Christmas Truce

During WWI, many of the British, French and German soldiers lived, fought and died in trenches that snaked thousands of miles through the countryside. These trenches were grim, dark places. They averaged 7 feet deep and 6 feet wide. On the Allied side , they were often full of mud, rats, and disease. The men lived in these trenches, struggling to keep dry, stay sane and not get shot. The trenches of the enemy were sometimes just 30 meters away, and sticking your head above the trench could easily get you killed.

After five months of horrific fighting, suddenly peace broke out between the trenches. It was Christmas Eve, 1914. It was “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, said Pvt. Albert Moren. The Germans sang out from their trenches the song, Silent Night. When they finished, their enemies in the neighboring trench cheered. The Allied soldiers then replied with the English version.

No shots were fired that night and in the morning they wondered if the peace would last. At one point along the trenches, a German soldier held up a sign saying, “You no shoot, we no shoot”. Slowly heads popped up above the trenches, and Christmas greetings were offered from both sides in English. Nervously the soldiers came out from their protective trenches. Leaving their guns and safety behind, they approached each other. With hearts likely filled with a mixture of fear and hope, they shook hands. Some soldiers exchanged small gifts of tobacco or buttons. Other played soccer upon the battlefield. A pig was roasted by the British and shared with the Germans at one place. The Germans rolled over a barrel of beer to the British in exchange. In another place a German juggler performed. And at yet another, a British soldier got his hair cut by a German barber.

Not all of the soldiers were at peace that day, but 100,000 soldiers did take part in the truce. At some points along the trenches, the truce lasted only part of the day, and in others, it lasted until New Year’s Day. For one brief moment in a horrific war, the soldiers resisted the insanity of war and came together in celebration and peace.

The post Christmas Truce appeared first on Deep English.

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