Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Review: *****Silent Night:

A couple years ago, Charity and I did a Christmas presentation.  We told the story of the 1914 truce.  In 1914 the troops spontaneously ceased hostility and a truce ensued, which lasted more than a week in some places along the front line. This book tells the story of this Christmas season along the front in France.

It seams many people called for a truce this Christmas time.  The bloodshed along the front had been horrendous.  Pope Benedict XV, who had just been nominated as Pope, called for a truce.  However the governments involved in the fighting did not think a truce was a good idea.  And so the ment took matters into their own hands.

Along the front on Christmas Eve, the truce was gained in a precarious manner.  It started for the most part with the German troops  share their Tennebaum, putting their Christmas trees on the parapets, and shining flash lights on them.  The strange lights were seen by the soldiers on the line opposite them.  The truce continued as with men along the front saying, "Come over here" and the reply "no you come over here."  "Don't shoot" and finally, small groups ventured out.

Songs were heard along the lines.  In one place a German baritone mounted the parapets and sang, "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht."  The book talks of this night in this manner.  "Voices reached them across the dark void of No Mans Land.  The the Scots saw dim figures silhouetted on the German parapet, and about them more lights.  With amazement Maddison realized that a Christmas tree was being set there, and around it Germans talking and laughing together.  "Hoch!  Hoch!  Hoch!" they shouted happily."

Another story of this day involves a German Baker who was making  marzipan balls for the holidays.  Opposite this part of the German front was a group of Algerians fighting with the French.  The Christmas holiday meant nothing to them and the kept up a steady fire upon the Germans.  A shot got too close to he baker, and he had finally had enough.  He grabbed a Christmas tree and headed into No Mans Land with it.  He struggled over the hills ca, now you rrying the tree.  The Algerians held their fire, thinking the baker was too comical or just crazy in his baker's hat.  The units next to the Algerians also informed them what was taking place.  The baker got to the middle of the field, and their he set the tree.  He calmly took some matches and lit the candes and said, "There you blockheads, now you know what's going on.  Merry Christmas!"

along the lines troops from opposing sides came together and shared their provisions.  This included special rations and packages for the holidays.  In some areas the truce lingered.  During the following days, spontaneous soccer games broke out.  The men played in their bulky boots.  Most often score wasn't kept and the men just played.  A more formal game was played in one location.  The German's won 3-2, but one solider commented in may have been because the British official had too much Christmas Spirit towards the Germans and missed an off sides call.

The Christmas of 1914 was remembered fondly by the survivors of the war.  It was brought to our memory a few years ago by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Walter Cronkite providing the narration and telling this story.

No comments:

Post a Comment