• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Christmas Truce of 1914.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Ashay Shah History 118B - Assignment 4 Grader: Xiaxiang Luo The Christmas Truce of 1914 The Great War of 1914 has been called as the "war to end all wars", the "massacre of innocents", and the birthplace of modern warfare. As the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) describes, during the Great War the world witnessed some of the most bloody and ruthless battles in history. The face of warfare was forever changed with the introduction of the machine-gun, poison gas, airplanes, and most notably trench warfare ("The War to End All Wars"). However, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle noted in his history of 1914, there was "one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of war" (qtd. in Simmermacher, par. 11). Doyle alludes to the December of 1914 when soldiers from both sides of the conflict gathered together between their trenches, set aside the hatred they were expected to feel for each other, and shook hands. Although mostly British and German soldiers participated in it, the truce touched men throughout the Western Front. These unofficial armistices lasted anywhere from a matter of hours to several weeks, and were completely orchestrated by the troops partaking in them, with no approval or guidance from their governments. ...read more.

Middle

These common links allowed enemies to identify with each other making it possible to have relations with an opposing soldier. Before Christmas Eve there had been several premonitions and even requests that a truce would take place on the Front. Accompanying these requests were stern orders from the headquarters of either side, outlawing such fraternization. . The plea came from the newly elected Pope, Benedict XV, who asked the warring nations to respect the time of Christmas and set the differences aside. The plea was recorded by the Russian ambassador of the time in his memoirs: "Pope Benedict XV has asked the Russian Government if it will consent to a suspension of hostilities during Christmas Day" (Paleologue, entry for Sunday, Dec. 6th 1914). This proposal, although accepted by Germany, was not respected by all the nations and was subsequently forgotten. Yet, both British and German commanders were wary of the ever-growing companionship between soldiers at the front so issued instructions intended to counteract such conduct. Such orders can be seen in the diary of Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, Commander of the British II Corps, "The Corps Commander...impresses the absolute necessity of encouraging the offensive spirit of the troops...Friendly intercourse with the enemy and unofficial armistices are absolutely prohibited" (qtd. in Rosenberg, par. 10). ...read more.

Conclusion

One of the more famous accounts comes from Captain Charles Stockwell, who supervised the truce in his section of the front. Morgan describes, "On Dec. 26th, at 8:30A.M, he fired three shots in the air. The German captain appeared on the parapet. They both bowed and saluted. He fired two shots in the air-and the war was on again." (qtd. in Morgan, par. 15). Such a blunt yet precise comment depicted the suddenness with which the truce ended, and the humanity of the soldiers was set aside as war began again. In late December 1914, many British and German soldiers put down their guns, overcame the aggression and contempt associated with the war, and in a historic display of humanity met each other on the battlefield. This occurrence, although brief, caused serious trouble to the governments and commanders of those involved. There was the potential for a "revolution from the streets" and possibly an end to the war. However this may not have been entirely beneficial. Governments would have failed and there might have been rebellion from conflicting factions (Lopez, par.16). For Christmas 1915, authorities had taken precautions, such as continuous trench bombardments and heavy artillery fire, to constrain fraternization and truces. However, for a few days in one of the worst wars in human history, soldiers identified with each other, shook hands, and maybe even played a little "footy". ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1900-1919 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1900-1919 essays

  1. Origins of the First World War

    Britain's outward sign of support for France during that crisis no doubt convincing Germany of the necessity of continuing to support Austria-Hungary. 41 Germany's world policy was not solely responsible for making war inevitable. The foreign policy of Russia and Austria-Hungary in the Balkans also contributed to making conflict certain.

  2. Book Review: The Origins of the First World War: Controversies and Consensus (Annika Mombauer, ...

    understanding that does not merely serve a political purpose and his scrupulous use of vast quantities of evidence to build his arguments that so impresses Mombauer. The Fischer controversy irreversibly changed the debate surrounding the origins of the first world war for the better, and Mombauer does little to hide

  1. 1) In what ways are rebellions caused by the rise of new forms of collective ...

    A strong, focused leadership is a key element in causing a revolution and it can certainly be argued that both Lenin and the Bolsheviks in 20th Century Russia and the number of revolutionaries in 18th Century France which included men like Marquis de Lafayette and the priest, Abbe Sieyes.

  2. What encouraged the growth of cities in Australia by 1900? What problems did those ...

    Yet, over seas migration was the most important source of Australian metropolitan population growth, followed closely by natural increase. Rural to urban drift of population was much less important, except during the post gold-rush periods. The demographic variables such as age structure, fertility, mortality, and marriage rates were also of considerable economic, social and political significance, advancing urbanisation.

  1. What generates nationalism and how important a factor is it in modern history

    In this sense, loyalty and devotion are no longer bond to ethnic identity but to the state and nation. Hans Kohn holds that 'Nationalism is a state of mind, in which the supreme loyalty of the individual is felt to be due the nation-state.

  2. WW1 Research Paper - The Actual Impact of Chemical Warfare in World War I

    after much of the protective gear and chemical defenses had been implemented. The book Nuclear Weapons by Eric Croddy describes the impact of mustard gas in the following terms: ?Sulfur and nitrogen mustards are toxic via a number of routes, including the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory tract.

  1. Sir Arthur William Currie - this paper will attempt to prove that Sir Arthur ...

    The Canadian War Museum provides detailed records and archives from the Great War, and elaborates from start the beginning how the story played out. It also gives great insight of individual soldiers and other great people which participated actively in the operations or at home.

  2. History of deaf education and sign language in USA & UK

    All the staff at that first Oak Lodge were women and they were all hearing. They never used Sign Language. It is interesting to look at the old records and see what the girls were taught - they learned English, Art, some P.E., a little Maths, but lots of cookery,

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work