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The Christmas Truce of 1914


By December 1914, there were no illusions about the horrors of the First World War.

Just months after Europe had been set ablaze by conflict, the constant roar of artillery and the thunderous fire from weapons large and small were becoming a routine part of life for the soldiers huddled in their trenches along the Western Front.

Although Europe’s clashing superpowers refused to create any official cease-fire to allow for the celebration of Christmas, when the holiday approached, some opposing soldiers on the frontlines found the spirit of Christmas well alive in their hearts.

Late on Christmas Eve 1914, soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force were greeted by the sounds of carols coming from the German troops across no man’s land and saw lanterns and small fir trees along the German trenches. Soon, messages began to be shouted between the trenches and as one British private recalled about that night, “Not a shot was fired.”

On Christmas Day, British and German troops left their trenches and met each other in no man’s land. They used the time of peace to exchange presents, take photographs, and even play impromptu games of football. Some used the occasion for the somber task of retrieving the bodies of fallen comrades. Others dutifully made repairs to their trenches.

While many put down their guns out of the spirit of the holiday, not everyone along the frontlines stopped fighting on Christmas day. For those soldiers who did, the Christmas Truce of 1914 was a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is still a goodness that binds all of us together.


Smithsonian Magazine: The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce.

Video Photo Credits

15. Joe Archino

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