The Christ­mas truce

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - INSIGHT -

WORLD War I dis­rupted half the planet, claimed 16 mil­lion lives, and wounded 20 mil­lion people. Yet in the midst of all that car­nage, there were mo­ments that showed that hope and hu­man­ity were not en­tirely lost.

The most fa­mous of these are the un­of­fi­cial cease­fires that took place dur­ing Christ­mas in 1914; they came to be known as Wei­h­nachts­frieden in Ger­many and Trêve de Noël in France, and fa­mously in­cluded foot­ball matches played at sev­eral lo­ca­tions along the front­lines, in the no man’s land be­tween the in­fa­mous trenches.

On Christ­mas Eve and Christ­mas Day, Ger­man, Bri­tish, and French soldiers uni­lat­er­ally ven­tured out of their trenches and min­gled and ex­changed food and sou­venirs. They also con­ducted joint burial cer­e­monies and held sev­eral carol- On Jan 8, 1915, the front page of Bri­tish news­pa­per fea­tured a group photo of al­lied and Ger­man soldiers un­der the head­line the cap­tion states: ‘Foes be­came friends on Christ­mas day.’ ing ses­sions.

A let­ter writ­ten by a doc­tor at­tached to the Ri­fle Bri­gade was pub­lished in The Times in Lon­don on Jan 1, 1915, de­scrib­ing a foot­ball match that was played be­tween Ger­man and Bri­tish soldiers in front of the trenches.

Ac­cord­ing to smithsonianmag. com, the 133rd (Ger­man) Saxon Reg­i­ment’s war diary recorded an­other such an event: It be­gan with the “droll scene of Tommy und Fritz” chas­ing hares be­tween the lines, and, when a foot­ball was pro­duced, this then “de­vel­oped into a reg­u­la­tion foot­ball match with caps ca­su­ally laid out as goals. The frozen ground was no great mat­ter. Then we or­ga­nized each side into teams, lin­ing up in mot­ley rows, the foot­ball in the cen­ter. The game ended 3-2 for Fritz.”

The matches and cease­fires were far from uni­ver­sal, as fight­ing con­tin­ued along much of the front­lines. In 1915, a few units again ar­ranged a truce dur­ing Christ­mas, but the cease­fires were not nearly as wide­spread as that mag­i­cal time in 1914. — T.Avi­nesh­waran

In­for­ma­tion sourced from smithsonianmag.com, bbc.co.uk, his­tor­i­cal­eye.com, and dai­ly­mail. co.uk.

this is thought to be a Christ­mas truce match in

Frel­inghien, France, be­tween the royal Welch Fusiliers and their op­po­nents, the Sax­ons of the 133 In­fantry reg­i­ment and the Prus­sians of the 6

Jager Bat­tal­ion. — chester­chron­i­cle.co.uk

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