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World Association of International Studies

Post Christmas Truce 1914
Created by John Eipper on 12/27/14 4:17 AM

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Christmas Truce 1914 (David Krieger, USA, 12/27/14 4:17 am)

The article in the link below discusses the importance of the Christmas Truce one hundred years ago. I think it is worth sharing with those in WAIS. The author, Brian Willson, concludes with a critical insight and an excerpt from a poem by Bertolt Brecht:

"The 1914 Christmas Truce of one hundred years ago was an extraordinary example of how wars can only continue if soldiers agree to fight. It needs to be honored and celebrated, even if it was only a flash of a moment in time. It represents the potential of human disobedience to insane policies. As German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht proclaimed, General, your tank is a powerful vehicle. It smashes down forests, and crushes a hundred men. But it has one defect: it needs a driver. If commoners refused en masse to drive the tank of war, the leaders would be left to fight their own battles. They would be brief."

I also think that the logic of the New York Times editorial of a few days ago (December 22, 2014) on investigating and prosecuting those responsible for policies of torture would apply with even more reason to leaders who initiate the Nuremberg crime of aggressive war. If such leaders were held to account for such crimes against peace, as the German leaders were after World War II, we would not have to concern ourselves with dishonorable wars initiated by presidential lies.

May all of WAISdom contribute in 2015 to a more peaceful world free of war and nuclear threat.

JE comments: Here's the link:


Less symbolic than the Christmas Truce, but more significant in the soldiers' daily lives, were the incidents of "ritualized peace" on the Western Front throughout the Great War--the "rule," for example, that you didn't shoot a man during breakfast or while he was using the latrine. Also, artillery exchanges often followed specific daily schedules, to give the enemy the chance to take cover. See Tony Ashworth's fascinating 2000 Trench Warfare 1914-1918: The Live and Let Live System. I've mentioned the book before on WAIS:


I wonder what Bertolt Brecht would say about drone warfare.

Much Pax et Lux to you, David, in the New Year. I hope 2015 will be the year we'll finally have the chance to meet in person.  October 10-12 at Stanford?

Next up: Martin Storey tells us of his grandfather's service at Gallipoli.

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  • Christmas Truce 1914 (Nigel Jones, UK 12/27/14 9:07 AM)
    There has (rightly) been much discussion in Britain about the highly symbolic 1914 Christmas truce. It should not be forgotten, however, that the truce was a very brief interlude in four years of savage war, and that the soldiers who had been happily exchanging autographs and cigarettes one day, were equally happily trying to kill each other the day before and the day after.

    However desirable pacifism may be, and however horrendous modern industrialised warfare, of which the First World War was an early example, in the interests of reality I think we all have to accept the teachings of science, history, biology, and psychology that Homo sapiens is an innately and ineradicably aggressive animal, and that war and conflict have always been with us and always will be--unless and until we succeed is destroying ourselves.

    As regrettable as this certainly is, it is also stark reality.

    Nor is war always the worst evil. As the French Resistance writer Jean Dutourd said: "War is less ignoble than servitude. In the end the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau."

    JE comments:  But how many Verduns and Dachaus have been avoided due to the tireless work of diplomats and peace activists?  Of course this is impossible to quantify--perhaps none at all?

    Is Homo sapiens innately peaceful or aggressive?  My answer would be an ambiguous "yes."  I am reminded of the Pre-hispanic Mexican civilizations, in which warfare was considered the highest social virtue.  Yet these cultures are remembered today as "great" because of their peaceful achievements--most notably in art and architecture.

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  • Christmas Truce 1914 (Holger Terp, Denmark 12/28/14 3:43 AM)
    The 1914 Christmas Truce story is also documented here, http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/tid/1900/1914/december/dec0924.htm , together with the story of the Peace Park between Canada and the US.

    Love and peace to you all in the New Year.

    JE comments: It's always great to hear from Holger Terp, president of the Danish Peace Academy. I'm especially intrigued by a peace organization I never knew existed:  The American Committee for the Celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of Peace among English-Speaking Peoples, which was active in 1914-'15.  They somehow overlooked the US Civil War, even though thousands of veterans Union and Confederate were still alive in 1914:


    Much pax et lux to you in 2015, Holger!
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