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December 19, 2007
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Private Wilson woke with a start and automatically grabbed his rifle. He held it close to him, its icy cold touch keeping him alert. He dragged in another frozen breath, burning his already chilled lungs. He listened carefully to the still winter night. Something wasn’t right. He put his safety cock on and ran along the trench, stooped over, being careful not to wake the few men that were able to sleep.
He ran up to the automatic gunner’s post where Private Millings was.
“What’s going on?” he whispered.
Private Millings shrugged. “Nothing, absolutely nothing. It’s unnatural”
Private Wilson looked up at the sky. The moon was getting lower; the first rays of sunlight were just starting to peek through the broken branches of the torn forest around them. Private Wilson smiled.
“Hey, Millings. Look”
Private Millings looked up. “What?”
“The sun is coming up. It’s Christmas”
Private Millings smiled and pushed his helmet back a little.
“So it is” he said quietly. Then he frowned and went back to watching the desolate no-man’s land and the German trenches that lay beyond them. “What a god-awful way to spend Christmas” he muttered to himself.
Private Wilson looked out at the frozen landscape sadly. Yet again he wondered what his family was doing at that very moment. Surely his little girl would be opening up what few presents they could afford. He smiled to himself at the thought of her happy, innocent smiles.
Private Wilson was suddenly pulled out of his blissful dreams by a loud metallic click. He looked over at Private Millings.
The Private was aiming the automatic out into no-man’s land.
“What is it?” asked Private Wilson.
“Kraut” mumbled Private Millings.
Private Wilson looked out past Private Millings.
“Wait!” he cried, grabbing the nose of the automatic weapon “He has a white flag!”
Private Millings looked back up into the no-man’s land.
“So you’re right. Didn’t see it against all the snow”
Private Wilson glanced at him. He was lying.
“I’d better go see what he wants”
“Shouldn’t the Captain do that?” asked Private Millings.
Private Wilson glanced down the trench. The Captain was sleeping fitfully in the frozen dirt. Private Wilson looked back at his comrade.
“The lucky sod fell asleep. We should leave him” he took off his boot and took out his dingy grey sock. He put his boot back on and pulled himself up to the edge of the man made trench.
“It is Christmas after all. This can be his gift”.
Private Millings went to pull him back.
“Wait! It could be a trap!”
Private Wilson looked out at the German waving his soiled white sock. He shook his head
“I don’t think so” and with that he hauled himself over the edge of the trench and stood up. He started waving his sock in sweeping arcs over his head. He looked over at the German and smiled. The German waved.
Then the German soldier started walking further into the no-man’s land. Private Wilson felt it only natural to go out to meet him.
“What are you doing!” hissed Private Millings from the trench.
But he and the others on duty who joined him were ignored. They called louder until the whole trench was awake. They all tensely watched the two soldiers walk towards each other over the snow and solid mud.

Privat Kirsch nudged his sleeping comrade in the side. The man sat up instantly, gasping for air, he pushed the butt of his pistol into Privat Kirsch’s chest.
Privat Kirsch just looked at him.
“Entschuldigung” said the man and he put the gun away. “Du hast mir angst gemacht”
Privat Kirsch pointed out at no-man’s land.
“Look what Leuthaut Adler is doing”
The soldier looked to where Steinreich was pointing. He leapt up.
“What is he doing? That could so easily be a trap!” gasped the soldier.
Privat Kirsch shook his head.
“I don’t think so”
“Shouldn’t we tell anyone?” asked the soldier.
Privat Kirsch looked at him.
“Didn’t anyone tell you? The Kapitan was KIA last night.”
The soldier looked horrified “So who’s in charge now?”
Privat Kirsch pointed out to no-man’s land again. “Adler”

Leuthaut Adler felt the fierce wind tug at his clothes, the cold bit at the skin that was bare to the elements. But he kept smiling at the soldier in front of him.
“Well Tommy…well we…ein pakt…truce? Fur…Christmus?” he struggled to say.
The English soldier looked surprised but nodded. Then the English soldier said something that he didn’t understand. He sincerely wished he had made more of an attempt at learning passable English in school.
But then the English soldier did something Leuthaut Adler wasn’t quite expecting either.
He stuck out his hand and smiled. Leuthaut Adler was momentarily confused but then gripped the hand strongly and shook it. That was something they didn’t need language for.
“Happy Christmas” said the soldier.
“Wunschen” replied Leuthaut Adler, still shaking the stranger’s hand as a white smile shone through his grimy face.

A big smile spread across his exhausted face, Private Wilson dropped down into the trench. He was warmly greeted by his comrades congratulating him on his safe return.
“Well done old boy, you just shook hands with death!” exclaimed one.
Private Wilson looked at the young soldier. He was another Private that had only arrived a few days ago to join them here on the front line.
“They’re just the same as us really” he muttered.
Suddenly the Captain broke through.
“What the hell was that?” he demanded.
Private Wilson smiled. “We have a truce Sir” he said happily.
“A truce? Who gave you orders for that?”
Private Wilson’s smile disappeared.
“No one, Sir” he said quietly. Silence fell in the trench.
The Captain glared at him. Everyone collectively held their breath.
“What were the terms?”
“None Sir. Just that it’s Christmas”
The Captain’s mouth froze. He looked up at the sky; the sun was almost up now. The clouds were tinged beautiful hues of pink, orange and purple. Fresh flakes of snow began to drift down. “So it is” he whispered to himself. The Captain smiled and looked back at the Private.
“Carry on soldier” he said and saluted.
Private Wilson and the other men smiled, saluted and clicked their heels together.
“SIR!” they barked as one voice.
They all started relaxing and lighting cigarettes when from across no-man’s land they heard
“Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh…”
As the song was picked up again by the voices that floated across no-man’s land the English soldiers emerged from their trenches and began walking towards the midway point between the two sides.
As they walked, though they weren’t even sure why they were walking towards the ‘enemy’ even in this spontaneous truce time, a soldier struck up
“Silent night, holy night
All is calm all is bright…”
Soon the voice of every soldier could be heard ringing through the frozen land. The Germans saw them coming and went out to greet them.

A fire was started, and every available item taken for seating. Both sides willingly shared their food and gifts from home amongst each other. They were seeing for the first time since the beginning of the war that the ‘enemy’ was a lot more than a Kraut or Tommy; they were all men fighting for what they believed in.

Private Millings stood up and tapped Private Wilson’s shoulder. He nodded back towards the English trenches.
“I think there are some cigarettes in my fox hole. Will you come with me?” he said.
Private Wilson smiled at the thought and stood up to go with him, brushing the snow and dirt from his trousers. The two men stuck their hands in their pockets as the snow swirled around them on their way across no-man’s land.
When they got there Private Millings jumped down first and made his way, not towards his fox hole but towards the machine gunner’s post. Confused, Private Wilson followed him. When Private Millings sat in front of the automated weapon Private Wilson pushed him saying
“What the hell are you at?”
Private Millings glared at him “Don’t you see? This is the perfect opportunity. Those stupid Krauts won’t know what hit them”
Private Wilson stared at him a moment, in shock and revulsion. Then he punched Private Millings across the face so hard his head snapped to the side.
Private Millings put his hand to his mouth and then looked at it. There was blood on his fingers.
“You’re disgusting” spat Private Wilson and with that he jumped back up out of the trench and strode angrily back to the others. When he got there he didn’t tell them what had happened. Private Millings didn’t rejoin them.

As the sun set and the moon rose the soldiers all huddled closer to the fire, singing carols.
As the last one came to a close soldiers began to slowly drift away back to their trenches, to sleep. Tomorrow the war would continue.
Private Wilson sat with his arms wrapped around him, staring into the fire.
“Vat are…you…fightnien fur?” said a voice.
Private Wilson looked up. It was a German soldier, looking at him sincerely.
“Um…I guess for my king and country”
“That is gut…but vat are YOU fightnien fur?” the man struggled to say.
Private Wilson had to think about it.
“I suppose…So my daughter can grow up, safe and happy. And so no one else will have to get hurt”
The German nodded. He had understood half of what Private Wilson had said.
“It is like…himmel…heaven. Yes?”
Private Wilson smiled. “Yes, I suppose it is”.
The German smiled back then looked up at the sky. He turned and said something to the German soldiers that were still sitting there. They nodded and slowly got up and returned to their trenches. The last of the English soldiers got up too.
Private Wilson paused and looked back at the German. He was saluting him. Private Wilson smiled and gave him the devil may care salute in return. With that both men performed an about turn and returned to their respective sides.

When Leuthaut Adler jumped down into his trench he sat down next to one of his men. He stared across the no-man’s land at the English trenches.
“You know…I was thinking…maybe heaven isn’t beyond the clouds…maybe it’s across the field.”
The soldier frowned at him “Sir?”
Leuthaut Adler shook his head.
“Never mind” he clapped the young soldier on the back
“Carry on soldier”.
“Sir!”

At the stroke of midnight all men held their breath as one.
But then the perfect Christmas silence was shattered by the rattling of guns and pierced by the orange and red flashes of shells.
Private Wilson sighed, took aim, and fired.

Three days later…

Private Wilson slipped down the side of the bombed out German trench. He picked his way through the mess of broken bodies and shells. He reached for a pistol in the mud that looked to be in working order.
Suddenly something caught his eye. He looked to his right and nearly wretched. He recognized the disembodied head lying in the muddy water.  It was the face of the German he had made the truce with.
It was frozen in a lifeless mask of fear. Private Wilson gritted his teeth and closed the eyelids so the glazed eyes were no longer staring at the bleak and snowy landscape.
“Something wrong Wilson?”
Private Wilson jumped. He spun around.
“No sir!” he exclaimed to the Captain.
“Good. Keep moving we’ve a lot of ground to cover.” said the Captain and he kept moving.
Private Wilson saluted then picked up the pistol.
“What a sad affair” he muttered and continued on.



Based on a true story. Dedicated to the brave soldiers, of both sides, of the First World War.
My christmas '07 deviation. Hope you like it! and Merry Christmas to everyone! :xmas:
(I LOVES christmas!) :D

A few translations...
Entschuldigung=sorry
Du hast mir angst gemacht=you scared me
The rest you can figure out for yourselves!
:iconsilverinferno:
SilverInferno Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2008  Student Digital Artist
O.O T.T This is so sad..... I remember talking about this event in class.... you always manage to break my heart with little details in your writing!! It was the German's head this time *cries* Wonderful writing
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:iconminibubble:
minibubble Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah :__: it's such a sad part of the war, it showed how human both sides really were
Awwwh! That makes me so happy that you said that <3 I didn't think many people noticed the details |D

:glomp: :heart:
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