Every now and then you come across a little bit of information from our past, some titbit that reminds that all those people fighting in all those wars are human too. It is unlikely that each one of those soldiers has some real reason to hate the man on the other side. It’s like all those stories about cock-fights, except here the roosters are these soldiers.
It’s inevitable that at some time these people will realise that they have a lot in common and see each other as just other people to spend an afternoon with. This is what happened on Christmas Day in 1914 in the famous Christmas Truce when informal truces were declared across much of the Western Front and soldiers from the the two sides sang carols together, ate together and played a game of football (3-2 in favour of the Germans :) ). They didn’t let the truce go to crap either:
The Germans then asked the British to join in [their singing]. At this point, one very mean-spirited Tommy shouted: ‘We’d rather die than sing German.’ To which a German joked aloud: ‘It would kill us if you did’.
This wasn’t just an isolated incident either. Groups of soldiers on both sides would frequently arrange for their mortars and artillery to fire at specific places at specific times so that they would completely miss the ‘enemy’. Some such arrangements were reached soon after a particularly bloody skirmish.
Some people claim that this was the last instance when soldiers adhered to the principle of “Respect For The Enemy” or some such thing. I just think it shows how pointless their wars were, they had more in common with their ‘enemies’ than with those who commanded them. I don’t think that has changed.