Although it looks like the districts would’ve lost that first rebellion anyway, the clearest sign that the war was over was when District 13 was bombed into smithereens. The district was easily the strongest of the thirteen, and the only one with a nuclear stockpile. With their destruction came the end of the districts’ hope of success, and the peace treaty was signed soon as a result. By the sound of things, District 13’s destruction couldn’t have happened a moment too soon for the Capitol, as Snow recalls a childhood where the city was under the siege for a significant period of time.
But the actual story is even more depressing. District 13 wasn’t bombed off the map, nor were they only “mostly” bombed off the map and then recovered in secrecy; instead, they signed a secret neutrality agreement with the Capitol. District 13 would let everyone else believe they no longer existed, and in exchange they’d be left alone forever. It’s one hell of a harsh decision on 13’s part, as they essentially abandoned their allies at their most desperate, letting them deal with the 75 years of Hunger Games to come.
Like most things in the series, however, there are shades of gray here. District 13 likely only saw two options for themselves: They could either continue slowly losing a long bloody war or ensure a temporary ceasefire and give themselves enough time to prepare for the next rebellion. As we know from the original trilogy, the decision paid off eventually, but that’s little consolation to those who lived and died during the Capitol’s reign.
The fact that District 13 faked its death would be of interest to President Snow, because…