I’ve witnessed the most extraordinary thing.
We woke up early in the trenches today. What a great way to start Christmas; I’m missing home terribly.
First, Peter told us to take a dekko at no man’s land. So we did. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A group of German soldiers, arms in the air, approaching us tentatively. A ceasefire?
“Don’t be gullible! IT’S A TRAP!” yelled Colonel Tennant, gun raised. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I climbed up on to the snow, weaponless. “SMITH!” I ignored the Colonel and raised my arms. What was I doing, trembling towards a German soldier? We shook hands.
“Walter,” he said.
“Matthew,” I replied. “Merry Christmas.”
“Frohe Weihnachten, Matthew.” Walter smiled and walked away.
Did that just happen? The Germans aren’t the enemy, they are young men without a choice, like us. I looked around and everyone was speaking to each other.
Walter came back. “Matthew, why are you fighting?”
“Freedom,” he answered, taking chocolate from his pocket. “Schokolade?” he warmly offered. Touched, I took a piece.
Suddenly something flew past me and I jumped. The men were playing football. “Come on!” shouted a German soldier. I laughed. Was I dreaming? No; I couldn’t imagine this in my wildest dreams.
We played football until dark. Everyone had forgotten “sides” and focused on similarities. We were all young men wanting freedom with similar experiences. Maybe tomorrow we’ll be fighting, but now let’s live in peace.
by Katie Turner- Wilson