Ninety-nine years ago today, something strange happened on the Western Front: It fell silent. World War I had only just erupted that summer, but the fighting had already proven fierce, claiming nearly a million lives. On December 24, 1914, however, an estimated 100,000 soldiers, mainly British and German troops, laid down their guns, left the trenches, and mingled in the frigid cold of No Man's Land to mark Christmas—an uplifting if surreal moment in an otherwise soul-crushing war.
"All I'd heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machinegun fire and distant German voices," Alfred Anderson, a British veteran and the last survivor of the Christmas Truce, recalled in 2004. "But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted 'Merry Christmas', even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. It was a short peace in a terrible war."
Elsewhere on the Western Front, the celebrations were more exuberant and long-lasting, involving everything from impromptu soccer games to spirited renditions of "Silent Night" to free haircuts by a British machine gunner. On December 30, The New York Times republished a bubbly letter from a British soldier that captured the mood well:
We exchanged souvenirs: I got a German ribbon and photo of the Crown Prince of Bavaria. The Germans opposite us were awfully decent fellows—Saxons, intelligent, respectable-looking men. I had quite a decent talk with three or four and have two names and addresses in my notebook.
It was the strangest scene you could imagine—going out unarmed to meet our enemies, also unarmed. After our talk I really think a lot of our newspaper reports must be horribly exaggerated. Of course, these men were Saxons—not Prussians.
Full Story HERE VIA The Atlantic