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Author Topic: The philosophy of order
martel
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I recently saw the movie Joyeux Noel, or Merry Christmas. It was nominated for a best foreign film Oscar last year, and it is an excellent movie. For those who don't know, the movie tells the story (with embellishment) of the "Christmas Truce" on the Western Front during 1914. Basically, a couple hundred French, Scottish, and German infantry called an informal truce on Christmas Eve, and exchanged liquor, photographs, etc., played soccer, and had a Christmas service (mass?).

This made me think: were they right? After the movie, of course you think they are: it's excellent at producing the appropriate emotions, and there is some underlying truth. But these men swore to serve their country, and this destroyed their fighting effectiveness (they had to be transferred.)
And that WWI was an unjust, stupid, and destructive war, while true, doesn't mean that they're right: most of these men almost certainly knew little to nothing of the reasons for the war beyond government propaganda, which consistently painted the other side as vile barbarians.

So were they right?

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scouser1
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They were right. One of the men still living here today was 1 of them. They literally stopped all gunfire, danced, drunk, sung together, got to know each other, then as soon as the bells chimed, they got back in the trenches and began killing each other again. It is not as far fetched as you think..
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martel
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Uh...did they? I'm not sure that the movie has all the details right, but in the movie they hung out in each others trenches while getting bombarded, and then refused to shoot each other.
And they definitely were transferred immediately afterwards.

And could you live with yourself if you did what you described? Having just sung and played soccer with a man, and shooting him? This is why it's such an interesting question. It's inhuman to be like that, so what's the solution? Propaganda? (worked most of the time in WW1/WW2)
Or just no war?

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scouser1
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It can be done. Don't forget, most of these men on both sides had no choice but to go and fight for their country, in Britain they had what they called the "King's Shilling", which was what you were given if you joined up, but also meant that if you were given a shilling by a recruiting officer, normally without the persons knowledge like in the bottom of his beer, you had to go and fight, wether you wanted to or not. If you chose not to, you would be locked up, or you would be shot for being a coward and for not obeying the Kings shilling. Most of the men on both sides were not properly trained killers, some were not even over the age of 18, but recruiters bent the truth to get them in they were so desperate. Ok, so they had to kill or be killed, but for a special time like christmas when they should be with their families, instead they were stuck in trenches with rats and dead bodies at every turn, (absolutely disgusting, appauling conditions, no wonder most men come home with shell shock, a perfect example of trench warfare is Birdsong By Sebastian Faulkes. It is a fiction book, but he has taken true and thought-provoking memoirs from servicemen, but I think the first part was all of his own doing [Wink] )wanting some resbite from having to kill each other, so they had the Christmas Truce. It was a shame for them, some died from all of the disease, but people back in those days are certainly not like some of the people we have today. They had more repect for each other, and most lived their lives without malice, only to be told that you have to go to war and that you might never see your family again.

[ February 06, 2007, 04:39 AM: Message edited by: scouser1 ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by martel:
I recently saw the movie Joyeux Noel, or Merry Christmas. It was nominated for a best foreign film Oscar last year, and it is an excellent movie. For those who don't know, the movie tells the story (with embellishment) of the "Christmas Truce" on the Western Front during 1914. Basically, a couple hundred French, Scottish, and German infantry called an informal truce on Christmas Eve, and exchanged liquor, photographs, etc., played soccer, and had a Christmas service (mass?).

This made me think: were they right? After the movie, of course you think they are: it's excellent at producing the appropriate emotions, and there is some underlying truth. But these men swore to serve their country, and this destroyed their fighting effectiveness (they had to be transferred.)
And that WWI was an unjust, stupid, and destructive war, while true, doesn't mean that they're right: most of these men almost certainly knew little to nothing of the reasons for the war beyond government propaganda, which consistently painted the other side as vile barbarians.

So were they right?

An interesting detail I've recently learned. It appears that one particular whiny corporal stationed in the area complained notably that the truce should not be allowed:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1082392,00.html

A corporal named Adolph Hitler.

http://www.wehaitians.com/the%20truce%20of%20christmas%201914.html
quote:
Cpl. Adolf Hitler of the 16th Bavarians lambasted his comrades for their unmilitary conduct:

Such things should not happen in wartime. Have you Germans no sense of honor left at all?


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Loki
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That is an interesting detail, good find.
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martel
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It's interesting, but just because Adolf Hitler thought something doesn't mean we shouldn't think about it.
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