- On Christmas Day, 1914, in the first year of World War
I, German, British, and French soldiers disobeyed their superiors and fraternized
with "the enemy" along two-thirds of the Western Front. German
troops held Christmas trees up out of the trenches with signs, "Merry
Christmas." "You no shoot, we no shoot." Thousands of troops
streamed across a no-man's land strewn with rotting corpses. They sang
Chrismas carols, exchanged photographs of loved ones back home, shared
rations, played football, even roasted some pigs. Soldiers embraced men
they had been trying to kill a few short hours before. They agreed to warn
each other if the top brass forced them to fire their weapons, and to aim
- A shudder ran through the high command on either side.
Here was disaster in the making: soldiers declaring their brotherhood with
each other and refusing to fight. Generals on both sides declared this
spontaneous peacemaking to be treasonous and subject to court martial.
By March, 1915 the fraternization movement had been eradicated and the
killing machine put back in full operation. By the time of the armistice
in 1918, fifteen million would be slaughtered.
- Not many people have heard the story of the Christmas
Truce. Military leaders have not gone out of their way to publicize it.
On Christmas Day, 1988, a story in the Boston Globe mentioned that a local
FM radio host played "Christmas in the Trenches," a ballad about
the Christmas Truce, several times and was startled by the effect. The
song became the most requested recording during the holidays in Boston
on several FM stations. "Even more startling than the number of requests
I get is the reaction to the ballad afterward by callers who hadn't heard
it before," said the radiohost. "They telephone me deeply
moved, sometimes in tears, asking, `What the hell did I just hear?'"
- I think I know why the callers were in tears. The Christmas
Truce story goes against most of what we have been taught about people.
It gives us a glimpse of the world as we wish it could be and says, "This
really happened once." It reminds us of those thoughts we keep hidden
away, out of range of the TV and newspaper stories that tell us how trivial
and mean human life is. It is like hearing that our deepest wishes really
are true: the world really could be different.
- Excerpted from David G. Stratman, We CAN Change the World:
The Real Meaning of Everyday Life (New Democracy Books, 1991). Available
for $3.00 from New Democracy Books, P.O. Box 427, Boston, MA 02130.
- From Patricia Doyle, PhD
- Hello, Jeff - I was so happy to see the Christmas Truce
article posted at this time of year. It was an amazing spontaneous event
and sadly so few know or knew of it.
- The top brass really did not know how to handle the situation
at the time. Lone voices rising out of the trenches saying 'Merry Christmas.'
Amazing. One opposing soldier was given a German helmet by a German soldier
who said he needed it back for a parade the next day. He trusted the
his opponent to give it back to him.
- These folks had so much trust in their hearts for one
another. They were, on all sides, total victims of circumstance and greed
and international 'politics'...
- Sadly, the aftermath of WW1 was the direct cause of WW2,
and is the cause of much of our troubles today. America was
duped into entering WW1. That hideous war should have never happened at
- Again, thanks for posting the article.
- Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
- Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
- Univ of West Indies
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- Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
- Go with God and in Good Health