December 25th in German History: The Christmas Truce

What Happened When WWI Paused for Christmas - HISTORY

In 1914, the world entered what was at the time the deadliest war in its history. In the months following the outbreak of hostilities, thousands from every great power died on the field of battle, killed in a war they were told would be over by Christmas. It is surprising then, that for a few days in December of 1914, from the 24th to the 26th, soldiers along the Western Front ceased fighting and congregated in no man’s land. Soldiers shouted greetings at each other from opposite sides, established informal truces, and for a short time left the trenches that were their homes. Together, they disobeyed orders from superiors and joined in celebration. Soldiers talked about the war. One, British Captain Robert Miles, said of the Germans: “They are distinctly bored with the war…. In fact, one of them wanted to know what on earth we were doing here fighting them.” Sadly, the truce did not outlast Christmas. Fighting resumed by the end of the month. In the ensuing years the conflict would only grow more brutal, and the frequency of truces decreased as soldiers came to hate the other side more and more. It is heartening that soldiers from different countries who has so recently wanted only to kill each other were able to establish a peace that, briefly, brought some measure of peace to a world on fire.

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