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Photo courtesy of Picture-Allience/United Archives/WHA.

Football

by Peter Biľak

In late December 1914, after months of devastatingly violent trench warfare, the brutality of the First World War was briefly suspended in a number of locations along the Western Front as exhausted soldiers from both sides tacitly arranged an unofficial Christmas truce. Taking advantage of the delicate ceasefire to recover and bury their dead, the entrenched enemies also engaged in Christmas carol singing, gift exchanges and prisoner swaps. Small football matches also broke out between the Germans and British in the no man’s land between the trenches and became one of the most fabled memories of the event. ‘How marvellously wonderful, yet how strange it was,’ a German soldier recorded in his diary. The next day, the War was on again.

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