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The day when Christmas became stronger than the First World War

Ancient History

The day when Christmas became stronger than the First World War

The First World officially began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. This period in history was mostly marked by terrible and negative events. However, on December 24th, a day before Christmas something extraordinary occurred.

Despite the fact that the First World War was one of the most terrible and violent events in the history of mankind, one of the most extraordinary and remembered war stories occurred by Christmas of 1914 when a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires started happening along the Western Front. Soldiers stopped fighting, and for a moment or two, they forgot that they were part of one of the most terrible events in human history.

Eventually, this curious yet extraordinary event would be known as the “Christmas Truce,” an agreement by which German and English soldiers stopped fighting, unofficially, to share the night of December 24, and 25 of 1914.

WWI. German troops holding the first-line trench on the river bank. Possibly during the Aisne Offensive, on May 27-June 4th, as part of 1918 German drive when they came within 56 kilometers of Paris. Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While this event is not known among many, in the week leading up to the 25th, French, German, and British forces crossed trenches in order to exchange seasonal greetings and have normal, friendly conversations.

More incredibly, in some areas, soldiers from both sides ventured into no man’s land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. It was a festive season in the middle of the war. It was as if time had stopped and for a few nights, soldiers could sleep peacefully and forget that they were part of a terrible and unforgiving event.

A cross, left in Saint-Yves (Saint-Yvon – Ploegsteert; Comines-Warneton in Belgium) in 1999, to commemorate the site of the Christmas Truce. The text reads: “1914 – The Khaki Chum’s Christmas Truce – 1999 – 85 Years – Lest We Forget” Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

During the term of this truce, the sides exchanged prisoners and held burial ceremonies for their fallen comrades.

They played soccer, shared meals, cigars, and whiskey, the soldiers sang, laughed and forgot for a moment they were sworn, enemies.

 

An artist’s impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches.” Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

On some fronts, the truce lasted until January 1 and was the only one during the years of the First World War.

 

Eventually, as the fighting became more intense, the military high command ultimately disallowed any kind of fraternization with the enemy.

In 1915, some soldiers arranged ceasefires, but they were not as widespread as the truce in 1914.

Soldiers were no longer amenable to truce by 1916.

The Christmas truces were especially important because of the number of men involved and the level of their participation—even in very peaceful sectors, dozens of people openly congregating in daylight was exceptional—and are often seen as a symbolic moment of peace and humanity amidst one of the most violent events of human history.

Ivan

Ivan is editor-in-chief at ancient-code.com, he also writes for Universe Explorers.
You may have seen him appear on the Discovery and History Channel.

4 Comments
  • Cathy Shepherd

    What a truly wonderful article for today. Thank you, Ivan, for reminding us that we are all human and that love can, and will, conquer evil eventually if we can just remember to use its power every day. Merry Christmas, Ivan, and many wishes for a safe, healthy. prosperous and happy New Year.

    • Andy C

      Sad. He could have explained how it happened in the first place. The germans started singing and putting little decorations up. The British troops – people – inspired by their christian brothers joined them.
      British high command stopped any such reoccurances by shelling. They tried to get them shelled the first time it happened.
      Cathy if that is what you took from that then that is sad. It means that without a certain influence, christian peoples of the west have little desire or thirst for each others blood. That is something to be glad of, but it should also cause the question, if the thirst for blood wasn’t in our people, or our soldiers, or theirs, then where did it come from? That is sadder still, because no one asks it, no one solves it, and so ww2 was assured at that moment. Sir Oswald Mosley tried to stop ww2, because he knew. Many politicians later said he was correct.

      • Cathy Shepherd

        So very sad that you hold such a dim view of Christians, Andy. It’s not Christians who thirst for blood by any means. Those who are informed know that all wars are started by the Globalist elites to further their agenda towards even more power and wealth. The soldiers, whether Christian or not, are just pawns for the elites, but believe they are fighting for a good cause, not because they are bloodthirsty savages. I reject your attempt to take a truly inspiring story of humanity appearing during a horrible time and make it so depressing. So sad for you.

        • Andy C

          Yes its a very dim view of true Christians to up hold truth. also very dim view of them to say they sang to each other. Dimmer still to say they joined each other as brothers. Especially dim to hold to the truth as to how it happened. Why do you twist my words?

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