Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Great 1914 Christmas Truce

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Just a mere four months after WWI began, the death grinding stalemate along the Western Front was suddenly and spontaneously broken on Christmas dawn when both sides set aside their weapons and exchanged greetings. "Peace on Earth" was shouted as well as carols sung. This disturbed the emperors and industrialists who feared workers uniting across imperial boundries more than anything on earth.

From the Independent:
Live-and-let-live accommodations occur in most wars. Chronicles since Troy record stops in fighting to bury the dead, to pray to the gods, to assuage a war-weariness, to offer signs of amity encouraging mutual respect. But none had happened on the scale or duration - or the potential for change - as when the shooting suddenly stopped on Christmas Eve 1914.
Imagine if the foot soldiers in any chronicle dared to defy the guys wearing all that armor and simply refuse to fight for several days! And partied with the "enemy"?

Of course, this is severely frowned upon! The rulers and leaders might arrange truces and then warily, the footsoldiers pick up the dead and injured and secure themselves jointly. But for the soldiers to drop arms themselves and do as they please?

No! Sehr verboten!

At first, the officers on the line, relieved at this pause in the killing which was decimating their own ranks pretty rapidly, breathed easily and let the men fraternize in the No Man's Zone. The soldiers, sensing this hesitation, began to play games and share booze and in general, humanize each other. They also began to discuss the stalemate and what that really meant for them.

This terrified the generals who began to demand fighting resume. Only it wasn't enthusiastically endorsed by the troops. The germs of insurrection and defiance began to set roots and in desperation, both side's leaders forced the issue, resuming fighting by using their long range guns which were staffed by soldiers who only heard rumors of what was transpiring.
General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien's order to II Corps from his cushy rear-area headquarters read: "On no account is intercourse to be allowed between opposing troops. To finish this war quickly we must keep up the fighting spirit."
I do recommend the famous Blackadder series. There are seveal hilarious and sad WWI episodes as Black Addar, a low ranking officer, schemes to get out of "goin over the top". In one scene, he is talking to a General who is in Paris, of course, they never spent any more hours in the front as Rummy and his gang spend in Iraq!---and the General explains his plan for victory. "Oh, so the plan is to have everyone die, right?" asks Blackadder with open disgust. "Why, yes! And how did YOU know this, Blackadder? Are you the secret German spy?" Blackadder rolls his eyes.

You see, the workers of the various nations were trying for at least 20 years to form an international. This was the most terrifying thing the imperialists could imagine and they were moving heaven and earth to prevent this. One of the biggest internationalist meetings was to happen on....just after the assassination of the Archduke of Austria. Needless to say, the meeting fell apart as representatives of various unions from several different empires retreated and declared alliegence to their respective governments (or face execution!) and since the communists managed to topple the aristocracy in Russia and found the Soviet state during this war, this hiked up the terror of the industrialists and capitalists who were making tons of money off of WWI.

The last thing they wanted was a "homebase" for the internationalists but then Stalin took care of that, didn't he? Bye, bye birdie.

Well, here we are, no peace on earth thanks to America, our empire doggedly trying to steal oil from a bear trap that has fastened its teeth firmly on our hand and we are chained to Iraq and can't escape and meanwhile, our government is less and less American and more and more Soviet/Hitlerian and we are felling really nasty about each other and of course, our rulers, rather than allowing a truce in the Kulture Kampf, are fighting us in bezerker mode now.

For example, from Americablog:
Seems that the official GOP homepage doesn't say "Jesus" or "Merry Christmas" anywhere. This is beyond moronic, it is ultimately a slap in all our faces. These irritable, irresponsible people are madly and desperately trying to drive us into disasterous wars so they can feel religious and quaint.

They are bankrupting America and this month, slicing off funds going to the poor, the destitute, the lame and halt and are in toto, acting like demons from hell. The true Christmas spirit which broke out in 1914 is absent in 2005 America. This is because a significant number of Americans hate their own people. This is so sad. One wonders why. After all, there is plenty of hate to go around in this world, why generate even more over stupid things like saying "Happy Holidays," especially since the haters don't even pretend to bother policing themselves.

So HAPPY HOLIDAYS, everyone. Wassail.

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