A Century since the Christmas Truce

The First World War was one of the most horrific conflicts of the 20th century. It seems surprising then that this conflict is also remembered for one of the most touching acts of humanity of any war. On the fifth month, during the Christmas season, the Germans and British took part in a temporary truce.

The event occurred as a gesture of good will between the two sides. It is estimated that around 100,000 soldiers took part in it. It began with the German side putting candles on Christmas trees that were visible to the other side. They then started singing Christmas carols. In response, the British side also began to sing.

Eventually, troops ventured out into the open and shook each other’s hands. They are reported to have exchanged gifts with each other and smoked in camaraderie together. The truce culminated in a series of football matches played by the two sides. By Boxing Day, the truce was over and fighting resumed.

It stands as a strange and touching example of ordinary men putting down their guns and sharing a human connection with their enemy. It has become an iconic moment in modern history. There are numerous references to it in modern culture.

Perhaps the most well known example of this is the film Merry Christmas. Much like the truce, it is a collaboration between different European cultures. It tells the story of the Christmas truce from both sides. Since its release in 2005, it has become a popular film to watch during the festive season.

Another example of references to the truce is the track Pipes of Peace by ex Beatle Paul McCartney. The music video vividly depicts what it was like to be a part of that day in 1914. It was released in 1983, nearly 70 years after the real event.


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