a report dated 14 November 1918, the French Minister to Iran, Raymond Lecomte, complained bitterly about Iranians’ lack of recognition of his own country's contribution to the Allied victory. He quoted his British counterpart as saying that “[…] whatever we do, we are simply unable to disabuse the Persians of the idea that it was only the Americans who did win this war.” This paper investigates whether these perceptions of Iranian opinion on November 11, 1918 are borne out by Persian sources. What shaped Iranian views of the Armistice and why? Did Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism play a role at this liminal moment? And finally, how important – if at all – an event was the Armistice to Iran, which was technically never a belligerent (although deeply war-ravaged)? These questions will be addressed based on a variety of Iranian primary sources including official documents, private correspondence, diaries and memoirs as well as the contemporary Iranian press. The paper contributes to recent, intensive efforts to globalise historians’ perspectives on the “first global conflict”.