Skip to comments.The Christmas Truce Miracle of World War I
Posted on 12/25/2017 2:08:58 PM PST by nickcarraway
On a frosty, starlit night, a miracle took place. In 1914, a melody drifted over the darkness of No Mans Land. First O, Holy Night, then God Save the King.
Peeking over their trenches for what must have been the first time in weeks, British soldiers were surprised to see Christmas trees lit with candles on the parapets of the enemys trenches.
Then a shout: You no shoot, we no shoot!
The Christmas Truce was a brief, spontaneous cease-fire that spread up and down the western front of World War I. Its also a symbol of the peace on Earth and goodwill toward humans so often lacking not just on the battlefront but in our everyday lives.
In that spirit, the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City has published an online gallery of hundreds of accounts of such Christmas truces letters home from soldiers that were published in British papers.
Here, a sampling of these letters shows the variety and wonder of the Christmas Truce:
This has been the most wonderful Christmas I have ever struck. We were in the trenches on Christmas Eve, and about 8.30 the firing was almost at a stand still. Then the Germans started shouting across to us, a happy Christmas and commenced putting up lots of Christmas trees with hundreds of candles on the parapets of their trenches. Cpl. Leon Harris, 13th (Kensington) Battalion London Regiment
At 2 am on Christmas morning a German band played a couple of German tunes and then Home, Sweet Home very touchingly which made some fellows think a bit. After they played God Save The King and we all cheered. Pvt. H. Dixon, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
We would sing a song or a carol first and then they would sing one
(Excerpt) Read more at santafenewmexican.com ...
It was a love of Christ that brought these men of differing nations together.
It was the tyrannical orders of governments which saw them go back to killing each other the next day.
The moment we stop letting Christian values shape us is the day we become barbarians
Europe - and the world - would have been much better off if that Christmas Truce had turned into a permanent cease-fire, and then into a negotiated end to the war.
But the imperialists (on both sides) would not have been happy with that. There is no glory in a negotiated peace.
In WWI, the enemies of humanity and the common man were the Czar, the Kaiser, King George V, Woodrow Wilson, Clemenceau, etc.
They created utter misery for no sane reason.
> They created utter misery for no sane reason. <
Very true. One of the saddest stories I ever read was about an ongoing battle between French and German soldiers in eastern France during WW I. The battle was fought underground, in a tunnel complex. The men hacked at each other with knives, shovels, and bayonets.
And for what? For nothing. Neither country had any real grudge against the other. One can only hope that there is a special place in hell for the leaders of those nations.
Way too much money to be lost by ending the war that early.
Yep. And one of the most unfair things about Germany is when people decide the WWI Germany had the slightest semblance to the WWII Germany.
And frankly, I don’t understand why Britain and France were so close to each other? It’s not like the French were any better than the Germans.
And frankly, I dont understand why Britain and France were so close to each other?
The British entered WWI because the Germans invaded Belgium, not because of France.
They invaded Belgium to get to France.
Sorry, a true miracle would have ended the battle.
“...But the imperialists (on both sides) would not have been happy ...” [Leaning Right, post 3]
“...the Czar, the Kaiser, King George V, Woodrow Wilson, Clemenceau, ... created utter misery for no sane reason.” [DesertRhino, post 4]
“...an ongoing battle between French and German soldiers in eastern France during WW I. ... a tunnel complex. ... hacked at each other with knives, shovels, and bayonets. ... Neither country had any real grudge against the other. ...” [Leaning Right, post 5]
“... too much money to be lost by ending the war that early.” [priscilla, post 6]
“...why Britain and France were so close to each other?...” [dfwgator, post 8]
Mistaken notions, parading as received wisdom? And entirely in error on every topic save one: it is true that over the course of the 19th century the British turned to the French (their traditional foe for centuries) as the most natural ally against a rapidly rising Imperial Germany, which had been destabilizing every alliance, rivalry, and power arrangement from 1890 onward.
The German government egged on the Austrians week after week in July 1914, with hint after hint they’d back any attack on Serbia. And the Germans went to lengths to deceive the other Euro powers about what was going on.
Germans may not have had a personal grudge against the French, but their war plans (concocted by Schlieffen) designated France as a threat, which had to be taken out first, freeing the German military to concentrate on the most feared threat, Czarist Russia.
German plans never considered British intervention. When asked, German leaders dismissed any conceivable BEF out of hand: British ground forces were too small to matter, the German juggernaut marching into France would obliterate the Brits when it got to them.
Britain did intervene because Germany abrogated the treaty it agreed to: the one guaranteeing the sovereignty and security of Belgium. France, Britain, and Germany were signatories.
Just as their attack on France appeared to be succeeding, the Germans lost their nerve and withdrew to the best defensive positions the terrain afforded. In control of almost all of Belgium and major sections of France, they systematically looted civilian property and undertook reprisals against defenseless noncombatants.
If forum members still think the French had “no reason” to object to German occupation, they must rethink their understanding.
President Wilson is poormouthed for taking the country to war after campaigning on slogans like “He kept us out of war.” Try as he might, he wasn’t able. The strategic situation altered as the war lengthened. Nothing he told Congress in his speech requesting a declaration of war was untrue, and the legislature voted in favor.
Americans were unrealistic in believing they could have stayed out of it: the United States was (and is) a trading nation, and it was not possible to refrain from trading with the Allies. And there was not choice except to cease trade with the Central Powers - the Royal Navy blockaded the Continent.
And none of the financial institutions wanted to go to war in 1914: they were frightened quite thoroughly by the prospect. They were right to be afraid.
> Mistaken notions, parading as received wisdom? <
Schurmann, I actually had trouble following your post. But then again I’m just a dumb Hunky from a declining rust-belt steel mill town.
Anyway, my main point was that Germany and France had no real grudge against each other in 1914. Sure, they had their differences; great powers always have their differences. But there was no difference so great as to warrant an all-out, life-or-death struggle.
That such a struggle actually occurred is indefensible. The leaders of France, Germany, the UK, Austria-Hungary, and Russia risked everything for essentially nothing.
Of course I might be just parading more mistaken notions. But I’ve got to stop now as I have Christmas perogies on the skillet.
Above all, there was no need for Britain to get into the fray.
If Britain didn’t get into the fray, then the US wouldn’t have neither.
> there was no need for Britain to get into the fray <
It’s Monday morning quarterbacking, but I don’t care. You’re right. If Britain would have stayed out of WW I, she would have preserved her 1890’s children.
And Germany and France would have fought each other to exhaustion. There would have been - eventually - some sort of negotiated peace. Germany perhaps would have gained some border territory in France, and in Belgium. Kaiser Bill would have remained on his throne. No Treaty of Versailles, and no Hitler.
Including the one in the White House, who wanted to remake the world in his own image.
They had allies who were at war with each other, so they had to go to war in support of their allies.
Britain needed a “Brexit” in 1914.
Trade or not, we had no business being in that war. It wasn’t our fight. But Woodrow (KKK) Wilson actively wanted America in for the greater glory of Woodrow Wilson and his effort to remake the world in his own image.
> They had allies who were at war with each other, so they had to go to war in support of their allies. <
That’s true (WW I). And there is perhaps a lesson in that. Must a nation support its allies regardless of the risk?
Consider the small Baltic nation of Latvia. Latvia borders on Russia. And Latvia is far - very far - from the United States. And Latvia is of no strategic interest to the United States.
Yet Latvia is a member of NATO. So the US is allied with Latvia. If Russia should ever invade Latvia, must the US respond? Should the US risk it all - nuclear war - to defend Latvia?
I actually don’t know about that. But it’s the same question the UK and France faced in 1914. Is it worth it for the UK and France risk everything because of Serbia? (Recall that WW I started because a Serbian nationalist shot an Austrian duke.)
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.