A campaign organized by the International Peace Bureau

On the history of
1914 Christmas Truce

British and German troops meeting in no man’s land during the unofficial truce (British troops from the Northumberland Hussars, 7th Division, Bridoux–Rouge Banc Sector). Source: WikiCommons

Late on Christmas Eve 1914, men of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) heard German troops in the trenches opposite them singing carols and patriotic songs and saw lanterns and small fir trees along their trenches. Messages began to be shouted between the trenches.

The following day, British and German soldiers met in no man’s land and exchanged gifts, took photographs and some played games of football. They also buried casualties and repaired trenches and dugouts. After Boxing Day, meetings in no man’s land dwindled out.

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German soldiers celebrating Christmas in a trench during World War I. Source: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Photographic register of soldiers on the Christmas Truce. The Christmas Truce on the Western Front, 1914. Source: Wikipedia Commons/IWM

Today, there are not many people who do not know ‘Silent Night’. In 1914, not many of the British troops in their trenches had ever heard of the German carol. They paused and listened as voices — ‘Stille Nacht. Heilige Nacht. Alles schlaft, einsam wacht …’ — carried easily across no-man’s-land.

Great sources to learn more about the Christmas truce:

World BEYOND War: https://worldbeyondwar.org/christmastruce/

Imperial War Museum: https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-real-story-of-the-christmas-truce

The Christmas Truce | What really happened in the trenches in 1914? (Video). Souce: Imperial War Museum, 2020

A campaign organized by the International Peace Bureau