The Christmas Truce

Nicole OP

Here’s a Christmas present for you.  The story of the Christmas truce of WWI.

In case  you’ve never heard of the Christmas truce, it’s a sort of mythologized story about how the soldiers, on Christmas Eve and Day of 1914, just refused to fight and exchanged food and gifts and even played ball with each other.  It was all wonderful and glorious and it proves that people don’t like war.  Or something.

The quote Nicole chose for her little meme is from the Mises Institute, which is a libertarian organization that promotes very right-wing economic policies.

There’s an interesting quote in the body of the article, though.

Like many other historians, he believes that with an early end of the war in December of 1914, there probably would have been no Russian Revolution, no Communism, no Lenin, and no Stalin. Furthermore, there would have been no vicious peace imposed on Germany by the Versailles Treaty, and therefore, no Hitler, no Nazism and no World War II.

So, supposedly, if the soldiers had just kept singing Silent Night, and said “Fuck you” to the horrible governments that forced them to fight each other, nothing bad at all would have happened in the entirety of the next, what, fifty or so years.  Wow.

What actually happened during that magical time in 1914?

Well, here’s another piece.

And in what part of the story does our skepticism uncover pseudohistory? Not, as we might expect, in the part that portrays men peacefully shaking hands and sharing Christmas cheer; but in the part of the story that frames this as all that different from their normal day. It turns out that the 1914 Christmas Truce was only marginally more peaceful at a time in the war when fraternization — at least between the British and the Germans — was commonplace.

Turns out the whole thing was really complicated. Isn’t that surprising?  I mean, historians have written entire books about the events of those two wars (WWI and WWII) and the causes for each one. It’s impossible to reduce it to a silly meme on Facebook.

But I find the whole thing sort of interesting because the meme fits right in with the Naugler philosophy about war in general.  They are agin it.  Sort of.

military

Like this. Al Wilson spent 23 years in the US military. And it had “nothing to do with defending our rights.”  Nothing. It was just an “overseas battle.”

So, pretty much for Nicole’s and Joe’s entire lifetimes, war has been unnecessary and nothing but government over-reach.

WWII okay

Then, what do we make of this?  Have Nicole’s views on the subject evolved some?  Was WWI not okay but WWII was okay?  The veterans of WWII are heroes, but the veterans of the Gulf wars or Kosovo are not? Wasn’t D-Day just “an overseas battle” with Germany? Why are they “heroes” but Al Wilson is not?

Nicole, please do you and your children a favor and study a bit of history without relying solely on screeds from libertarian sources.  And while you’re at it, spend some time on the proper use of possessives.

Oh, and Merry Christmas, everyone.

14 thoughts on “The Christmas Truce”

  1. I hate those canned history memes. The worst crime they commit (besides often being very wrong) is they trivialize a very complicated war, especially WWI. That conflict was so complicated, with so many far reaching consequences, we are still dealing with the fallout today. In fact, I’d happily argue we are still fighting it.
    It’s a long ass, complicated war.
    If the soldiers had been successful at stopping the war, which they tried numerous and various times, the underlying issues that keep causing us to throw bodies at each other would still exist, just like today.
    Same war, different year.
    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  2. Steven Pinker has written an interesting book called The Better Angels of Our Nature, link here. He shows pretty convincingly that, far from being more violent, we as a species are actually less violent than we were in the past.

    We have a far greater chance today of living quiet peaceful lives than our ancestors did.

    Of course, that makes a shitty meme.

  3. Very true, and I have a lot of reasons to look forward to the future. We are definitely far less violent, as well as far more charitable than we were in the past.

    We are heading in the right direction.

  4. The only heroes are the kids and men that came back with a flag draped over their coffin. It can happen to anybody. Over the years, fourteen of my friends.

    The men that contend with injuries and handicaps, both physical and psychological are also heroes.

    They are. I am not. I came out mostly unscathed.

    I considered the source and wasn’t offended or moved by her comment.

    Merry Christmas everybody!!

  5. Well, most of us consider anyone a “hero” who went over there. Nobody could predict or determine their fate. You were lucky (and I’m glad you were). Others were not. But that doesn’t make them more heroic or you less so.

  6. If you prefer not to be seen as a hero, that’s okay. How about this – you served and there were more opportunities afforded that you could become a hero (dead or injured in the line of duty) than most of us entertained.

    Thank you for taking the risk. I’m terribly sorry that at least 14 of your friends were amongst those who came home in a coffin. It certainly could have been you. Glad it wasn’t.

    In the meantime, neither Nicole nor Joe are scholars. They prefer memes, rather than going to primary source documentation. Admittedly, they are quite a drive from the National Archives, but they could still try harder than they do. History, gardening, building construction, fractions, etc.

  7. One learns what they are taught or they learn what they *want* to learn. Given a particular leaning, one looks for affirmation. Not historical facts.

    I have a young cousin who lost a leg in Iraq. A couple of years later, he begged the doctors to amputate the other leg, the pain was so unbearable. He is a hero, but Arlington Cemetery is full of heroes. But heroes don’t have to be killed or injured in battle, just being willing to fight for your country makes you a hero.

    And the people who would say you’re not are the people who wouldn’t do what you have done. Thank you for your service to your country. Whoever you are.

  8. They tout off about their so-called inalienable rights. The right to their “lifestyle” which is what exactly? It seems to change every year and not for the better.

    My father was born into the Hitler regime. As my Father would say, “Hitler made the first 18 years of my life shit. I was forced into participating in his Hitler youth programs in school. I was forced into listening to and agreeing with idiots.”

    Living under the thumb of a deadly dictatorship damaged my parents for life. Bombs, starvation, deprivation of all kinds. It was a horrible way to live.

    The Naugler’s are similar to Hitler. The children do not have the freedom to choose. They are forced into listening to and agreeing with the shit their parents preach. Although the children are not starved, they are deprived of a decent education, adequate food, lodging, healthcare and even their American citizenship.

    I wish those kids could exercise their rights. The problem is, the parents isolate them so they don’t even realize they have any.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  9. With all due respect, Mr Wilson, yes you are a hero…in your service to all Americans. All sacrificed, and some gave all. You know, my grandmother was titled Mother of the Year in Kentucky, during World War II. Not only was her husband serving, most of her 11 children were too. And some if not many women and others here at home, worked. They worked in vacant jobs that the men left, and also in war related jobs like sewing at the ammunition plants. Heroes in their own sort, too. But here is my annoyance. People that have disregard for the governing, rights, social organization….make sure their voices are heard. Rattle the cage, but do little to nothing to be a part of a solution. Meh, but I suppose that is their right too. This American regards and respects your service, thank you.

  10. First: A big thank you to Al, my brother, my cousins, my uncles, and everyone else who have or are currently putting their lives on the line for the rest of us, be they military or law enforcement.

    Second: Ludwig Von Mises Institute? Are you kidding me? Importing the concept of royalty and monarchy to the US? Do they understand that Mises was so pissed off at FDR because he refused to help restore Mises and his buddies to their former nobility/monarchy status in Austria after the war. Heck, a good portion of my ancestors were either escaping the feudal system or actually overthrowing it in their home countries. So these swell guys create an institute, throw in a little racism, a touch of antisemitism, a little gold worship (one of them owned one of the biggest gold bullion companies in the world, color me surprised), a little Christian reconstructionism, bank deregulation, oh yeah and being very very rich they don’t want to pay any taxes- I mean gee, in a feudal society it is the slaves, oops serfs, oops people, who are supposed to be working their butts off for those privileged few, not the other way around. They clubbed together whatever pretty lies they thought would convince a whole lot of people to support ideas, concepts and laws (yes, they do actually like those if they are only in their privileged interest) that, quite frankly, are not in the “masses” best interests. You can bet your sweet tushy they are anti state, the state gets in the way of the restoration of their future glorious monarchy. In a way they are brilliant, albeit evil in my opinion, they have talked certain folk into putting that yolk onto themselves. A little propaganda, a bit of revisionist history, a lot of ignorance and some folk will just line up to have those slave bracelets attached. No thanks. We won’t be fooled again.

  11. Thank you to Al and all our armed forces who have been in our military to defend not only American freedoms and security, but that of oppressed peoples elsewhere.

    Not all our U.S military actions have been correct or warranted, but considering the horrors over 3,000+ years, the U.S. in 2015 isn’t doing so bad. The Nauglers would do well to count their lucky stars. Consider other countries’ evils in the last 100 years— Pol Pot, Hitler, Kim Jong, Mugabe, Idi Amin, Ho Chi Minh, Hussein, the list goes on. I’ll take our “evil” government over myriad other countries today where disagreeing with the government will result in being thrown in jail, a work camp, rape, beatings or death.

    The Nauglers have the freedom to malign our government, military and law enforcement to their heart’s content. They don’t have the freedom to disobey U.S. laws, but if said laws are unpleasant, they can always get in a rubber boat and set off to Cuba.

    Thank you Lisa for your informative post above. It’s given me some reading to do.

  12. Clarification: I meant to say “…but considering global horrors and atrocities over more than 3,000 years, the U.S. in 2015 isn’t doing so badly.”

  13. Thanks all. But that word gets thrown around a lot. I completely understand why the blogger pointed out the hypocrisy.

    And it is hypocrisy.

    The military is what it is. It puts young men in situations that they react to and people see and do things they wouldn’t otherwise. I have done a lot of things I’m not too proud of and many things that I’m completely OK with. For the past 11 years I’ve been afforded the opportunity to do “good” things. I’ve hauled a few of my neighbors and friends to definitive care and probably been part of saving their lives. It’s not heroic, but it’s pretty cool seeing people I love and respect getting a second chance.

    I want one thing to be clear. I harbor no malice towards the Nauglers. I do not respect the father. I think the mother is, in fact, a victim. I think those kids are getting hosed. I live here and I hope those kids can one day see the error of their indoctrination and break free and take life by the balls and do great things. I wish I could somehow help them, but that would involve interacting with the father and that wouldn’t be good.

    OK, I have “runaway slaves and Jews” to hunt down and turn in.

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