The Christmas Truce of 1914

By Gary G. Kohls, ConsortiumNews, 12/16/11

It might seem odd to anyone who understands what Jesus taught that the U.S. presidential candidates who most stress their Christian devotion are often the same ones urging more wars. But this defiling of Jesus’s message of peace is not new, as Gary G. Kohls recalls from an inspiring moment in World War I.

The peace that had existed for decades in Europe – since the Franco-Prussian War 40-plus years earlier – had resulted in tremendous progress in culture, infrastructure investment, commerce and international relations. Europeans of all stripes crossed borders relatively freely.

Before World War I, European Jews and Christians intermingled and intermarried with few eyebrows being raised and, although covert Christian anti-Semitism definitely existed, overt persecution of Jews was not a major problem. Jews were welcomed in the militaries and served with distinction.

When Archduke Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, European peace rapidly unraveled and – by a series of errors of judgment, bureaucratic inefficiencies, ineptitude, lack of communication skills – all the nations seemed to declare war on each other.

It was mostly a case of “death (and killing) before dishonor” in which, no matter how worthy or unworthy the war aims might be, negotiation toward a peaceful settlement was considered to be a dishonorable way out of a conflict.

Troops at the Front in World War I

Indoctrinated boys – ignorant of the mutual mass slaughter of past and future wars – were looking for glory and a way out of their boredom at home. Unaware of the reality and virtual incurability of “shell shock” (the term for post-traumatic stress disorder in WWI) young men all over Europe rushed like lemmings to the recruiting stations to sign up for war.

WWI ultimately destroyed four empires, chemically poisoned the soil and water supplies of agrarian France (with the massive amounts of military toxins) and killed off 14 million people, 90 percent of whom were young, naïve combatants.

Entire generation of young French, British and German men had been wasted, either killed, wounded, rendered permanently disabled, insane, criminal or in other ways a menace to society.

No one, especially the military planners, had foreseen the coming mass slaughter and the stalemates that were inevitable with trench, artillery and machine-gun warfare. Everyone was blinded by the propaganda message that war was glorious and God-ordained rather than satanic….

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