AN OUTBREAK OF PEACE – CHRISTMAS 1914

The Christmas truce (German: Waffenstillstand; French: Trêve de Noël) was a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front during the Christmas season of 1914. During the days leading to Christmas, German and British soldiers left their trenches to exchange greetings, to talk to one another, exchange personal information, share food and drink.

From The Illustrated London News of January 9, 1915: "British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches"

From The Illustrated London News of January 9, 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

World War I had been raging for only four months. Soldiers on both sides were trapped in trenches and extremely wary of sniper fire. On battlefields mired in mud, frozen with snow and ice, soldiers emerged from their holes in a rare, spontaneous outbreak of peace.

Both sides — most notably in the southern portion of the Ypres Salient — combatants briefly laid down their weapons and met in No Man’s Land.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they mingled. Exchanged food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps. Several meetings ended in carol-singing.

The high command on both sides issued warnings to all soldiers that such fraternization would make participating soldiers subject to charges of treason. Not surprisingly, there were far fewer spontaneous truces the following year and virtually none by 1916. It’s a sad commentary on humanity when peace is considered treason.



Categories: Christmas, History, Marilyn Armstrong, Movies, War and battles

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2 replies

  1. It is a sad to think that those soldiers would be punished for acting like decent human beings. I have always loved the stories about this event and can’t help thinking that maybe left to themselves ordinary people wouldn’t fight each other. It’s politics that cause wars.

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    • I think, over all, most people might yell at each other, build and tear down fences, but I doubt they’d go to war. Most “real” people are far too busy staying alive to maintain a conflict that goes on for years and slaughters most of the people they know. War is insane. NO other creature makes war. It is uniquely and horribly human.

      Liked by 1 person

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