Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Holiday Spirit is stronger than the Anger of War

The year is 1914 and World war I has been going on for 4 months, soldiers from Germany and Britain, living in mud filled trenches suffering from the cold weather, the chill of the icy rain pouring down on them, with the rain comes the constant shell bombardment from both sides, snipers picking off their targets death is everywhere hope is nowhere. Suddenly around 10pm after the guns had fallen silent, singing could be heard from the German trenches,

Stille Nacht!
Heil'ge Nacht!
Alles schläft;
einsam wachtNur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
Holder Knab' im lockigen Haar,
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!

It was Christmas eve, with the fighting and dying going on all around them the British had forgotten what day it was and the German soldiers were singing carols, after a while the British joined in singing in English, for the first time in four months there was hope in the air. Not bullits, bombs and death.

Day light came on Christmas morning, the soldiers from both trenches lay down their weapons, got out of the trenches and walked into "no man's land", about half way between the trenches, they shook hands and exchanged cigarettes and chocolate whilst wishing each other a Merry Christmas.

A soccer ball was produced and both sides played soccer this went on for an hour or so, slowly both sides dispersed back to their own respective trenches. The men shaking hands and wishing each other a final "Merry Christmas".

The next day the shelling started again, the killing and death resumed. The war was back on. The miracle of "peace and goodwill to all men" never meant so much as it did on Christmas day in 1914. The war, death and killing would continue for three more years.