The Christmas Truce

GermanSoldiers1917

German soldiers in trench, WWI.

Nearly one hundred years ago today, in the midst of the first months of a brutal world war that would claim the lives of millions across the globe, enemies from powerful armies came together, sang Christmas carols, and purportedly even played ball.

The extension of peace started on Christmas Eve 1914. German and British troops sang to each other across the war-torn No Man’s Land, a bombed-out stretch of barbed wire-tangled space that separated the trenches of the opposing sides. German soldiers placed Christmas trees illuminated by lanterns above the trenches. Men called out to each other and exchanged Christmas greetings.

On Christmas morning, Allied and German soldiers crept out of their respective trenches, met each other in the middle, shook hands, and traded cigarettes and food. The dead were fetched from No Man’s Land and taken away for proper burials. Conversations were exchanged. No shots were fired.

ChristmasTruce_RSC

Poster for The Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2014 play The Christmas Truce.

Not all regions of the war celebrated the truce. War-related deaths continued to occur on December 25, 1914, but several truces occurred across the Western Front in a moving moment that’s now been celebrated in films, books, documentaries, plays, and even a 2014 British grocery store commercial.

The truce didn’t end the Great War. The goodwill spread among the opposing armed forces on that remarkable day would not be repeated during the following three Christmases spent at war. Yet the beauty of the camaraderie between these enemies—the sheer joy experienced by people moved by the holiday spirit—proves that no matter how horrific our history may be at times, joy and hope will never cease to exist.

Happy holidays.

More info about the Christmas Truce:

ChristmasTruce.co.uk (includes letters from soldiers who participated)

History.com – Christmas Truce of 1914

Imperial War Museums – The Real Story of the Christmas Truce

ShootingattheStars

Shooting at the Stars, by John Hendrix (a new picture book about the truce)

Trailer for The Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2014 performance of The Christmas Truce.

The 2014 Sainsbury grocery store advertisement celebrating the truce.

The trailer for Joyeux Noel, a 2005 movie made about the truce.

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About Cat Winters

Cat Winters’s critically acclaimed debut novel, IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, was named a 2014 Morris Award Finalist, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, a 2013 Bram Stoker Award Nominee, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013. Her second novel, THE CURE FOR DREAMING, is a 2015 Amelia Bloomer Project Nominee and a 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee. Her upcoming books include THE UNINVITED (William Morrow/2015) and THE STEEP AND THORNY WAY (Amulet Books/2016), and she’s a contributor to the 2015 YA horror anthology SLASHER GIRLS & MONSTER BOYS. Cat lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two kids. Visit her online at http://www.catwinters.com.

2 thoughts on “The Christmas Truce

  1. Love this post. Thank you. And not to be forgotten from your list is a lovely new picture book (for all ages) about the truce from author/illustrator John Hendrix, called Shooting at the Stars. http://johnhendrix.com/portfolio/books/

  2. Cat Winters says:

    Thank you for letting me know about John Hendrix’s book, Kate! I’ll add it to the post.

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