Peaceful War

World War 2. A death zone, a place of history. It's Christmas and ceasefire is taking place.

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1. Peaceful War

 

The silence stretched out. It felt almost like a helpless plea, but no, it was silence. Deathly and pure. Soft white snowflakes slowly fell around the new, horrific scene. The snow that had fallen before was now stained red. Less than five minutes ago, there was battle, hot and dangerous. Now a ceasefire. Christmas during war, in the trenches. Not the place you want to be normally, cold, wet and reeking with the stench of death. But not. Somehow everyone, the Germans and the British, have come to some mental agreement. 

The men around me started to murmur, then talk, then shout. A German solider had emerged from behind their lines and was crossing the field of bodies. No one  knew what the man was doing but seemed unarmed and no one attempted to stop him. It fell silent again, everyone slowly climbing the ladders to see. 

The man's reached slowly into his pocket and I felt everyone around me tense. The man's hand emerged from his pockets not holding a gun, but holding a scrap of cloth. White cloth. A sign of peace. More heads emerged in the distance as Germans too climbed ladders to see what was going on. Another man pushed past me, climbed the ladder and walked onto the battlefield. He steadily and calmly approached the German as he extended an arm in greeting. The German took it and they exchange words of peace. 

Clambering to the top of the ladder I clumped my feet on to the battlefield, ready to join my fellow solider. But before  I did, I shouted  back into the lines to see if anyone knew German. A young boy answered, barely twenty, and stood to join me as we crossed the field. Three more Germans had joined while we arrived,and we gave each other a silent nod. 

Besides the young boy, no one knew much of the others language, just the basics to greet and an agreement. No fire would come this day or night. It would be a time to rest, recover and mourn the dead and a time to make new friends. In this short space of time the battlefield and trenches were no longer a place of war.

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