Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas, 1914

(image credit here:  British and German soldiers meeting in No Man's Land during the Christmas Truce of 1914.  Picture courtesy the National Army Museum.)

My great-grandfather died on the Western Front on the last day of WWI, 11 November 1918.  He was a German soldier.  I blogged about it here at Mister Tristan. So I found this tale of the 1914 Christmas truce to be very touching.

Via Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, who sends us over to The Daily Brew and a post from 2002: 

As the Bush Administration continues to prepare for its war of aggression, please don't give up hope that the illegal war by the illegal Bush regime may still be averted. Remember that Christmas is just around the corner, and strange things have been known to happen at Christmas. Below is a letter from the front line written Christmas Day, 1914.

My dear sister Janet,

It is 2:00 in the morning and most of our men are asleep in their dugouts—yet I could not sleep myself before writing to you of the wonderful events of Christmas Eve. In truth, what happened seems almost like a fairy tale, and if I hadn’t been through it myself, I would scarce believe it. Just imagine: While you and the family sang carols before the fire there in London, I did the same with enemy soldiers here on the battlefields of France!


I went to the dugout to rest, and lying on my cot, I must have drifted asleep. All at once my friend John was shaking me awake, saying, “Come and see! See what the Germans are doing!” I grabbed my rifle, stumbled out into the trench, and stuck my head cautiously above the sandbags.

I never hope to see a stranger and more lovely sight. Clusters of tiny lights were shining all along the German line, left and right as far as the eye could see.

“What is it?” I asked in bewilderment, and John answered, “Christmas trees!”


I was just starting back to the trenches when an older German clutched my arm. “My God,” he said, “why cannot we have peace and all go home?”

I told him gently, “That you must ask your emperor.”

He looked at me then, searchingly. “Perhaps, my friend. But also we must ask our hearts.”


Still, one cannot help imagine what would happen if the spirit shown here were caught by the nations of the world. Of course, disputes must always arise. But what if our leaders were to offer well wishes in place of warnings? Songs in place of slurs? Presents in place of reprisals? Would not all war end at once?

All nations say they want peace. Yet on this Christmas morning, I wonder if we want it quite enough.

Your loving brother,


You really should read the whole letter.  It has much more than the pieces I've excerpted.  The link is here.


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