Yes, it did! However, Brian Dunning challenges some of the exaggerated stories surrounding the 1914 Christmas Truce. Dunning is right to question the excessive mythic stories of this story, but even in its more toned down version it is a wonderful story that should inspire hope for humanity.
Read Dunning’s careful analysis of the truce here: Did the 1914 Christmas Truce Really Happen?
In his new book, Taylor Downing, writes about the unsung heroes of WWI. He recounts the stories of the spies, scientists, and code breakers who changed the world through their work. “[T]hese ‘secret warriors,’” he declares, “were a remarkable group and their stories deserve to be rediscovered. The First World War was not just a war of trenches, slaughter and sacrifice. It changed the scientific and technological landscape of the century to follow.” Read his summary of the book at:
History News Network | Secret Warriors of the First World War.
This December 25 will be the hundredth anniversary of the Christmas Truce that occurred during World War I. An event worth celebrating! Usually most “outbreaks of peace,” as Adam Hochschild points out, are not celebrated but “the anniversary of this one is being celebrated with extraordinary officially sanctioned fanfare.” The fact that this event “did not represent a challenge to the sovereignty of war” and is receiving significant support from European governments and the Football Association [soccer] explains why this particular event (and not other peace promoting events) will be celebrated. While Hochschilds supports the celebration of this event he thinks that we should celebrate peace and peacemakers more often. He suggests:
“Perhaps when the next anniversary of the Iraq War comes around, it’s time to break with a tradition that makes ever less sense in our world. Next time, why not have parades to celebrate those who tried to prevent that grim, still ongoing conflict from starting? Of course, there’s an even better way to honor and thank veterans of the struggle for peace: don’t start more wars.”
History News Network | Why No One Remembers the Peacemakers.
June 28 is Vidovdan (Saint Vitus’ Day), a sacred day for all Serbs. It marks the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo (1389), when the Serbs were defeated by the Ottoman Turks. This is also the anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which kicked off WWI. That these two events share the same anniversary is not accident. The young Gavilro Princip, who shot the Archduke of Austria and his wife Sophie, was a Bosnian Serb and a member of the Serbian nationalist terrorist organization Ujedinjenje ili Smrt (Union or Death also known as the Black Hand). The Austro-Hungarian Empire had recently acquired the Bosnian territories, previously part of the Ottoman Empire, to administer per the Congress of Berlin (1878). But this was an inopportune time to acquire these territories. Nationalism was on the rise and the peoples of these regions desired independence. They didn’t fight to throw off the yoke of the Turks to then gain a new master. The Serbs in the newly independent Serbia were not content with their independence they also wanted their Serbian brothers in Bosnia to have the same freedom that they had. Here’s where the connection between the Battle of Kosovo and the Archduke’s assassination comes in. Ferdinand, knowing full well that June 28 was a sacred day for Serbs, decided to visit Sarajevo on that day anyway. He was already hated as a figure of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but this decision sealed his fate as a target.
It may seem strange that the Battle of Kosovo plays such an important role in Serbian history. But the defeat that marked the beginning of 500 years of oppression (at least in myth) created and cultivated the distinctive Serbian character. As Thomas Emmert explains “the Kosovo ethic…expressed a basic attitude toward life itself: democratic, anti-feudal, with love for justice and social equality.” The myth that grew in the aftermath of the battle, skillfully turned a defeat into a victory. In the most popular version of the myth Czar Lazar, the Serbian prince, choose defeat because he would be rewarded with a heavenly kingdom if he did so, thus making the Serbs a “heavenly” people rather than an “earthly” people.
Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo