The Christmas Ceasefire of 1914 Shows Peace Is Possible

December 28th, 2023 - by Sgt. Dan McKnight / Bring Our Troops Home

On Christmas Eve, the guns of WWI went silent as German and British
soldiers left their trenches to share food, drink, and companionship.

August 1914: The Christmas Truce of WWI
Sgt. Dan McKnight / Bring Our Troops Home 

(December 25, 2023) — World War I had begun in August, 1914, engulfing most of Europe. On the western front, a German invasion of France by way of Belgium had stalled just 50 miles outside of Paris. Fighting quickly devolved into trench warfare, with German and British-French lines divided by a no-man’s land of barbed wire, shell holes, and death.

Soldiers lived and died in trenches of mud and dirt, infested with fleas and other vermin and often flooded with water that was knee deep. Winter added frost and bitter cold.

The war that people on both sides said would be done by Christmas showed no sign of ending. By December, after barely five months of combat, casualties on all sides numbered over two million.

Yet that Christmas Eve, an unexpected sound could be heard above the din of gunfire: soldiers on the German side singing Stille Nacht, the original German-language Silent Night. Small fir trees, makeshift replacements for the grand Christmas trees back home, had been placed.

After much hesitation, soldiers on the British side began to poke their heads out of the trenches. The Germans did not fire. The Brits responded by applauding and singing their own English version of the carol. The two sides then met together in no man’s land.

Soldiers laughed, talked, sang, exchanged gifts, and helped to bury their dead. A few games of soccer were even played.

This outbreak of peace was entirely spontaneous, started by privates on the front lines as their officers threatened them with court-martial.

The truce continued until the end of Christmas. In some spots it continued for days. But slowly men returned to their respective sides and fighting resumed. Europe would not see another Christmas in peacetime until 1918, after ten million men had been killed.

There are a lot of lessons we should learn from the 1914 Christmas Truce. The first is that, even in the depths of war and misery, miracles of humanity are still possible.

The second is that oftentimes, it’s the enlisted men on the frontlines who have a better sense than their officers or the politicians.

I believe that’s why when my organization successfully obtains a committee hearing for the Defend the Guard Act, it’s the common soldiers, sailors, marines and airman who come and testify in favor of the bill. They understand the oath they took to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution, and don’t want to see our National Guard deployed into any more undeclared wars.

On the other hand, it’s too often the generals, fretfully sweating about their money and losing the stars on their shoulders, who testify against the bill’s passage. Obedience to tyranny is always easier than resistance.

It’s estimated that over 100,000 soldiers participated in the Christmas truce.

And in 2024, I expect the Defend the Guard Act to be introduced in over 30 state legislatures.

It took 100,000 people to make the guns go silent in Europe for 24 hours. But if today 100,000 Americans took a stand and contacted their local representatives, our National Guardsmen would never again be sent to fight an unconstitutional war.

So this Christmas, say a prayer for our soldiers still fighting overseas and spare a thought for the veterans who are trying everyday to bring them home.

Merry Christmas, and God bless.


Sgt. Dan McKnight is Chairman of Bring Our Troops Home 

BringOurTroopsHome.US is an organization composed of veterans of the Global War on Terror and their civilian allies who are dedicated to ending American involvement in our endless wars in the Middle East and bringing our troops home. We insist that the Constitution of the United States be respected and enforced, requiring a formal declaration of war by Congress before U.S. military forces are deployed into combat overseas. And we are committed to returning to a foreign policy befitting a limited government republic, one that puts “America First.”

To achieve these goals, BringOurTroopsHome.US will utilize public education, political action, and legislation, including passing “Defend the Guard” bills in state houses across the country.