St. Louis, Mo., Dec 25, 2022 / 10:00 am
The experience of fighting in “The Great War,” World War I, was marked by brutality and misery on a scale never before seen. The grisly realities of trench warfare had already, in just five months, claimed a million lives by the time Christmas came along in 1914, and on the orders of their superiors, young men from both sides routinely gunned or gassed one another into oblivion.
But in the midst of such a hellish time in human history, there was a glimmer of light: the “Christmas truce” of 1914.
You may have read the story, or seen it dramatized on the big screen or even in a TV commercial. On a chilly Christmas morning, soldiers from both sides of the trenches clambered over the barbed wire, arms raised, and shook hands. Gifts were exchanged, and soccer balls flew instead of bullets.
But did such a storybook Christmas Day ever actually happen, or is the Christmas truce merely the stuff of legend? The answer, you may be surprised to learn, is that yes, it really did happen. But perhaps not on the scale you might imagine.