In 1914, around Christmas, British, German and French soldiers were fighting their first winter of World War I, when something unexpected happened along the Western Front:
At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a game of soccer.
Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task: the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the no-man’s land between the lines.
It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.
During World War I, the soldiers on the Western Front did not expect to celebrate on the battlefield, but even a world war could not destroy the Christmas spirit.
That brief moment of piece in a bloody conflict has come to be known as the Christmas Truce.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the staff of POBEL!!