I ran across this story from NPR:
Last Witness to World War I's 'Christmas Truce' Dies
All Things Considered, November 21, 2005 · The last surviving soldier who witnessed the "Christmas Truce" in 1914 on the Western Front of World War I has died. Alfred Anderson was 109 years old.
What a different world it was back then, eh? Something like this would never happen in today's world. Someone somewhere would think...'hey, this is a perfect opportunity to get them while their guard is down...' and thereby spoil any attempt at truce. [Some of those who saw it as an 'opportunity' used the chance to enter no-man's land and seek out the bodies of their fallen compatriots to give them a decent burial.]
Here you can read more about -- The Christmas Truce
Yes, it was a different world. From a few other links on the WWI site, I also read about how WWI created the Hitler that the later world would know. So, yes, it was quite a different world. In their minds, the war had just begun and would be 'over by Christmas.' They would later find out how optimistic that was. The reality of a horrible war would soon enter their consciousness. It was the first 'world war'... something that no one thought would happen and surely must be something that once over would never happen again. It had to be an anomaly. The war dragged on and the Second Battle of Ypres was the first occassion that a modern nation used poison gas to kill its enemies. It was also the same war in which Private Henry Tandy took aim, but 'couldn't shoot a wounded man' and let him go. That wounded man was Hitler.
Tandey was haunted the remainder of his life by his good deed, the simple squeeze of a trigger would have spared the world a catastrophe which cost tens of millions of lives. He was living in Coventry when the Luftwaffe destroyed the city in 1940, sheltered in a doorway as the building he was in crumbled and city burned like a scene from Dante's Inferno.
He was also in London during the Blitz and experienced that atrocity first hand, he told a journalist in 1940, "if only I had known what he would turn out to be. When I saw all the people, woman and children he had killed and wounded I was sorry to God I let him go".
Not surprisingly, Hitler refused to participate in The Christmas Truce...
Posted by BlueWolf on November 22, 2005 02:24 AM