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The True Story of the Christmas Truce (Hardback)

British and German Eyewitness Accounts from World War I

WWI Greenhill Books Greenhill: WWI Greenhill: 20th Century 1914 Military

Edited by Anthony Richards, Translated by Eva Burke
Greenhill Books
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 16 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781784386146
Published: 30th September 2021

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‘One of them shouted “A Merry Christmas English. We’re not shooting tonight.” . . . [then] they stuck up a light. Not to be outdone, so did we. Then up went another. So, we shoved up another. Soon the lines looked like an illuminated fete.’ Rifleman Leslie Walkington

On Christmas Eve 1914, a group of German soldiers laid down their arms, lit lanterns and started to sing Christmas carols. The British troops in nearby trenches responded by singing songs of their own. The next day, men from both sides met in No Man’s Land. They shook hands, took photos and exchanged food and souvenirs. Some even played improvised football games, kicking around empty bully-beef cans and using helmets for goalposts. Both sides also saw the lull in fighting as a chance to bury the bodies of their comrades.

In some parts of the front, the truce lasted a few hours. In others, it continued to the New Year. But everywhere, sooner or later, the fighting resumed. Today, the Christmas Truce is seen as a poignant symbol of hope in a war that many people regard as unnecessary and futile. But what was the real story of those remarkable few days?

In this fascinating new book, historian Anthony Richards has brought together hundreds of first-hand reminiscences from those who were there – including previously unpublished German accounts – to cast fresh light on this extraordinary episode.

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About Anthony Richards

Anthony Richards has worked at the Imperial War Museum for more than twenty years, where he is responsible for the document and sound archives. A qualified archivist, he has contributed to many publications and media projects based on personal written testimony of the two world wars, including articles for The Telegraph newspaper, the Royal Mail Stamp Yearbook, and the ITV series The Great War: The People’s Story (2014). He is also the author of The Somme: A Visual History and In Their Own Words; (both IWM, 2016) and Documents That Changed History (IWM, 2018).


About Eva Burke

Eva Burke grew up in Vienna and then Zug, Switzerland. She graduated from Brandeis University, Massachusetts with a BA and MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Studies. She translated Screams of the Dying (Greenhill Books) and I Somehow Survived (Greenhill Books). She lives in London with her husband, four children and three grandchildren.

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