January 17, 2010
The Lord be with you
I have just finished the book Silent Night, the story of the World War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub. It recounts how, for Christmas 1914, the common soldiers in the trenches of WWI stopped fighting and celebrated the Lord’s birth. They sang Christmas Carols and other songs, they shared food, they buried their dead, and in many places even played soccer together. Sadly those who were in no danger of losing their lives, the politicians and Generals far from the front, were incensed by the peace and ensured that it would end. The blood of soldiers was a small price to pay to satisfy their greed. This soldier lead Christmas peace was an opportunity to end the war years before it actually ended, which would have saved the flower of the youth of all countries involved. The men who were fighting and dying realized that “at each end of the rifle, men were the same.”
The book is well written and well documented. It is not told in a story format, but more as an investigation of events as they happened along the entire front. Therefore this is not a warm and fuzzy book, nor is it overly grizzly. It is a “just the facts, maam” book, filled with excerpts from diaries and other firsthand accounts. Oh, and so you know, it was the Germans that instigated the peace. In the book, at least, the Allied Command and politicians were the most against it and worked hardest to end it, though the German Command did the same as well.
I can recommend this book as a fascinating window into a few days in 1914.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert
P.S. The photograph is an actual picture of German and English troops taken Christmas Day, 1914.