Historic Spotlight: The Christmas Truce of 1914

This picture is from the Illustrated London News, a paper started in 1842 and discontinued in 2003. 
It was found via the Washington Post.

This picture is from the Illustrated London News, a paper started in 1842 and discontinued in 2003. It was found via the Washington Post.

Nicholas Silva, Layout Editor

On Christmas Eve, 1914, World War I had been raging for five months, and across a section of devastated land on the Western Front, German and British forces were engaged in deadly combat. However, that day, the fighting stopped. On both sides, carols began to be sung, and calls of “Merry Christmas” rang from the Germans.

At first, the British thought it was a trick, but as the Germans began climbing out of their trenches, unarmed, they joined them. They greeted each other, exchanged cigarettes and other items as presents, and it is even said that they engaged in a good-willed game of soccer. They also used the time to gather their dead.

Leon Harris, a British colonel, remarked in a letter that it was the best Christmas he had ever spent, saying “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.”

The countries engaged in the war refused to officially call a cease-fire, however, the troops, officers and soldiers alike, still engaged in the festivities. It was the last example of such a ceasefire. In a future conflict, others were attempted, but all were swiftly quelled.

Then, at midnight on Christmas Day, the soldiers returned to their trenches, and the fighting soon resumed. For a moment they were brothers, then again were enemies, and so continued the tragic war, soon to escalate even further.