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How Soldiers with Newly Awakened Consciences Almost Stopped the Great War on Christmas Day

How Soldiers with Newly Awakened Consciences Almost Stopped the Great War on Christmas Day


Gary G. Kohls, MD, Contributor
Waking Occasions

“…and the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame; And on each end of the rifle we’re the same” ~John McCutcheon

104 years in the past one thing occurred in the fifth month of the “War to End All Wars” that put a tiny little blip of hope – which was cruelly and quickly extinguished by the pro-militarism powers-that-be in each church and state – in the historic timeline of the organized mass slaughter that’s conflict.

The occasion was regarded by the skilled army officer class to be so profound and so disturbing that methods have been instantly put in place that might be sure that such an occasion might by no means occur once more.

“Christian” Europe was in the fifth month of the conflict of 1914 – 1918, the so-called Great War – that lastly floor to a mutually suicidal halt after 4 years of exhausting trench warfare, with virtually all of the unique individuals lifeless or completely wounded (in the case of the entrance line troopers) or financially, spiritually or morally bankrupt (in the case of the concerned nations).

British, Scottish, French, Belgian, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, German, Austrian, Hungarian, Serbian and Russian clergymen from church pulpits in these Christian nations have been doing their half in making a decidedly un-Christ-like patriotic fervor that might end in a holocaust that destroyed 4 empires, killed upwards of 20 million troopers and civilians, bodily wounded tons of of hundreds of thousands extra and brought about the psychological decimation of a whole era of younger males whose religious care was purported to be the duty of these very clergymen.

Christianity, it ought to be remembered, started as a extremely moral pacifist faith based mostly on the teachings and actions of the nonviolent Jesus of Nazareth (and his pacifist apostles and pacifist followers). Christianity survived whereas refusing to make use of violence towards its supposed enemies and truly thrived regardless of widespread persecutions. It turned the largest faith in the Roman Empire by the time Constantine “the Great” turned emperor (in 313 CE). Constantine and his pro-imperialistic clergymen followers cleverly usurped the faith’s non-violent members into turning into OK with the homicidal violence of warfare, upon which Rome had relied to be able to obtain its wealth, territory and energy.

Ever since the Constantinian coup, the nations that professed Christianity as their state faith have by no means allowed the mainline church buildings to really promote the radical peacemaking of the unique type of Christianity as the nonviolent Jesus had so clearly taught and modeled, beginning with the Sermon on the Mount teachings.

So, opposite to the moral teachings of Jesus, most trendy Christian church buildings by the time of the First World War, have refused to develop into lively resisters to its specific nation’s militarist or imperial aspirations, its nation’s aggressive wars, its nation’s war-makers or its nation’s conflict profiteers. As an alternative, the church has, by and enormous, grow to be a bloody instrument of the satanic in help of no matter pro-war Protection Division, political warmongers or war-profiteering firms are in energy.

So, it shouldn’t come as a shock to see that the spiritual leaders on each side of World War I have been satisfied that God was on their specific aspect and subsequently not on the aspect of these professed followers of Jesus on the different aspect of the line of trenches. The incongruity of believing that the similar god was blessing the deadly weapons and defending the doomed sons on each side of No-Man’s Land did not register with the overwhelming majority of “Christian” combatants or their religious counselors.

So, early in the warfare, pulpits and pews throughout Europe reverberated with flag-waving fervor, sending clear messages to the hundreds of thousands of doomed warrior-sons that it was their Christian obligation to march off to kill the equally doomed Christian troopers on the different aspect of the line. And for the civilians again residence, it was their Christian obligation to buy the warfare bonds, “support the troops” and honor the reminiscences of those that have been destined to return residence lifeless or wounded, psychologically and spiritually damaged, disillusioned – and, for the survivors, newly faithless.

A mere 5 months into this irritating warfare (that includes trench warfare, artillery barrages, withering machine gun hearth, and, quickly to return, unstoppable armored tanks, aerial bombardment and poison fuel), the first Christmas of the struggle on the Western Entrance provided a respite to the exhausted, freezing and demoralized troops.

The Christmas Spirit of Peace on Earth and Good Will to All Doesn’t Apply to War

Christmas was the holiest of Christian holidays and each soldier in the frozen trenches was slowly coming to the realization that conflict was NOT superb (as that they had been led to consider). After experiencing demise, dying, dangerous meals, starvation, frostbite, sleep deprivation, shell shock, traumatic mind accidents and homesickness, the conventional spirit of excellent will to all and peace on earth had a particular which means for the troops.

Christmas reminded the troopers of the good meals, heat houses and loving households and pals that that they had left behind and which – they now suspected – they could by no means see once more. The troopers in the trenches desperately sought some respite from the distress of the rat, lice and smells of the corpse-infested trenches.

Trench Warfare in 1914

In the pleasure main as much as the struggle, the frontline troopers on both aspect had been satisfied that God was on their aspect, that their nation was pre-destined to be victorious and that they might be “home before Christmas” the place they might be celebrated as conquering heroes. (Apparently, that fable appears to reside on to the current day, with all the proof to the opposite being conveniently ignored.)

As an alternative, every frontline soldier discovered himself at the finish of his emotional rope due to the unrelenting artillery barrages towards which they have been defenseless. In the event that they weren’t killed or bodily maimed by the artillery shells and sniper hearth, they might ultimately be emotionally destroyed by the “shell-shock” (now referred to as combat-induced posttraumatic stress dysfunction – PTSD).

The soldier-victims that witnessed a mess of examples of battlefield cruelty logically suffered numerous depths of melancholy, nervousness, sleep deprivation, suicidality, hyper-alertness, horrifying nightmares and flashbacks (which was often misdiagnosed as a “hallucinations of unknown cause”, a actuality that may condemn tens of millions of future troopers to be mistakenly recognized with schizophrenia and thus mistakenly handled with addictive, brain-altering, suicidality-inducing psych medicine).

Amongst the different widespread war-induced “killers of the soul” included the malnutrition, the dehydration, the infections (reminiscent of typhus and dysentery), the louse infestations, the trench foot, the frostbite and the gangrenous toes and fingers. If any of the tormented survivors acquired again house in a single piece, they typically resented being handled as army heroes in Memorial Day or Veterans Day parades staged of their honor. They knew – in the event that they have been being completely trustworthy – that they weren’t true heroes. Moderately, they have been the victims of a delusional, militarized tradition that glorified conflict and killing however quickly deserted their wounded after they made it house barely alive. Hiding away the most disfigured warfare—wounded veterans continues to be normal working process in each nation after each conflict.

Poison fuel assaults from each side, though began by the scientifically-superior Germans, didn’t start for a number of extra months. Allied tank warfare – which was a humiliating catastrophe for the British innovators of that new know-how – wouldn’t be operational till the disastrous Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Certainly one of the most deadly realities for the frontline troopers was the frequent, futile, “over the top” infantry assaults that went up towards the opposition’s machine gun nests. These suicidal assaults have been ordered by the over-aggressive new lieutenants at the entrance who took their orders from the rear-echelon generals who have been in command of their out of date army technique. In fact, these generals have been additionally in protected bunkers removed from the entrance. Such suicidal assaults have been difficult by the presence of shell holes in the muck of No-Man’s Land and rows of coiled barbed wire that always made sitting geese of the attacking troopers. Artillery barrages from each side liquified the soil and generally resulted in tens of hundreds of casualties in a single day.

The “over the top” assaults sacrificed a whole lot of hundreds of obedient lower-echelon troopers in the futile efforts to realize floor. These assaults have been stupidly and repeatedly ordered by senior officers reminiscent of Sir John French and his alternative as British Commander-in-Chief, Sir Douglas Haig. Most of the old-timer generals who had fought wars in the earlier century refused to confess that their outdated “horse and sabre” cavalry costs throughout No-Man’s Land have been each hopeless and suicidal.

The Common Employees planners of the numerous makes an attempt to finish the stalemate have been safely out of vary of the artillery. Britain’s political war-planners have been safely again in Parliament, and Germany’s aristocrats have been again in Berlin, busily wanting over their two-dimensional maps. All the war-mongering generals have been snug of their heat and dry headquarters distant, consuming nicely, being dressed by their orderlies, consuming their tea and claret – none of them at any danger of struggling the deadly penalties of conflict.

Screams of ache typically got here from the wounded troopers who have been helplessly hanging on the barbed wire or trapped and maybe bleeding to dying in the bomb craters between the trenches. Typically the dying would linger for days, and the impact on the troops in the trenches, who needed to take heed to the determined, unanswerable cries for assist was all the time tormenting. By the time December 1914 got here and the winter freezing climate started, troop morale on each side had hit all-time low.

Christmas in the Trenches

So on December 24, 1914, the exhausted troops settled right down to their meager Christmas meal with, for the fortunate ones, presents from residence, particular meals, particular liquor, particular chocolate bars and the hope for peace, if even for one night time.

On the German aspect, a magnanimous (and deluded) Kaiser Wilhelm despatched 100,000 Christmas timber with tens of millions of decorative candles to the entrance, anticipating that such an act would increase German troop morale. Utilizing the valuable provide strains to the entrance for such militarily pointless gadgets was ridiculed by the most of the hardened officers, however no one suspected that the Kaiser’s Christmas tree concept would backfire – turning into a catalyst for an unplanned-for and unauthorized cease-fire, that was orchestrated by the entrance line troops. The occasion was unprecedented in the historical past of warfare, and the mutiny was censored out of mainstream historical past books for many of the subsequent century.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 was a spontaneous occasion that occurred at quite a lot of places all alongside the 600 miles of triple trenches that stretched throughout Belgium and France, and it was an occasion that may by no means once more be duplicated, because of the war-profiteers, skilled militarists and saber-rattling journalists in the media, Christian Bishops and Members of Parliament who glory of their nation’s “pseudo-patriotic” wars.

”Joyeux Noel”

13 years in the past, the film “Joyeux Noel” (French for “Merry Christmas”) acquired a well-deserved Academy Award nomination for greatest overseas movie of 2005. The film is the shifting story that was tailored from the many surviving tales that had been informed in letters from troopers who had participated in the truce. It’s regarded by some as a miracle that the fact of that exceptional occasion survived the highly effective censorship.

Brave German soldier Singing in No Man’s Land (picture from Joyeux Noel)

As depicted in the film, a German soldier began singing the beloved (and simply recognizable in all languages) Christmas hymn “Stille Nacht”. Quickly the British, French and Scottish troopers on the different aspect of No Man’s Land joined in with their variations of “Silent Night”. Different Christmas songs have been sung, typically as duets in two tongues. Earlier than lengthy, the spirit of peace and “goodwill towards men” prevailed over the demonic spirit of warfare, and the troops on each side started to sense their widespread humanity. The pure human aversion to killing different people broke via to consciousness and overcame the worry, patriotic fervor and pro-war brain-washing to which that they had all been subjected.

Soldiers on each side courageously dropped their weapons, got here “over the top” in peace to satisfy their former foes face-to-face. To get to the impartial zone, they needed to climb over barbed wire, stroll round shell holes and over frozen corpses (which have been later to be given respectful burials throughout an extension of the truce, with troopers from each side serving to each other with the ugly process of burying their comrades).

Graves in No Man’s Land


Mutinous French, German and Scottish Lieutenants

The spirit of retaliation had been changed by a spirit of reconciliation and the want for actual peace. New buddies shared chocolate bars, cigarettes, wine, schnapps, soccer video games and footage from house. Addresses have been exchanged, photographs have been taken and each soldier who genuinely skilled the emotional drama was perpetually modified. Instantly there was an aversion to killing fellow people who all deserved to be handled as that they had been taught in Sunday Faculty: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

And the generals and the politicians again house have been appalled at the sudden Christ-like conduct of the front-soldiers.

Fostering Peace on Earth in Occasions of War is an Act of Treason for Conscientious People

Fraternization with the enemy (in addition to refusing to obey orders in time of warfare) is universally regarded by army commanders(and courts of regulation again residence) as an act of treason and a critical crime deserving of extreme punishment. In most wars all through historical past, such “crimes” have been typically dealt with by extreme beatings or firing squad. In the case of the Christmas Truce of 1914, most commanding officers feared mutiny amongst the troopers if extreme punishments have been carried out and, additionally not wanting to attract public consideration to any punishment that would modify the struggle fever again residence, they censored home-bound letters and principally ignored the episode.

War correspondents have been forbidden to report the truce to their papers. Some commanding officers threatened courts martial if fraternization continued. They understood that attending to know and befriend a supposed enemy was dangerous for the carefully-orchestrated killing spirit of conflict.

There have been punishments that have been carried out towards a few of the most conscientious troopers who refused to fireside their rifles. The troops of each French Catholic and United Kingdom Protestant persuasions naturally started questioning the ethical legitimacy of the decidedly un-Christlike struggle and so these troops have been typically re-assigned to totally different – and fewer fascinating – regiments.

German troops have been both Lutheran or Catholic, and the consciences of lots of them had been revived by the truce. Refusing to obey their orders to kill, lots of them have been despatched to the Japanese Entrance the place there have been a lot harsher circumstances. Separated from their Western Entrance comrades who had additionally skilled the true spirit of Christmas, that they had no selection however to battle and die in the equally suicidal battles towards their Russian Orthodox Christian co-religionists.

Only a few troopers, both Allied or German, who skilled the Christmas Truce of 1914 survived the warfare. Primarily none of troopers instantly concerned in the truce lived to inform the story. Maybe the solely ones who skilled the spirit of the truce have been the soon-to-be wounded who made it residence by have been someway by no means despatched again to the entrance.

If humanity is actually involved with the barbaric nature of militarism, and if our modern-era false flag-generated wars of empire are to be successfully derailed, the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 must be retold time and again – after which taken to coronary heart.

The satanic nature of warfare is clear to anybody who has skilled warfare up shut and private, particularly those that have skilled the brutality and chaos of shut fight and dealt with the casualties. And all war-mongers, conflict profiteers and flag-waving patriots (civilians and veterans alike) attempt actually onerous to cowl up those self same unwelcome truths by telling embellished tales of army heroism making an attempt to glorify what’s blatantly inglorious.

Each historic and trendy wars have been falsely glorified in each nation’s historical past books however, if civilization is to humanly survive, conflict must be uncovered as the demonic actuality that it’s.  Violence begets violence. Wars are contagious, universally futile, and by no means really finish, even when there’s a truce; and their extraordinarily excessive prices all the time leads to a really poor return on funding – apart from the banks and the weapons-manufacturers and the “lifers” who’re assured profitable pensions that put all war-mongering nations deep into debt.

Trendy American wars at the moment are being fought by completely indoctrinated, post-adolescent, Name of Obligation-type first individual shooter players who appreciated the adrenalin excessive of killing digital “bad guys” in a videogame. Sadly, unbeknownst to them, they’re at excessive danger of getting their emotional and religious lives negatively and even completely altered by the bodily, psychological and religious injury that all the time comes from collaborating in precise – or digital – homicidal violence.

Fight struggle can simply doom its individuals to a life overwhelmed by the giant number of wounds of struggle. These wounds embrace PTSD, sociopathic character dysfunction, suicidality, homicidality, lack of spiritual religion, traumatic mind damage, malnutrition from the extremely processed army meals and the many post-vaccination autoimmune issues brought on by the army’s over-vaccination packages with neurotoxic aluminum-containing vaccines, particularly the unproven-for-safety collection of anthrax photographs that have been injected into many Gulf War I and II troopers). The mainstream media is now truly writing about the many long-term drug-induced disabilities, suicides and overdoses which have resulted from the widespread prescribing of harmful and addictive medicine to troopers and veterans. This phenomenon is particularly true of opioids and psychiatric medicine, whether or not they have been finally obtained legally or illegally. What’s essential to know is that the majority of the antagonistic results of such medicine and vaccines are iatrogenic (doctor-, vaccine- or prescription drug-caused) and subsequently preventable – though not essentially treatable as a result of their iatrogenicity isn’t acknowledged (and subsequently by no means recognized) by the prescribing doctor.

Christian Church Management has an Moral Obligation to Warn About the Potential for Religious Suicide of Cannon Fodder Soldiers if They Take part in Fight War

It appears to me that it will be useful if ethical management in America, particularly its church leaders and its Christian mother and father, would discharge their obligation to completely warn their youngsters which might be of their sphere of affect about all of the critical penalties of being in the killing professions. Jesus, who commanded his followers to “love your enemies”, would certainly approve.

With out such countervailing truths being informed by a nation’s ethical leaders, warfare planners have a simple time bamboozling potential troopers from recognizing the humanity of these which are being demonized and accused of being enemies, whether or not they’re Yemenis, Turks, Syrians, Chinese language, Palestinians, Russians, Iranians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Vietnamese, Chinese language or North Koreans.

I’ve been repeatedly informed by anti-war army veteran pals of mine that their army chaplains – who’re presupposed to be nurturers of the souls of the troopers which are of their “care” – by no means convey up  of their counseling periods or sermons – the Golden Rule, Jesus’ clear “love your enemies” instructions. Neither do they point out Jesus’ many moral teachings in his Sermon on the Mount or the biblical commandments that say “thou shalt not kill” or “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s oil”.

The Church’s Theological Blind Spots When Professional-War Flag-waving Begins

One theological blind spot about conflict was properly illustrated close to the finish of the “Joyeux Noel” film. In a strong scene depicting a confrontation between the altruistic, Christ-like, antiwar Scottish chaplain and his pro-war aristocratic Anglican bishop. As the humble chaplain was mercifully administering the “last rites” to a dying soldier, he was reproached by the bishop, who had come to chastise the chaplain for fraternizing with the enemy throughout the Christmas Truce. The bishop summarily relieved the easy pastor of his chaplaincy duties due to his “treasonous and shameful” Christ-like conduct on the battlefield.

The authoritarian bishop refused to take heed to the chaplain’s story about his having carried out “the most important mass of my life” (with enemy troops collaborating in the celebration throughout the Christmas Truce) or the undeniable fact that he wished to remain with the troopers that wanted him as a result of they have been dropping their religion in God. The bishop angrily denied the chaplain’s request to stay with his males.

Christmas Eve Mass, France

The bishop then delivered a rousing pro-war, jingoistic sermon to the latest troops (which was taken word-for-word from a homily that had truly been delivered by an actual Anglican bishop later in the warfare). The sermon was addressed to the recent troops that needed to be introduced in to exchange the veteran troopers who had all of the sudden develop into averse to killing and have been refusing to fireside on the enemy.

The picture of the dramatic however delicate response of the chaplain to his sacking ought to be a lesson to Christian church management – each clergy and lay – of each militarized, so-called “christian” nation. The chaplain, after listening to the bishop’s sermon, merely hung up his cross and walked out of the door of the subject hospital.

“Joyeux Noel” is a vital movie that deserves to be annual vacation viewing. It has moral classes much more highly effective than the conventional vacation films comparable to “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol”.

One in every of the classes that the Christmas Truce tells is summarized in the concluding verse of John McCutcheon’s well-known track about the occasion: “Christmas in the Trenches”:


“My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell.

Each Christmas come since World War One, I’ve learned its lessons well:
That the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we’re the same.”


Take a look at the video of McCutcheon singing his music:

A crucial scene from the film is at:

Further scenes from the film, with the narration of a letter from certainly one of the troopers concerned could be seen right here:

About the Writer

Dr. Kohls is a retired household doctor from Duluth, MN, USA. Since his retirement from his holistic psychological well being follow he has been writing his weekly Obligation to Warn column for the Duluth Reader, northeast Minnesota’s various newsweekly journal. His columns, that are re-published round the world, deal with the risks of American fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, malnutrition, Massive Pharma’s over-drugging and Huge Vaccine’s over-vaccination agendas, in addition to different actions that threaten human well being, the surroundings, democracy, civility and the sustainability of all life on earth.  Lots of his columns have been archived at numerous web sites, together with the following:;;; and

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