World news story
The Christmas Truce Centenary Resonates in Sri Lanka
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The British High Commission and the German Embassy, organised a commemoration of the centenary of the WWI Christmas Truce.
The British High Commission and the German Embassy, together with Sri Lanka Unites, organised Football Remembers, a commemoration of the centenary of the WWI Christmas Truce on Tuesday, 9 December, 2014, with a mini football league at the CR&FC grounds in Colombo, involving players from the British High Commission, the German Embassy and the Maldives High Commission and youth from Jaffna, Kalmunai, Matara and Colombo, representing the length and breadth of the country. The winners were awarded the Christmas Truce Harmony Cup. This was followed by a reception at the High Commissioner’s Residence, along with carols sung by Soul Sounds, including a ‘Silent Night’ in English, German, Sinhala and Tamil. (‘Silent Night’ was one of the carols sung during the first Christmas Truce in 1914.)
The event in Sri Lanka is one of many around the world where staff at British Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates are marking the centenary of this historic event and the first in which both the German and British missions collaborated, reflecting the true spirit of that first Christmas Truce.
Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy in Colombo, Dr. Michael Dohmen said, “The Christmas Truce is an enduring image of the triumph of the human spirit in times of terrible adversity. This unofficial peace, in the midst of a brutal and costly war, is an inspiring piece of history that represents a fundamental yearning for peace.”
British Deputy High Commissioner, Laura Davies, said, “It’s always good to pause and value the good things in life and this includes friendship, particularly friendship that overcomes differences and disagreements. Today we are celebrating new and old friendships, as well as the important work that so many people are doing across Sri Lanka to promote reconciliation and community cohesion. Our football matches today were played in that same spirit of friendship, bringing together people from different nationalities, generations and backgrounds: Sri Lankan, Maldivian, German, British; youth, young leaders and the not-so-young; sportsmen and women; people with different abilities and talents. The Christmas Truce was a hundred years ago, but its spirit endures today.”
The Christmas Truce was a series of widespread, unofficial ceasefires that took place along the Western Front around Christmas 1914, during World War I. Though there was no official truce, roughly 100,000 British and German troops met in No Man’s Land to sing carols in their own languages, exchange little presents and even play friendly football games with one another, in one of the Truce’s most enduring images. The first truce started on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium.