One hundred years ago today, on Christmas 1914, in a handful of trenches in war-torn western Europe, an extraordinary event occurred. A British soldier later described how it all began:
“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up O Come, All Ye Faithful the Germans immediately joined in, singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”
The warring troops crossed no-man’s-land and shared the holiday in peace. They ate, sang, played a little soccer. Of course, they did eventually return to their trenches and recommence killing each other – at the behest of their angry superior officers, who subsequently banned any and all “friendly intercourse with the enemy” – but during that brief interlude when the guns fell silent, sanity reigned. A British veteran, looking back on the Christmas truce many years later, said that “if we had been left to ourselves, there would never have been another shot fired.”
Happy holidays to all National Interest readers, and here’s hoping that 2015 features humanity at its best.