Thursday, 25 December 2014 00:00

100 Years ago tonight - The Story Behind the 1914 Christmas Truce in World War I

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100 Years ago tonight a lesson was taught we can always learn from: Peace is possible when the power is left in the hands of the meek, the oppressed, and the weary.

As I tell my kids when they are fighting "We are all in this together."  ~R. Joe



The Real Story Behind the 1914 Christmas Truce in World War I 

It was 100 years ago this very night that something miraculous happened along the Western Front. After months of bitter fighting, soldiers on both sides gathered in no-man's-land in a spontaneous show of peace and goodwill. Here's what happened on that historic day — and why it marked the end of an era. 

Image by Jim Cooke

In December 1914, the war was entering into a new phase: an extended siege fought along static trenches stretching along a 750 km (466 mile) front. During the previous four months, soldiers were killed at a horrendous pace, and with no end of the war in sight. But during Christmas, things suddenly became quiet — at least for a little while.


'We No Shoot!'

The night before Christmas, a British captain serving at Rue du Bois heard a foreign accent from across the divide saying, "Do not shoot after 12 o'clock and we will not do so either," and then: "If you English come out and talk to us, we won't fire." 

Commonwealth troops fighting in Belgium and France started to hear odd sounds drifting from across no-man's land; German soldiers were singing Christmas carols like "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht" ("Silent Night, Holy Night"). Allied troops applauded and cheered, shouting out for more. Soldiers on both sides began to sing in unison, trading verses in alternating languages. 

Writing in his diary at the time, Regimental Sergeant Major George Beck made this note:

Germans shout over to us and ask us to play them at football, and also not to fire and they would do likewise. At 2am (25th) a German Band went along their trenches playing "Home Sweet Home" and "God Save the King" which sounded grand and made everyone think of home.


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Last modified on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 21:40