A few days ago I was driving, listening to NPR and reflecting on the tragic situation of the Baha’is of Iran and feeling a sense of hope to hear how Iranian people play a special role in defending the human rights of their neighbors and shielding their Baha’i brothers and sisters from the ignorant and malicious. All of a sudden I heard on NPR the amazing story of the Christmas 1914 where the yearning for peace and humanity conquered the heart of the German and British soldiers and brought the two together much to the opposition and anger of their superiors.
Though there was no official truce, about 100,000 British and German troops were involved in unofficial cessations of fighting along the length of the Western Front. The first truce started on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium.
The Germans began by placing candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across No Man’s Land, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco and alcohol, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. The fraternisation was not, however, without its risks; some soldiers were shot by opposing forces. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, but it continued until New Year’s Day in others.
Bruce Bairnsfather, who served throughout the war, wrote: “I wouldn’t have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything. … I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons. … I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange. … The last I saw was one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck.”
General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, commander of the British II Corps, was irate when he heard what was happening, and issued strict orders forbidding friendly communication with the opposing German troops.
An eyewitness account of one truce, by Llewelyn Wyn Griffith, recorded that after a night of exchanging carols, dawn on Christmas Day saw a “rush of men from both sides … [and] a feverish exchange of souvenirs” before the men were quickly called back by their officers, with offers to hold a ceasefire for the day and to play a football match. It came to nothing, however; the brigade commander threatened repercussions for the lack of discipline, and insisted on a resumption of firing in the afternoon. Another member of Griffith’s battalion, Bertie Felstead, later recalled that one man had produced a football, resulting in “a free-for-all; there could have been 50 on each side”, before they were ordered back.
In an adjacent sector, a short truce to bury the dead between the lines led to official repercussions; a company commander, Sir Iain Colquhoun of the Scots Guards, was court-martialled for defying standing orders to the contrary.
هفته منتهی به کریسمس، شماری از سربازان آلمانی و انگلیسی… با سلام و دست تکان دادن، بههمدیگر نزدیک شدند و گویی با هم دشمنی ندارند، غذا و هدیه رّد و بدَل کردند و عملاً یک آتشبس نانوشته را به اجرا گذاشتند.
آنها با هم آواز خواندند، ورزش کردند و مسابقه فوتبال دادند و مثل کسانیکه بعد از مدتها همدیگر را میبینند، آدرس و عکس به هم دادند و قرار گذاشتند بعد از اتمام جنگ همدیگر را ملاقات کنند! دیداری که به دلیل قربانیهای بیشمار جنگ اول، شاید هیچوقت پیش نیامد.
از این واقعه در چندین شعر و داستان یاد شده و سال ۲۰۰۵ هم «کریستین کاریون» با استناد به مدارک آن, فیلمی بنام “کریسمس مبارک”  ساخته است.
نویسنده ای گفته است: در جنگ کسانی کشته میشوند که نه همدیگر را می شناسند و نه می دانند چرا، اما کسانی آنرا راه میاندازند که هم همدیگر را می شناسند و هم میدانند چرا.
آتش بس زیبا در کریسمس ۱۹۱۴ لحظه ای نمادین از صلح و انسانیت را در میان یکی از خشن ترین وقایع تاریخ مدرن به نمایش گذاشت.
I thought what an amazing and sad story. Humanity in all of us has been crying for a chance to have a voice.
The true story of Christmas truce in 1914 was after Baha’u’llah had raised the tabernacle of unity for all humanity in 1844 and the world of humanity, for most part chose to remain ignorant of His great announcement and the healing prescription of the Divine Physician. Baha’u’llah declares:
“O ye that dwell on earth! The distinguishing feature that marketh the preeminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth in that We have … laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with them that keep My statutes. “
Although humanity had heard, learned and appreciated the virtue of peace and love through the teachings of the messengers of the past such as Moses, Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna and Zoroaster but the value of the need for global application of the virtues of peace, the declaration of oneness of all humanity, that we are all cells of one body, waves of one sea, stars of one heaven disregard of what background, nationality, religion, color, class, we come from was not yet taught and remained quite foreign to all. Baha’u’llah had brought new and global values to revolutionize the expression and application of old virtues of love and humanity. The Guardian of the Baha’i Faith puts the matter most eloquently saying: ”
Let there be no mistake. The principle of the Oneness of Mankind—the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve 43—is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. Its appeal is not to be merely identified with a reawakening of the spirit of brotherhood and good-will among men, nor does it aim solely at the fostering of harmonious cöoperation among individual peoples and nations. Its implications are deeper, its claims greater than any which the Prophets of old were allowed to advance. Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family. It does not constitute merely the enunciation of an ideal, but stands inseparably associated with an institution adequate to embody its truth, demonstrate its validity, and perpetuate its influence. It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced. It constitutes a challenge, at once bold and universal, to outworn shibboleths of national creeds—creeds that have had their day and which must, in the ordinary course of events as shaped and controlled by Providence, give way to a new gospel, fundamentally different from, and infinitely superior to, what the world has already conceived. It calls for no less than the reconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilized world—a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political machinery, its spiritual aspiration, its trade and finance, its script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units.
The sad story of Christmas 1914 during this period of celebration of Christmas is tragically and pathetically a loud witness to humanity’s ignorance of the new Divine Call and therefore an ongoing repetition of the past and outdated values and believes that a few strong can run with the ball and leave the majority behind. Shoghi Effendi calls our attention to the plight of humanity with these strong words:
“How pathetic indeed are the efforts of those leaders of human institutions who, in utter disregard of the spirit of the age, are striving to adjust national processes, suited to the ancient days of self-contained nations, to an age which must either achieve the unity of the world, as adumbrated by Baha’u’llah, or perish.