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miércoles, 24 de diciembre de 2014

Christmas Truce of 1914

used under the terms of the IWM Non Commercial Licence.

A day like today, but a century ago, soldiers of two opposing sides left their weapons behind for a few hours to celebrate Christmas together in No Man's Land separating their trenches. This brief and unexpected break went down in History as the Christmas Truce of 1914.

Imagine the scene, imagine them by night curled up in their trenches while snow has started to dye white the battlefield and cold makes its appearance, penetrating the bones of every one of them; in this moment surely they are thinking about home and family left behind, hoping all this soon will end soon although it was clear that the war would last longer than they were told.

Suddenly someone begins to sing Christmas songs like Silent Night and on both sides many voices join him making an improvised choir, next day some will leave their shelter's safety to go to meet the opposite peacefully and soon others will follow; the one and the other will end up exchanging gifts, such as tobacco or chocolate, drinking together, being photographed and even playing football, eventually also carrying out religious ceremonies in memory of the fallen in battle and in some cases burying them with dignity.

However, these activities will not be to the liking of some officers, including senior officers (and it was foreseeable), so hereinafter orders will be given for an event of this nature not occur again, in the following years it meant prohibiting fraternization and increased artillery bombardments whenever approaching those dates, also the escalation of the conflict ended making attempts to repeat an informal truce to become increasingly rare.

Soldiers' families learned of this so amazing fact through the press (in the few cases where censorship was not practiced) and through the letters their loved ones sent from the front.

Over the years the memory of the Christmas Truce of 1914 was diluted as the horrors of the twentieth century were unleashed and it was not until the second half of that century and the beginning of the present one that memory of this fact had been recovered with songs like Pipes of Peace by Paul McCartney or All Together Now by The Farm, the French film Joyeux Noël of year 2005 or the advertisement for this year Christmas season by British supermarket chain Sainsbury's.

It's not he first time that I addressed historical and cultural themes in the blog (and surely won't be the last one) as well know all those who have followed it during these early years, that's why today I would emphasize the particular importance surely had this event for those people who experienced it and wish all the readers who follow me and will do so in the future a happy holiday without their origin or beliefs (or mine) to hinder this.

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