Culture and Society

The 1914 Miracle

Historic Truce

The Great War. The first one, in fact. By December 1914, soldiers of the Central Powers could see the war wasn’t going to be as short as promised.

It was raining in Belgium, which turned the ground to a gray mush; bad for the men digging the trenches used to hide from machine gun fire and artillery. The land was laced with barbed wire, and the art of war had outpaced the tactics, making it an extraordinary war.

“No Man’s Land”. That is what they called the area between the two trenches.

On Christmas Eve, the Brits near Ypres were holed up in their trenches, huddling for warmth as the night set in. As usual, with sunset the machine gun fire died out due to the lack of visibility, and the war quieted, revealing an unusual sound. Ufamiliar words being sung to a familiar tune: O tannenbaum. The German soldiers in their trenches only 40 yards away were caroling Christmas. The opposing soldiers joined in, with the words they knew, and the two armies sung together for a good while before any of the Brits dared poke his head over to the trench to look the enemy in the eye. It began as a few waves from across the gulf, some shouts of yule cheer, but soon degenerated into men from both sides climbing out into No Man’s Land, shaking hands, trading goodies, and even playing a game of football.
(Letters confirm that the Germans won the game 3-2 after the ball was kicked into a coil of barbed wire and went flat. The Brits refuse to comment on this)

Despite the best laid plans of both armies, a Christmas Truce was on.

PS. One particular German soldier who though it unconscionable that opposing forces should cease fighting for any reason, spoke out against it every chance that arose; his name was Adolf Hitler.


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