When they forgot they were enemies
by Ted Rudow III, MA
When they forgot they were enemies…
Ted Rudow III, MA,
British soldiers were spending Christmas Eve 1914 on a French battlefield during World War I. After four months of fighting, over a million men had perished in the bloody conflict. The bodies of dead soldiers were scattered between the trenches of the opposing armies. It was in the middle of a freezing battlefield in France, that a miracle occurred! British troops watched in amazement as candle-lit trees appeared above the German trenches. “From the German parapet, a rich baritone voice had begun to sing a song I remember my German nurse singing to me ... the grave and tender voice rose out of the frozen mist. It was all so strange ... like being in another world,” a young British soldier wrote in his diary. “Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm. All is bright.”
When the German soldiers finished singing, the British decided to retaliate. Rather than retaliate with the roar of a cannon, the army chaps from England sang, “The first noel, the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay ...” When the boys from jolly old England finished, “Born is the King of Israel!”, the enemy began clapping and struck up a rousing rendition of “Oh Tannebaum!” When the British troops began singing, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful!”, it was at that moment that the Germans immediately joined in. They were singing with the enemy. This was the most extraordinary event taking place in the middle of a blood-drenched battlefield! Two opposing nations were singing the same Christmas Carol in the middle of a fierce war. It is recorded that enemy soldiers greeted each other in the no-man's-land that just minutes before had been a killing zone. Soldiers wished one another a Merry Christmas and agreed not to fire their rifles on Christmas Day.