25.XII. Christmas – Midnight
Well known history of The Christmas Truce of the I World World
The Christmas truce of 1914 is one of the most remarkable incidents of World War I and perhaps of military history. It lasted as long as a week, and took place despite orders that those who fraternized with the enemy would be shot.
It is the Christmas Eve 1914. Not far for Ypres in Belgium in the trenches the soldiers of two armies German and English are preparing their first Christmas celebration out of their countries. English soldiers get from the 17 years old princess Mary nice boxes with candies and cigarettes, German soldiers get also the gifts of chocolates and cigars from their Kaiser Wilhelm.
British Daily Telegraph correspondent wrote that on one part of the line the Germans had managed to slip a chocolate cake into British trenches.
Even more amazingly, it was accompanied with a message asking for a ceasefire later that evening so they could celebrate the Christmas and their Captain's birthday. They proposed a concert at 7.30pm when candles, the British were told, would be placed on the parapets of their trenches.
The British accepted the invitation and offered some tobacco as a return present. That evening, at the stated time, German heads suddenly popped up and started to sing “Stille Naht”, “O Tannenbaum” and other German carols. Each number ended with a round of applause from both sides.
The soldiers started to go out of the trenches and to meet one another in no-man's land. Men exchanged gifts and buttons. In one or two places soldiers who had been barbers in civilian times gave free haircuts. One German, a juggler and a showman, gave a performance of his routine in the centre of no-man's land.
Captain Sir Edward Hulse of the Scots Guards, in his famous account, remembered the approach of four unarmed Germans at 08.30. He went out to meet them with one of his soldiers. 'Their spokesmen,' Hulse wrote, 'started off by saying that he thought it only right to come over and wish us a happy Christmas,
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.
Finally they sing Latin carol „Adeste fideles”. For few hours peace won in the middle of the most atrocious War.
One, older German soldier asked:
“Why we can not simply cease this stupid and hopeless war and go home, to seat with our families and enjoy the nativity of Christ, Who is the King of peace?” Sergeant Tom from the Scots Guards answered: “You have to ask this question to your Keiser Wilhelm”.
And the German soldier reaction was: “No we have to ask first at all our hearts”.
I think that it is a good time for us to ask the same question in our hearts.
Why we can not simply cease this stupid and hopeless unending war in our lives, seat with our families and enjoy the nativity of Christ, Who is the King of peace?”
In our age of uncertainty, it is comforting to believe, regardless of the real reasoning and motives, that soldiers and officers told to hate, loathe and kill, could still lower their guns and extend the hand of goodwill, peace, love and Christmas cheer.
Are we able to do the same?