The Balkans Truce: History - Wars start in pomp but end in tents or

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The Independent Online
WARS END, as they begin, in a myriad settings. They may start with a proclamation in parliament or a sneak invasion, with the drumroll despatch of a great army or the tiniest guerrilla skirmish. They can end in great hotels, in courthouses and schoolhouses, in railway carriages, and aboard ships. But most often perhaps, as the one over Kosovo is about to do, in a tent.

It was in a tent on Luneburg heath near the Baltic Sea that Montgomery accepted the surrender of German forces in North West Europe on 4 May 1945. In 1991 Iraqi generals signed up to the allies' terms at the end of the Gulf war in a tent in a buffer zone on the northern Kuwait border. The Korean war ended in a tent, at Panmunjom, on July 27, 1953.

But ships can equally serve the purpose. The curtain came down on the final act of the Second World War on 12 September 1945, when representatives of the Japanese god-emperor formally surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur, on the decks of the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay and the undeclared proxy war that soon followed also ended at sea - when on 2 December 1989, at a storm-tossed summit on a Russian cruise ship off Malta, George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev called it quits in the Cold War.

Sometimes the settings are more glamorous. France and Algeria signed the 1962 treaty which granted independence to the former African colony in a great hotel at the spa town of Evian. The First World War famously ended in a railway carriage in the forest of Compiegne, northern France, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

But the treaty that wrapped matters up (and helped creat the conditions for the Second World War)was signed in the splendour of the Palace of Versailles.