One of the most famous stories to come out of World War I is that of the “Christmas Truce” of 1914, in which German and British forces engaged in a spontaneous and unofficial ceasefire and spent the holiday fraternizing with each other. In the popular imagination, the Christmas Truce was a time in which enemies put aside their differences to sing carols, exchange gifts, and even play soccer, and represented a sentimental flowering of peace and goodwill.

How much of the popular legend around the Christmas Truce is true, and how much is myth? My guest will unpack that for us. His name is Peter Hart and he served as Oral Historian of the Imperial War Museum for 40 years and is the author of several books on military history, including The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War. Today on the show, Peter gives us some background on the start of WWI, what led up to the Christmas Truce, and what life was like for soldiers in the trenches. We then discuss how the Christmas Truce began, and what happened during it (including whether the soldiers really played soccer together), what the leaders of the participating militaries thought of this unofficial ceasefire, how long the truce lasted, and how it ended. Peter explains that while the truce was certainly motivated partly by sentiment, it was primarily done for more practical and even strategic reasons. We end our conversation with why, even though the real Christmas Truce is a less romantic event than commonly conceived, it’s still a wonderful story about our shared humanity.

Resources Related to the Podcast

Peter’s books on Amazon, including Fire and MovementPeter’s Podcast: Pete and Gary’s Military HistoryDocumentary on the Christmas Truce featuring Peter Hart and Taff GillinghamVideo from the Imperial War Museum on the Christmas TrucePhotos of the Christmas TruceThe Race to the Sea

Connect With Peter Hart

Peter on Twitter

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Transcript Coming Soon

The post Podcast #766: The Real (Decidedly-Less-Sentimental-Yet-Still-Wonderful) Story of WWI’s Christmas Truce appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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