Added: Arlee Inoue - Date: 29.12.2021 11:11 - Views: 46153 - Clicks: 6610
O n a crisp, clear morning years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. In the hundred years since, the event has been seen as a kind of miracle, a rare moment of peace just a few months into a war that would eventually claim over 15 million lives.
But what actually happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of — and did they really play soccer on the battlefield? Pope Benedict XV, who took office that September, had originally called for a Christmas truce, an idea that was officially rejected.
To this day historians continue to disagree over the specifics: no one knows where it began or how it spread, or if, by some curious festive magic, it broke out simultaneously across the trenches. Nevertheless, some two-thirds of troops — aboutpeople — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce.
Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. The phenomenon took different forms across the Western front. One mentions a British soldier having his hair cut by his pre-war German barber; another talks of a pig-roast. Several mention impromptu kick-abouts with makeshift soccer balls, although, contrary to popular legend, it seems unlikely that there were any organized matches.
The truce was widespread but not universal. Evidence suggests that in many places firing continued — and in at least two a truce was attempted but soldiers attempting to fraternize were shot by opposing forces. And of course, it was only ever a truce, not peace. While there were occasional moments of peace throughout the rest of World War I, they never again came on the scale of the Christmas truce in Yet for many at the time, the story of the Christmas truce was not an example of chivalry in the depths of war, but rather a tale of subversion: when the men on the ground decided they were not fighting the same war as their superiors.
Indeed, one British soldier, Murdoch M. Still, a century later, the truce has been remembered as a testament to the power of hope and humanity in a truly dark hour of history.
To mark the centenary this year, Prince William unveiled a memorial on Dec. And though the Christmas Truce may have been a one-off in the conflict, the fact that it remains so widely commemorated speaks to the fact that at its heart it symbolizes a very human desire for peace, no matter how fleeting. Write to Naina Bajekal at naina. By Naina Bajekal. You May Also Like.
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