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The Christmas Truce

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posted on Dec, 21 2009 @ 08:47 AM
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Hello ATS! Christmastime always brings out the best and worst in people. So far I’ve seen car accidents with people screaming at each other, shoppers yelling at the clerk why isn’t this gift in stock yet, people grabbing for the same clothes, people protesting/supporting whether or not it is appropriate to say Merry Christmas, houses with no Christmas lights egged... sometimes I just get sick to my stomach. In previous years I have seen women pushed by men even and people deliberately ruin things! People tearing down decorations...


Its amazing what people will do to buy buy buy!
It is the time for greed, people asking for expensive things, crying when they don’t get what they want, blowing money on garbage just to seem like a good person… any spirituality from before was replaced with materialism. Our Christmas catalogue came in OCTOBER. Every products ads, suddenly has holly leaves and people in reindeer sweaters to make people think their stuff makes a good gift. Its like everyones in it for the money.

People donate canned food and toys for the poor, just for Christmas. Like they don’t need it any other month! I think it is just to make themselves feel like they did a good deed! I always think of what Matthew Good said,
"Around here our ambition throws a non-perishable item in the donation bin at Christmas, and it pats itself on the #ing back because it thinks its done something decent!”
(From the song 21st Century Living)

And just as I was mad about people my friends and I were on our way to the city for shopping and we slid off the road! There were dozens of accidents that day. We were pretty lucky. We try everything and my friend and I are out pushing. Countless cars go by not caring. And then a truck slows down pulls ahead of us, and two guys got out with a rope and pulled us out!
We gave them money and thanks, but as you can guess they didn’t take money and we all said merry Christmas and shook hands.

Seems like since then I only notice the good things. And I have seen people holding open doors, helping carry things, etc and two people arguing who ended up friends. So I was reminded of something of history from high school. (Whew what a long intro)


Back in 1914, world war I was raging on and both sides were fed propaganda about how terrible and godless the other sides was, ie. The ‘Evil Hun’ and so on. Even people who would not believe would soon as they saw their comrades blown to pieces and shot right before them, and many would receive wounds themselves. How could they forgive the other side?

Along the Western Front there are many different accounts and sources that mention a Christmas truce, on December 24th 1914 when both sides of the trenches ceased fire in the spirit of Christmas. Earlier Pope Benedict XV begged “that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang”.
Supposedly the Germans considered this whereas the Brits denounced, but evidence should say there were people on both sides who supported and hated the idea.


In Ypres, Belgium, this truce started with the Germans decorating the walls of their trenches with miniature Christmas trees (tannenbaum) with candles on them. They began to sing Christmas carols including Stille Nacht (silent night) and generally celebrating. The British responded with English carols, and soon both sides were greeting each other.


It was a curious scene - a lovely moonlit (Christmas) night, the German trenches with small lights on them, and the men on both sides gathered in groups on the parapets. It is weird to think that tomorrow night we shall be at it again. If one gets through this show it will be a Christmas time to live in one's memory

Captain R Armes of the 1st North Staffordshire regiment.

Eventually a visit to No Man’s Land was arranged, and soon many soldiers were rejoicing together! Gifts of whiskey, jam, cigarettes, chocolate, sausages, sauerkraut, wine, ham, and biscuits were exchanged, and the men of both sides got drunk together!


Scots and Huns were fraternizing in the most genuine possible manner. Every sort of souvenir was exchanged addresses given and received, photos of families shown, etc. One of our fellows offered a German a cigarette; the German said, "Virginian?" Our fellow said, "Aye, straight-cut", the German said "No thanks, I only smoke Turkish!"... It gave us all a good laugh.

Captain Sir Edward Hulse of the Scots Guards

Former civilian barbers gave free haircuts, and one German juggler did a make-shift performance in No Man’s Land! Soldiers exchanged addresses, and showed each other photos of their families and homes. The dead of each side were buried and it is said that they paid respects together!

Here is the most infamous letter bought at a Bonhams auction for £14000:

This will be the most memorable Christmas I've ever spent or likely to spend: since about tea time yesterday I don't think there's been a shot fired on either side up to now. Last night turned a very clear frost moonlight night, so soon after dusk we had some decent fires going and had a few carols and songs. The Germans commenced by placing lights all along the edge of their trenches and coming over to us - wishing us a Happy Christmas etc. They also gave us a few songs etc. so we had quite a social party. Several of them can speak English very well so we had a few conversations. Some of our chaps went to over to their lines. I think they've all come back bar one from 'E' Co. They no doubt kept him as a souvenir. In spite of our fires etc. it was terribly cold and a job to sleep between look out duties, which are two hours in every six.

First thing this morning it was very foggy. So we stood to arms a little longer than usual. A few of us that were lucky could go to Holy Communion early this morning. It was celebrated in a ruined farm about 500 yds behind us. I unfortunately couldn't go. There must be something in the spirit of Christmas as to day we are all on top of our trenches running about. Whereas other days we have to keep our heads well down. We had breakfast about 8.0 which went down alright especially some cocoa we made. We also had some of the post this morning.
I had a parcel from B. G's Lace Dept containing a sweater, smokes, under clothes etc. We also had a card from the Queen, which I am sending back to you to look after please. After breakfast we had a game of football at the back of our trenches! We've had a few Germans over to see us this morning. They also sent a party over to bury a sniper we shot in the week. He was about a 100 yds from our trench. A few of our fellows went out and helped to bury him.

About 10.30 we had a short church parade the morning service etc. held in the trench. How we did sing. - O come all ye faithful. And While shepherds watched their flocks by night were the hymns we had. At present we are cooking our Christmas Dinner! so will finish this letter later.

Dinner is over! and well we enjoyed it. Our dinner party started off with fried bacon and dip-bread: followed by hot Xmas Pudding. I had a mascot in my piece. Next item on the menu was muscatels and almonds, oranges, bananas, chocolate etc followed by cocoa and smokes. You can guess we thought of the dinners at home. Just before dinner I had the pleasure of shaking hands with several Germans: a party of them came 1/2way over to us so several of us went out to them. I exchanged one of my balaclavas for a hat. I've also got a button off one of their tunics. We also exchanged smokes etc. and had a decent chat. They say they won't fire tomorrow if we don't so I suppose we shall get a bit of a holiday - perhaps. After exchanging autographs and them wishing us a Happy New Year we departed and came back and had our dinner.

We can hardly believe that we've been firing at them for the last week or two - it all seems so strange. At present its freezing hard and everything is covered with ice. As I can't explain to everyone how I spent my 25th - you might hand this round please.

There are plenty of huge shell holes in front of our trenches, also pieces of shrapnel to be found. I never expected to shake hands with Germans between the firing lines on Christmas Day and I don't suppose you thought of us doing so. So after a fashion we've enjoyed? our Christmas. Hoping you spend a happy time also George Boy as well. How we thought of England during the day.
Kind regards to all the neighbours. With much love from Boy.

The most fascinating part of all this is various mentions of a soccer game between the Germans and the Brits. There is allusion to it in many letters and newspaper archives, but without clarity if the writers were witness or just repeating rumours. I would like to believe that they had a friendly game of football, as the spirit of men is greater than the spirit of war.




posted on Dec, 21 2009 @ 08:58 AM
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A game with the score of 3-2 is commonly referenced, some saying the Germans won, others the Brits, others that no score was kept. At any rate, can you imagine getting together with people who shoot at you, drinking with them and playing soccer? Its mind-boggling, but it happened!

Sadly enough the war was restarted, in some places on the 26th, in some places weeks into 1915!


Altogether we had a great day with our enemies, and parted with much hand-shaking and mutual goodwill.

Percy Jones of the Queen's Westminster Regiment


At 8.30 I fired three shots in the air and put up a flag with "Merry Christmas" on it, and I climbed on the parapet. He [the Germans] put up a sheet with "Thank you" on it, and the German Captain appeared on the parapet. We both bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots in the air, and the War was on again.

Captain J C Dunn, the Medical Officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers

How these men could go about killing each other after this, I can not fathom, but the rich, comfortable, cowardly people pushing them back to war and chastising them for a truce, are in a nice warm place now.

At any rate it is 7am and I am exhausted, so please feel free to read more letters and check out these sites!
www.historicaleye.com...
www.historylearningsite.co.uk...
en.wikipedia.org...
www.christmastruce.co.uk...

Peace to everyone this Christmas. Please try to help others in every way you can, donate what you can, and put arguments aside!

~For all my fallen comrades, past, present and future; for those I will never meet; and for those just like us but happen to be born in to a different situation:
Hvil I Fred



As it is the 21st and winter solstice my family starts to celebrate Jul today, I cant leave on a somber note! So break out the akevitt in celebration (although I started the akevitt December first
)

So have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Kwazy Kwanzaa, Tip Top Tet, and a solemn and dignified Ramadan!

And, for those without a faith:

Google Video Link


Peace.

[edit on 21-12-2009 by Ridhya]

[edit on 21-12-2009 by Ridhya]



posted on Dec, 21 2009 @ 10:05 AM
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Great story. Just shows how religion can overcome hatred even in times of war.

Unfortunately, TBPB at the time were outraged at this show of goodwill between the warring sides. In order to ensure that nothing like that would ever happen again, they ensured that a major offensive would be scheduled for Christmas day for the remainder of the war.


Scrooge and the Grinch pale in comparison to the Ba$&@&ds who would send men to kill and die on a day set aside for goodwill and peace towards all men.



posted on Dec, 21 2009 @ 09:21 PM
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Exactly!!
I cant imagine what would happen if people today would see humanity elsewhere and not follow orders...

Only thing is it requires both sides in agreeance and there would be too much suspicion!




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