11/9/10 ASHLAND, OH -- The Ashland Center for Nonviolence (ACN) will be showing a video on the Christmas Truce of World War I on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center auditorium on the Ashland University campus.
Following the video, Dr. Dan Lawson, dean of Religious Life, and Dr. Duncan Jamieson, professor of history, will lead a discussion of one of the most amazing moments in World War I. This event is free and open to the public.
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, Dec. 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 the "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 fraternization 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.
What actually happened and why? Was this an unpatriotic treasonous act or an act of hope and courage or something in between? Why did soldiers who had been shooting at each other the day before put down their guns? Why did they take them up again?
The presentation is part of the regular Third Tuesday programming of ACN, which explores the history, theory and practice of nonviolence.
The Ashland Center for Nonviolence, located on the campus of Ashland University, is committed to exploring and promoting alternatives to violence in ourselves, our families, our communities and our world. For more information about this event, or to learn more about the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, please call 419-289-5313 or visit us online at www.ashland.edu/acn<http://www.ashland.edu/acn>.