What became known as the Christmas Truce is an event that took place in the trenches of the First World War just five months into the war. There is a mythic quality about the tale as it is told and retold. ‘One human episode amid all the atrocities...’ is what Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, called it and it has been similarly described by many others.
There are however deeper questions worth asking, which the sentimentalisation of this tale sidesteps, questions about how it is that men come to kill their fellow men after not only exchanging cigarettes or drink and singing together but seeing that their ‘enemy’ is someone just like them who would prefer to be at home rather than sitting in a cold and wet trench being shot at.
People continue to marvel at this extraordinary event but surely the extraordinary thing is that we so easily accept it as extraordinary.