The 1914 Christmas truce

If there is a way to celebrate Christmas, we have to go back to the year 1914. It was unusual to remember the historical episode that reveals when approximately one hundred thousand British and German soldiers participated in the ceasefire. And because? Because they felt the need to express love for others, which was what Jesus Christ came to teach us.

It was all regardless of the side where they were fighting, and although they knew that after said truce they would be heavily punished by their superiors, they gambled. In those moments it was more important to live the true expression of Christmas than to kill each other.

The Germans had prepared weeks earlier by placing Christmas trees and candles in their trenches. The two parties shouted Christmas greetings to each other and shortly after they approached each other with white flags in request of a truce.

What happened at Christmas was unusual. Walter Congreve, the commanding general of the 18th. Infantry Brigade, located near Neuve-Chapelle, recalled that on Christmas Eve they celebrated it by singing Christmas carols in German, while the British did the same, singing their own Christmas carols in their language, when one of their men bravely raised his head above the trench and officers and soldiers of both sides exchanged small gifts, such as tobacco, cigars, alcohol, buttons and hats.

Some became such friends that photos of their girlfriends or wives were even shown. The artillery ceased all fire and the soldiers of both sides were allowed to bury their dead together. On that Christmas Eve the truce was extended and they even played soccer on December 25, at Christmas.

Soldiers on both sides shook hands and one of their captains said that he “smoked a cigar with the best marksman in the German army.” Henry Williamson, a 19-year-old soldier in the London Rifle Brigade, wrote to his mother on December 26: “Dear mother, I am writing to you from the trenches. It is 11 am. In my mouth there is a pipe with German tobacco. Haha. Yesterday, the British and the Germans met between the trenches, exchanged memories and shook hands. Yes, all Christmas day, and as I write. Wonderful, isn’t it? “

Captain Sir Eduard Hulse reported: “It was absolutely amazing and if I had seen it in a movie I should have sworn it was false!” Captain Robert Miles, the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, wrote, “Friday. We are having the most extraordinary Christmas day imaginable. There is a kind of disorderly and utterly unauthorized, but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce between us and our friends on the front lines. It started last night, a cold night, with white frost, shortly after dark when the Germans started yelling at us Merry Christmas, English! Of course our comrades yelled back, and by this time large numbers on both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and had gathered in the disputable and riddled no-man’s-land. Here an agreement was reached. Not a single shot was fired all night. “

This tale of history looks like something out of a Hollywood movie, but it is true. May it help us this Christmas to unite with each other, forget old grudges, forgive those who have offended us and love everyone equally.

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