On Christmas Eve 1914 the British and German armies faced each other across the Western Front and a strip of land called No Man’s Land. The men heard each other singing familiar carols, even though they didn’t understand each other’s words. By the end of Christmas Day, some of the opposing groups of men had declared a truce, met each other to exchange food and gifts, and in spite of orders from their superiors, refused to fire AT each other, even going so far as to let each other know when they’d have to fire so the men would be sure to be in their trenches with their heads down. Kids who see war glorified in movies or video games might find this sobering account of what the soldiers in the trenches cared about a thought-provoking black and white contrast with full color animation.
TRUCE by Jim Murphy
An award winning author of nonfiction, Murphy's window on World War I brings this conflict as close as the accounts we see of current wars on today's newscasts. I've heard about this truce and read brief articles, but here is something I didn't realize: This Christmas truce was unique in that it was not arranged by the officers but came about through actions of the men under them. This truce also lasted longer than other truces, such as the ones during the Civil War which were arranged so burials could take place. Those truces also came with time limits. This one did not. Along some sections of the Front, there was no truce. Along another section, the truce lasted until March.
Before you turn your reluctant reader boy loose with this one, read it yourself and be prepared for questions.
In the meantime, in a new year, we can hope and pray for a truce that has no end.