Good Morning, we will continue our journey until Christmas with the story of the Christmas Truce. This Christmas Truce Happened during World War II. Thousands of Germans and English soldiers put down their arms to celebrate Christmas. It is a special episode during the Great War and it happened in 1914.
The Germans were determined to take the allied troops off guard. The French wanted to gain back their lost territories. The Germans wanted to take the French out that way they could fight the Russians on the eastern front. The Germans were pushed back and then they decided to dig in. However, this failed and both sides dug in. At the start of the war, the fighting was in the open field. There were no trenches. They fought in the open Nobody expected what was to come next.
The soldiers ranged from the ’20s to their 40’s. It was a professional army. They were career soldiers. There were no conscripts. The Home Service ran at half state and when the war started, other soldiers were recalled to make up the difference. Many of the men were not in tip-top fighting conditions. The British had lost 90,000 men. However, despite this, the German army was halted. The Great War was now a siege. The trench made it safer for the men to live.
However, poor drainage in the trenches leads to mud in the trenches. Mud was a constant problem and a constant companion. It was sticky. The men were sent to the hospital because of their cold and wet feet. It was a challenge to keep their feet clean. Sleeping was a challenge. It was so cold. They sleep on the fire step or sleep on bags. The man was exhausted. It was nearly impossible to keep clean in the trenches. With the little water, they had the soldiers managed to keep themselves clean.
Cleaning the weapons was also a challenge. The soldiers had to keep their guns clean. Two or three times the soldiers were clean the weapons. The mud could cause their guns to jam. Mealtimes were considered a high point of the day. The British rations were intended to feed the body. The food was repetitive. It keeps the body going.
Conditions were barely better on the German side of no man’s land. They worked on extending trenches. They tried to keep everyone supplied. The soldiers suffered from bowel problems. It was the same thing every single day. The men in the trenches do not see an end to the war. On Christmas, Eve frost comes. The conditions were ripe for what happened in December 1914. Something is in the air.
The British headquarters thought that the Germans would attack, however it was not an attack. They were celebrating Christmas. The British soldiers saw the colored lights. German families had sent Christmas trees to the front. The German soldiers started singing Christmas trees. The British soldiers were suspicious of the activities of the Germans. Slowly the suspicions went away. Soldiers started shouting across the no man’s land. On Christmas, you did not shoot each other. Slowly bolder spirits climbed out of the trenches to meet each other. Celebrations started breaking out among groups on Christmas Day. Christmas Day would be celebrated in an unforgettable way in December 1914.
This is an excellent documentary about the Christmas truce. It was a bit slow to set up, however, the slowness demonstrated what fostered the Christmas truce. I would show it in the classroom either as a teacher or a sub. It would be a great way to end off the year before Christmas vacation.
You can access the documentary at this link.
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