A Christmas Truce

Way back in the year 1914, on Christmas Eve, when the world was fighting World War One, an interesting thing happened on the western front. It was miserably cold, with temperatures below freezing and snow all over. On that Christmas Eve, all across the German lines, lights begin to appear. At first the British thought the Germans were preparing to attack. But instead of rifle fire, sounds of singing drifted across no man’s land. In fact, the British soldiers could hear the German soldiers singing, “Silent Night.” The British responded by singing a Christmas Carol of their own. This singing of Christmas carols went on, back and forth, for some time. After each song, the opposing troops applauded the other side’s singing. Then the troops began lobbing food, candy and cigarettes into the opposing trenches. After that a few makeshift Christmas trees were erected, and in the darkness, you could see candles burning on the trees.

The next morning, on Christmas day, a few soldiers poked their heads above the trenches but nobody shot a round. One German captain stepped out into no man’s land, the land between the trenches. Nobody fired a shot. Then a British officer did the same. The two men met each other face to face, introduced themselves, and saluted each other. By now, soldiers on both sides were wildly cheering. It was clear that nobody would die that day. An unofficial truce had been called. Throughout the day both sides collected their dead and buried them. At one point in no man’s land, soldiers from both sides gathered to honor their fallen. Together they read the 23rd Psalm, in both German and English: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

The next morning, on December 26th, British soldiers raised a flag that said, “Merry Christmas.” The Germans responded by hanging out a sheet that said, “Thank You.” The German Captain and the British Captain both stood up from the trench, bowed, and saluted each other. They shot their pistols into the air, and the war was on once again.