Christmas Truce 1914: A Flickering of Humanity in a Brutal Imperial War

I watched this thought-provoking and emotive French film Joyeux Noel (Merry Xmas) over Christmas. More than any other movie I have seen in recent times, it portrays the true message of Christmas, namely 'Peace on Earth and Goodwill To All Men'.
It was so beautiful to hear in the film the haunting sounds of the Celtic bagpipes. But so sad to know that so many of the men enjoying the friendships that sprung up between the soldiery of the opposing armies during that Christmas Week would be dead within weeks.
So May I wish all readers and their friends and families a joyful festive holiday and a progressive 2012.
Christmas Truce 1914
Along the Western Front on Christmas Eve 1914, soldiers from German, Scottish, English & French regiments organised unofficial ceasefires. Troops ventured into No Man's Land to exchange gifts, play football, sing songs together & bury their dead. Generals on both sides were outraged & ensured that no such large scale fraternization ever happened again by ordering shelling during subsequent Christmases. In an insane brutal war, there were already 3.5million casualties by then; another 32million would die before the war ended.

The leaders of the main warring nations dressed up the conflict as the 'War To End All Wars', a struggle for peace and liberty when in reality they were only concerned about expanding their empires.
For example the war resulted in the victorious French and British dividing up the Middle East between them. In the process, they created an artificial country known as Iraq to unite under British control the oilfields of Kurdistan in the north with the oilfields around Basra in the south. The consequences of such a decision lie with us today.
Irish Nationalists Join War To Enslave Nations
The Irish nationalists under Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party allowed themselves under the pretext of 'Freedom of Small Nations' (Belgium)
to support an imperial war that denied freedom and democracy to so many. Nearly 50,000 members of the Irish divisions of the British military died fighting in a conflict that entrapped even more Africans, Arabs, Kurds, Chinese, Polynesians within the empires of France, Italy, Japan and Britain.
The Irish rebels were aware of this deception by the British. We Serve Neither King nor Kaiser was the motto of the Irish Citizens Army as they joined with the Irish Volunteers in Easter 1916 to overthrow British rule in Ireland.
So I cannot join with those historians of today that are trying to rewrite history and to glorify the deeds of the Irish regiments of the British Army. These Irish men, during the 19th and early 20th century, were a key component of a brutal military occupation force in countries such as South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Afghanistan, India, Ceylon, Burma and China. Ironically, the Catholic Irish
soldiery, as with the Indian and African members of this army, were despised by their military English officers and superiors who viewed them as primitive and stupid peoples.
Madness of War: Blackadder - Last Scene (Over the Top)
The last episode of Ben Elton's brilliant Blackadder series poignantly sums up the madness of the generals and politicians of the Allies and Central Powers (click image above).
Though I have major disagreements with the democratic deficit within the structures of today's European Union, nevertheless I recognise that it has ended the slaughter that used to characterise the relationships between nations and peoples of the continent of Europe.
 Warhorse -  Slaughter of the Animals in the service of Humanity
As Steven Spielberg's latest film Warhorse shows, animals suffered the most during this human conflict.  Vast areas of forests and other main areas of wildlife habitats were totally obliterated by shell and fire. At least 485,000 horses serving with the British forces were killed and millions more died in the armies of the Ottoman, British, French, Russian, Austrian, Bulgarian, Rumanian and Serbian. Sadly the history of 'civilization' is a history of the enslavement and destruction of  so many other denizens of Earth by humanity in the pursuit of pleasure, torture and self-indulgence.

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