Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

I Am Not Making This Up: Peace On Earth, Even In War

Written By: Tracy - Dec• 25•17

Peace is an interesting concept. Writers and poets and philosophers wax rhapsodic about the fragility of peace. Like it’s a soap bubble that could be popped any second.

Yet when you strip away the poetry and the fluff, peace is a thousand – or a million individual decisions not to participate in War.

In wartime, officers punish common soldiers for insubordination for choosing peace – against their orders.

Yet during postwar, the winning side will punish soldiers of the losing side for particularly egregious acts. Just following orders is not a defense. Choosing War over peace is punishable when it a soldier is choosing to disregard their basic humanity.

During the 1914 Christmas of World War I, spontaneous peace broke out. And to the officers in charge, spontaneous peace was received just as badly as spontaneous warfare would be.

World War I was a massive paradigm shift. Conflicts prior to this were basically games of RISK between kings and chancellors: trading “acceptable losses” of men in exchange for a few more miles of territory to add to the map

But technology changed the nature of warefare. Soldiers went into the WWI meat grinder wearing cloth hats and riding horses. The ones who survived emerged out the other side wearing metal helmets and riding tanks. After this, war would be so expensive that England, France and their allies would let Hitler take part of Czechoslovakia before they would consider going to war.

But all that was in the future. Soldiers entering this first war thought they’d be home by Christmas. And as the war devolved into trench warfare, they felt more kinship for the soldiers in the other trench than for the leaders telling them to go cross no man’s land and kill those other guys.

Just one generation back, The German Prince Albert brought many Christmas Traditions into England when he married Queen Victoria. King Edward even resembled his cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm.

After weeks of rain that turned the whole battlefield into a quagmire, there came a hard freeze on Christmas Eve that turned everything an ethereal frosty white.

So when the Germans started singing Silent Night, The British soldiers naturally answered with the first Noel.

There was never an official truce. In some places, there was no cease fire at all. Russians celebrated Christmas on a different day, and the French were more sensitive to the fact that the Germans were invading their homeland.

But in some places, pockets of men simply laid down their arms and crawled out into no man’s land to meet their German counterparts. They exchanged items from their Christmas care packages from home, sang carols, drank and some that had them kicked around soccer balls. By some estimates, two thirds of the front line in Belgium lay down their arms.

In some places, the unofficial truce ended at midnight. In some, it lasted into the new year, when officers of both sides stepped in to order troops back to war. After all, it wouldn’t do to fraternize with the enemy. That might lead to peace.

There would be no repeat of the Christmas truce the next year. Peace would have to wait until the armistice of November 1918. By then, many of the soldiers who experienced the Christmas truce would be dead. But the story would live on.

After all, it’s nice to think that spontaneous peace can break out as easily as spontaneous war.

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