Famously referred to as the Christmas Truce, the fighting pause during the First World War was one of the strangest happenings in any war. In 1914, the British and German soldiers came together to enjoy the moment before they went back to the (violent) status quo. As one of the most storied war happenings, different false accounts exist everywhere. This article will highlight the facts of the occurrence.
When did this fraternization occur?
You must have figured it out from the name that the soldiers were celebrating Christmas. However, it did not happen on Christmas Day, but on the Eve of Christmas in 1914. So what caused it?
The soldiers were not actively shooting at each other that day, but they didn’t plan to ‘have fun’ either. Having fought for several days, the soldiers were cold and worn out on duty. So when a chance to take a break came, they took it!
Did they just march out to meet each other?
On Christmas Eve, in the muddy trenches, the soldiers were all in position when some of them began to celebrate the season in their own way. Later in the night, the British soldiers heard the Germans singing Christmas carols in English.
Interestingly, some British soldiers joined in on the singing. They suddenly heard a noise and discovered it was a German soldier shouting for them to come. A British sergeant replied, “You come halfway. I come halfway”.
On whose side did they meet?
Since the British and German soldiers were large groups consisting of several people, it’s common to think they either met on German or British grounds. Well, it didn’t exactly happen that way.
As the soldiers came out of the trenches, they met in ‘No Man’s Land,’ a land that separated both armies. There, the soldiers exchanged wine and tobacco instead of the bullets they usually traded. It was a fraternization that shocked the soldiers themselves.
What else did they do together?
Of course, Christmas carols weren’t the only things that brought the soldiers together. Some soldiers who took part in the Christmas truce wrote what happened in their journals- and that’s how we know they played a soccer game.
You might want to ask, ‘Where did they find a football?’ Well, the ball just ‘appeared’ there. They quickly set up posts, and the whole game was just a kickabout. The number of soldiers present isn’t confirmed, but they were definitely in their hundreds.
There were consequences
Pope Benedict had earlier called for a Christmas truce between the battling nations, but his imploration fell on deaf ears. So it’s a no-brainer that the army leaders were unpleasantly shocked at the truce.
During the soccer game, a British soldier, Private Percy Higgins, was killed by a sniper while relaxing. It was also recorded that 25-year-old Adolf Hitler scolded his fellow soldiers during the truce. After the truce, the soldiers were reportedly punished.