It’s beginning to look (f)

The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.

Abraham Lincoln

xmas treeIn 1914, on Christmas Eve, some British, French and German troops reached out to their enemies on the battlefield in a spontaneous cease fire and greeted them with neither anger nor hostility, but with simple offerings such as a cigarette or piece of chocolate. They put their differences aside long enough to wish one another “Merry Christmas!”

The French film of 2005 Joyeux Noël tells this story and Roger Ebert wrote of the film:

the troops on both sides laid down their weapons and observed the birth of the savior in whose name they were killing each other. The irony of this gesture is made clear in the opening scenes of “Joyeux Noel,” in which schoolchildren of the three nations sing with angelic fervor, each in their own language, about the necessity of wiping the enemy from the face of the earth.

The Christmas Eve truce actually happened, although not on quite the scale director Christian Carion suggests in his film… He is accurate, however, in depicting the aftermath: Officers and troops were punished for fraternizing with the enemy in wartime. A priest who celebrated mass in No Man’s Land is savagely criticized by his bishop, who believes the patriotic task of the clergy is to urge the troops into battle and reconcile them to death.

Hymnes des Fraternisés


I hear the mountain birds
The sound of rivers singing
A song I’ve often heard
It flows through me now
So clear and so loud
I stand where I am
And forever I’m dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I’m dreaming of home

It’s carried in the air
The breeze of early morning
I see the land so fair
My heart opens wide
There’s sadness inside
I stand where I am
And forever I’m dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I’m dreaming of home

This is no foreign sky
I see no foreign light
But far away am I
From some peaceful land
I’m longing to stand
A hand in my hand
…forever I’m dreaming of home
I feel so alone, I’m dreaming of home

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