Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Truce

Michael Winship writes about The Christmas Day That Peace Broke Out when a bunch of World War I soldiers actually practiced the true meaning of their faiths, and stopped fighting, of their own accord and agreement, apart from the governments involved, in an event that has since become known as "The Christmas Truce of 1914."

The cover of the Daily Mirror showing the news of the truce between British and German soldiers during Christmas, 1914.

Windship himself had gone to see an off-Broadway play on the same subject, Alex Gwyther's Our Friends, The Enemy, whereupon this small group of soldiers from each side took up the December 7th same-year-advice of Pope Benedict XV.

Windship writes:
That Christmas of 1914, the peace lasted in some places longer than others; and in still others it never happened at all. Afterwards, word came from on high that such behavior - insubordination! - would never again be permitted. One German infantryman in the trenches also thought it was a disgrace. "Such a thing should not happen in wartime," he declared. His name was Adolf Hitler.
In a similar spirit of peace and resistance to wars not of our own making (i.e. if we do not participate, to begin with), Tom Morello's Firebrand Records, in conjunction with Veterans For Peace U.K. have just released the following anti-war Christmas song about that World War I Christmas Truce.  The song is performed by London-based Food Not Bombs singer Fenya, lyrics by Ryan Harvey, and features "former soldiers of conflicts stretching from the Second World War to the present interventions and occupations in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan."

From Vimeo:
"The Christmas Truce lives in the hearts of millions of people,” says Veterans For Peace UK coordinator Ben Griffin, who served in Northern Ireland, the former-Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan with the Parachute Regiment and the Special Air Service. “However we need to move on from the idea of a truce being something that is only carried out at Christmas. Throughout history soldiers have formed truces with their supposed enemies; in fact soldiers often find that they have a lot more in common with the enemy than with their own governments."
“I wrote this song to tell a simple story that reflects a much larger reality,” Harvey says. “Soldiers have spoken out, protested, and revolted in almost every war in history. We encourage and need this resistance, because historically, it is one of the single strongest factors in bringing wars to an end. At a time when a civil and proxy-war is ripping Syria apart and the world seems to be lingering on the brink of yet another global catastrophic conflict, this ever-relevant song references history to describe the present. 
”“We hope to convince people that war is not the solution to the problems of the 21st century,” Griffin concludes.
Merry Christmas. May the true spirit of brotherhood govern humanity - rather than political and economic purveyors of war and senseless slaughter.  May we, in reality - not just hope - live together in peace and justice, each and every day, in accordance with the message of the 1914 Truce.

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