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Christmas Truce-De kleine vrede in de Grote Oorlog
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Yvonne
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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Dec 2006 8:42    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Wat een enorme hoeveelheid! Geweldig!
Dat heb ik even uitgeprint en ga het op m'n gemak lezen.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jan 2007 14:28    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Een mooie site van de Hogeschool voor Kunsten uit Utrecht, over de 'voetbalincidenten' in de eerste wereldoorlog:

- de wapenstilstand aan Ploegsteert bos in 1914
- Captain Nevill aan de Somme

http://www.kunstgeografie.nl/wo.start1.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jan 2007 18:50    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Dat is inderdaad een prachtige site, mooie vondst Bert!
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BerichtGeplaatst: 15 Mrt 2007 17:49    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

WW1 account of historic football match between British and German soldiers goes public

London, Mar 11: Much has been written about the Christmas Eve armistice of 1914 when feuding British and German soldiers celebrated Xmas together and engaged in a friendly soccer match in the icy mud of No Man’s Land in France.

Now, military historians have dug out the diary of one Regimental Sergeant Major George Beck, who chronicled the remarkable events in his notebook.

His account titled ‘Not a shot fired’ vividly details the events when soldiers of the Kaiser’s army came forward to hand out drinks and cigars to British Tommies and invited them over to a friendly game of soccer.

"Christmas Eve, 1914, and not a shot fired. The Germans ask to play football and hand out drink and cigars. They are eager to swop almost anything for our bully beef," the 34 year old veteran of the Boer War, who spent Christmas in a trench near the Belgian village of St Yves, near Ypres, writes in his diary.

The much-decorated NCO (Beck won the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal and was twice mentioned in dispatches) also writes about how the British and Germans sing together, exchange gifts and play football in no-man's-land.

“Point 63. Quiet day. Relieved 2 RDF (Royal Dublin Fusiliers) in the trenches in the evening. Germans shout over to us and ask us to play them at football, and also not to fire and they would do likewise,” the entry in his diary for December 24 reads.

He also describes how a German band sing Home Sweet Home and God Save the King, much to the amusement of the British troops who start feeling nostalgic about their home back in England.

“At 2am (25th) a German Band went along their trenches playing Home Sweet Home and God Save the King, which sounded grand and made everyone think of home. The music sounded grand and made everyone think of home,” a local daily quoted his diary as saying.

“During the night, several of our fellows went over "No Man's Land" to German lines and was given drink and cigars.

“25 December - 'Trenches St Yves. Christmas Day. Not one shot was fired. English and German soldiers intermingled and exchanged souvenirs. Germans very eager to exchange almost anything for our "Bully Beef" and jam. Majority of them know French fluently. A few men of the regiment assisted in burying the dead of the Somerset Light Infantry who were killed on 19.12.14. Fine frosty day. Very cold,” the dairy says.

“26 December - Trenches St Yves. Unofficial truce kept up and our own fellows intermingled still with the Germans. No rifle shots fired, but our artillery fired a few rounds on the German 3rd and 4th lines and Germans retaliated with a few rounds on D Coys (Company's) trenches. 2 wounded. ‘27 December - 'Trenches St Yves. No sniping. A few "whiz bangs" on D Coys trenches. 1 wounded.' On December-30, RSM Beck receives a rare treat - a bath and a change of clothes as he and his men move on to La Creche’,” the diary further says.

According to his account, the truce was observed for several days afterwards, with soldiers on both sides showing reluctance to open fire on the men whom they had met face to face only a few days back.

According to the paper, the army also used the ceasefire as an opportunity to retrieve the bodies of some of their fallen soldiers from no man's land.

According to records, Beck, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, survived the war and passed on his diary - beautifully handwritten in pencil in a ruled notebook - to his family.

Now, it has finally been made public after his granddaughter decided to loan it to her local history centre.

Bureau Report

http://www.zeenews.com/articles.asp?aid=359294&sid=FTP
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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Mrt 2007 13:31    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Erg mooi stuk Yvonne, blijft uitermate boeiend
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BerichtGeplaatst: 28 Mrt 2007 1:46    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Don't trust them a yard! - British officer's verdict on Germans in Christmas Day truce of 1914

It was an extraordinary moment of humanity at the start of World War One.

On Christmas Day 1914 the guns fell silent and British and German troops emerged from their trenches to shake hands and exchange cigarettes.

But while his unarmed men crossed cautiously over into No Man's Land as part of the historic truce 93 years ago, one young captain was having none of it.

On Christmas Day 1914 the guns fell silent and British and German troops emerged from their trenches to shake hands and exchange cigarettes

Reginald Hobbs remained in his waterlogged trench on the Western Front fearing it was nothing more than a cynical ploy by the Germans to entice his company to certain death.

In a five-page mud-spattered letter to his wife, Cissie, Captain Hobbs wrote: "Well old girl, here we are Xmas Day in the trenches, of course it's rather difficult to realise that it is Christmas except that we had an order over the phone this morning that no firing was to take place at all unless absolutely necessary.

Reginald Hobbs, pictured in 1939, remained in his waterlogged trench on the Western front fearing the 'truce' was nothing more than a cynical plot by the Germans

"Now there is hardly a shot fired by them and it sounds almost peaceful.

"My fellows have been singing carols and so have the Germans. However, I've just warned my sentries to be extra on the look out because I don't trust 'em a yard.

"We are being relieved this evening and are going to keep Christmas properly in billets. It's been freezing for the last couple of days but the bottom of the trenches in parts is still under water. I must look a sight as I haven't shaved or washed since Sunday."

He returns to the letter - addressed to 'My own darling girl' - three days later.

Clearly stunned by what he had seen during the truce, he writes: "I meant to have finished this and posted it Xmas Day but I was stopped by being informed that about 100 Germans had got out of their trenches in front of my company.

"I suppose they knew we wouldn't fire at them and were burying their dead.

"There are heaps about, half way between of course. I thought they must be up to some game, digging new trenches or something, so I sent a few of my fellows out to see - they walked up to the groups, shook hands and chatted in a most friendly way for quite an hour.

"Of course none of the men who were out had any arms or should have fired at them. Quite a lot of their men could talk English well and said they were all pretty fed up and hoped the war would soon be over.

"They exchanged cigarettes and souvenirs etc and then they all went back and so did my chaps. It was a most peculiar sight I can assure you and I don't expect you will believe me but it is an honest fact Cissie."

The previously unpublished letter - headed 'Xmasday 1914' - is being sold today at auction by Captain Hobbs's daughter, Sandy Walford, 89, to save it from being discarded after her death.

Mrs Walford, of Richmond, South-West London, said: "My father survived the Somme and the rest of the war with just a piece of shrapnel in his side and an injured finger.

"He never talked about the war. The only thing he ever said to me about it - and it still moves me now - is, 'There was a tremendous love for one another in the trenches'."

She added: "I can't live for ever and people might throw this letter away when I'm gone. Hopefully the letter will go to someone who will enjoy reading it. I know my father would have approved."

Captain Hobbs, of the 2nd Monmouthshire Regiment who was born in the grounds of Monmouth Castle, the birthplace of Henry V, apologises in the letter for the amount of 'trench mud' on each page.

He even finds time for a little humour by referring to his trench as 'Little Grey House, Watery Lane', before describing conditions.

He tells his wife: "I've had a fireplace dry in the trench wall opposite my hut and I have a blazing log fire going...so I've been sitting down and gazing into the flames thinking of you."

Captain Hobbs, who was 24 at the time he wrote the letter, signs off: "All my love, your boy Reg."

The letter has been put up for sale with an estimate of £400 to £800 by Bonhams auction house in London.

But after other Western Front diaries sold for large sums recently, experts believe it could fetch much more. Last year, a letter written by a British soldier during the Christmas Truce went for £14,400.

Mrs Walford said that after the war her father had a successful career as an architect and agent for the Duke of Beaufort, and died at the age of 80 - still with the piece of shrapnel in his side. His wife died the following year. They had been married for 54 years.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23390415-details/Don't+trust+them+a+yard!+-+British+officer's+verdict+on+Germans+in+Christmas+Day+truce+of+1914/article.do
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BerichtGeplaatst: 20 Apr 2007 9:41    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9coPzDx6tA&mode=related&search=

Christmas In The Trenches
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BerichtGeplaatst: 16 Mei 2007 15:37    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Hoi,

onder de indruk van deze christmas truce heb ik dit nog gevonden:

http://citizensedproject.org/trenches.mp3

't is van deze webpagina zamen met de tekst:

http://www.drturi.com/news/1135538913.html

Groetjes
Heiko
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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Mei 2007 8:46    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Dank je voor de aanvulling!
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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Jul 2007 21:48    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Wapenstilstand en voetbal, Kerstmis 1914

Er waren verschillende partijtjes voetbal tijdens de vele informele kerstbestanden van 1914, waarover diverse verhalen de ronde deden.

"Eén plek waarvan we zekerheid hebben dat er ook
een regulier spelletje met scheidsrechter plaatshad, gewonnen door de Duitsers met 3-2, was het niemandsland bij St-Yvon, net ten noordoosten van het Bos van Ploegsteert (12 km ten zuiden van Ieper).
De wedstrijd had plaats tussen mannen van een bataljon Highlanders in de vierde Britse divisie en leden van het 134e Saksische Infanterie Regiment".
( P.Chielens, Flanders Fields Museum, Ieperen.)
Deze locatie is door ons in april 2005 getraceerd en geregistreerd. (zie bij: foto's 2005).

Een tweede wedstrijd heeft plaats gevonden ten oosten van Ploegsteert in het niemandsland in de sector Frelinghien-Houplines. (Zie bij: ooggetuigen)

Lees verder, foto's, kaarten, locaties en ooggetuigen:
http://www.kunstgeografie.nl/wo.start.a.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Jul 2007 8:53    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Quote:
Deze locatie is door ons in april 2005 getraceerd en geregistreerd.


om eerlijk te zijn vind ik deze zin nogal kluchtig...
Hijzelf heeft misschien die plaats in 2005 voor de eerste keer gezien,
maar in 1999 is door Britten al deze plaats aangetoond waar de match geweest is...
Getuige daarvan het 'Chums Cross die er staat ter herdenking...

mvg

Ramses
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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Jul 2007 12:44    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Eum, het staat niet helemaal correct volgens mijn bevindingen aan de hand van de Saksische bronnen...
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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Jul 2007 13:24    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Hoi AOK,

Scheelt het veel dan? Wel benieuwd.... Cool
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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Jul 2007 20:21    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Waren er reeds landmeters in de loopgraven ?

Die moeten nogal werk gehad hebben met die putten die iedere dag anders waren ! Laughing
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BerichtGeplaatst: 08 Nov 2007 14:23    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Kerstbestand 1914: Stille Nacht in niemandsland

(n.a.v. gehouden verhaal voor de kerstavond van de JV op 17 december 2005)

In de loopgraven
Nu volgt een waar gebeurd verhaal. Het is 24 december 1914, kerstavond, en we zitten midden in de Eerste Wereldoorlog, ergens in het noorden van Frankrijk. Tegen Kerst 1914 waren de soldaten in Frankrijk uitgeput en geschokt door de zware verliezen. Op kerstavond daalde de temperatuur tot beneden het vriespunt, en op sommige plaatsen sneeuwde het. De soldaten werden droevig en dachten aan thuis waar hun familie waarschijnlijk in een warme woonkamer gezellig aan het haardvuur zat. Een bikkelhard loopgravengevecht om elke millimeter. Zelfs het niemandsland (het gebied tussen de stellingen) blijkt niet heilig: militairen kunnen er hun stervende maten niet weghalen omdat overal sluipschutters op de loer liggen. De waanzin van de oorlog ten top. De omstandigheden zijn slopend. De soldaten zitten al tijden te kleumen, zijn ondervoed en knakken mentaal bijna onder de constante dreiging. De naderende kerst, ver weg van familie maar omringd door explosies en granaat-inslagen, zorgt voor verdere demotivatie.

Verschrikkelijke omstandigheden
Het leven aan het Westfront in de winter van 1914 was bepaald geen pretje. De beide strijdende kampen (Engeland en Frankrijk aan de ene zijde en Duitsland aan de andere) hadden zich ingegraven, nadat de oorlog in een patstelling was beland. Het waren zeer erbarmelijke omstandigheden daar in die loopgraven. Door grond- en regenwater hadden de soldaten voortdurend natte voeten. Daardoor konden hun voeten pijnlijk gaan zwellen en hun tenen zelfs afsterven. Ook hadden ze veel last van ongedierte, zoals vlooien, luizen, muggen en ratten. De ratten, soms zo groot als een volwassen kat, knaagden aan de voorraden en aan de gewonde of dode soldaten. De kwaliteit van het voedsel liet veelal te wensen over. De dood lag voortdurend op de loer: de soldaten liepen steeds het risico dat ze werden gedood door een onverwachte granaatinslag of door de kogel van een sluipschutter. Soms werden ze dagenlang dag en nacht bestookt door de vijandelijke artillerie, zodat ze geen moment rust hadden. Of ze moesten dagenlang wachten tot hun eigen artillerie was uitgeraasd ter voorbereiding van een aanval op de vijandelijke loopgraven. Wanneer het aanvalsmoment dan eindelijk was aangebroken, zwegen de zware kanonnen en bliezen de officiers op hun fluitje. Voor de soldaten was dit het teken om uit hun loopgraven te komen, over de borstwering te klimmen en het niemandsland in te lopen op weg naar de loopgraven van de vijand.



Voor het hele artikel en foto's:
http://kerkgeschiedenis.web-log.nl/kerkgeschiedenis/2007/07/kerstbestand_19.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 14 Dec 2007 9:10    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Dateline 1914: Letter that tells the grim truth about Christmas in the trenches
By LUKE SALKELD
To many First World War soldiers, the Christmas Truce of 1914 was a morale-boosting break from the horrors of trench warfare.

But the famous day when the British exchanged gifts and played a game of football with their German enemy was not remembered fondly by everyone on the Western Front.

A letter written at the time by a young soldier to his father tells of experiences which were a far cry from the impromptu sporting events and carol singing experienced by other troops.

Trevor Bird, a 24-year-old second lieutenant, wrote a Christmas message home which paints a vivid picture of the terrible hardships endured by the young men with whom he fought.

The poignant letter, never before revealed publicly, tells with typical understatement of the "fairly hairy time" he was having that December.

He describes being repeatedly shot at while lying waist deep in freezing water for 26 hours.

He also recalls crawling through mud on his hands and knees while under fire during a patrol - only to be arrested as a spy by his own side on his return.

Despite the trying conditions, he consoles himself with the words: "Well we get well paid so mustn't complain I suppose."

But he also criticises his superiors for their tactics, describing a planned bayonet charge - called off at the last moment - as suicidal and "a criminal order".

Such comments would normally have been cut out by the wartime censors.

For some reason they survived, however, and the letter arrived at his home in Guernsey, where it was kept in a trunk full of family documents along with a special tin of 16 cigarettes and a Christmas card from King George V sent to all officers.

Unlike huge numbers of his colleagues, Trevor Bird lived through the war. He went on to become a colonel and reached the age of 102, but never spoke about his experiences of trench warfare. Now his grandson, Stephen Birley, 49, from Bradninch, near Exeter, has set out to discover more about how and where he wrote the letter.

Trevor Bird grew up in India and served with the 8th Light Cavalry of the Indian Army, which was shipped to Europe in 1914.

Mr Birley said: "It is an extraordinary document because of what it tells us about life in the trenches.

"I grew up with my grandfather and he never mentioned he had fought in the First World War, even when I was doing school homework about it.

"I was in the Army myself and also suffered trench foot and I am surprised he did not say anything about having had it as well.

"His generation clearly did not believe in talking about what they experienced in the trenches.

"I presume it must have been too painful for them. Everyone knows the stories about a Christmas truce and the British and Germans playing football in no man's land but this paints a very different picture.

"It is very dramatic and the most extraordinary thing is that after describing what he had been through he wrote that he shouldn't grumble because he was being well paid. I have been trying to find out where it was written.

"It is obviously on the Western Front but I have not been able to track down where his regiment were serving in Christmas 1914."


Voor de foto's en het hele artikel:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=501824&in_page_id=1770
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BerichtGeplaatst: 24 Dec 2007 8:47    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Christmas truce of 1914



By KEELY BROWN
Special to the Daily
December 22, 2007




The year was 1914. The place? A vast wasteland of war known as “No Man’s Land.”

It was a particularly brutal winter along the Western Front, that stretch of contested frontier land that separated the Allies from the German army. The First World War was only a few months old, but the inhumane brutalities of a world war had already revealed themselves to shell-shocked troops on both sides. Life verged between massacre and misery, as men huddled, soaked to the skin, in trenches waist-high with mud, waiting for the next volley, the next round of fighting.

Friends were made in those trenches — and, unexpectedly, acquaintances from the other side. Often an evening of singing would be followed by applause and cries for an encore — from the opposing camp. Songs, jokes and general pleasantries were shared across the trenches as British, French and German troops reached out in the dark to their fellow man — even if he happened to be the enemy.

This desperate camaraderie was frowned upon by army headquarters, and orders were issued from commanding officers on both sides — no more fraternizing with the opposing forces.

That December, the German high command decided it was time to perk up morale among their troops in the trenches. On military orders, a Christmas tree was sent out to every German unit stationed along the Western Front, along with candles and decorations, all of which were enthusiastically received. It seemed such a little thing, to send candles and a Christmas tree — such a little thing, but it sparked a gentle revolt whose import has resounded through history.

On Christmas Eve, French and British troops, perched in trenches, dugouts and huts scattered all over No Man’s Land, saw the twinkling of lights across the barricades and wondered if an attack was imminent.

And then, they heard the soft sound of men’s voices on the air, singing.

In some areas, German troops sent over white-flagged messengers with the simple request — will you join us in a concert tonight, with no shooting? In other regiments, soldiers held up signs, written in pidgin English or German, saying, “No Shoot!” According to a London newspaper, one German troop even managed to slip a chocolate cake over the lines to the British troops stationed there.

Soon, impromptu concerts sprang up all along the Western Front, as French, British and German troops serenaded each other. In one letter home, a British soldier recounted how the two opposing sides swapped carols back and forth, his British regiment starting off with “The First Noel,” the Germans answering with “O Tannenbaum.” Midway through the concert, the British began to sing “O Come All Ye Faithful”— and were joined by the Germans, who took up the familiar carol in Latin.

For other camps, the song that brought both sides together was “Silent Night,” as soldiers sang the old carol together in their own native tongues.

After this, war and killing were — at least temporarily — impossible. Field officers met with their colleagues on the opposing side, and hasty impromptu truces were formed over the barbed wire.

On Christmas morning, the sounds of death and destruction were replaced by the sounds of revelry. Along the entire length of the Western Front, soldiers crossed enemy lines to light each other’s cigarettes, share gifts and stories, and toast each other’s loved ones.

From both sides of the barbed wire, men stepped over the barricades bearing cigars, cigarettes, hats and gloves, wine, cognac and beer, jam, sausages and chocolates.
And, joy of joys, a soccer ball.

According to the Christmas letters home that have survived, many of the units had a day-long soccer match, resulting not only in well-contested victories but occasional mishaps. For one group, the match ended early when their soccer ball accidentally and rather poetically got impaled on the barbed wire fencing meant to keep the soldiers apart.

There was a serious side to the festivities as well, as both sides agreed to use the occasion to bury their dead. The frontier was riddled with unburied corpses, which British, French and German soldiers sorted through together. In some fields, joint burial services were even held, as men came together to bury the same soldiers they had shot just a few days before.

In one letter home, an officer with the 6th Gordon Highlanders Regiment recounted that at four o’clock on Christmas Day, a memorable event took place in his unit, as British and German soldiers stood together, a burial trench dividing them. As the British chaplain read the 23rd Psalm and some prayers, these were repeated by a German divinity student. At the end of the service, the chaplain saluted the German commander, who in turn shook hands with him.

Some troops kept the truce going through the day after Christmas, while a few even prolonged it until the first week of January. But for many encampments, the truce lasted a bare 24 hours. According to Captain J. C. Dunn, the medical officer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Christmas Day was spent in socializing and exchanging gifts between the two camps, and his men received two full barrels of beer from the German troops as a gesture of holiday goodwill. And then …

“At 8:30 I fired three shots in the air and put up a flag with “Merry Christmas” on it, and I climbed on the parapet,” Dunn wrote. “He [a German soldier] put up a sheet with ‘Thank you’ on it, and the German captain appeared on the parapet.We both bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots in the air, and the War was on again.”

In the weeks that followed, the miracle of the Christmas Truce of 1914 was documented in moving letters home, written by the men and women serving on the Western Front. On such a widespread scale, it would never happen again — either in the First World War, or in subsequent wars. The last Allied survivor of the truce was a Scotsman, Alfred Anderson, who died in 2005, at the age of 109.

Perhaps the Christmas Truce of 1914 was the last time that the common soldier could rise up and call a halt — unsanctioned by the high command — to the senseless slaughter taking place in front of him.

May the spirit of love, peace and goodwill that motivated the 1914 truce — the spirit that is the true miracle of Christmas — find a place to rest within each and every one of us.

http://www.summitdaily.com/article/20071222/AE/796247409
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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Dec 2007 15:15    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Truce in the trenches: let's meet for cigars

By Aislinn Simpson
Last Updated: 12:04am GMT 27/12/2007

Remarkable details of the Christmas truces on the battle­fields of the Western Front in 1914 have emerged in a previously unseen diary of a British Army captain.
# Truce in the trenches: the captain's diary

Capt Robert Hamilton's account of one of the most poignant events of the Great War describes the initial wariness of his men to trust their enemies and their subsequent delight at discovering that, at least temporarily, they could.



As one of the officers in charge in the 1st Bn the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he left his trench and met his German equivalent half way between their positions in no-man's land near the Belgian hamlet of St Yvon.

The 48-hour local armistice they negotiated was, according to Capt Hamilton, the inspiration for truces up and down the trenches in which soldiers from both sides sang carols, played football and exchanged small presents of food, cigars and tunic buttons.

His diary - revealed by his grandson more than 90 years after it was written - runs from Aug 5, 1914 to Jan 12, 1915. On Christmas Eve, Capt Hamilton describes receiving a message that "the Germans wanted to talk to us".

In his front line trench, he wrote that he "heard the Germans shouting, 'Are you the Warwicks?' To which our own men replied, 'Come and see'. They said 'You come half way, and we will come half way and bring you some cigars'."


His servant, Pte Gregory, finally ventured out to meet the enemy, and Capt Hamilton agreed to meet a German officer the next day at dawn. On Christmas Day, he wrote: "I found a Saxon officer of the 134th Saxon Corps, who was fully armed. I pointed to his revolver and pouch. He smiled and said, seeing I was unarmed, 'Allright now'.

"We shook hands and said what we could in double dutch, arranged a local armistice for 48 hours and returned to our trenches."

So began the historic truce. Capt Hamilton also played a joke on the Germans, bringing out a colleague with a huge black beard to contradict their claim that the Russians were "washed out".

Afterwards Capt Hamilton went to an improvised concert in his line. He concludes his entry for Dec 25: "A very merry Xmas and a most extra­ordinary one, but I doubled the sentries after mid-night".

Robert Hamilton had been sent to the Royal Warwicks from the Norfolk Regiment and promoted to captain on Sept 16, 1914. He wrote: "In the Warwicks one apparently does not ask, one does."

As well as recording the Christmas truce, he describes meeting Bruce Bairnsfather, who created the morale-boosting cartoon character Old Bill. Capt Hamilton saw the New Year in with Bairnsfather, who "dined with us, sang us some of his songs, and showed us some of his sketches".

Truce in the trenches: let's meet for cigars
Strange meeting: a German soldier approaches the British lines with a small Christmas tree

His neatly typed account of the Christmas truce was among 20 volumes of diaries handed down to his grandson, Andrew Hamilton, of Warwick.

Mr Hamilton said that, like most of those who fought in the First World War, his grandfather, a farmer and landowner from Okehampton, Devon, never spoke of his experiences.

"My grandfather was not critical about the war but he obviously felt for a lot of the soldiers under his command, who were poorly educated and came from different backgrounds," he said. "He felt it was difficult for them."

It was during his daughter's school trip to the Western Front battlefields that Mr Hamilton told Great War tour guide Alan Reed about its existence. He immediately realised its significance.

"This account of that mom­entous occasion is something that has never been recorded in the history of the battalion or in the books about the Christmas truce," Mr Reed said.

"Capt Robert Hamilton and all those who took part in the Christmas truce showed what 'ordinary' men could achieve if they were allowed to get on with their lives - a message all too relevant 90 or so years on."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Mrt 2008 19:01    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote



Erbitterte Feinde: Im Daily Mirror war Anfang Januar 1915 ein Foto abgedruckt, das Aufsehen erregte: Darauf waren britische und deutsche Soldaten zu sehen, die in den Tagen um Weihnachten 1914 einen kurzen Frieden geschlossen hatten. Zwischen den Schutzengräben erklangen in dieser Zeit vielerorts keine Schüsse, sondern Weihnachtslieder. Zwischen Weihnachtsbäumen spielten die Soldaten Fußball und teilten sich Kuchen. Hinterher schossen sie wieder.

Am Heiligen Abend im Jahre des Herrn 1914 verläuft die Front, entlang derer sich junge Männer aus Frankreich, England und Deutschland seit über einem Jahr als Todfeinde gegenüberstehen, über 600 Kilometer von der Nordsee bis an die Alpen. Die Kampfzone beginnt im flandrischen Nieuwport an der Ijzer-Mündung, zieht sich den kleinen Fluss entlang nach Süden, schlägt einen Bogen westwärts um Ypern und an Arras vorbei, schwenkt im großen Bogen durch Picardie und Champagne westwärts nach Verdun und dann weiter Richtung Südwest bis an die Schweizer Grenze: Die Front gleicht einem Schnitt quer über das Gesicht des Kontinents, gezogen wie mit einem rostigen, alten Messer.

Bis Weihnachten, so hatte der deutsche Kriegsherr Kaiser Wilhelm II. vier Monate zuvor seinen Soldaten beim Ausmarsch aus Berlin zugerufen, würden sie wieder daheim sein. Im Überschwang des "Augusterlebnisses" hatte kaum jemand an dieser Voraussage gezweifelt. Nun allerdings war daraus nichts geworden, genau so wenig wie aus Weihnachten in Paris, von dem nicht minder überschwängliche Parolen, mit Kalkweiß auf die Güterwaggons geschrieben, beim Abtransport deutscher Truppen an die Front gekündet hatten.

Rattenverseuchte Schützengräben

Die Wahrheit lag auch diesmal in der Mitte - nämlich auf halbem Wege zwischen französischer Hauptstadt und deutscher Grenze, im Schlamm Flanderns. Dort vegetierten die Soldaten beider Seiten Ende 1914 längst in rattenverseuchten Schützengräben zwischen Minenfeldern und Stacheldrahtverhauen, die Angst im Nacken und den Tod vor Augen. Rund eine dreiviertel Million Tote hatte der Krieg bis dahin schon verschlungen: 160.000 Engländer, 300.000 Franzosen, ebenfalls 300.000 Deutsche waren von Granaten zerfetzt, von MG-Garben durchsiebt, beim Bajonettangriff Mann gegen Mann aufgespießt worden. Weihnachtliche Stimmung wollte da bei wenigen aufkommen.

Natürlich wusste die Oberste Heeresleitung um die Bedeutung des Christfestes für die Moral der Truppe und tat zur Hebung der Stimmung an den Festtagen das ihre: In der Vorweihnachtswoche wurden Tausende von kleinen Tannenbäumen, teils komplett mit Kerzen an den Zweigen, bis in Schützengräben und Unterstände an vorderster Linie geliefert. Doch gerade diese Gabe entfaltete an der Front in den Festtagen eine ungeahnte subversive Kraft - als Symbol, dass die christlichen Europäer über Grenzen und Nationen einte.

"We not shoot, you not shoot!"

Bei Fleurbaix zum Beispiel, einem Dorf fünf Kilometer südlich von Armentières im Pas-de-Calais. Die Lichter, die britische Soldaten dort an Heiligabend drüben in den deutschen Stellungen wahrnahmen, stammten ausnahmsweise nicht von Mündungsfeuer - die deutschen Landser hatten die geschmückten Tannenbäume auf die Brustwehren gestellt. Und dann bewegten sich die lichterglänzenden Bäumchen langsam auf die britischen Linien zu, als Friedenszeichen vor sich hergetragen von den Gegnern, die in sächsisch gefärbtem Englisch laut ihre friedlichen Absichten bekundeten. Zögernd kamen ihnen die ersten Briten entgegen; man gab sich die Hände, rauchte gemeinsam, zeigte sich gegenseitig Fotos der Lieben zu Hause.

Der Mini-Frieden von Fleurbaix war beileibe kein Einzelfall in der kalten, sternenklaren Heiligen Nacht 1914. "We not shoot, you not shoot!", hieß es auch an vielen anderen Stellen der Front - zwischen Sachsen und Schotten, Westfalen und Franzosen, Hannoveranern und Engländern (nicht jedoch mit den Preußen); häufiger im bereits blutgetränkten Flandern, wo die Gräben oft weniger als 100 oder auch mal nur 20 Meter auseinander lagen, als in weniger umkämpften Abschnitten.

Humanität im Gemetzel

"Es klingt kaum glaubhaft, was ich euch jetzt berichte, ist aber pure Wahrheit", schrieb ein gewisser Josef Wenzl vom bayerischen Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment 16 am 28. Dezember 1914 an seine Eltern: "Kaum fing es an Tag zu werden, erschienen schon die Engländer und winkten uns zu, was unsere Leute erwiderten. Allmählich gingen sie ganz heraus aus den Gräben, unsere Leute zündeten einen mitgebrachten Christbaum an, stellten ihn auf den Wall und läuteten mit Glocken... Zwischen den Schützengräben stehen die verhassten und erbittertsten Gegner um den Christbaum und singen Weihnachtslieder. Diesen Anblick werde ich mein Leben lang nicht vergessen."

Der Autor Michael Jürgs hat für sein Buch "Der kleine Frieden im Großen Krieg" viele solche einzigartigen Zeugnisse aus Briefen, Tagebüchern und anderen Überlieferungen zusammengetragen, die zeigen, dass die Humanität auch im größten Gemetzel noch Oberhand gewinnen kann, wenn nur jemand ein Zeichen für sie setzt. Niemand garantierte den Christbaumträgern, dass ihr Vorgehen nicht falsch verstanden und sie mit Gewehr- oder Granatfeuer anstatt mit Zigaretten und Schnaps empfangen werden würden.

"A Merry Christmas, English!"

Doch der geheimnisvollen Kraft des Weihnachtszaubers konnten sich selbst hartgesottene Militärs nicht durchweg entziehen. Jürgs berichtet von einer Begebenheit, bei der sich eine britische Einheit für Heiligabend eine Kriegslist zurechtgelegt hatte: Mit Weihnachtsliedern wollten diese Engländer den Gegner einlullen, um ihn dann unvorbereitet mit einem wohl gezielten Artillerieüberfall zu treffen. Man habe vorgehabt, den Deutschen "drei Choräle zu präsentieren, dann fünf Runden Feuer", zitiert Jürgs aus einem Brief des Schützen Ernest Moreley.

Die Deutschen allerdings durchkreuzten den durchaus perfiden Plan auf denkbar einfache Weise. Nachdem das Lied "While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night" aus den englischen Gräben verhallt war, geschah nämlich Unvorhergesehenes: "Wir hörten aufsteigenden Gesang, sozusagen die Antwort aus ihren Gräben. Dann begannen sie zu uns herüberzurufen", berichtete Moreley nach Hause. "Deshalb stoppten wir die Vorbereitungen für Runde zwei, die Feindseligkeiten. Sie riefen 'A Merry Christmas, English, we are not shooting tonight.' Wir riefen eine ähnliche Botschaft zurück."

Auf besonders originelle Weise übermittelte eine sächsische Einheit bei Armentières dem Gegner ihren Weihnachtswunsch: Mit geübtem Wurf beförderte man dort statt der üblichen Handgranaten einen gut verpackten Schokoladenkuchen in hohem Bogen in die gegenüberliegenden Stellungen, darin die schriftliche Bitte, am Abend eine Stunde die Waffen ruhen zu lassen. Als dann im Dunkel der Nacht deutsches Liedgut über die Todeszone schallte, stiegen die Briten auf ihre Unterstände und applaudierten dem Ständchen.

Kicken im Krieg

Eine Szene aus dem unwirklichen "Christmas Truce" hat sich - in England und Frankreich früher und weitaus stärker als in Deutschland - in die Erinnerung der Nation eingebrannt: das Fußballspiel, zu dem sich die Feinde Weihnachten 1914 zwischen den Schützengräben trafen, verewigt auch im Kinofilm "Merry Christmas" mit Benno Führmann und Daniel Brühl, der 2005 in die Kinos kam.

Tatsächlich gab es sogar viele solcher Fußballspiele, an denen Hunderte von Soldaten beider Seiten teilnahmen. Als Pfosten dienten schon mal Pickelhauben hier, britische Feldmützen dort. Wo kein echter Ball aufzutreiben war, reichte eine behelfsmäßige Kugel aus drahtumwickeltem Stroh und zur Not auch eine Blechbüchse. Doch nicht selten konnten die Briten - immerhin die Fußballnation schlechthin - mit einer Lederkugel dienen. "Wir schickten einen mit dem Fahrrad nach hinten in unsere Reservestellung", schrieb etwa ein Soldat der Scottish Guards seinen Eltern, "und der holte den Ball."

Es waren nur kurze, flüchtige Momente der Menschlichkeit, die vielen kleinen improvisierten Weihnachtsfeiern von Menschen, die noch am Tag zuvor Todfeinde gewesen waren und es tags darauf wieder wurden. Und längst nicht überall an der Front längs durch Europa machte das Morden am Heiligen Abend 1914 Pause. Mit der ersten Bombe auf England, die der deutsche Oberleutnant Friedrich von Arnauld de la Perrière am 24. Dezember 1914 in den Garten eines Pfarrhauses in Dover warf, erreichte der Krieg an Weihnachten sogar eine ganz neue Dimension, deren Tragweite erst sehr viel später deutlich wurde.

Dennoch steckt in diesen Fußnoten der großen Katastrophenerzählung des 20. Jahrhunderts namens Erster Weltkrieg bis heute eine Botschaft von ungeheurer Symbolkraft: Wenn die Menschen es wollen, hört der Krieg auf -sofort

http://einestages.spiegel.de/external/ShowTopicAlbumBackground/a1056/l1/l0/F.html#featuredEntry
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BerichtGeplaatst: 24 Apr 2008 7:34    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

WHAT TRUCE?

THE truce was not universal along the Western Front. Here are some letters (transcribed by Marian Robson) from soldiers who were not fortunate to see a break in hostilities during Christmas 1914:

Auckland and County Chronicle, Thursday, February 4th, 1915

Private Oswald Johnson Coldstream Guards:

Dear Sir,- Just a line in answer to your card, which I was so pleased to receive yesterday. I have seen Bert Shipley once or twice, but we don't have much chance of seeing one another, as he is in No 1 Company. He was quite alright when I saw him on Christmas Day. We had rather a good Christmas, with the usual pudding you get at home for dinner, and the King and Queen sent us a card. We also had a nice Christmas box from Princess Mary. We had the misfortune to lose our Captain on Boxing Day. He was shot by a sniper about a yard from where I was standing, and that made us feel a bit 'down' for a time. He was a little strict with us, but he was very cool under fire, walking about the trenches just as if he was walking the streets of London. When we saw him doing this it made us think that if one could do it we all could, and we did until he was shot. It has been very wet lately and the trenches are full of water. When we were in the trenches last time we had top walk about a quarter of a mile through water over our knees, and when we reached the trenches we had to stand the boot tops in mud and water for 24 hours, with the Germans about 200 yards in front of us. We could hear them singing quite plainly. I received a lovely box of chocolates from No 1 Standard, Girls' Dept., Council School about a week ago, and I don’t know if I wrote to thank them for it. I should be very pleased if you would ask, and give them my best thanks if I did not write. I can’t really say how pleased I was to receive that box of chocolates. You ask if I need anything. Well, there are lots of things I need, but I would be very thankful if you would send a few cigarettes, I am pleased to hear that you have so many names on the Roll of Honour.

The New Shildon Council School “Roll of Honour” contains the names of nearly 40 ex-scholars who are now serving in the King’s Army, and Mr Wright, the headmaster, has recently received letters from three who are now at the front.

Auckland and County Chronicle, Thursday, 14th January, 1915

How greatly gifts of tobacco are appreciated by our soldiers on actives service at the front is shown by three letters which Mr Luke Conlon, of the Brancepeth (?) Hotel, Willington, has just received from Gunners Shepherd and Rowlandson and Private Ashurst, who all belong to Willington. Gunner Shepherd and Private Ashurst have been at the front since the war began.
Parcels of tobacco and cigarettes had been sent to them from the Brancepeth Hotel by Mr Conlon.
In the course of his letter Gunner Rowlandson says, after giving thanks for the parcel: "It came in as a welcome gift, as it is my birthday, so you see it filled two purposes - a Christmas present and a birthday present. We are having it very rough at present, in fact the last two months have been terrible. We have been moving about in a sea of mud. Hardly a day passes without rain, and it is very unpleasant, as our feet are never dry. I cannot imagine how the Germans stick it against us, as we always send plenty of shells to them. We all had a lovely gift from Princess Mary on Christmas Day, It was an embossed box which contained tobacco, cigarettes, pipe, and photo of herself inside. It resembles Queen Victoria box of chocolates of 1899. We made the best of our Christmas Day under trying conditions. Our officers were good too us. They did their best for us, so that we could enjoy Christmas."

Gunner Shepherd asks how all the b-hoys are getting on. He is well, but his battery has had a rough time out there. during a hot day or two they had 73 killed and eight wounded. Continuing he writes: "Well, it is all for King and Country, so drink to the day, boys. Luke is paying, or Old Slack".

Reference is made to the wet weather they are having and he wishes to be remembered to the "b-hoys" at Willington.

Private Joseph Ashurst says he will enjoy the tobacco very much in the trenches as although "we are getting a pretty fair quantity of tobacco out here, it is the first bit of brown twist I have seen since I left home. I can't tell you much about the work out here, as we are not allowed, but it is much quieter lately. We had quite a truce on Christmas Day, and only a few shots were fired on either side. It is quite a bit different from the day I got my wound, as it was like H---- itself for a few hours then. The lads told me when I came out of hospital it was kept up all night as ?we (the firing), but that was 21 October. So I have nearly forgotten all about it except the mark on my back and sometimes a little irritation from the wound. Give my best to all the boys, not forgetting Johnny Green. Tell them I hope to be home soon to have a pint or two with them.

The above letters have all passed the Censor.

Aukland and county Chronicle Thursday 11th March 1915

Interview with Sergeant John Bell
of 2nd Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers. Mobilised 5th August 1914 and left trenches 23rd February 1915.
Mentions Ypres, Messines, La Bassee, the weather conditions and Mons - the worst fight that he was in, but no mention of Christmas truce.

Auckland and County Chronicle Thursday 14th January 1915

Christmastide in a French hospital: A letter from Miss Maud Wilson, who is a nurse in North France, has been received by her parents at Greenhill House, Crook. Describing Christmastide, Miss Wilson says:- “On Christmas Eve we had holly given to us for all out beds, so we fastened it at the head of each bed, and many had a bunch of mistletoe as well. We also had two Christmas trees on the stage of the Casino, and in the centre an altar was erected for the celebration of Midnight Mass at 11-35pm.
“We had a busy day on Christmas Day. In the afternoon at 4 we had the Christmas trees lighted up. Each patient received a ticket with a number - there were over 300 - and after all had been provided with tickets Dr Boisseau mounted a ladder and began taking off the presents from the trees. Every present was numbered, and the man whose ticket corresponded with the number read out went up to the doctor and gave up his ticket for the present.. They really had very nice things, socks, notebooks, pencil cases with pencils. pen and nibs, cigarette holder, pipes etc. Between the distributions we had songs and music, so were very lively.
“Boxing Day was another great day. Sister and I were just congratulating ourselves on getting a fairly easy day, when Dr Boisseau announced that more wounded were expected at the unholy hour of 3.30am, so we quickly went to bed. The next thing I heard was the hoot! hoot! of the motors, always a sure sign that wounded are arriving. We were quickly at the casino, only to learn that the wounded for the "Royal" had arrived. Ours were coming later, so we quickly set to work, washing our patients, and got things ready, and at 8-30 the men arrived - 125 of them."
The letter goes on to describe the decoration of a patient - George Deloisin - with a medal for bravery - equivalent of the VC. This took place on the Sunday after Christmas. Although he had been badly wounded 2 months previously.

Auckland and County Chronicle Thursday 14th January 1915

Article on “Thrilling Adventures of Despatch Rider” - various references including the following to Christmas Day.



"Two days prior to the 25th, the headquarters were removed from the firing line for a rest, and although Christmas Day was a busy one, between duty they were able to have their "little merry go round", as Christon expressed it. Nineteen riders were with the corps, and an excellent dinner they made of chickens, rabbits, and plum puddings, followed with the "cracking" of a bottle of whisky."
- Corporal Chas Christon of Brandon Colliery.

Lockerbie went on to relate how his party of riders spent Christmas. As at Christon's billet, so it was at the 4th Corps headquarters, where the 19 riders sat down to a capital spread of turkey, sausage, and plum pudding. This feed, by the way, was partaken of in an attic of what was, undoubtedly at one time, a place of high entertainment, for fighting cocks were to be found there when the men first entered the billet. - Corporal Jim Lockerbie of Durham City

Auckland and County Chronicle, Thursday 7th January 1915

Private Elliott Peadon, Blackdean, Ireshopeburn (?) writing on 28 Dec to his wife and family says:-
As I write we are up to the eyes in mud, as the weather is cold and wet, but I hope the bairns and you had a good dinner on Christmas Day, as I had mine with the thousands of others, in a horse box off bully beef and biscuits with our boots on for four days and nights to be ready for the enemy, yet we all enjoyed ourselves and pledged out "King, country and homes" to wash down the good Queen Mary's present of pipes, fags and tobacco, which was welcome, you may be sure, as Christmas has been very cold all round. We read with horor (sic) in the papers of the German raid on our coast, but I don't think they are ever likely to get there again, but there's no saying what the beggars cannot or will not do, but God help them when our Durham chaps get at them either on sea or land, as they are all wild about it. You'll read (?) when they do come across them it will be the "Highlanders at Lucknow" all over again, as they'll go mad when they think of the cruel murders of their relatives, friends and country innocent folks at Hartlepool and the other places. They think they'll have scared us, but quite the reverse when the weather permits our generals to give the word "forward". I find the crowds of splendid lads arriving hourly are itching for a "go" at the Germans to get a xx of their own back. Still, I've seen no Weardale faces as I would like so much to meet, but I'm glad to know they are in the making at the Army depots, and hope they'll keep coming to the colours as it's the only way to bring the war sooner to an end, by showing the enemy, Britishers the world over are in it and mean to win. Remember me to them all, and especially to my old chums at Monkhouse's (xxxx) quarry, as I am picturing you all and them, as the New Year approaches. May God bless and keep you safe and well, hoping to be spared to return shortly to meet and talk of the sights and scenes which can't be put in a letter as to the rough and tumble, enjoyable life and comradeship that makes life worth fighting for, with thoughts of home to spur us all on to keep these sacred and safe from a dangerous enemy."

Blaydon Courier February 6th 1915

Pte Tom Ridley of the 3rd division Northumberland Fusiliers writing to his brother, Mr Wm Ridley 14 May Street, Winlaton, with whom he previously resided states that he has just come out of the trenches for a few days rest. “I will not,” he proceeds, “forget New Year’s Day for a long time to come. We were in the trenches on New Year’s Eve and did not ear any bells ringing the New Year in, but there were plenty of guns. I am in the best of health and still in good hopes of coming to see you all again. It is very bad weather here and makes it hard for us, but we are a long way from being down hearted yet. We have no fear as to the result of this war. We are only waiting for the weather to change, then things will mum up a bit for somebody.”
Before being called to the front, Pte Ridley worked as a miner at Blaydon Main Colliery.

Blaydon Courier 30th January 1915

Mr T Husthwaite, a Chester-le-Street tradesman, who on the outbreak of war rejoined his old regiment the West Yorkshires and was given the rank of Sergeant.

Same letter as in Consett Guardian 29th January 1915

On Dec 28th Sergt Husthwaite wrote:-
“We came out of the trenches last night for a dew days’ rest and tomorrow we re going to ---- for a bath, and a change of clothing. This morning we received Princess Mary’s gift and Christmas cards. I am enclosing cards, and will forward box with pipe, tobacco, and cigarettes, which I want you to keep. In the cigarette pacet you will find a photograpoh of Princess Mary. We have had any amount of cigarettes and tobacco sent out as presents, though I dare say there will be many corps not in touch but we seem to be lucky. You might get me a pocket knife or a handy pair of scissors as they would be very useful. I have broken my knife and am lost without it. Tell --- my platoon officer is a “Buff”. There has been nothing of importance at our end of the line since we attacked. Of course we are constantly firing but that is by the way. We get the odd casualty but don’t know what the other side’s are.”

Blaydon Courier January 23rd 1915

A Sunderland soldier on a visit to Consett who spent Xmas in the trenches and who has since returned home wounded chatting with a “Guardian” representative in the railway train recently, related a few of his experiences since going to the front. He was one of the 2nd Durhams and was at Cambridge when called up. Good fortune favoured him all through the earlier stages of the war, surviving Mons and other of the great battles, without any injury. So far as his own experiences went he regarded the Aisne as the worst battle, where he said it was absolute “murder”.
After emerging successfully from some hot work in the firing line he fell a prey to the snipers on the Sunday morning following Xmas day in the neighbourhood of Armentiers being hit twice whilst drawing water. One bullet wound is in the foot and another in the arm, but fortunately neither of them hit the bone, and after a short stay in Lincoln hospital he is expecting to get back to the firing line shortly. Asked his opinion about the fighting qualities of the French and German soldiers, he sad the Frenchman was all right for a time but some of them soon got “tired”, they couldn’t stand long marches, whilst with regard to the German soldier he said it was difficult to form any opinion because he “had” to fight; if he didn’t he would be shot from the rear if e ran back or faltered. In the earlier stages of the war they were in the trenches as far as twenty-three days at a stretch, but latterly they hadn’t been more than seven days. One of the biggest handicaps of late had been the weather, and not a few of the men have been invalided owing to frozen feet; he said it was pitiful to see some of them when animation was returning; the pain was dreadful and some of them cried like children. He remarked that he hadn’t really seen many Germans because off the fighting is done at night time; they won’t fight in the day light; the only one they really got into personal contact with was a party of about fifty prisoners they took. The Durham Light Infantryman showed us with pride the Royal Xmas cards he received on Xmas day but said he wasn’t one of the fortunate ones who got a good dinner, as he was never out of the trenches until the following Sunday morning when he got hit.

Blaydon Courier January 16th 1915

Pte Gavin Renwick of ‘C’ Company 2nd Durham Light Infantry
who has been at the front since Oct 27th forwarded a letter to Blackhill in which he states:-
“As luck would have it we got our Christmas feast in comfort, as we had just returned from the trenches and were installed in billets. I cannot describe to you in detail all the fighting that has taken place and the scenes witnessed out here, but I am thankful to say I have taken no hurt so far. I am not a great lover of sweet cakes. but I thought my mother’s cake never tasted so well as it did this Christmas. We had just come out of the trenches after some hard fighting and when I saw the parcel I was overcome with joy. In fact it brought home to me more forcibly than anything else I could name - the great issue at stake. We must beat these Germans at all costs to save those old cherished domestic crafts at home which no other women in the world can carry out so well as out own mothers especially, and English women in general.”

Consett and Stanley Chronicle Friday January 29th 1915

Private Augustine Cummings 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers
(the old Fighting Fifth) who came back from France on furlough and sick leave a fortnight ago. Member of Stanley branch of the Workers’ Educational Association.
Very reluctant to talk about his experiences.
Various reminiscences and at very end of quoted remarks it says:- Asked how he spent Christmas Day, Private Cummings said that he had had his Christmas pudding “burnt with rum” like the rest of his companions, and that some of the wounded in hospital told him that there had been a cessation of hostilities at the trenches which they occupied; but that was not the case where he had been.

Consett and Stanley Chronicle Friday January 15th 1915

Private Gavin Renwick of Blackhil
l who is in the 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry, writing to Mrs Johnson, the landlady of the Sportsman’s Arms Hotel, Blackhill says:- “Words cannot express the gratitude with which I received your Christmas present, also that of my particular chums who shared the pleasure of drinking your health with good old stuff from Blackhill. I am not a great lover of sweet cakes, as my people at home will tell you; but I thought my mother’s cake never tasted better than it did this Christmas - in fact, it brought home to me more forcibly than anything else I can name the great issue at stake. We must beat these Germans at all costs to save those cherished domestic crafts which no other women in the world can carry out so well as our own mothers. If the Kaiser ever settled down in our villages in England, there would be an end to all those household things - so little to look at, but so dear to the heart of Tommy in the trenches. I may tell you that if Lloyd George put the beer up 2s 6d a pint, we shall have it when we come home.

Consett Guardian Friday March 26th 1915

Lance-Corpl Fouracre of Derby Rod,
Stanley, who has been invalided home gives some stirring experiences of the fighting at the front. He is attached to the 2nd Durhams and has been sent back as a result of frost bite. The conditions a month or so ago he said were almost inconceivable.
"Water up to the knees and inches of mud below that. xxx rain xxx down in torrents, interspersed with snow storms and all the time the xxx fire of the German artillery in front. That was what we had to endure. The sentries had to stand to the knees in many cases in water."
On one occasion he said he sank about the knees in clay and had been churned up into a liquid almost. He had to requisition assistance to get out and even then he had to leave behind in the mud the Wellington boots which he had been wearing at the time. These boots, however, were not protected, as the water ran in at the top. He mentioned a curious incident which occurred on Boxing night. "We had not been long in the trenches before a German appeared over the brow of one and said he wished to give himself up. How he got past the sentry without being shot I have never been able to fathom.
He spoke excellent English and he told us that we were going to be attacked. The Germans were going to fire two volleys and make the attack. The consequence was that we were all on the alert. But the Germans evidently smelt a rat, or missed the man for the attack never came. We made the Teuton pump water next day and sent him down to the Base," he tersely added. New Year's Eve supplied another amusing incident. The Notts and Derbyshire regiment, who were lying near the Durhams, were persistently inviting the Germans to commence xxx with cries of "Come over here". With a suddenness which was startling the Germans loosed off and the fire was taken up by the Derbyshires and right along the line to us. After about half an hour's firing we ceased and we could hear the Derbyshire boys crying about a mile or more away "Are we downhearted? No!". We learned afterwards that the Germans were only celebrating the coming of the New Year. This happened at quarter past eleven by our time, but German time is three-quarters of an hour in advance of ours. They were not making an attack as we thought, but simply celebrating the New Year."
EXTRACT - rest of letter refers to unconnected incidents including a soldier called Williams who met his German brother in law who had been taken prisoner.

Consett Guardian Friday January 29th 1915

Sergeant T Husthwaite - former tradesman from Chester-le-Street rejoined old regiment West Yorkshires. Writes to his wife.

Christmas Day 1914:
“I am in the trenches. We came in last night after having had 3 days’ rest. It was a most beautiful bright, moon light night until turned midnight but very frosty. It is very cold but we have plenty of clothing. The only part we feel it badly is in our feet. We are in for 3 days this time. We bring in our rations with us. They are plentiful and good, and we cook them in the trenches. When not on sentry - go he men sleep in dug-outs. These are holes dug out in the rear part of the trenches, where with straw, an oil sheet and a great coat, it is possible to sleep. The Germans trenches are only 200 yds away from us, and last night we could hear them singing, and I suppose they could hear us. We gave them a few Christmas carols. There was very little shooting going on and today has been quiet. By the way, you need not send anything in the way of underclothing or tobacco. We have had quite a lot distributed to us sent from different sources in England. The farmhouse where we are billeted last was dated 1704, and the fireplaces were after the style of slapestones such as we have seen in Yorkshire. The place has been shelled for some time and the roofs and walls of many buildings are wrecked, and there are great holes in the ground made by ‘Jack Johnsons’.

Consett Guardian Friday January 15th 1915

Pte Gavin Renwick ‘C’ Comp 2nd DLI

“I am not a great lover of sweet cakes, but I thought my mother’s cake never tasted as well as it did this Christmas. We had just come out of the trenches after some hard fighting, and when I saw the parcel I was overcome with joy.

© http://www.christmastruce.co.uk/notruce.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Jun 2008 19:09    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Letter tells of truce in trenches
By Neil Tweedie


He refers to himself only as Boy, the name by which his mother knew him. A faceless soldier of the First World War.

But his letter survives, five pencilled pages of an Army-issue notebook, describing to her one of that conflict’s most poignant moments: the Christmas truce of 1914.

The letter, discovered amongst a collection of unremarkable manuscripts and due for auction next month, tells of how British and German troops facing each other across No Man’s Land put aside killing for a day to play football and swap cigarettes.

Writing home on Christmas Day, Boy tells his “Dear Mater” of “the most memorable Christmas I’ve ever spent or [am] likely to spend.”

The guns, he wrote, had fallen silent about teatime on Christmas Eve, and since then not a shot had been fired.

As night fell, the Germans placed lights along the edge of their trenches before approaching the British lines.

The letter continued: “They also gave us a few songs so we had quite a social party. Some of our chaps went over to their lines. I think they’ve all come back bar one. They no doubt kept him as a souvenir.”

The Christmas truce began around Ypres with greetings shouted across ground littered with dead.

In some parts of the Western Front it would last until New Year’s Day. “There must be something in the spirit of Christmas as today we are all on top of our trenches running about,” wrote Boy. “Whereas other days we have to keep out heads well down.”

What became of Boy is a mystery.
The letter, to auctioned at Bonhams on Nov 7 (2006), should fetch between £500 and £1,000.

http://www.propeller.com/viewstory/2007/03/11/-ww1-account-of-historic-football-match-between-british-and-german-soldiers-goes-public/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.zeenews.com%2Farticles.asp%3Faid%3D359294%26sid%3DFTP&frame=true
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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Jun 2008 9:25    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

KERSTBESTAND
CHRISTMAS TRUCE

Coope Boyes And Simpson
Wak Maar Proper
Herbert Flack

“Pauvre petit Dieu d’amour,
né cette nuit,
comment as-tu pu aimer
les hommes?”
(Ieper, 25-XII-1914)
Tekst van vrijdag
18 december 1998, 20u.
St-Maartenskerk, Ieper.
KERSTCONCERT zaterdag 19 december 1998, 20u.
CC Kruispunt, Diksmuide.

http://users.pandora.be/gruwez/pro_kerstbestand_t.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Sep 2008 14:40    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

First World War : Christmas Truce

Sgt Bernard Joseph Brookes

Below is a short extract of his personal experience of the Christmas Truce.

Towards evening the Germs became very hilarious, singing and shouting out to us. They said in English that if we did not fire they would not, and eventually it was arranged that shots should not be exchanged. With this they lit fires outside their trench, and sat round and commenced a concert, incidentally singing some English songs to the accompaniment of a bugle band. A German officer carrying a lantern came slightly forward and asked to see one of our officers to arrange a truce for tomorrow (Xmas day)
An officer went out (after we had stood at our posts with rifles loaded in case of treachery) and arrangements were made that between 10 am and 12 noon, and from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm tomorrow, intercourse between the Germs and ourselves should take place. It was a beautiful night and a sharp frost set in, and when we awoke in the morning the ground was covered with a white raiment. It was indeed an ideal Christmas, and the spirit of peace and goodwill was very striking in comparison with the hatred and death-dealing of the past few months. One appreciated in a new light the meaning of Christianity, for it certainly was marvellous that such a change in the attitude of the opposing armies could be wrought by an Event which happened nigh on 2000 years ago.

25.12.1914 (Xmas day)

During the night two men were reported to be missing and I had to go out early in the morning on my cycle to try to find them. I went to the Dressing Station in Chappelle d'Armentieres a mile or so away, but they had not been there. Later in the day the Bosches told us that two men the night before had walked into their trench in a state which proved that they had "drunk of the loving cup, not wisely, but too well". We asked that they should be returned to us, but they refused on account of the fact that these men had seen the position of their machine guns. They promised, however, to wire to their headquarters, and see what could be done in the matter. Later we were informed that it had been decided to intern them in a Civilian Camp, and not treat them as prisoners of war, so as this seemed fair and the only course open we left it at that.
At 9 am as I was off duty I received permission to go to Mass at a Church which I had discovered whilst hunting for the missing men. This Church was terribly shelled, and was within the range of rifle fire, as was clearly proved by the condition of the wall facing the trenches, and no effort had been made to clear the wreckage, as to attempt this would have been fraught with danger. A priest, however, had come in from Armentieres to minister to the few people who were still living in the district. In this Church which would hold about 300, there were some 30 people, and I was the only soldier. It was indeed a unique service, and during a short address which the priest gave I was about the only one who was not crying, and that because I did not understand much of what was being said.
I returned to headquarters and went on duty from noon to 2 PM, during which time I partook of my Christmas Fair which consisted of "Bully", "Spuds", Xmas pudding, and vin rouge, which latter we found in one of the cellars on the farm.
In the afternoon I went out and had a chat with "our friends the enemy". Many of the Germs had costumes on which had been taken from the houses nearby, and one facetious fellow had a blouse, skirt, top hat, and umbrella, which grotesque figure caused much merriment. Various souvenirs were exchanged which I managed to send home. We also had an opportunity of seeing the famous Iron Cross which some of the men wore attached to a black and white riband. These crosses are very well made and have an edging of silver. The man's name is engraved on one side, and the reason of the award briefly stated on the other. I have also a number of Germ signatures and addresses on a fly leaf of my "Active Service Pay Book" and it was arranged that at the end of the war we would write one to the other if we came through safely.
The Germs wanted to continue a partial truce until the New Year, for as some of them said, they were heartily sick of the war, and did not want to fight, but as we were leaving the trenches early next morning, and naturally did not want them to know, we insisted on the truce ending at midnight, at which time our artillery sent over to them four shells of small calibre to let them know that the truce, at which the whole World would wonder, was ended, and in its place, death and bloodshed would once more reign supreme.


Voor het hele dagboek:
© http://www.bobbrookes.co.uk/bernard.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 09 Sep 2008 10:36    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://www.folkmusic.com/MP3/Christmas%20in%20the%20Trenches.pdf
http://nl.youtube.com/watch?v=KWiCs7b_h1M

Mooie uitvoering:
http://nl.youtube.com/watch?v=sfdOOCOQ9sk
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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Okt 2008 9:57    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Historic letter telling of WW1 football match foundLast updated at 22:00 16 oktober 2006

The previously unpublished letter was written in the trenches nearly 92 years ago

It is one of the most memorable episodes in military history: the famous Christmas Day truce of 1914 when the guns fell silent and British and German soldiers left their trenches to play football in the icy mud of No Man's Land.

The bitter enemies staged an unofficial ceasefire - shaking hands, swapping presents and autographs and singing carols to each other in what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described as "the one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of war."

Now a moving first-hand account of the break in the carnage on the Western Front - one of the most poignant incidents of the Great War - has surfaced in the form of a previously unpublished letter written from the trenches on that remarkable day nearly 92 years ago.

Despite the horrors of daily life for the British Tommy - knee-deep in the slime of waterlogged trenches - the young private describes it as "the most memorable Christmas I've ever spent or likely to spend: since about teatime yesterday I don't think there's been a shot fired on either side up to now."

In pencil on five pages of paper torn from an Army-issue notebook, he tells his "dear Mater" how on a frosty, moonlit Christmas Eve the Germans began placing "lights all along the edge of their trenches and coming over to us - wishing us Happy Christmas etc."

"They also gave us a few songs so we had quite a social party...Some of our chaps went over to their lines. I think they've all come back bar one from E Co. They no doubt kept him as a souvenir," writes the soldier, frustratingly only identified as "Boy."

"There must be something in the spirit of Christmas as today we are all on top of our trenches running about." "Whereas other days we have to keep out heads well down...I had a parcel from B G's Lace Dept containing a sweater, smokes, under clothes etc."

"We also had a card from the Queen, which I am sending back to you to look after please."

"After breakfast we had a game of football at the back of our trenches! We've had a few Germans over to see us this morning. They also sent a party over to bury a sniper we shot in the week." "He was about 100 yds from our trench. A few of our fellows went out and helped to bury him."
"About 10.30 we had a short church parade, held in the trench. How we did sing. O come all ye faithful. And While shepherds watched their flocks by night were the hymns we had."

"Boy" breaks off to help prepare Christmas dinner - "fried bacon and dip-bread followed by hot Xmas pudding", then "muscatels and almonds, oranges, bananas, chocolate, cocoa and smokes."

"You can guess we thought of the dinners at home. Just before dinner I had the pleasure of shaking hands with several Germans: a party of them came halfway over to us. So several of us went out to them."

"I exchanged one of my balaclavas for a hat. I've also got a button off one of their tunics. We also exchanged smokes etc and had a decent chat. They say they won't fire tomorrow if we don't so I suppose we shall get a bit of a holiday - perhaps."

"After exchanging autographs and them wishing us a Happy New Year we departed and came back and had our dinner. We can hardly believe we've been firing at them for the last week or two - it all seems so strange. At present it is freezing hard and everything is covered in ice..."
Near the end of the well-thumbed letter, he tells his mother: "As I can't explain to everyone how I spent my 25th, you might hand this round please...I never expected to shake hands with Germans between the firing lines on Christmas Day and I don't suppose you thought of us doing so."

"So after a fashion we've enjoyed? our Christmas. Hoping you spend a happy time with George Boy as well. How we thought of England during the day. Kind regards to all the neighbours. With much love from Boy."
Historian Felix Pryor, manuscripts consultant to auctioneers Bonhams, who will offer the letter for sale on November 7, said yesterday: "It is a desperately poignant - almost surreal - document."

"I have never in my career seen anything like it. To find a letter written home on the actual day of one of the most famous incidents in military history is amazing."

"The envelope is missing and the intensely moving letter has long since been separated from the sender's family. It is therefore, quite literally, the work of an Unknown Soldier."

Unless, he was extremely lucky - or was evacuated home with a "Blighty wound" - it is doubtful if "Boy" lived to see out the war.

In the historic and unique truce - commanders of both sides forbade it from being repeated in the ensuing years - firing stopped along the entire 500 miles of the Western front.

The Germans sang "Stille nacht, heilige nach" (Silent night, holy night), while the British responded with as rendition of O Come all ye Faithful.
In one sector, the Germans produced a Christmas tree and staged the famous football match. In some areas, the truce lasted only one day; in others in continued until close to the New Year.

The letter, discovered in a box of otherwise undistinguished manuscripts, is expected to fetch a modest £500 - £1000 at auction.

*Last known survivor of the Western Front Christmas truce, Alfred Anderson, of Angus, Scotland, died last year aged 109.

Bron: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-410741/Historic-letter-telling-WW1-football-match-found.html

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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Nov 2008 11:40    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The famous day all peace broke out

By James Shepherd on Nov 28, 08 11:29 AM in Chester City

A FOOTBALL match played this week held historical significance for those who gave their lives in the 1914-1918 Great War.

Thirty officers and soldiers from the Chester-based 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (Royal Welch Fusiliers) played a football match in Frelinghien, France, to commemorate a brief time of peace that occurred on the first Christmas Day of the First World War.



The Royal Welch Fusiliers met their German opponents, the Saxons of the 133 Infantry Regiment and the Prussians of the 6 Jager Battalion, in no- man's-land for an impromptu game of football on what was a rare day of peace on Christmas Day, 1914.

Captain C I Stockwell, who was present at the original Truce, wrote an account of the events on "one of the most curious Christmas Days" he had ever experienced.

He describes the singing, cheering and the exchanging of beer that took place. However, after this one night of peace and festivity, the fighting was resumed the next day.

Captain Stockwell recalls: "The German captain and I both saluted. He fired two shots in the air, and the war was on again".

The football match this week was played on the site of the original Truce game. The opposing team comprised members of the German Army's Panzergrenadier Battalion 371, formed from the Saxon Infantry, who originally played in 1914.

British soldiers attended the unveiling of a Christmas Truce Memorial in the town. This Memorial displays the badges of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the Saxon infantry and the Prussian Jager. They also took part in a Service of Remembrance before the football match, taking part in a two minute silence.

The Commanding Officer of The Royal Welsh 1st Battalion, Lt Col Nick Lock, said: "We are delighted to be taking part. The Christmas Truce illustrated the basic humanity of the men from both sides engaged in that terrible conflict.
© http://blogs.chesterchronicle.co.uk/chester-memories/2008/11/the-famous-day-all-peace-broke.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2008 22:02    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://nl.youtube.com/watch?v=NVK_mJrLbmY
pipes of peace - paul mccartney
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2008 22:09    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://www.greatwardifferent.com/Great_War/Christmas_in_the_Trenches/Christmas_in_the_Trenches_01.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Dec 2008 22:22    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

WW1 account of historic football match between British and German soldiers goes public

London, Mar 11: Much has been written about the Christmas Eve armistice of 1914 when feuding British and German soldiers celebrated Xmas together and engaged in a friendly soccer match in the icy mud of No Man’s Land in France.

Now, military historians have dug out the diary of one Regimental Sergeant Major George Beck, who chronicled the remarkable events in his notebook.

His account titled ‘Not a shot fired’ vividly details the events when soldiers of the Kaiser’s army came forward to hand out drinks and cigars to British Tommies and invited them over to a friendly game of soccer.

"Christmas Eve, 1914, and not a shot fired. The Germans ask to play football and hand out drink and cigars. They are eager to swop almost anything for our bully beef," the 34 year old veteran of the Boer War, who spent Christmas in a trench near the Belgian village of St Yves, near Ypres, writes in his diary.

The much-decorated NCO (Beck won the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal and was twice mentioned in dispatches) also writes about how the British and Germans sing together, exchange gifts and play football in no-man's-land.

“Point 63. Quiet day. Relieved 2 RDF (Royal Dublin Fusiliers) in the trenches in the evening. Germans shout over to us and ask us to play them at football, and also not to fire and they would do likewise,” the entry in his diary for December 24 reads.

He also describes how a German band sing Home Sweet Home and God Save the King, much to the amusement of the British troops who start feeling nostalgic about their home back in England.

“At 2am (25th) a German Band went along their trenches playing Home Sweet Home and God Save the King, which sounded grand and made everyone think of home. The music sounded grand and made everyone think of home,” a local daily quoted his diary as saying.

“During the night, several of our fellows went over "No Man's Land" to German lines and was given drink and cigars.

“25 December - 'Trenches St Yves. Christmas Day. Not one shot was fired. English and German soldiers intermingled and exchanged souvenirs. Germans very eager to exchange almost anything for our "Bully Beef" and jam. Majority of them know French fluently. A few men of the regiment assisted in burying the dead of the Somerset Light Infantry who were killed on 19.12.14. Fine frosty day. Very cold,” the dairy says.

“26 December - Trenches St Yves. Unofficial truce kept up and our own fellows intermingled still with the Germans. No rifle shots fired, but our artillery fired a few rounds on the German 3rd and 4th lines and Germans retaliated with a few rounds on D Coys (Company's) trenches. 2 wounded. ‘27 December - 'Trenches St Yves. No sniping. A few "whiz bangs" on D Coys trenches. 1 wounded.' On December-30, RSM Beck receives a rare treat - a bath and a change of clothes as he and his men move on to La Creche’,” the diary further says.

According to his account, the truce was observed for several days afterwards, with soldiers on both sides showing reluctance to open fire on the men whom they had met face to face only a few days back.

According to the paper, the army also used the ceasefire as an opportunity to retrieve the bodies of some of their fallen soldiers from no man's land.

According to records, Beck, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, survived the war and passed on his diary - beautifully handwritten in pencil in a ruled notebook - to his family.

Now, it has finally been made public after his granddaughter decided to loan it to her local history centre.

© http://www.propeller.com/viewstory/2007/03/11/-ww1-account-of-historic-football-match-between-british-and-german-soldiers-goes-public/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.zeenews.com%2Farticles.asp%3Faid%3D359294%26sid%3DFTP&frame=true
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2008 10:47    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Leuke reportage
Ploegsteert Christmas Truce 2007

http://picasaweb.google.com/srd.event/PloegsteertChristmasTruce2007#5149750016804135250
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2008 10:51    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote



Van:
http://johnfenzel.vox.com/library/posts/2006/12/
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2008 10:58    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://nl.youtube.com/watch?v=s9coPzDx6tA
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2008 11:00    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Christmas Truce -
When Men Said No To War
12-22-6

On Christmas Day, 1914, in the first year of World War I, German, British, and French soldiers disobeyed their superiors and fraternized with "the enemy" along two-thirds of the Western Front. German troops held Christmas trees up out of the trenches with signs, "Merry Christmas." "You no shoot, we no shoot." Thousands of troops streamed across a no-man's land strewn with rotting corpses. They sang Chrismas carols, exchanged photographs of loved ones back home, shared rations, played football, even roasted some pigs. Soldiers embraced men they had been trying to kill a few short hours before. They agreed to warn each other if the top brass forced them to fire their weapons, and to aim high.

A shudder ran through the high command on either side. Here was disaster in the making: soldiers declaring their brotherhood with each other and refusing to fight. Generals on both sides declared this spontaneous peacemaking to be treasonous and subject to court martial. By March, 1915 the fraternization movement had been eradicated and the killing machine put back in full operation. By the time of the armistice in 1918, fifteen million would be slaughtered.

Not many people have heard the story of the Christmas Truce. Military leaders have not gone out of their way to publicize it. On Christmas Day, 1988, a story in the Boston Globe mentioned that a local FM radio host played "Christmas in the Trenches," a ballad about the Christmas Truce, several times and was startled by the effect. The song became the most requested recording during the holidays in Boston on several FM stations. "Even more startling than the number of requests I get is the reaction to the ballad afterward by callers who hadn't heard it before," said the radiohost. "They telephone me deeply moved, sometimes in tears, asking, `What the hell did I just hear?'"

I think I know why the callers were in tears. The Christmas Truce story goes against most of what we have been taught about people. It gives us a glimpse of the world as we wish it could be and says, "This really happened once." It reminds us of those thoughts we keep hidden away, out of range of the TV and newspaper stories that tell us how trivial and mean human life is. It is like hearing that our deepest wishes really are true: the world really could be different.

© http://www.rense.com/general74/trce.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2008 11:07    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Christmas Day, 1914

My dear sister Janet,

It is 2:00 in the morning and most of our men are asleep in their dugouts—yet I could not sleep myself before writing to you of the wonderful events of Christmas Eve. In truth, what happened seems almost like a fairy tale, and if I hadn’t been through it myself, I would scarce believe it. Just imagine: While you and the family sang carols before the fire there in London, I did the same with enemy soldiers here on the battlefields of France!

As I wrote before, there has been little serious fighting of late. The first battles of the war left so many dead that both sides have held back until replacements could come from home. So we have mostly stayed in our trenches and waited.

But what a terrible waiting it has been! Knowing that any moment an artillery shell might land and explode beside us in the trench, killing or maiming several men. And in daylight not daring to lift our heads above ground, for fear of a sniper’s bullet.

And the rain—it has fallen almost daily. Of course, it collects right in our trenches, where we must bail it out with pots and pans. And with the rain has come mud—a good foot or more deep. It splatters and cakes everything, and constantly sucks at our boots. One new recruit got his feet stuck in it, and then his hands too when he tried to get out—just like in that American story of the tar baby!

Through all this, we couldn’t help feeling curious about the German soldiers across the way. After all, they faced the same dangers we did, and slogged about in the same muck. What’s more, their first trench was only 50 yards from ours. Between us lay No Man’s Land, bordered on both sides by barbed wire—yet they were close enough we sometimes heard their voices.

Of course, we hated them when they killed our friends. But other times, we joked about them and almost felt we had something in common. And now it seems they felt the same.

Just yesterday morning—Christmas Eve Day—we had our first good freeze. Cold as we were, we welcomed it, because at least the mud froze solid. Everything was tinged white with frost, while a bright sun shone over all. Perfect Christmas weather.

During the day, there was little shelling or rifle fire from either side. And as darkness fell on our Christmas Eve, the shooting stopped entirely. Our first complete silence in months! We hoped it might promise a peaceful holiday, but we didn’t count on it. We’d been told the Germans might attack and try to catch us off guard.

I went to the dugout to rest, and lying on my cot, I must have drifted asleep. All at once my friend John was shaking me awake, saying, “Come and see! See what the Germans are doing!” I grabbed my rifle, stumbled out into the trench, and stuck my head cautiously above the sandbags.

I never hope to see a stranger and more lovely sight. Clusters of tiny lights were shining all along the German line, left and right as far as the eye could see.

“What is it?” I asked in bewilderment, and John answered, “Christmas trees!”

And so it was. The Germans had placed Christmas trees in front of their trenches, lit by candle or lantern like beacons of good will.

And then we heard their voices raised in song.

Stille nacht, heilige nacht . . . .

This carol may not yet be familiar to us in Britain, but John knew it and translated: “Silent night, holy night.” I’ve never heard one lovelier—or more meaningful, in that quiet, clear night, its dark softened by a first-quarter moon.

When the song finished, the men in our trenches applauded. Yes, British soldiers applauding Germans! Then one of our own men started singing, and we all joined in.

The first Nowell, the angel did say . . . .

In truth, we sounded not nearly as good as the Germans, with their fine harmonies. But they responded with enthusiastic applause of their own and then began another.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum . . . .

Then we replied.

O come all ye faithful . . . .

But this time they joined in, singing the same words in Latin.

Adeste fideles . . . .

British and German harmonizing across No Man’s Land! I would have thought nothing could be more amazing—but what came next was more so.

“English, come over!” we heard one of them shout. “You no shoot, we no shoot.”

There in the trenches, we looked at each other in bewilderment. Then one of us shouted jokingly, “You come over here.”

To our astonishment, we saw two figures rise from the trench, climb over their barbed wire, and advance unprotected across No Man’s Land. One of them called, “Send officer to talk.”

I saw one of our men lift his rifle to the ready, and no doubt others did the same—but our captain called out, “Hold your fire.” Then he climbed out and went to meet the Germans halfway. We heard them talking, and a few minutes later, the captain came back with a German cigar in his mouth!

“We’ve agreed there will be no shooting before midnight tomorrow,” he announced. “But sentries are to remain on duty, and the rest of you, stay alert.”

Across the way, we could make out groups of two or three men starting out of trenches and coming toward us. Then some of us were climbing out too, and in minutes more, there we were in No Man’s Land, over a hundred soldiers and officers of each side, shaking hands with men we’d been trying to kill just hours earlier!

Before long a bonfire was built, and around it we mingled—British khaki and German grey. I must say, the Germans were the better dressed, with fresh uniforms for the holiday.

Only a couple of our men knew German, but more of the Germans knew English. I asked one of them why that was.

“Because many have worked in England!” he said. “Before all this, I was a waiter at the Hotel Cecil. Perhaps I waited on your table!”

“Perhaps you did!” I said, laughing.

He told me he had a girlfriend in London and that the war had interrupted their plans for marriage. I told him, “Don’t worry. We’ll have you beat by Easter, then you can come back and marry the girl.”

He laughed at that. Then he asked if I’d send her a postcard he’d give me later, and I promised I would.

Another German had been a porter at Victoria Station. He showed me a picture of his family back in Munich. His eldest sister was so lovely, I said I should like to meet her someday. He beamed and said he would like that very much and gave me his family’s address.

Even those who could not converse could still exchange gifts—our cigarettes for their cigars, our tea for their coffee, our corned beef for their sausage. Badges and buttons from uniforms changed owners, and one of our lads walked off with the infamous spiked helmet! I myself traded a jackknife for a leather equipment belt—a fine souvenir to show when I get home.

Newspapers too changed hands, and the Germans howled with laughter at ours. They assured us that France was finished and Russia nearly beaten too. We told them that was nonsense, and one of them said, “Well, you believe your newspapers and we’ll believe ours.”

Clearly they are lied to—yet after meeting these men, I wonder how truthful our own newspapers have been. These are not the “savage barbarians” we’ve read so much about. They are men with homes and families, hopes and fears, principles and, yes, love of country. In other words, men like ourselves. Why are we led to believe otherwise?

As it grew late, a few more songs were traded around the fire, and then all joined in for—I am not lying to you—“Auld Lang Syne.” Then we parted with promises to meet again tomorrow, and even some talk of a football match.

I was just starting back to the trenches when an older German clutched my arm. “My God,” he said, “why cannot we have peace and all go home?”

I told him gently, “That you must ask your emperor.”

He looked at me then, searchingly. “Perhaps, my friend. But also we must ask our hearts.”

And so, dear sister, tell me, has there ever been such a Christmas Eve in all history? And what does it all mean, this impossible befriending of enemies?

For the fighting here, of course, it means regrettably little. Decent fellows those soldiers may be, but they follow orders and we do the same. Besides, we are here to stop their army and send it home, and never could we shirk that duty.

Still, one cannot help imagine what would happen if the spirit shown here were caught by the nations of the world. Of course, disputes must always arise. But what if our leaders were to offer well wishes in place of warnings? Songs in place of slurs? Presents in place of reprisals? Would not all war end at once?

All nations say they want peace. Yet on this Christmas morning, I wonder if we want it quite enough.


Your loving brother,
Tom

About the Story

The Christmas Truce of 1914 has been called by Arthur Conan Doyle “one human episode amid all the atrocities.” It is certainly one of the most remarkable incidents of World War I and perhaps of all military history. Inspiring both popular songs and theater, it has endured as an almost archetypal image of peace.

Starting in some places on Christmas Eve and in others on Christmas Day, the truce covered as much as two-thirds of the British-German front, with French and Belgians involved as well. Thousands of soldiers took part. In most places it lasted at least through Boxing Day (December 26), and in some through mid-January. Perhaps most remarkably, it grew out of no single initiative but sprang up in each place spontaneously and independently.

Unofficial and spotty as the truce was, there have been those convinced it never happened—that the whole thing was made up. Others have believed it happened but that the news was suppressed. Neither is true. Though little was printed in Germany, the truce made headlines for weeks in British newspapers, with published letters and photos from soldiers at the front. In a single issue, the latest rumor of German atrocities might share space with a photo of British and German soldiers crowded together, their caps and helmets exchanged, smiling for the camera.

Historians, on the other hand, have shown less interest in an unofficial outbreak of peace. There has been only one comprehensive study of the incident: Christmas Truce, by Malcolm Brown and Shirley Seaton, Secker & Warburg, London, 1984—a companion volume to the authors’ 1981 BBC documentary, Peace in No Man’s Land. The book features a large number of first-hand accounts from letters and diaries. Nearly everything described in my fictional letter is drawn from these accounts—though I have heightened the drama somewhat by selecting, arranging, and compressing.

In my letter, I’ve tried to counteract two popular misconceptions of the truce. One is that only common soldiers took part in it, while officers opposed it. (Few officers opposed it, and many took part.) The other is that neither side wished to return to fighting. (Most soldiers, especially British, French, and Belgian, remained determined to fight and win.)

Sadly, I also had to omit the Christmas Day games of football—or soccer, as called in the U.S.—often falsely associated with the truce. The truth is that the terrain of No Man’s Land ruled out formal games—though certainly some soldiers kicked around balls and makeshift substitutes.

Another false idea about the truce was held even by most soldiers who were there: that it was unique in history. Though the Christmas Truce is the greatest example of its kind, informal truces had been a longstanding military tradition. During the American Civil War, for instance, Rebels and Yankees traded tobacco, coffee, and newspapers, fished peacefully on opposite sides of a stream, and even gathered blackberries together. Some degree of fellow feeling had always been common among soldiers sent to battle.

Of course, all that has changed in modern times. Today, soldiers kill at great distances, often with the push of a button and a sighting on a computer screen. Even where soldiers come face to face, their languages and cultures are often so diverse as to make friendly communication unlikely.

No, we should not expect to see another Christmas Truce. Yet still what happened on that Christmas of 1914 may inspire the peacemakers of today—for, now as always, the best time to make peace is long before the armies go to war.

© http://www.aaronshep.com/stories/061.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2008 11:08    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

"It is thought possible that the enemy may
be contemplating an attack during
Xmas or New Year.
Special vigilance will be maintained
during these periods."

From General Headquarters at St. Omer - to all units
24th December, 1914.

http://www.kinnethmont.co.uk/1914-1918_files/xmas-truce.htm
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2008 11:13    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The strange and unofficial truce lasted for several days, much to the dismay of the commanding officers. This amazing show of Christmas cheer was never again repeated and as World War I progressed, the story of Christmas 1914 at the front became something of a legend. It showed that even in the most hell-like of conditions, the essential goodness of human beings prevails and the spirit of the infant Christ can overcome enmity and bring people together.

The Irish poet, Thomas Kettle, who was killed in the War in September 1916, captured that spirit in a poem he wrote to his little daughter, Betty, shortly before he died:

“So, here while the mad guns curse overhead,
And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor,
Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor –
But for a dream, born in a herdsman’s shed,
And for the secret scripture of the poor.”


© http://www.anfearrua.com/story.asp?id=1568
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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Dec 2008 12:08    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://www.theroadtothehorizon.org/2008/12/great-christmas-truce-of-1914.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 24 Jan 2009 17:22    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

'Born in a Herdsman's Shed' - A Christmas truce
Ninety four years ago this Christmas the first World War had been raging for just over four months, recalls An Fear Rua…

As the soldiers of both sides cheerily departed for the frontlines in France and Belgium the politicians told them it would “all be over by Christmas”. But it wasn’t. Instead, on that first Christmas of the War, the soldiers - many of them volunteers from Ireland, indeed a great number of them probably hurlers and footballers - found themselves bogged down in deadly trench warfare, sometimes less than a hundred metres apart.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 1914 something magical and mysterious happened – the killing stopped - and men from both sides gingerly left their positions and fraternised in the ‘No Mans’ Land’ between the trenches.

For that first Christmas away from home, family and friends of the soldiers wanted to make their loved ones' Christmas special. They sent packages filled with letters, warm clothing, food, cigarettes, and medications. Yet what made Christmas at the front really seem like the traditional festival was the arrival of so many small Christmas trees in the trenches.

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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Mei 2009 9:08    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

World War I diaries reveal story behind 1914 armistice

The diary of a First World War veteran has revealed his crucial role in the Christmas armistice of 1914. Richard McComb reports.


Robert Hamilton was an assiduous diary keeper, recording life’s daily occurrences between 1913 and 1950 with military precision.

The entries were no doubt pertinent to the author but generally were less than gripping for a wider audience. According to Robert’s grandson, Andrew Hamilton, who ploughed through his late forebear’s leather-bound volumes, much of the content was “unexceptional and rather dull”.

Thank goodness Andrew kept looking, however. As he scanned the diaries, the former Birmingham history teacher’s eye was caught by a slim, hardback volume. Unlike the rest of the collection, the text was typed rather than handwritten and was marked: “Diary kept by Captain R C Hamilton from August 5th 1914 to January 12th 1915.”

The volume contained fascinating details about the frontline service of Robert, a captain in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. There were stories of trench warfare, of boredom, random killing and belligerent batmen.

An entry for September 6, 1914, when the Warwicks were in northern France, is a succinct case in point: “On again at daybreak. Captured some skunking spies and shot them. Women and children we passed told awful stories of their atrocities.”

Four days later, Capt Hamilton, who commanded A Company, reports: “Stood to at 3.00am and moved off at 5.00. Halted while the guns opened fire, making a terrible din. This is hell. We came across numerous dead Germans. French farm girls came up with peaches and water.”

Andrew, a baronet living in Walton, Warwickshire, thought his relative’s account of life and death on the Western Front, of the sniping and the shelling, would be an invaluable resource for his pupils at Woodrush High in Hollywood, Birmingham, and later at Evesham High School, where he was appointed head of history. There is nothing like bringing history to life for jaded young minds.


Delight over the diary turned to astonishment, though, when Andrew worked his way through the entries up to December 25 and discovered, in his grandfather’s words: “A day unique in world history.”

It became clear that Capt Hamilton, who died in 1959 aged 81, had played a pivotal yet unrecognised role in one of the First World War’s most famous episodes – the celebrated Christmas truce of 1914, when opposing troops fraternised amid the slaughter and squalor of No Man’s Land.

His diary tells of the first tentative greeting between the frontline soldiers on Christmas Eve, the Germans shouting across the wire entanglements: “Are you the Warwicks?”

Capt Hamilton recounts how his former servant, a Pte Gregory, whom he had just sacked for making sub-standard tea, went “over the top” not on a bayonet charge but to collect his gift of a German cigar.

The officer was then asked to meet his opposite number in the 134th Saxon Regiment, which he pledged to do on Christmas Day. “I said I would meet him at dawn, unarmed,” writes Capt Hamilton.

Soldiers swapped buttons and badges. Others made toasts with mugs of rum. There were gestures of humanity, too, as men buried the dead of both sides.

The details of the extraordinary encounter in Flanders’ shattered fields are featured in a new book by Andrew Hamilton, titled Meet at Dawn, Unarmed, which focuses on his grandfather’s service with the Warwicks during the Great War.

Capt Hamilton, later to be made major and succeed his father, Frederic, as the 8th baronet of Silverton Hill (Andrew is the 10th), was born and brought up at Avon Cliffe, Tiddington, near Stratford-on-Avon. He married Irene (Renie) Mordaunt, second daughter of the dowager Lady Mordaunt, of Walton Hall, near Wellesbourne, in 1907. Her father, Sir Charles Mordaunt, had been MP for South Warwickshire.


The couple were prolific diary writers during Robert’s service on the Western Front and Renie’s entries are interspersed with her husband’s throughout Meet at Dawn, Unarmed, providing an insight into the traumas and tribulations of life on the Home Front. However, it is Capt Hamilton’s account of the Christmas armistice, on the edge of Ploegsteert Wood, known as Plugstreet, south of Messines, that provides the undoubted highlight of the book, co-written with First World War historian Alan Reed.

Capt Hamilton had previously served with the Norfolk Regiment in South Africa and by a weird coincidence the German chef who cooked at a regimental dinner, at Piccadilly’s Trocadero in 1912, cropped up in the “enemy” fire trench during the Christmas armistice. “He seemed quite delighted to meet some of his former clients,” writes Capt Hamilton.

A career soldier and later gentleman farmer, he had been called up into the Warwicks in 1913 and was among the first to sail to France with the British

Expeditionary Force in August 1914. His regimental brothers-in-arms included friends Bruce Bainsfather, the Great War cartoonist, who lived at Bishopton, Warwickshire, and Bernard Law Montgomery, better-known later as Field Marshal Montgomery, hero of the Second World War.

Soon after the momentous events of Christmas 1914, the full descriptions of which follow, Captain Hamilton returned to England on leave. He crossed to Folkestone on January 12, boarded a train and ate four boiled eggs in the restaurant car. He arrived home at 9pm, declaring: “All’s well that ends well.”

The officer, who appears to have been extremely popular with his men, suffered recurring problems with his ears, a condition exacerbated by shellfire and the grim trenches existence. His dodgy ears probably saved his life. Following an examination by two senior Army doctors, Capt Hamilton was deemed medically unfit for frontline service and was appointed commandant of a military detention barracks in Hereford.

Just a few months later, in April 1915, his battalion was decimated at the Second Battle of Ypres. Several officers who were with him at the front during the Christmas armistice were killed.

Capt Hamilton had loved the camaraderie of active service and viewed his new posting, dealing with conscientious objectors, with disdain. Andrew, who is 55 and has three daughters, says: “My grandfather was harsh with conscientious objectors and I feel pretty bad about that now. But he was an officer and he would do anything for a soldier in need.”

Andrew was initially concerned his grandfather’s diary description of the Christmas truce may have suffered from a “surfeit of truth”. But the contents appeared to be corroborated when he found Capt Hamilton’s original diary, written at the front, in pencil and standard issue purple crayon, and a second more detailed copy. The third, and final, typed draft contained only minor alterations from the trench diary, namely the omission of criticisms of the generals.

Ultimately, it is impossible to say if Capt Hamilton instigated the legendary Christmas ceasefire, which took place along the line, and certainly Andrew makes no claim in this respect. However, he adds: “My grandfather was there at dawn, meeting the Germans. Whether there were many other officers who had arranged to do this is difficult to say. But he was certainly one of the first to set it all off.”

* Andrew Hamilton and Alan Reed, Meet At Dawn, Unarmed, published by Dene House Publishing, priced £16.99. To order, go to www.meetatdawnunarmed.co.uk

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BerichtGeplaatst: 20 Nov 2009 7:45    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJqK5Hd61sk&feature=player_embedded

Hymne des Fraternises- Joyeux Noel

To the song of Hymne des Fraternises, from the very same film's soundtrack, by Phillippe Rombi

Inspired by a true story, which happened on Christmas Eve 1914 during World War I, in many different places along the front line. Various front-line soldiers of the conflict peacefully met each other in No Man's Land to share a precious pause in the carnage with a fleeting brotherhood. This film dramatizes one such section as the French, British and German sides partake in the unique event, even though they are aware that their superiors will not tolerate its occurrence.

"I hear the mountain birds
The sound of rivers singing
A song I've often heard
It flows through me now
So clear and so loud
I stand where I am
And forever I'm dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I'm dreaming of home

It's carried in the air
The breeze of early morning
I see the land so fair
My heart opens wide
There's sadness inside
I stand where I am
And forever I'm dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I'm dreaming of home

This is no foreign sky
I see no foreign light
But far away am I
From some peaceful land
I'm longing to stand
A hand in my hand
...forever I'm dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I'm dreaming of home"

If you haven't seen this film, it is the perfect thing to watch not only in Christmas, but all the year round.
http://www.joyeuxnoel-lefilm.com/
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BerichtGeplaatst: 15 Dec 2009 9:41    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

1914 and Christmas: What Might Have Been

As Americans come to dread the increasingly bromidic nature of the festive season (where, that is, they are still allowed to celebrate Christmas at all), they might find it profitable to reflect upon the First World War. For it was that conflagration that did so much to make the West what it is today.

It engendered nearly all the most fashionable slogans of our time: “democratic crusades,” “national self-determination,” “the rights of minorities.” The creed attributed to neocon apparatchik Michael Ledeen simply echoes, in vulgarized form, the disinformation from “the war to end all wars.” “Every ten years or so,” as Ledeen has never denied saying, “the United States needs to pick up some small cr*ppy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”

Turning our eyes, with some relief, from battle in its current manifestations — the rent-a-mob Fox News boosterism; the complete disconnection between those who do the dying and those who do the cheering; the sanctimonious speeches by Barack Hussein Bush or whatever the Dear Leader’s name now is — we are forced to confront the far greater horrors of what our ancestors endured. Patrick Buchanan, among others, has referred to these horrors as initiating the “European civil war.” Historian Edmond Taylor observed in 1963 that "the trench warfare of 1914-1918 was perhaps the cruelest large-scale ordeal that the flesh and spirit of man have endured since the beginning of the Ice Age.” As to its practical results, novelist and critic Richard Aldington (who himself survived the Western Front for two years) called it “a struggle for prestige so futile that its apologists are forced into defending it because it Europeanized Turkey.”

During modern combat — Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan — “the best and the brightest” can usually worm themselves into Beltway think-tanks, and thence run no greater physical risks than are involved in spewing forth screeds about the “duty” to export “freedom” and “women’s rights” to Burkina Faso within 24 hours. But in World War I, “the best and the brightest” perished in the same mincing-machine as the doughboys, the Tommies, and the poilus. London-based military chronicler Lyn MacDonald, in her study 1915: The Death of Innocence, singles out as characteristic the fate of Britain’s aristocratic stud-book, Debrett’s Peerage. This directory needed to have its 1915 edition delayed because “so many heirs to great lands and titles had been killed, that it took the editors many months to revise the entries of almost every blue-blooded family in the United Kingdom.” British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith lost a son. Hilaire Belloc, the great poet and journalist, lost a son. Another great poet, Rudyard Kipling, lost a son. Future German President Friedrich Ebert lost three sons.

Equally notable is the body-count among artists and intellectuals of the time. France’s Alain Fournier, creator of the exquisite novel Le Grand Meaulnes, was killed in 1914. So was the eminent French poet and philosopher, Charles Péguy. America’s own Alan Seeger, whose verses had been admired by T. S. Eliot, joined the French Foreign Legion and was killed in 1916. Also killed in 1916: Britain’s H. H. Munro, who wrote superb short stories under the pen-name “Saki,” and who, refusing an officer’s rank, enrolled as a private. Killed in 1918: English poet Isaac Rosenberg. Killed in 1918: another American poet, Joyce Kilmer.

Perhaps Wilfred Owen was the casualty whom literature could spare least. Born in Shropshire, near Wales, in 1893, Owen originally considered a career as a clergyman in the Church of England. Abandoning this, he first worked as a private tutor, and then enlisted: first in the Officers’ Training Corps, then in the Manchester Regiment. Invalided out, he then returned to the carnage, and won the Military Cross. What he saw and heard changed him forever: “My subject,” he wrote, is “War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. All a poet can do today is to warn.” Warn he did, in lines that, once read, haunt the mind eternally:

What passing bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that, at Christmas 1914, sanity did break through. At certain points on the Western Front, a Yuletide armistice occurred. Some soldiers on both sides traded gifts: chocolate, whiskey, and cigars, for example. Stanley Weintraub, formerly of Pennsylvania State University, explains what happened near Ypres, Belgium, in his Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce:

For most British soldiers [writes Weintraub], the German insistence on celebrating Christmas was a shock after the propaganda about Teutonic bestiality, while the Germans had long dismissed the British as well as the French as soulless and materialistic and incapable of appreciating the festival in the proper spirit. Regarded by the French and British as pagans — even savages — the pragmatic Germans were not expected to risk their lives on behalf of each beloved Tannenbaum [Christmas tree]. Yet when a few were felled by Scrooge-like gunfire, the Saxons … stubbornly climed the parapets to set the endangered trees up once more.

Even the formidable efforts by military censors could not completely prevent the news of this impromptu fraternization from leaking out over the next week. A London newspaper, The Daily Mirror, mused in its edition of January 2, 1915:

The soldier’s heart rarely has any hatred in it. He goes out to fight because that is his job. What came before – the causes of the war, and the why and wherefore — bother him little. He fights for his country and against his country’s enemies. Collectively, they are to be condemned and blown to pieces. Individually, he knows they’re not bad sorts.... But now an end to the truce. The news, bad and good, begins again. 1915 darkens over. Again we who watch have to mourn many of our finest men. The lull is finished. The absurdity and the tragedy renew themselves.

More than ninety years on, the mind almost refuses to function when contemplating the sheer industrial scale of the slaughter which followed that glimmering of Christmas hope. In one day (July 1, 1916, at the Somme), 19,240 British troops perished. Some of the smallest countries had some of the highest casualty rates. Australia, with a population of only four million, and with all-volunteer fighting forces (no conscripts), lost 59,000 dead: 65 percent of the total enlistees.

For Owen, the experience of combat seared away all surface piety, and burned into him the image of the Crucifixion. In a letter to his friend and fellow author Osbert Sitwell, he wrote: “For 14 hours yesterday, I was at work — teaching Christ to lift His cross by the numbers, and how to adjust His crown; and not to imagine He thirst until after the last halt. I attended His Supper to see that there were no complaints; and inspected His feet that they should be worthy of the nails. I see to it that He is dumb, and stands before His accusers.” From his poem Agnus Dei:

Near Golgotha strolls many a priest,
And in their faces there is pride
That they were flesh-marked by the Beast
By whom the gentle Christ’s denied.
The scribes on all the people shove
And bawl allegiance to the state,
But they who love the greater love
Lay down their life; they do not hate.

“Bawl[ing] allegiance to the state” brought its own forms of domestic vileness. To quote Edmond Taylor again:

In France a kind of forgery mill, supported by secret government funds, grounds out fake photographs of German atrocities to back up the no less coldbloodedly fabricated news reports of Belgian babies with their hands wantonly hacked off, of women with their breasts cut off by German bayonets or sabers, of factories for making soap out of human corpses.... Twenty years later the scars left on the public mind by this wartime atrocity propaganda — which of course was speedily exposed after the fighting ended — were still so inflamed, that American newspaper correspondents in Europe had the greatest difficulty in persuading their editors to print authenticated reports of authentic Nazi atrocities.

Edith Cavell, the Brussels-resident British nurse judicially murdered in 1915 by a German firing squad, proclaimed before her death: “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.” This was not a sentiment readily understood by the average media spin-doctor, then or today. Owen remained immune to artificial civilian orgies of odium. One of his masterpieces imparts a terrible twist to the Biblical account of Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac:

So Abraham rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife....
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of Pride instead.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

This last line indicates what could have been the war’s greatest single catastrophe: its demographic impact. Pope Benedict XV implored the belligerent powers to lay down their arms “while there are still any young men left.” Lord Lansdowne, former British Foreign Secretary and a Protestant, wrote an open letter urging peace before “the prolongation of the war leads to the ruin of the civilized world.” The resultant outcry over his words destroyed his career.

Owen never witnessed the acclaim which, eventually, his poems achieved. On November 4, 1918, a week before the declaration of peace, he was shot dead in northern France. The postwar “land fit for heroes to live in” had no place for him. Instead, the prevailing obsession consisted — as one otherwise insignificant British cabinet minister put it — of “squeezing Germany until the pips squeak.” Future Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin described the new parliamentarians of 1918 as “a lot of hard-faced men who look as if they had done very well out of the war.” Belloc’s friend G. K. Chesterton expressed himself still more acidically, citing lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner as if they had been uttered by a profiteering tycoon:

The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie:
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.

Maybe the simplest and most direct description of what 1914-1918 meant for mankind came from Sir Maurice Bowra, British professor of Greek and Latin literature, who fought in the trenches. At least Bowra made it through the hostilities. Later he told one of his students, in words that should give even the most self-confident peace-time historian pause: “Whatever you hear about the war, remember it was far worse: inconceivably bloody — nobody who wasn’t there can imagine what it was like.”

http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/history/european/2543-1914-and-christmas-what-might-have-been
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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Dec 2009 13:51    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Toch even aan denken...
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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Dec 2009 15:04    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

"Days that shook the world" heeft er blijkbaar ook een documentaire over gemaakt. Net gekeken op de Belgische digitale zender 8.

Vanavond trouwens Joyeux Noel op Nederland 2 ... Al betwijfel ik of er forumleden gaan kijken.
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Epitaph Lance CPL L.A.C Webb (Lancastershire fusiliers) @kezelberg Millitary Cemetery
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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Dec 2009 21:52    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Het leven aan het Westfront in de winter van 1914 was bepaald geen pretje. De beide strijdende kampen (Engeland en Frankrijk aan de ene zijde en Duitsland aan de andere) hadden zich ingegraven, nadat de oorlog in een patstelling was beland. Het Noordeuropese landschap zag er toen heel merkwaardig uit: van de Noordzeekust tot aan de Zwitserse grens liepen twee tegenover elkaar liggende loopgravenstelsels met ertussen niemandsland en prikkeldraadversperringen. Aan weerszijden werden min of meer permanente voorzieningen aangebracht, zoals ondergrondse vertrekken, schuilplaatsen, kachels en latrines.

In de loopgraven heersten meestal erbarmelijke levensomstandigheden. Door grond- en regenwater hadden de soldaten voortdurend natte voeten. Daardoor konden hun voeten pijnlijk gaan zwellen en hun tenen zelfs afsterven. Ook hadden ze veel last van ongedierte, zoals vlooien, luizen, muggen en ratten. De ratten, soms zo groot als een volwassen kat, knaagden aan de voorraden en aan de gewonde of dode soldaten. De kwaliteit van het voedsel liet veelal te wensen over. De dood lag voortdurend op de loer: de soldaten liepen steeds het risico dat ze werden gedood door een onverwachte granaatinslag of door de kogel van een sluipschutter. Soms werden ze dagenlang dag en nacht bestookt door de vijandelijke artillerie, zodat ze geen moment rust hadden. Of ze moesten dagenlang wachten tot hun eigen artillerie was uitgeraasd ter voorbereiding van een aanval op de vijandelijke loopgraven.

Wanneer het aanvalsmoment dan eindelijk was aangebroken, zwegen de zware kanonnen en bliezen de officiers op hun fluitje. Voor de soldaten was dit het teken om uit hun loopgraven te komen, over de borstwering te klimmen en het niemandsland in te lopen op weg naar de loopgraven van de vijand. De grond was door de talloze granaatinslagen veranderd in een soort maanlandschap dat door metersdiepe kraters nauwelijks begaanbaar was. Vaak bleek het prikkeldraad niet te zijn vernietigd door de eigen artillerie, zodat de opmars werd vertraagd. De ploeterende soldaten waren daardoor een makkelijke prooi voor de vijandelijke mitrailleurs en werden bij bosjes neergemaaid. In december 1914 waren de verliescijfers al tot dramatische hoogten opgelopen. Bij elk van de strijdende partijen liep het aantal doden, gewonden en vermisten reeds in de tienduizenden. Van het Britse leger, dat in augustus op het Europese vasteland was geland om de Fransen en Belgen bij te staan, was bijna niets meer over.

Op Kerstavond in het jaar 1914 vroor het aan het Westfront. De modder was hard geworden, de kapotgeschoten bomen waren afgezet met rijp en in niemandsland was de afschuwelijke stank van rottend mensenvlees vervaagd. De vriesnacht was helder, schoon en over het algemeen rustig. Aan het front ten zuiden van Ieper klonk vanuit de Britse linies nog wat verspreid vuur, maar toen bleek dat er geen aanval op komst was, zwegen de geweren. De Duitsers begonnen als eersten Kerst te vieren. Ze wisselden schnapps (alcoholische drank) en sigaretten uit. Hier en daar verscheen een verlicht kerstboompje of een lampion boven de loopgraven. Ergens begonnen de Duitsers ‘Stille nacht, Heilige nacht’ te zingen.

De Britse soldaat Graham Williams van de London Rifle Brigade herinnerde het zich na de oorlog nog: „Nadat ze waren uitgezongen, vonden we dat we iets terug moesten doen en zongen ‘The first Noel’. Toen we klaar waren applaudisseerden ze, om vervolgens ‘O Tannenbaum’ in te zetten, een van hun andere favorieten. En zo ging het maar door.”
Ook op andere plekken aan het front gebeurde iets dergelijks. Een kanonnier van de Royal Field Artillery herinnerde zich dat de Duitsers riepen: „Kom hierheen. We willen jullie spreken.” Er werd heen en weer geroepen: „Hallo Tommy, Hello Fritz!” Een Britse durfal klom uit de loopgraaf en liep richting de Duitse linies. Een Duitser kwam hem halverwege tegemoet. Ze gaven elkaar een hand en deden heel vriendelijk tegen elkaar. Toen de Engelsman even later terugkeerde en vertelde
wat hij had beleefd, durfden anderen eveneens de Duitsers te bezoeken.

De volgende dag, op Eerste Kerstdag, kwamen aan beide kanten van het front de soldaten hun loopgraven uit. In het volle zicht van de vijand werden velddiensten gehouden zonder dat er een schot werd gelost. Beide partijen zwaaiden naar elkaar en enkele moedige soldaten liepen het niemandsland in om elkaar te begroeten. Aanvankelijk vormden zich kleine groepjes, vervolgens steeds grotere, totdat op sommige plekken honderden soldaten bij elkaar stonden. Er werden handen geschut, men bood elkaar een vuurtje aan en wisselde geschenken uit: sigaretten, Duitse worsten en sigaren, ingeblikte hutspot, tabak, familiefoto’s en Londense kranten.

Op diverse plaatsen in België vonden dit soort verbroederingen plaats. Vermoed wordt dat het Kerstbestand op tweederde van het Westfront in acht werd gehouden. Het bestand duurde minstens tot het einde van Tweede Kerstdag. Op sommige plaatsen duurde het tot de jaarwisseling of zelfs tot ver in januari 1915. De legerleidingen waren fel tegen deze ‘pax noel’. Een spontaan bestand was uiterst ongewenst en tastte de discipline aan: de soldaten konden immers gaan denken dat de vijand ook maar een mens was. Het zorgvuldig opgebouwde vijandsbeeld moest koste wat kost in stand worden gehouden. Niemand had ook gedacht dat de spontane Kerstvrede lang zou aanhouden. Al spoedig begon het te regenen, de modder keerde terug en de stemming sloeg om.

De legerleidingen kregen hun zin: de soldaten keerden weer terug naar hun loopgraven en de strijd zou spoedig weer worden hervat. De Eerste Wereldoorlog zou na Kerstmis 1914 nog zo’n kleine vier jaar duren en nog vele honderdduizenden slachtoffers eisen. Toch was er even vrede op aarde geweest. De geweren en kanonnen verstomden een moment. Even was er plaats voor het Kerstfeest, voor een beetje kameraadschap en menselijkheid. Per slot van rekening deelden de de soldaten dezelfde ellendige levensomstandigheden en doodsdreiging.

http://reja-anneke.blogspot.com/2009/12/kerst-1914.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2009 9:24    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Christmas 1914 In no man's land

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujJD122Yd9U

A Christmas Truce

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g0F4GyDhHU&feature=fvw

The Christmas Truce of 1914
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p05E_ohaQGk

A Silent Night {Christmas 1915} - Jerry Lynch
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT0ysO58KXE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7ErrZ-ipoE
Paul McCartney - Pipes Of Peace
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2009 20:13    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://erikdegraaf.blogspot.com/2009/12/kerstbestand-van-1914.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 26 Dec 2009 23:08    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Zu Weihnachten schweigen Waffen
Soldaten aus Bietigheim im Ersten Weltkrieg - Grüße und Pakete an die Front geschickt
Der Erste Weltkrieg von 1914 bis 1918 forderte rund 17 Millionen Menschenleben. Schwer war die Zeit für die Soldaten aus der Stadt zu Weihnachten. Schriftliche Grüße und Pakete erreichten die Front-Krieger.




Was die Soldaten aus Bietigheim im Ersten Weltkrieg erlebten, zeigt sich eindrucksvoll in der Dokumentation von Christa Lieb mit dem Titel: "Zwischen Heimat und Front" anhand von Feldpostbriefen, Kriegertotenheften, Postkarten-Alben.

Am 22. Dezember 1914 schrieb der 20-jährige Berthold Bender aus Bietigheim an seine Eltern: Heute gehen wir wieder auf acht Tage vor, rasch noch vorher einen Gruß und zum neuen Jahr das Allerbeste für Euch, ihr Lieben alle. Es geht das dunkle Gerücht, unser Regiment soll abgelöst werden, vielleicht wird es wahr. Am 30., wenn wir noch leben, kommen wir wieder zurück und feiern dann Sylvester im Quartier. Denkt an mich in der Neujahrsnacht und seit alle herzlichst gegrüßt. Berthold Bender fiel kurze Zeit später am 31. Januar 1915.

Zur Waffenruhe an Weihnachten 1914 regnete es und es war kalt. Die Gräben auf beiden Seiten liefen voll Wasser, es herrschten entsetzliche Zustände. Das führte vor allem zwischen britischen und deutschen Soldaten zu einer Haltung des "Leben-und Leben-Lassens".

Den 24. Dezember kam zur Nässe noch heftiger Frost hinzu, der Boden war gefroren und der Gestank verwesender Körper auf dem Schlachtfeld ließ nach. Die Deutschen setzten Weihnachtsbäume auf die Schutzwälle und sangen Weihnachtslieder als kameradschaftlichen Gruß. Als sich der Nebel am nächsten Morgen hob und die Waffen schwiegen, schallten Rufe zwischen den Gräben.

Karl Wiedmann aus Bietigheim befand sich an Weihnachten 1915 in Kriegsgefangenschaft in Ahmednagar in Indien. Er berichtete seiner Schwester Bertha: Am Heiligen Abend werden wir eine allgemeine Lager-Weihnachtsfeier haben. Das zweite Weihnachten in Gefangenschaft. Gar oft packt mich ein Sehnen nach Freiheit, nach geordneter Arbeit, nach der Heimat und doch scheint alles dies noch fern zu sein. Doch hebt uns die Hoffnung und der Glaube, wenn er oft auch sehr klein ist, auf leisen Schwingen höher und näher dem, der allein voller Frieden bescheren kann dem friedlosen, verzagten Menschenherzen.

Das Kriegertotenheft des evangelischen Pfarramtes in Bietigheim vermerkt unter dem 24. Dezember 1916 eine knappe Mitteilung: Bauer, Karl, 20 Jahre, gefallen. Gestorben im Feldlazarett nach schwerer Verwundung. Musketier im Re.-Inf.Reg. 248/10. Geb. 17.12.1896, Bauer, ledig.

Im evangelischen Gemeindeblatt ist dann zu erfahren, dass Karl Bauer am Heiligen Abend vor Verdun beerdigt werden musste. Er war seit Herbst 1915 Soldat. Am 22. Dezember 1916 wurde er bei einem Handgranatenkampf an vorderster Stellung schwer verwundet (rechter Fuß und linker Arm), von Hermann Sautter erkannt und auf einem herbeigeholten Sanitätsauto zum Verbandsplatz gebracht. Am anderen Abend waren die Kräfte des jungen Mannes erschöpft und er "entschlief". Er war einer von denen, so heißt es im Gemeindeblatt weiter, "der sich, zumal nach dem landwirtschaftlichen Sommerurlaub, mit schwerem Herzen von der Heimat losgerissen hat und auch draußen in vielen Gedanken an zu Hause lebte, wo es nun ohne ihn gehen muss. Das sind harte Schicksalsschläge, wenn nun auch der junge Mann selbst vor einem Leben als Krüppel verschont blieb. Aus dem Brief seines Vorgesetzten spricht tiefes Mitgefühl und sein Wunsch ist zugleich unser aller Wunsch: Möge der allmächtige Gott ihm seinen göttlichen Trost verleihen".

Am 17. Dezember 1917 berichtete Erwin Widmaier, geboren 1895, aus Bietigheim an seine Freundin und spätere Frau Paula aus Frankreich: Mein liebes Fräulein Schulz. Vielen herzlichen dank für Ihren Brief mit Paketchen. Die Gutsle, die ja wahrscheinlich Weihnachten erleben sollten, taten dies nicht, weil sie schon kurz nach ihrer Ankunft zusammen mit einem Nachmittagskaffeeersatz ihrer Bestimmung zugeführt wurden. Mit meiner Fahrt nach Brügge wurde es seinerzeit allerdings Essig. In der gleichen Nacht kamen wir von Flandern (Gott sei Dank) weg und wurden nach Cambrai verladen. Seither ziehen wir hier in der Gegend herum, ruhelos, wie ungefähr ein kunstsimpelnder Deutscher in Italien. In jeder Stellung sind wir nur ein paar Tage.

Das Gemeindeblatt berichtete unter dem 26. Dezember 1917: Wegen Papiermangels wird im nächsten Jahr das Ev. Gemeindeblatt nur alle 2 Monate erscheinen.

Und im Enz- und Metterboten vom 29. Dezember 1917 steht: Der am Weihnachtsfest eingesetzte starke Schneefall brachte große Kälte, die sich in vergangener Nacht auf 17 Grad steigerte.

http://www.bietigheimerzeitung.de/bz1/news/stadt_kreis_artikel.php?artikel=4799204
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BerichtGeplaatst: 03 Jan 2010 16:55    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ein bisschen Frieden

Landkreis „Sie krochen aus ihren Schützengräben und liefen herum, mit Zigarrenkistchen und Wünschen für ein frohes Weihnachtsfest. Was sollten unsere Männer denn tun? Etwa schießen? Man kann doch nicht auf waffenlose Männer schießen.“ Diese Zeilen schrieb ein britischer Brigadegeneral über die denkwürdigen Weihnachtstage des Jahres 1914 an der Westfront. Insbesondere in Flandern kommt es zwischen den Truppen des britischen Expeditionskorps und der bayerischen 6. Armee des Kronprinzen Rupprecht, der auch zahlreiche Soldaten aus der Heimat angehören, zu regelrechten Verbrüderungsszenen. Die deutschen und britischen Soldaten singen gemeinsam Weihnachtslieder, im Niemandsland wird Fußball gespielt, als Torpfosten dienen deutsche Pickelhauben und britische Feldmützen. Es gibt Radrennen, die Soldaten trinken belgisches Bier. 1908 war der bayerische Kronprinz während eines Manövers noch zu Gast in Krumbach gewesen. Der Krieg als schnelle Attacke mit Säbel und Pferd: Merkwürdigerweise hatte diese Vorstellung das Denken höchster Offiziere noch 1914, als der Erste Weltkrieg ausbrach, geprägt. „Zu Weihnachten in Paris“ steht im August 1914 auf den Zügen, mit denen die deutschen Soldaten an die Front fahren. An Weihnachten würden sie wieder zu Hause sein, ruft der deutsche Kaiser Wilhelm II. den Soldaten beim Ausmarsch aus Berlin zu.

Weihnachten 1914 ist die Bilanz eine andere: Bereits 300 000 deutsche Soldaten bis dahin gefallen, 300 000 Franzosen, rund 160 000 Engländer. Die Front ist in einem Stellungskrieg erstarrt. In den rattenverseuchten, dreckigen, verschlammten Schützengräben, umgeben von Minen und Stacheldraht, vegetieren die Soldaten dahin.

Am Heiligen Abend 1914 bricht sich der Wunsch auf beiden Seiten, dass damit endlich Schluss sein möge, Bahn. Die Annäherung erfolgt mitunter auf eine ungewöhnliche Weise. Eine deutsche Einheit beispielsweise wirft statt der üblichen Handgranaten ein Paket mit Schokoladenkuchen in die nahe britische Stellung. An anderen Abschnitten werden zunächst in beiden Stellungslinien, die oft weniger als 100, manchmal nur 20 Meter auseinander liegen, Weihnachtslieder gesungen.

Gefühle auf Karten dokumentiert

Die Gefühle deutscher Soldaten in diesen Tagen sind bisweilen auch auf Ansichtskarten dokumentiert, die in den Weihnachtstagen nach Hause geschrieben werden. In den Alben von Sophie Maier (54) aus Muttershofen findet man eine große Ansammlung von Ansichtskarten, die während des Ersten Weltkrieges in die Heimat geschrieben wurden. Vergeblich sucht man nach Zeilen, die über die denkwürdigen Verbrüderungen entlang der gesamten Westfront während der Weihnachtszeit 1914 geschrieben wurden. Bei dieser vergeblichen Suche ahnt man auch die bittere Tatsache, dass sich das „Wunder“ der Weihnachtstage 1914 nicht wiederholen sollte. Für 1915 sind noch vereinzelte Verbrüderungen bekannt, 1916 wurde an Weihnachten geschossen wie an anderen Tagen. Doch eine der Karten aus Sophie Maiers Sammlung ist exakt auf den 24. Dezember 1914 datiert. Ein Gruß von Karl Knöpfle an die Muttershofer Käsereibesitzerstochter Regina Matt, abgeschickt in Saarburg/Lothringen. „Ein fröhliches Weihnachtsfest und ein gutes Neujahr“, heißt es auf der Karte.

Eine weitere Karte ist auf den 20. Dezember 1915 datiert. Der Schreinermeister und Landwirt Matthäus Sindl aus Uttenhofen schreibt aus einem Nürnberger Reservelazarett an seine Schwester Mathilde: „Ich mache Dir hiermit die Mitteilung, dass ich am 21. Dezember komme.“ Er bittet darum, am Bahnhof Uttenhofen abgeholt zu werden. Damals hielt der Zug zweimal täglich in Uttenhofen, inzwischen ist die Linie Thannhausen-Dinkelscherben längst stillgelegt.

„Gottlob gesund“

„Es geht mir wieder gut und bin gottlob gesund“: Dies steht auf einer am 23. Dezember 1917 aus dem Frontabschnitt in den Argonnen/Frankreich in die Heimat abgeschickten Karte. Namen sind in der verwischten Schrift nicht mehr entzifferbar. Auf der Vorderseite der Karten findet sich die Aufschrift „Fröhliche Weihnachten. Argonnen 1917“. Weiße Buchstaben, gedruckt auf das graue Bild einer durch den Krieg zerschundenen, entstellten Landschaft.

Durch wie viele dieser entstellten Landschaften war der Soldat Albert Röhrle aus Bauhofen gezogen, bis er am Heiligen Abend 1916 in Rumänien vermisst wird? Der Blick auf ein Sterbebild lässt einen nicht los. Ein junger Mann in der Uniform eines bayerischen Jägerbataillons. Die Aufnahme lässt sich nicht mehr exakt datieren, doch man hat das Gefühl, dass erste bitte Erfahrungen des Krieges dieses noch junge Gesicht bereits verändert haben. Röhrle, geboren am 14. November 1891 in Bauhofen bei Ziemetshausen, ist Soldat in einer Maschinengewehrkompanie des 1. Bayerischen Jägerbataillons. Das Bataillon ist Teil des deutschen Alpenkorps, einer Elitetruppe, die an besonders umkämpften Kriegsschauplätzen eingesetzt ist. Zunächst im Herbst 1915 an der Dolomitenfront, dann folgen im Frühjahr 1916 die erbitterten Kämpfe vor Verdun. Nach dem Kriegseintritt Rumäniens gegen Deutschland und Österreich-Ungarn im August 1916 wird das Alpenkorps an die neu entstandene Front in den Südkarpaten verlegt. Im November 1916 erkämpfen sich die Soldaten des Alpenkorps bei eisiger Kälte in rund 2000 Meter Höhe den Übergang über die Gebirgspässe, am 6. Dezember erobern die Deutschen Bukarest. Doch die Vergeblichkeit all dieser scheinbaren Erfolge bekommt im Sterbebild von Albert Röhrle ein Gesicht: Er ist vermisst in Rumänen - seit dem 24. Dezember 1916.

Keine Verbrüderung mehr

Weihnachten 1916: Längst gab es an der Front keine Verbrüderung mehr. Der Wille der Mächtigen, die den Krieg wollten, hatte sich durchgesetzt. Auch unter den einfachen Soldaten waren die Verbrüderungen längst nicht von allen begrüßt worden. So etwas dürfte auf keinen Fall zugelassen werden, protestiert ein Gefreiter. Sein Name ist: Adolf Hitler.

Das Buch zur Serie: Peter Bauer; Mitarbeit: Hans Bosch u. a.; Geleitwort: Dr. Theo Waigel: Krieg - entfesselt, gebändigt; 304 Seiten; 16,80 Euro; erhältlich bei den Mittelschwäbischen Nachrichten, bei Marquard, Vogt, Thurn und Lexehexe (Thannhausen) sowie im Krumbacher Heimatmuseum.

http://www.augsburger-allgemeine.de/Home/Nachrichten/Startseite/Artikel,-Ein-bisschen-Frieden-_arid,2030999_regid,2_puid,2_pageid,4288.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 25 Jan 2010 17:03    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Héél oud, héél vreemd nieuws...
Het kerstbestand als het ware gemonopoliseerd door de politiek van 2007...

http://groningen.sp.nl/bericht/21922/071212-21_december_thema_avond_kerstbestand_1914.html
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Mrt 2010 12:33    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Book Review: Truce
by Jeff Ritter - Published: February 21, 2010

I have always enjoyed history. Looking back on my education, history was the subject I most consistently paid attention to. For my efforts, I was often rewarded with a "B" or "C" grade. It wasn't that I didn't understand the lectures or didn't do my homework. I just never understood my teachers' tendencies to hammer us with dates. The War of 1812, for example, continued until 1815. I don't think the dates are important. Pearl Harbor could have happened on any day and still be a terrible tragedy for the American forces stationed there. That it happened on December 7, 1941 is a matter of Japanese planning, supply chain continuity, favorable weather and countless other coincidental factors. As the saying goes, "History will teach us nothing." September 11, 2001 saw America attacked in a similar fashion.

Fortunately, history is not always so grim. Despite what the History Channel would indicate, there are many moments in history that have nothing to do with World War II. Jim Murphy's book Truce is geared toward younger readers, but presents a moment in history that I cannot recall ever having heard of before. It's a moment that reflects a time when soldiers didn't blindly follow orders, when men of war took it upon themselves to lay down their arms, however briefly, to demonstrate the best of human nature. In a word, it was Christmas.

Truce is a historical account of an unusual act of good will towards men during one of the most brutal scenes of the 20th century, World War I. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and the forces of Austria's Franz Josef and Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm soon launched military offensives against neighboring countries. Europe was plunged into a war that ravaged the continent. It was a war such as the world had never seen -- the dawn of the 20th century had ushered in an age of new and highly destructive weaponry. Faster and more powerful guns as well as completely new dangers such as flamethrowers and combat aircraft had caused the tools of war to evolve faster than the tactics military leaders had long employed. World War I would see one of the highest casualty rates in the history of human conflict. Entrenched soldiers fired volley after volley at each other, reaping a terrible harvest. But not on the day of December 25, 1941, a date that should be remembered among the others taught in school.

On Christmas morning of that year, along the Western Front that extended from Belgium to Switzerland through eastern France, the fighting stopped. There were no orders to that effect. Indeed, the force commanders on both sides had warned their soldiers to be on high alert for a holiday attack. Instead, on Christmas morning at many points along the front, soldiers from warring sides met in the "No Man's Land" between the trenches, or were invited into the enemy's trenches themselves. They exchanged greetings, shook hands, offered what meager gifts they could find -- food, drink, cigarettes -- and sang carols. No, this wasn't a formal truce. Neither side had declared a ceasefire to negotiate a lasting peace. The war would continue to take its gruesome toll for another four years. But the spirit of Christmas overcame the mindset of war. Germans and Britons alike laughed and posed for pictures. The war could wait a day.

I applaud Jim Murphy for writing this book. It's well-written, never falling into the trap of tedium that so many history books seem to. The language is not so dense that a younger reader couldn't grasp it nor too simplistic for older readers like me. The type is large, and at a little over 100 pages, many with large pictures, it's a fast read. And it's well worth it. History can teach us something, when some like Jim Murphy offers us something worth learning about. I have friends and family who have served or are serving in the Middle East right now. I guarantee they weren't singing "O Come All Ye Faithful" with opposition forces last Christmas. It's a different time now. I can't imagine I'm the only person who wasn't aware that there had been an impromptu Christmas truce almost 100 years ago during one of the most terrible conflicts in history. I can't help but wonder how things would be if we learned more from our history than dates and casualty figures.

Truce is written for younger readers, and as it is a book about war, parents and educators should decide if it's appropriate for their child or student. The pictures are mostly of soldiers either in the trenches or on the march, and there are many shots of opposing soldiers standing together in the spirit of the holiday. There are a few shots of soldiers holding cigarettes and one picture of a cattle-drawn supply train that had been cut down by artillery fire, which may not be suitable for all children. While the message of the book is inspirational, the subject is still war. I recommend that parents give it a look first, but I also hope they allow their children to experience a bright spot in our history -- when peace on earth was achieved because the fighters refused to fight in defiance of their superior officers.

http://www.the-trades.com/article.php?id=11682
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