Predicted to be a short war, the “Great War” dragged on from 1914 to 1919 and would ultimately see the staggering tolls of over 8 million dead and 21 million wounded. Several months into the war, in December 1914, the European war was being fought by men who were weary, frustrated, dispirited, and bogged down in the waterlogged trenches and barbed-wire entanglements of Belgium, with little sense of national purpose. Despite the constant machine gun fire and artillery bombardments, and some front-line troops who were a mere 60 yards away from the enemy’s lines, soldiers on both sides received Christmas gift boxes prepared by their governments, containing food, tobacco, small Christmas trees, and candles. On Christmas Eve the “law of unanticipated consequences went to work,” as described by Stanley Weintraub, author of Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce. In an age of uncertainty, it is comforting to believe that troops authorized to kill could lower their guns and extend the hand of goodwill and peace. The story tells about German and British front-line soldiers who sang Christmas carols, exchanged gifts, and played soccer during a truce over Christmas during World War I. The legendary story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 is about the resilience and hope of human nature.
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