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1. Verdenskrig
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Tekst 49

Læserbreve om julefreden

Aviserne over hele Storbritannien offentliggjorde breve fra soldater ved fronten, som var videresendt til aviserne af deres pårørende. Det vil sige at allerede omkring årsskiftet 1914-15 var den britiske offentlighed bekendt med begivenhederne under julevåbenhvilen.

Nedenfor er gengivet to af disse breve fra mænd ved fronten til deres familier i England og offentliggjort i begyndelsen af januar 1915.

 

Grimsby Daily Telegraph, 3die januar 1915

Colonel's challenge a New Year Day's Match:A colonel of an infantry regiment writing home to his wife gives some interesting details of the truce that was arranged with the enemy during Christmas. He says:- "This morning (Christmas Day) I went up to the trenches and wished every man a happy Christmas and went all round them. As I was coming away at noon there was a sudden hurrah and rush and our men and the Germans both started running to one another and met half way and shook hands. I did not like it at first and ordered my men back but was told they wanted a truce for the day to bury their dead, so I agreed with that.

After ordering half the men to keep a smart look out in the trenches with their rifles ready I went forward and joined the crows. I met a Saxon who talked English well and who interpreted for me while I held a court of admiring men and NCOs. For an hour I stood there and two subalterns came up but I had left and did not see them. I said if they would have an armistice on New Year's Day we would play them at football between our lines-so that remains to be seen.

A lot of their dead were lying about in front of our trenches which they thanked us for allowing them to bury. All the German dead were collected and buried and their Captain read a burial service over them in German and in English as many our men were looking on. At two p.m. he blew a whistle and all the Germans bolted back to their trenches. In the afternoon at three p.m. our doctor thought he would go and see the Germans, so boldly walked down the road to their trenches and talked to them. They were very full of the football idea of mine on New Year's Day. I said if they would like another armistice then I would turn out a team and play them among the shell holes, and they were quite keen. Happily there won't be any obstacles like dead Germans lying about unless they try on another attack before then.

I wonder if it will come off. These Saxons are the same crowd we have always opposite to us and most of them are quite young, 18-25. Their trenches that our men went into are up to the knee in water so they are far worse of than our men are."

 

Midlands Daily Telegraph, tirsdag 5te januar 1915

How Christmas was spent. English and Germans Fraternise. History of a serviette

A paper serviette received in Coventry recently by the wife of a soldier serving in France was the medium of conveying a remarkable story of how Christmas was spent in some districts at the front. The correspondent was Pte. Alfred Smith, of the First Royal Warwickshires, who has been on active (service) since the commencement of the war and has taken part in many of the important battles, and he explains that the serviette on which he wrote contained a piece of cake given to himself and his comrades by a German officer during the festive season. He tells of the good feeling that existed between the opposing forces, at any rate for a time, and he relates the incidents of the day in the following words:

“I daresay you will be surprised at me writing a letter on such paper as this, but you will be more surprised when I tell you that it contained cake given to one of our men by a German officer on Christmas Day, and that I was given some of it. No doubt you will think this a very strange proceeding, but we had not been in the trenches very long on Christmas Eve before we were shouting and wishing one another a merry Christmas. Then we invited them to come over; they did not like the idea, neither did we, of course.

Some of the Germans speak English very well, so they shouted ‘No shoot’, and we said the same. Then one of our sergeants went out half-way to meet them, and an officer and a private come out from the German trenches. They exchanged cigarettes, and after that they sang a song and so did we. Then on Christmas morning we all went out of the trenches and met the Germans half-way. We were able to bury our dead, some of whom had been lying there for six weeks or more. We are still on speaking terms with them, so that we have not fired a shot at them up to now (Dec. 29), neither have they, so that the snipers on each side have had a rest.”

 

Begge tekster er fra hjemmesiden http://www.christmastruce.co.uk/letters.html (besøgt juni 2013)

 

Det samme skete tilsyneladende i Tyskland, da en engelsk avis den 1. januar 1915 henviser til et brev i den tyske, socialdemokratiske avis, "Vorwärts", om de samme typer begivenheder i julen 1914.

 

Christmas Truce from The German Side – A Veto on Fraternising

"Manchester Guardian" and "Daily Telegraph" War Service.

Rotterdam, Friday

Since Christmas an order has been issued in Germany, says the "Vorwärts", forbidding German soldiers to approach the Allies trenches with the object of fraternising with the men in them.

The journal publishes a letter from a soldier describing what took place on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. The writer says: -

"Suddenly from the enemy hurrahing was heard, and, surprised, we came from our mouseholes and saw the English advancing towards us, waving cigarette boxes, handkerchiefs, and towels. They had no rifles with them, and therefore we know it could only be a greeting, and that it was all right. We advanced towards them about halfway. We were only about 200 metres from each other.

"The greeting took place in the presence of officers from both sides. Cigarettes, cigars, and many other things were exchanged, and even snapshots og both sides were taken. The English began playing with a football they had with them.

"On darkness descending both sides returned to their drawing-rooms, having promised that for the next three days of the holidays they would not fire on each other. This promise was given as a word of honour, and extended on both sides to the artillery as well as the cavalry and infantry.

 

Den oprindelige avistekst er gengivet som aftryk på http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/from-the-archive-blog/2011/dec/23/from-the-archive-blog-christmas-truce-1914 (besøgt juni 2013).

 

Tekst 48 | Oversigten over kildetekster | Tekst 50

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