A history presentation marking the 100th anniversary of the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914 was given by CPT Todd Gibson at the Kuwait Chapter Board Meeting on 6 December, 2014.
Focusing on the dehumanizing aspects of war, particularly during trench warfare, CPT Gibson spoke of the Christmas Truce and the lessons to be learned from that unique moment in history.
The Christmas Truce was a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front around Christmas 1914. The close proximity of trench lines made it easy for soldiers to shout greetings to each other, and was the most common method of arranging informal truces during 1914.
In the week leading up to Christmas, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings. In some areas, men from both sides ventured into no man's land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps, with several meetings ended in carol-singing.
Informal truces along the Western Front were not unique to the Christmas period in the early years of World War I. There was a mood of "live and let live" that supported localized tacit agreements to cease hostilities while men rested, ate, exercised, or worked in full view of the enemy. The Christmas truces were particularly significant, however, due to the number of men involved and the level of their participation.
While a few units arranged ceasefires the following Christmas, these truces were not nearly as widespread as in 1914. By 1916, the soldiers were no longer amenable to temporary truces due to the increasingly devastating human losses of the War.
The Christmas Truce of 1914 is often seen as a symbolic moment of peace and civility amidst one of the most violent events of human history, and the last example of widespread humanity on the battlefield.