Joyeux Noёl: The Beginnings of WWI and the Christmas Truce of 1914


Editor’s note: Christmas is a special time of year, and over the years TOO has posted some classic articles that bear on the season. This article by F. Roger Devlin was originally posted in December, 2013. It is an important reminder of the disastrous intra-racial wars of the twentieth century—wars that may yet deal a death blow to our people and culture given the processes that they set in motion. 

With the hindsight offered by ninety-nine years, it is obvious that the outbreak of the World War I marked not merely the beginning of the most destructive war in history up to that time, but a fundamental civilizational watershed. While the fighting was going on, nearly all participants assumed they had been forced into the struggle by naked aggression from the other side. It took historians years to unravel what had actually happened.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the German Army was the best in Europe, capable of defeating any individual rival. Yet Germany had no natural borders, and was vulnerable to a joint attack on two fronts: by France and Britain in the West and the Russian Empire in the East. A German defeat was considered virtually inevitable in such a scenario.

The Franco-Russian alliance of 1894, which became the Triple Entente when Britain joined in 1907, realized Germany’s worst fears.

However, there were important differences between Germany’s Western and Eastern rivals: France and Britain were modern, compact, efficiently-organized countries capable of rapid mobilization, while sprawling Russia with its thinly spread population and economic backwardness was expected to require up to 110 days for full mobilization. Taking advantage of this asymmetry, the German High Command developed the Schlieffen plan: upon the outbreak of hostilities, close to ninety percent of Germany’s effective troops would launch a lightning attack in the West; this campaign was to be completed within forty days, while lumbering Russia was still mobilizing. With the Western powers out of the way, massive troop transfers to the Eastern front were expected to arrive in time for Germany to face down Russia. Speed—of mobilization, of offensive operations, and of troop transfer—was critical to the success of this plan.

The assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Arch-Duke by a Serb nationalist in June, 1914, is the perfect example of an event which occasioned events which followed, but did not cause them; the men of Europe’s great powers did not slaughter one another for four years over a political assassination in the Balkans. Rather, the assassination occurred in the context of Russian guarantees to Serbia and German guarantees to Austria, which inevitably brought the Triple Entente into play. A diplomatic game of ‘chicken’ ensued, in which no side was willing to be the first to back down.

When Austria declared war on Serbia on July 28th, the Russian Tsar, conscious of his Empire’s military backwardness, ordered a partial mobilization. This action was intended merely as a precaution in case of a war that still seemed unlikely. But for the Germans, with their Schlieffen plan requiring utmost speed, the Tsar’s order had the effect of an electric shock. Germany felt it had to mobilize as well. Russia responded two days later by ordering full mobilization. Germany gave Russia an ultimatum; and the Tsar, unwilling to knuckle under, allowed the deadline to pass. Within hours, everyone was involved in a war that none of the parties had originally wanted or intended.

German historians call such a series of events a Betriebsunfall: a quasi-mechanical accident such as might occur in the machinery of a factory. Men were drawn into the gear work and crushed when no one was able to throw the emergency switch in time. It was a tragedy in the fullest sense of the word—a disaster brought on by well-intentioned but flawed men acting rationally under conditions of imperfect knowledge. The consequences are well-known: ten million dead, twenty-eight million more wounded or missing, Communism established in Russia, the Balfour Declaration setting the stage for today’s ongoing Middle East conflict, and the whole crowned by a shameful ‘peace’ treaty that all but guaranteed a future war of German revenge.

Yet, as we can see from newsreel footage of August 1st, the popular reaction to the outbreak was war fever on a scale not seen since the crusades. Europe had been enjoying forty-three years of peace and unprecedented material prosperity, and the young greeted the war as a romantic adventure.

The planned rapid German advance through the Low Countries into Northeast France was unexpectedly halted  in early September—the “Miracle of the Marne”—foiling the Schlieffen plan. On the 13th, the German Army responded by attempting a flanking action around the French lines; the French then rapidly extended their own defensive lines in what became known as the “race to the sea.” Since neither side could dislodge the other, and neither was willing to retreat, soldiers began digging themselves in to their positions—the beginning of trench warfare. By the time winter set in, the pattern of the next four years had been clearly established: a war of attrition involving trivial advances and retreats across a few acres of mud.

But as Christmas approached that year, something unexpected began unfolding. On the frontline sector south of Ypres, Belgium, German troops began decorating the area around their trenches for Christmas Eve. As Wikipedia describes it:

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 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. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently killed soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint [religious] services were held.

The ceasefire spread to other sectors of the front, with as many as 100,000 men eventually participating. In some areas, soccer games between the belligerents replaced combat.


By December 26th, it was over. The authorities got word of the breakdown in discipline and intervened vigorously.

In 2005, an international consortium from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Romania produced a film about the Christmas Truce: Joyeux Noёl. The film opens with scenes of children in French, British and German grade schools reciting rhymed curses they had been taught against the opposing side: the British child’s curse calls for the complete extermination of Germans.

The scene switches to Scotland, where an enthusiastic young man, William, rushes into his local Catholic church breathlessly to announce to his younger brother Jonathan that war has been declared; they are to begin basic training in two days. “At last, something’s happening in our lives,” he rejoices. The priest, Fr. Palmer, looks notably less enthusiastic.

At the Berlin Opera, a performance is interrupted by an officer walking on stage to announce that war has been declared. The lead tenor, Sprink, is quickly called up.

In a French trench, Lieutenant Audebert wistfully looks at a photograph of his pregnant wife moments before being called to lead an assault on the German lines. In the ensuing action, Scottish William is mortally wounded; his brother Jonathan is forced to leave him behind, a psychological trauma from which he never recovers. Audebert’s men pour into a German trench, but as they turn a corner, some one-third of them are mown down by a German machine gun.

Meanwhile, Sprink’s lover, the Danish soprano Anna, receives permission to sing before the Crown Prince of Prussia. Sprink is called back from the front to perform with her, and is impressed with the luxurious comfort in which the German commanders are living. When he returns to the front, Anna insists on accompanying him, determined to sing for the ordinary frontline soldiers as well as the officers at headquarters. (The presence of a woman at the front is poetic license on the filmmakers’ part.)

The German soldiers begin setting up Christmas trees along their trenches, to the bewildered suspicion of the French soldiery. After the singers conclude their first number, a cheer goes up from the Scottish trenches. Fr. Palmer plays the first few bars of another Christmas song on the bagpipes, and Sprink responds by performing the song, climbing out into No Man’s Land. Lieutenant Audebert motions to his men to hold fire. Soon, men are pouring out of the trenches on both sides, sharing food and drinks. Fr. Palmer holds a Christmas Eve Mass for all the men.

On Christmas morning, the officers renew the truce and arrange for exchanging their dead. Dozens of men are buried between the lines. A soccer match ensues. The officers realize the situation is untenable and attempt to restore discipline, but by this time the men are refusing to fire upon each other.

A bundle of soldiers’ letters is intercepted by the French authorities, alerting them to the situation. Fearful of having their war spoiled, they dissolve the division and repost its members to various unaffected sectors of the front. The Germans are transferred to the Eastern front to face the Russians. Fr. Palmer is replaced by a Bishop who preaches a sermon urging new recruits to exterminate German men, women and children.

A major theme of the film is music. Sprink’s superior officer begins by telling him that, being a singer, he is useless as a soldier. Then it is the incongruous presence of music that leads to the unplanned ceasefire. At the end, as the Crown Prince of Prussia informs his men of their punishment, he catches sight of a harmonica. He snatches it away and crushes it beneath his boot heel.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 did not change the course of the war very much. In future years, commanders were successful in suppressing similar occurrences. As the war progressed and especially after poison gas was introduced, soldiers gradually came to see their enemies as less than human, as was the intention of the higher officers on all sides. But it has continued to spark the popular imagination in the near-century since it took place. A Canadian historian has written:

It [was] the last expression of that 19th-century world of manners and morals, where the opponent was a gentleman. The ones who survived, who lived to see other Christmases in the war, themselves expressed amazement that this had occurred. The emotions had changed to such a degree that the sort of humanity seen in Christmas 1914 seemed inconceivable.

Joyeux Noёl lost money at the box office, and critics have complained of its “sentimentality.” I suggest seeing it for oneself this Christmas season.

23 replies
    • TJ
      TJ says:

      I was looking at the garbage pickup schedule card on the refrigerator [Waste Management]-

      copyright 2015 WM Intellectual Property Holdings, LLC
      The Recycle Often. Recycle Right. (SM) [meaning Service Mark]



      • Al Ross
        Al Ross says:

        Waste Management , although based in Houston ,owes a lot of its corporate bulk , takeover strategy wise , to the Greenwich , CT resident , Brad Jacobs.

        Jacobs is a financial prodigy . The following listed companies owe their existence to his entrepreneurial spirit : United Rentals , XPO , and GXO.

        We may note that nothing , Brad Jacobs – related, is actually manufactured in the USA or elsewhere other than the Middle Kingdom for that matter .It is imply a methodology of distributing or hiring Chinese imports..

  1. Edward Harris
    Edward Harris says:

    We never hear about:
    The Indian Princes offered 10 mlillion troops to the London Government in 1915, but the offer was refused. Edith Cavell saw American Ships giving meat, in occupied Belgium, to the German Arny.(1 million tons in 1915 alone)The British Government told the Germans to shoot her because she was writing to the Times. Humanitarian Aid from America! Before the Balfour Declaration, ships from Dixie supplied the Central Powers through Spain, the islands and the then neutral Italy. Yankee ships supplied Germany through Scandanavia, Holland and Belgium.
    The European Empires were bled to death with American loans
    The European Empires were being dismanteld. In 1900 Canada, Australia and New Zealand were given Dominion Status.
    The UK was working on India, South Africa(!) and Ireland.This was stopped by the Convert Jews creating WW1. According to Trotsky’s family, one of the reasons the Convert Jews created WW1 was to stop the World becoming Christian.

    • milan
      milan says:

      @ E Harris

      to stop the World becoming Christian.

      I often wonder if could it be possible that with todays amazing hi-tech weaponry there will be some who will think that taking on even God or what purports to be God by way of aliens which is all the rage today is a solution to their continued political power?

      I mean really consider the words:

      They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” Rev. 17:14

      Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. Rev. 19:19

      I find it distressing that their are those who think that a third world war is needed to bring about some new powerful rebbi in Jerusalem called by Christ incidentally as the Abomination of Desolation.

      • Barkingmad
        Barkingmad says:

        Book of Revelation may not necessarily be a vision by someone or other called “John”. It could be a blueprint of a plot to get Christians to embrace their genocide as a necessary part of “God’s plan”. Right…

  2. milan
    milan says:

    It is an important reminder of the disastrous intra-racial wars of the twentieth century—wars that may yet deal a death blow to our people and culture given the processes that they set in motion.

    I’m starting to think give them what they want really? They are going to take it anyway. If they are the kind of people who really think nothing of sacrificing the entire world to the god of war for their deluded beliefs let them have what they want really. I say this only because I know what the final outcome will actually be their demise at the hands of God anyway. Don’t believe me? Just do a study about the destruction of the third temple 70 AD and that earthquake that struck in the year AD 363 which is just another form of Divine Communication. Events which are only a precursor to yet more punishment from on high. The book of Zechariah also teaches this which is uncannily similar to the book of Revelation.
    So give them what they want but warn them solemnly as Samuel did himself about their desire for a king and all that entailed for them. That I think is really the only way. If God Himself realized it thousands of years ago under Samuel then Jesus why would any of us choose to do differently? St. Paul was right to wasn’t he they are contrary to all peoples period! They have got it in their heads they are the chosen and they will listen to no one not even God Himself!

    • Poupon Marx
      Poupon Marx says:

      If God Himself realized it thousands of years ago under Samuel then Jesus why would any of us choose to do differently? Did this come to God in a dream, while he was in the shower, or would you know by your interest in Holy Writ. Does God take his shoes off when he comes back to his house? Christian theology was created for an illiterate, superstitious crowd in the Middle Beast. Miracles, anthropomorphic figures in the ether, three divisions derived from our sensate universe, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. It’s all downhill from there.

      Several topics and ideas that I have written here have appeared in other sources. One is the cross cultural comparison (essential for a critical thinking person) of the West and East, specifically Singapore and Lee Kwan Yew. Nobody in public office in the West in the 20th Century compares to his insight and comprehensive wisdom and effective intelligence.

      This is a seminal, essential article for all Indo-Info-Europeans. One of my favorite pastimes is reminding people that “I told you so”. Superb job by Guillaume Durocher.

      Next is a review in

      The real castle of power is in the mind, something that is either locked or incomprehensible even when opened(as genius goes over the head of most people). Mansions and buildings are physical manifestations of mind power; they themselves are not the source of power. And yet, because people have come to associate power and wealth with physical objects, they fall into the fallacy of power resting within the walls. It’s like mistaking the church as the house of God when it is but a physical expression of one’s devotion to God.
      This is where Judaism gained a huge advantage over paganism that affixed physical attributes to the gods who were believed to reside in some specific place. In contrast, the Jewish God is formless and cannot be visualized or ‘materialized’ into an entity. Thus, it can never take idolatrous form and be destroyed as such. When pagan temples were destroyed, the gods died within the ruins, just like National Socialism was really over with the destruction of its monuments. But the Roman destruction of the Jewish Temple hardly made a dent in the Jewish God. (Likewise, the construction of Camelot, however impressive it may be, cannot be the solution to mankind’s problems. And there is no actual Grail to cure Arthur’s sickness. Rather, the real secret lies in the hearts and minds. For all of Camelot’s grandeur, it becomes a hollow place once the knights within lose their ways. And the Round Table becomes just a table for feasting by errant warriors given to pleasure and vanity. Perceval realizes the Grail isn’t an object to be found on the outside but a truth, tragically forgotten, to be recovered from within, something which Arthur forgot: “You and the Land are one.”)

      The review’s author is listed as Freud/Jung (what a coincidence; told you so), who writes insightfully and pungently as Andrea Ostrov Letania on her old blog. Google it.

      Yes, similar in only ONE aspect to Buddhism, Judayuck Yahweh “God” is unknowable formless and a totally mysterious “entity”. Words are useless. But the other creations of the Chews, i.e., Christianity and Islum, are imbued and embedded with a toxic, fatal radioactive heavy metal with a long half life. This firm reference of objects and concrete reality obfuscation and confoundment allows infinite amounts of manipulation of the believer population whose vision of spiritually is “deep” like a well, but limited by the walls of the well they inhabit. Christianity and Allah are a in habit.

      I hope a lot of “our people” will trade their chewing cud (kaugummi in German), for some red meat and eggs, protein rich for building and enriching the body, especially the brain support systems. I have given directions and prescriptions for same in previous posts.


  3. pterodactyl
    pterodactyl says:

    There were two essential prerequisites for the two world Wars to proceed, and for WWI to continue after the Christmas truce, when it could have ended there with both sides just going home.

    1. The warrior instincts of the people were activated, the buttons were pressed, and the people were willing participants. The people were initially keen for WWI ( *1 below) and WWII. However, certainly in WWI, the point came when the men would have liked to call it all off and just go home, as the story above demonstrates, but even when this stage was reached it could not be done due to 2 below:

    2. The white countries chose military leaders based on a willingness to take huge casualties in order to win. The types who were not traumatised or badly affected by the deaths of huge numbers of their own best men – the magnitude of this loss did not affect or disturb them, just as a 10 year old boy can watch a war film and be totally unaffected by soldiers being shot.

    This is what allowed these ’brother wars’, ‘1’ and ‘2’ above – they are our own fault, or rather the fault of those generations. The Jews can be blamed for helping to guide us on this path of mutual self-destruction. They might gladly finance it and make a fortune out of it, but nevertheless they were facilitators only and did not have enough control to force the people to go to war, just as they did not even have enough control to change the immigration laws in the US until the 60s.

    The descendants of the WWI generation today refer to WWI as ‘lions led by donkeys’, but in reality it was (a) people who wanted war being led by (b) leaders who wanted war, and (c) encouraged and financed in all this by the Js & banks – and once the people in (a) reached the stage where they had had enough, the leaders (b) and backers (c) kept it going.

    I am not sure at what point the descendants of the WWI generation decided that WWI was a terrible waste and a mistake after all, but whatever decade this conclusion was reached, it arrived in the end, and now no-one refers to it a glorious or worth the cost

    The descendants of the WWII generation still refer to WWII as ‘good against evil’. Surely such a ridiculous notion (we help Stalin and communism to expand for start) will also be reviewed at some point and when this moment arrives, just as it did for WWI, the demonisation of the Germans for wanting to be … horror of horrors: German and white … surely this demonisation will cease, and the H industry will collapse.

    I would like to touch on one or two things of which I have heard little, if any thinglk at all. Why did everyone rush off to war so eagerly? In no way was it a reluctant war as was WWII when the musket was so reluctantly picked up. Everyone it seemed was spoiling for a fight.

      ERIC SMITH` says:

      Clearly both wars were created by the jew for many agendas, as usual.
      They can can manipulate circles around us seemingly effortlessly by virtue of breeding and training of thousands of years. Some goals are listed here.

      Create Israel with Balfour (to get the goy to commit) and then WWll and “holocaust” (to make the unwilling goy actually follow thru and drive a bunch of happy well treated jews to move to an arab filled god forsaken desert).
      Destroy faith of whites in their culture and self determination (while teaching the goy a good lesson on the “futility of war”, they take good care of us don’t they).
      Weakening Russia further to make the takeover of Russia possible.
      Settle their bitter score with both Russia and Germany, who these wretches hate in particular for reasons which I won’t list here but Luther and the Rus destruction of the Khazar kingdom are a couple.
      Create communist states which are really only jewish totalitarianism.
      Make crony capitalism ever more powerful while making massive fortunes on war production deals.
      And finally have a really good laugh at watching the goy slaughter each other by the millions.
      God damn these people to hell.

  4. Tim
    Tim says:

    The young man in Ukraine should read this article and watch this movie. Today, they’re being used to fight against Russia for Washington and we all know who controls Washington

  5. Poupon Marx
    Poupon Marx says:

    I think the answers to your questions are not to be found in singular cause and effect, stimulus and response methods of inquiry. The West, i.e., Christendom, has been led down a reductionistic path of simple, one channel cause and effect. This channel, over-relying on the determinism of materialism will prove, as it has, inadequate to make adequate sense of the World

    Thus, to understand this particular phenomenon of your query requires an exploration of influences unseen, unperceived by the usual understanding of sensate inputs. This is largely been influenced by the tragic influence of what has become known as the Judea-Christian heritage. This incomplete, tragically inadequate codex of Abrahamic amalgamations of irrelevancy, surrogate responsibility, outsourcing outcomes unquestionably, and more, has had the overall effect of limitation of exploration, deepening of understanding, and resolution detente.

    I have endeavored to explain and expand on more profound understandings, but have received no interest or response. I take that to mean the vast majority of people in the West are locked into their failed tools of truly understanding who and what, and from whence. In other words, the Garden Wall and its confines are self satisfying.

  6. Bobby
    Bobby says:

    Thanks Roger. I enjoyed reading this again.
    Merry Christmas to Kevin, and all the great writers and commentators at TOO.

  7. Al Ross
    Al Ross says:

    When the twice wounded ( separate actions ) later – to – be, UK Prime Minister , Harold Macmillan, returned to Oxford to resume his Greats course at Balliol , he noted, in sorrow, that out of the original 28 strong cohort only two others had survived WW I.

    Such was his disillusionment and despair that he “dropped out ” .

    Thank you for this , Dr Devlin.

  8. charles frey
    charles frey says:

    What a coincidence: December 23, 1917, sees the creation of the Federal Reserve, with unlimited fiat funds. The preparations for WWI run parallel and finally boil over a few months later.

    The junior Dulles brothers at the US Legation in Berne arrange Lenin’s sealed train through Germany, with an eight hour stop in Berlin, where the Kaiser is advised by Hamburg Banker Warburg with relatives at Kuehn Loeb & Co., NYC, with ” opposing ” family sides representing the Allies and the second Reich at Versailles.

    And with Kuehn Loeb principal Shiff funding NY demonstrations for the Bolshevik Revolution, which the local Jews referred to as OUR THING, before contributing 2,000 + ” RUSSIAN REVOLUTIONARIES ” from the North Eastern states to Petrograd via Vancouver

    Where the British Observer for their Foreign Office describes them as well-funded, well-dressed, with red carnations in their lapels and money for evening bar visits. [ Which coincidentally describes both Trudeau, father and son, just to your north ].


    • Al Ross
      Al Ross says:

      Coincidence , indeed ?

      When American assistance was requested by a desperate Britain to win a needless self – initiated war , during which no battle had been fought in Germany , the US Government’s result – tilting agreement magically coincided with the 1917 Balfour Declaration..

      • charles frey
        charles frey says:

        01 ” Armistice ” connotes everyone quit and go home: a draw. The gangster burdens placed on Germany, including its reparations, which were finally paid off a few years ago, demonstrate anything but an ” armistice “. So we simplistically alter it to Memorial Day.

        02 The former Soviet Union’s archives quickly became more accessible than those of the oldest modern Democracy.

        03 Predictably, we learned nothing. Look at General Wesley Clark on video, where he reluctantly relates a casual visit to the Pentagon, only to be told, that the US is planning to unhinge 7 Middle East nations [ which he enumerates ] during the ensuing 5 years. Which indeed occurred.

  9. z
    z says:

    Yes this is what happend, but would also be interesting to read why it happend,,ie that from 1895 up to 1914 (with financing by ‘federl reserv’ fr 1913) it whas preplanned by round table n illumnti (rhodes, halifx et al backed by ruttnchschld, warbrg et al)

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