Across the Divide

On the eve of Christmas in December 1914 and 1915 in the middle of World War I British and German forces faced each other in the trenches across battle lines and called a temporary truce. On fields in France and Belgium, the troops climbed out of their trenches and played games of football in No Man’s Land. They also retrieved their dead and repaired their trenches. In one location a joint service was held with British and Germans officiating. The soldiers then climbed back into their fox holes and continued the battle.

One Royal Welch Fusilier recounts:  “At 8:30 I fired three shots in the air and put up a flag with ‘Merry Christmas’ on it, and I climbed on the parapet. He put up a sheet with ‘Thank You’ on it and the German captain appeared on the parapet. We bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots in the air, and the War was on again.”

At this holiday season may we each find ways to reach across the divides in our lives and in our nations. May insurmountable differences become surmountable and irreconcilable opinions find a path. May divisions and hatreds be levened with the spirit of universal love and may truce turn into peace.

Happy holidays!


  1. Susie on December 18, 2011 at 1:44 am

    I love this! If British and German forces, in the midst of battle, could call a time-out, certainly each of us, in our own lives, can start by searching for common ground with an estranged family member, a long-lost friend or a not-so-friendly neighbor during this holiday season. And just maybe the “war” won’t have to start again after the holiday is over.
    Thank you, Joanne, for your thoughtful posts that encourage expansive thinking!

  2. Fawzia Assaad on December 19, 2011 at 4:50 am

    This was turned into a beautiful French film. I have a vague remembrance that the officer who initiated the Xmas encounter was judged and condemned in a military court. How I wish a happy end to millions milliards such initiatives.
    Merry Xmas. Happy New Year.

  3. Krishen Mehta on December 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Joanne, this is an amazing story. Thanks for sharing it.

    In the Price Waterhouse archives, there is a story of an event during WW II when a special corridor was created between London and Amsterdam (for part of the year) so that the auditors of a Dutch oil company based in London could come and review the books in Amsterdam. This protection was offered so that business could continue to be conducted.

    Wishing you and your family the best for 2012. Regards, Krishen.

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