Christmas Truce 1914

One hundred years ago, something momentous occurred. WW I was raging throughout Europe, and despite Pope Benedict XV’s plea for Christmas Day to be a day of peace, the head honchos on both sides refused to call an official cease fire. On Christmas Eve, however, common soldiers on each side could hear the other side singing Christmas carols, and at dawn, some unarmed Germans stepped into the “No Man’s Land” area between their positions, calling out Christmas greetings. Once they decided it wasn’t a trick to get them out into the open, the Allied troops emerged from the trenches as well, and the two sides exchanged small presents and even had an impromptu game of soccer. The next day was, alas, business as usual, and the incident was not repeated the following Christmas, or any thereafter.

A first-hand account of the Christmas Truce of 1914 can be found at: http://www.christmastruce.co.uk/heath.html. It was written by Private (later Major) Frederick William Heath, who survived the war and died in London in1962.

And, if you are going to be in or near, Stratford-Upon- Avon in Warwickshire between now and January 31st, 2015, a play about the truce is being performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and might be of interest to children aged nine or older.

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