Notices
Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Fraternizing With the Enemy

  1. #1 Fraternizing With the Enemy 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Driving in my car
    Posts
    3,802
    In keeping with the festive season......1914, Western Front, the first of a few known Christmas Truces took place. Soldiers of both sides, usually but not always against their commanders' best wishes, took time off from the war to exchange Christmas pleasantries. Still, how or why does this happen?

    (Perhaps this topic belongs in a behavior thread)......Not sure what this tells us about the human race. It's like soldiers get to a point where they have the power to end hostilities, albeit a local situation in this case. The urge, the need, the order to kill is totally displaced by an overwhelming desire for peace. If we can do this on a small section of a battlefield then why can't we do it everywhere?

    Truces are sometimes necessary for other reasons besides holidays. The dead and wounded need to be collected and removed from the battlegrounds for one thing. Shooting can also stop for the negotiating of a peaceful end to a conflict but are not as spontaneous as a Christmas truce for instance. The holiday truce is interesting in that enemies actually fraternize, they go from killing each other to shaking hands. Bizarre behavior, a peaceful interlude from violent behavior. Hard to believe we can find some sanity in all that's insane.


    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    4,211
    Sanity is a rare bird whose tail feathers detach easily, leaving those who hold them with the false impression that they actually grasp sanity.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,308
    I think it largely depends the level of cultural respect and common backgrounds between them. In WWI and WWII both sides were overwhelmingly Christian, making that a strong and common point of interest for the local Christmas truces. I don't remember any such examples, for example, out of WWII Pacific theater between Japanese Empire soldiers and Allied forces.

    I've seen it happen in some ways, for example, as an Iraqi Army adviser in what was a low level religious bases civil war, I once attended a meeting between Coptic Christian leaders and Muslim tribal leaders to discuss and negotiate actions to reduce potentially bloody conflict between Christian celebrations and Muslim Friday prayers (Jumuah). Their common interest is both sides trying to enjoy a bit of peace while their families would be out and about..
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    211
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I think it largely depends the level of cultural respect and common backgrounds between them. In WWI and WWII both sides were overwhelmingly Christian, making that a strong and common point of interest for the local Christmas truces. I don't remember any such examples, for example, out of WWII Pacific theater between Japanese Empire soldiers and Allied forces.I've seen it happen in some ways, for example, as an Iraqi Army adviser in what was a low level religious bases civil war, I once attended a meeting between Coptic Christian leaders and Muslim tribal leaders to discuss and negotiate actions to reduce potentially bloody conflict between Christian celebrations and Muslim Friday prayers (Jumuah). Their common interest is both sides trying to enjoy a bit of peace while their families would be out and about..
    WWII? There was only one Christmas after D Day and my father said that it was exactly like any other day. Canadians were pushing through the Low Countries and after the atrocities they saw, the only way they would have had a pause in advancing for a day on Christmas was if every German soldier was dead. The Russians were also not hugging German soldiers on the Eastern Front.

    Americans were fighting tooth and nail for survival in the Battle of the Bulge Christmas 1945. The tide had turned. But after the discovery of the murder of American prisoners, no German would have been invited for Christmas pudding.

    WWII was about real people and not a feel good movie.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    1,444
    I am overcome, so please forgive the wall of text. This is the little book I wrote on it minus the photos (captions left in italics). I wrote it for children, so it's a bit "massaged". Actually, at the beginning of the truce, a random soldier from one side would shoot, a soldier from the other side might fall wounded by the shot, and everyone would scurry for their trenches ... only to re-initiate the truce minutes later and come crawling out again. Soon, the random shooting stopped. So, I mean, except for the woundings, the fact that both sides re-initiated the truce several times made it even more wonderful.

    ~ Silent Night ~

    The
    Forgotten
    Story of the
    Christmas Truce
    of World War One
    The Christmas Truce of 1914

    A memorable Christmas handshake between enemies on a muddy and bloody battlefield during World War One

    It remains as one of history’s most powerful — yet little known — Christmas stories.
    It took place in the strange scene of the mud, the cold rain, and the senseless killings on the battlefield.
    It happened despite orders by superior officers forbidding it.
    It happened even though enemies spoke different languages.
    Yet it remains as the only time in history that peace spontaneously arose from the lower ranks in a
    major conflict, and rising upward to the commanding officers. And it turned sworn enemies into friends … if only temporarily.

    The Great War

    (now known as World War One)

    In June 1914, a student from Serbia assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. This added to the tension between countries in Europe.

    A couple months later, most of Europe went to war. The German army quickly captured the tiny defenseless country of Belgium. The French, however, proved a much tougher enemy, and the Germans could not reach Paris, the French capital.

    The ugly conditions

    Both armies expected a short fight and dug trenches in the battlefields. However, it would take years of this “trench warfare” before the war ended.

    Rains turned the ground to mud, and it flooded many trenches. Soldiers had to move about to prevent themselves from sinking in the deep mud. Many slept standing up and leaning against the wet trench walls. Soldiers suffered from “trench foot disease” because of the constant wetness of their feet.

    A soldier wades through a watery trench

    In these miserable conditions, soldiers had to have a strong stomach to eat their meals — and to keep them down. Rats lived among the soldiers in the trenches, and lice infested the soldier’s clothing. In the winter months, the cold caused frostbite. The soldiers called the ground between their trenches and the enemies’ trenches “no man’s land.” It usually amounted to only 100 to 200 feet, and soldiers often shouted insults at each other.

    Christmas is coming

    As autumn turned into winter, the mud turned into ice and snow. The soldiers enjoyed standing on solid ground, but the freezing temperatures caused its own pain and suffering.

    The British and French governments on one side and the German government on the other side all tried to provide some Christmas cheer to their own troops.

    British soldier received a small brass box of tobacco, a greeting card, plum pudding and candies. French soldiers received a wide variety of gifts from the French people because their government had held a donation drive.

    The German government sent their men cigars — and thousands of small Christmas trees.

    Soldiers from both sides pose for a photograph

    What’s that noise?

    As evening fell on December 24, soldiers on both sides attended their own Christmas Eve church services. Some built makeshift altars amid the rubble of destroyed churches and monasteries. Later that night, Allied troops noticed that the Germans had begun putting their small Christmas trees on top of their trenches, and lighting them with candles and lanterns.

    And then, through the crisp cold air, the Allied troops heard German soldiers singing the Christmas carol “Silent Night,” sometimes in German (called “Stille Nacht”), sometimes in English (called “Silent Night”).

    Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled the scene on Christmas Eve near a small French village:

    It was a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere; and about 7 or 8 in the evening there was a lot of commotion in the German trenches and there were these lights — I don’t know what they were. And then they sang “Silent Night” — “Stille Nacht.” I shall never forget it, it was one of the highlights of my life. I thought, “What a beautiful tune.”

    Both sides join in!

    This emotionally affected the British troops, and they began to sing back to the Germans. This serenading went back-and-forth for some time, interrupted only by applause, laughter — but not by gunfire. Rifleman Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade recalled how the mood spread:

    Then suddenly lights began to appear along the German parapet, which were evidently make-shift Christmas trees, adorned with lighted candles, which burnt steadily in the still, frosty air! … First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up “O Come, All Ye Faithful” the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn with the Latin words of “Adeste Fideles.” And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing — two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.


    The cover of a German book entitled “War’s Christmas 1914”


    Peace erupted in the middle of war


    The shared carols inspired Capt. Josef Sewald of Germany’s 17th Bavarian Regiment to make a bold gesture:


    I shouted to our enemies that we didn’t wish to shoot and that we make a Christmas truce. I said I would come from my side and we could speak with each other. First there was silence, then I shouted once more, invited them, and the British shouted “No shooting!” Then a man came out of the trenches and I on my side did the same and so we came together and we shook hands — a bit cautiously!


    The enemies quickly became friends, as Cpl. John Ferguson of the Second Seaforth Highlanders recalled:


    We shook hands, wished each other a Merry Christmas, and were soon conversing as if we had known each other for years. We were in front of their wire entanglements and surrounded by Germans — Fritz and I in the center talking, and Fritz occasionally translating to his friends what I was saying. We stood inside the circle like street corner orators. … What a sight — little groups of Germans and British extending almost the length of our front! Out of the darkness we could hear laughter and see lighted matches, a German lighting a Scotchman’s cigarette and vice versa, exchanging cigarettes and souvenirs.
    Last edited by jrmonroe; December 14th, 2013 at 12:07 AM.
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    1,444
    Christmas arrives

    A heavy overnight frost occurred during the night and, in the early dawn of December 25, Allied soldiers peered through the cold mist of the battlefield and could see crude signs that the Germans had put up: “Merry Christmas” and “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Then, slowly, the brave and trusting German soldiers began climbing out of their trenches and walking across the no man’s land armed only with wine, chocolates, and cigarettes.

    A photo of some of the British and German officers enjoying the truce

    Cautiously, allied soldiers did the same, and soon, hundreds of men from both sides were standing together talking —mostly in English.

    These soldiers agreed to a short cease-fire so that each side could bury their dead scattered across the battlefield, some of whom had fallen days or even weeks earlier. The two armies began to work together, helping each other gather the bodies and dig graves. This gruesome work took most of Christmas morning.

    At the same time, they chatted, shared family pictures, exchanged addresses, and traded various items such as of cigarettes, drinks, and uniform insignias.

    British soldiers with souvenirs from Germans

    Time for Church

    Around noon, a Scottish chaplain approached the German lines and suggested they conduct a joint memorial ceremony for all of those killed. A German soldier, who had studied at a seminary before the war, joined the chaplain by opening the ceremony by reciting the 23rd Psalm, and then they prayed in both languages.

    Second Lt. Arthur Pelham Burn of the Sixth Gordon Highlanders was there:

    Our Padre … arranged the prayers and psalms, etc., and an interpreter wrote them out in German. They were read first in English by our Padre and then in German by a boy who was studying for the ministry. It was an extraordinary and most wonderful sight. The Germans formed up on one side, the English on the other, the officers standing in front, every head bared.

    Afterwards, the good-natured exchanges continued with British troops sharing their plum puddings and other sweets with the Germans, at one point, and the Germans rolling barrels of beer across to the English and French who they had previously considered as “the enemy.”

    Later in the afternoon, friendly soccer matches occurred spontaneously all along the front. Most of the officers on both sides pretended not to notice what was going on — and some even participated in it.

    Lt. Kurt Zehmisch of Germany’s 134th Saxons Infantry Regiment witnessed a match:

    Eventually the English brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as our friends for a time.

    But the generals found out!

    Not surprisingly, when the generals on both sides heard about all this, they sent orders that any soldier “found guilty of holding a conversation with the enemy would be court-martialed and shot for treason.” Generals angrily issued orders for the fighting to resume immediately.

    Adolf Hitler was serving as a corporal of the 16th Bavarians in the war, and he criticized his comrades for this unmilitary conduct of theirs: Such things should not happen in wartime. Have you Germans no sense of honor left at all?

    What the soldiers did next

    Yes, the shooting did begin again, but not as you would think.

    Traditionally, the British celebrate the day after Christmas as their “Boxing Day” (a holiday related to Christmas) and, on the same day, the Germans celebrate St. Stephen’s Day (a major religious observance for them).

    So, in many places along the front, men on both sides deliberately shot high over the heads of opposing troops, and even warned them to keep down.

    Yet, even the day after Christmas, some serious shooting began again. Capt. Charles “Buffalo Bill” Stockwell of the Second Royal Welch Fusiliers recalled how the peace ended the morning after Christmas:

    At 8:30, I fired three shots into the air and put up a flag with “Merry Christmas” on it on the parapet. He [a German] put up a sheet with “Thank You” on it, and the German captain appeared on the parapet. We both bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots into the air, and the war was on again.

    The weather also turned bad for about a week, making it difficult to do any kind of attacking.

    The high-ranking officers felt that peace had broke out along the front, and they ordered the soldiers in the rear to move forward and replace the front line soldiers.

    By New Year’s Day, many of the troops who had participated in the truce had been moved back, away from the “enemy.” The war resumed.

    What if …

    The Great War, later known as World War One, dragged on for several years and killed millions of soldiers.

    Interestingly, had the cease fire become permanent, the war would not have crippled Germany’s economy. So, Germany’s monarchy would have remained in power, and Adolf Hitler and his Nazis would probably have never gained control in Germany.

    So, without the Nazis, World War Two would not have happened.

    This means that the United States would not have dropped its atomic bombs on Japan.

    Also, the Russian Empire probably would not have fallen, and no communist revolution would have occurred. So, the Cold War would have never happened.

    History would have taken such a different route and millions of people would have lived had the soldiers on both sides, who shared a common bond and faith, all decided to lay down their arms and love one another.
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,308
    Quote Originally Posted by Fossilborealis View Post
    WWII was about real people and not a feel good movie.
    It also wasn't' about anecdotal from one man's perspective in one Army over one narrow campaign (rather late in the war...even for the Americans who'd been fighting for two years in Africa and Southern Europe by then).

    There was considerable respect between American and German Soldiers not extended to others, something that comes out very strong even in long interviews after the war, such as the Band of Brother's experience.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Key West, Florida, Earth
    Posts
    4,789
    The main problem Is that arms dealers wouldn't make their money If peace was established. They are the main reason that wars/conflicts are started I think. Without the need of weapons they would soon disappear and the world would be a better place.
    When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
    Jimi Hendrix
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    1,444
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    The main problem Is that arms dealers wouldn't make their money If peace was established. They are the main reason that wars/conflicts are started I think. Without the need of weapons they would soon disappear and the world would be a better place.
    Various aspects of human nature enter into decisions to go to war. I think that. back before World War One, a few key countries found themselves with some much invested in warfare abilities that it helped push them into war. Let me explain.

    In the mid 1800s, Krupp first sensationalized its steel-casting invention and then its faster-loading and more accurate breech-loading cannon. Krupp's cannon enticed Prussia into purchasing them, which then acquitted themselves rather well in the Franco-Prussian War (1870), giving underdog Prussia the overwhelming advantage — and victory. Thus, the first international arms race began. Over the years leading up to World War One, more than a dozen countries became addicted to Krupp's armor and its armor-piercing munitions. In its ghastly game of oneupmanship. Krupp would develop an impenetrable armor, and then it would develop an advanced projectile able to pierce that armor. Step by step, Krupp sucked much of Europe into high amounts of expenditures on preparations for warfare.

    It seems that, if you spend a lot of time and money on something, you eventually feel justified in wanting to use it. And you can only claim that "my dad can beat up your dad" so many times without going to war to prove it. One way or the other, Krupp had convinced at least one country that it had the advantage in armor and/or munitions.
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,308
    Not sure what the branch discussion about weapons has to do with wartime truces, but if you want to see early examples of undue influence by military-industrial complex President Eisenhower would warn about, do some reading about Samuel P. Bush, the industrialist that would propel his descendants into four generations of successful politics.
    --

    Found several accounts of cease fires to conduct medical evacuations as the allies pushed east across the Low Countries and into Germany proper during the fall of 1944. Recalled another article I read which explained much of the cultural sympathy and commonality between American and German during WWII was nearly 30% of the American forces had German ancestry:
    Battle of Hürtgen Forest: Temporary Cease-Fires Allowed Assistance for the Wounded Soldiers
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Driving in my car
    Posts
    3,802
    Isn't always in the back of a soldier's mind that the end of the war is near? There may be some underlying hope amongst soldiers that hostilities are at end, it's ok to fraternize because sooner than later they'll all be friends again anyway. The front line soldiers are under tremendous stress as it is and any respite or reason for ceasefire is welcome, even if they have to do it themselves. Probably took the same or more amount of courage to venture out/fraternize in the open and disobey orders than actually fight the war from a trench or foxhole.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    211
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Isn't always in the back of a soldier's mind that the end of the war is near? There may be some underlying hope amongst soldiers that hostilities are at end, it's ok to fraternize because sooner than later they'll all be friends again anyway. The front line soldiers are under tremendous stress as it is and any respite or reason for ceasefire is welcome, even if they have to do it themselves. Probably took the same or more amount of courage to venture out/fraternize in the open and disobey orders than actually fight the war from a trench or foxhole.
    Ok to fraternize? The principal fighting was between the Russians and the Germans. They hated each other both before and after. Hundreds of thousands killed with a bullet to head or left to starve There was no respect. As for western Allies respect. Not according to my father. He said German officers and certain elements were routinely shot when they were captured in the field if hostilities were going on. What soldiers do when there are no cameras is not nice...whether WW2, Vietnam, Iraq, etc. Most were akin to any other 20 year old with a gun.

    As for 'Band of Brothers'. Americans revel in their myths. There is a silence among soldiers just as there is between gang members, police officers, a basketball team, etc, Band of Brothers is like watching a series on the Vietnam War written by a group of Viet Cong.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Key West, Florida, Earth
    Posts
    4,789
    And here America Is In Afghanistan for over 10 years and Is now wanting to remain there another 10. The WW2 only lasted about 5 years but now we are being subjected to more money being spent on more military hardware and the loss of American lives for NOTHING.
    When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
    Jimi Hendrix
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    1,444
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Found several accounts of cease fires to conduct medical evacuations as the allies pushed east across the Low Countries and into Germany proper during the fall of 1944.

    Battle of Hürtgen Forest: Temporary Cease-Fires Allowed Assistance for the Wounded Soldiers
    Amazing story. I must read more about it.

    Very interesting, the Low Countries, obviously near the coast, and including Holland.

    In the Winter of 1944, the Nazis occupying western Holland punished the Dutch there by withholding food and supplies for attempting to sabotage the Nazi war effort by stopping the railroads during Operation Market Garden, which failed. What others would call the "Dutch Famine of 1944", the Dutch called "Hongerwinter". Many Dutch starved, tens of thousands died, and yet we don't hear much about it nowadays.

    In the Spring of 45, American, Canadian, British, Dutch, Russian and *Nazi* high-ranking officials met in Achterveld, Holland to broker a ceasefire. The Nazis agreed to withhold firing at very low-flying Allied bombers over specific spots in Holland to allow them to drop food to the starving Dutch. The bombers began to fly even before the truce was actually documented and signed. Over the course of about ten days, the British began with their "Operation Manna" runs, soon followed by the Americans with their "Operation Chowhound" runs. In all, they dropped 22 million pounds of food to the starving Dutch.

    When the Allies realized that it wasn't enough, they brokered another ceasefire — this time on the ground to allow another 18 million pounds to be driven through Nazi front lines and into Holland by truck. Some Nazi soldiers even helped with transporting it. It was called "Operation Faust" although they nicknamed it "Operation Spam".

    Operations Manna and Chowound achieved the success they did partly because there was nothing left of Axis targets to bomb. Despite the ceasefire, some bombers returned to base with small arms damage. This prompted some of the crews to request hazardous duty pay, which they weren't receiving for these low-level "bombing" runs, but their commanders refused due to the ceasefire.
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
    Reply With Quote  
     

Similar Threads

  1. Martial arts. How to disable an enemy in one attack?
    By Raziell in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: February 7th, 2012, 05:36 AM
  2. Gaddafi: Our Best Enemy
    By RonPrice in forum History
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: November 2nd, 2011, 07:00 AM
  3. Replies: 1
    Last Post: December 21st, 2008, 02:50 PM
  4. enemy
    By miomaz in forum Behavior and Psychology
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: November 3rd, 2006, 08:15 PM
Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •