During World War 1 over 20 million civilians and military personnel were killed with over 21 million injured. It was considered the “war to end all wars” because it was so horrific and bloody. What is not well known is the story told in the film, “Joyeux Noel”. It was the unofficial Christmas truce of WWI.
Unofficial Christmas Truce During World War I
During WW1 there were many unofficial cease-fires on Christmas eve and Christmas day in 1914 where troops put down their guns, left the trenches and entered no-man’s land to meet opposing soldiers. The soldiers socialized, sang Christmas carols, and shared food and drinks. According to Wikipedia:
“There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps, while several meetings ended in carol-singing. Men played games of football with one another, giving one of the most memorable images of the truce. Peaceful behaviour was not ubiquitous; fighting continued in some sectors, while in others the sides settled on little more than arrangements to recover bodies.”—Wikipedia
Christmas Truce In The Movie, “Joyeux Noel”
To further understand what this truce was like, the following is a clip from a truly moving French movie, “Joyeux Noel”, made in 2005 about the Christmas truce. It was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 78th Academy Awards.
The film is a dramatization of the real event that took place between French, Scottish, and German soldiers and it is touching to see them standing up in their bunkers to sing along to the song, “Silent Night”, or fraternizing by drinking champagne together and sharing photos with one another.
The movie is uplifting and moving and a reminder that we should never forget those who fought in any war. Whether our country’s soldier or an “enemy”, in the end, we are all just human and this movie shows that.
I highly recommend you see this movie.
If you’d like to read more about some of the World War 1 sites in France, check out this post about the Douaumont Ossuary near Verdun.