Memories of the Christmas Truce 1914
by Dawn Knox
beer (German or British)
That Christmas Eve when I climbed out of our trench into No Man’s Land, I expected my body to be ripped to shreds by bullets. Instead, it was my thoughts and beliefs which were torn apart.
Until that time, there was no question in my mind - the Germans were the warmongers. Stop them - and we’d bring peace back to the world. We’d protect our families and our country.
And of course, God was on our side - why wouldn’t He be?
But on that far-off Christmas Eve when I met Heinz, Karl, Max and their German comrades on the frozen waste of No Man’s Land, I was astonished to find they thought the same things about us... That we were the aggressors. That we were a threat to them - their country, their families.
Later, the officers called us back to our line and told us if we got out of our trenches and talked to the Germans again, we’d be shot. And soon after that, the fighting resumed.
But I never forgot that Christmas Eve. And the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t figure out who was right.
One side had to be wrong... I’ve wondered about that a lot over the last seventy years.
Nowadays, I think we were all just young blokes doing our best - German and British alike...
Whose side was God on? I don’t think he was on either side.
I reckon he spent four years in Heaven weeping.
About the auhtor
Dawn’s first success was with a short horror story published in a charity anthology entitled Shrouded by Darkness in 2006.
Several years later, she had a Young Adult book ('Daffodil and the Thin Place') and a single author anthology of speculative fiction stories (‘Extraordinary'), published as well as several historical romances, set mainly during and between the two world wars.
She has written two plays about the First World War, one of which commemorated the beginning of the war and was first performed in England in 2014 and then in France and Germany. The other play commemorated the end of the war and was performed in England in 2018 and in Germany 2019.
Using her World War One research, she has also written a book entitled 'The Great War – One Hundred Stories of One Hundred Words Honouring Those Who Lived and Died One Hundred Years Ago'.