This Week in History: December 24, 1914

truceThe Christmas Truce

In December 1914 invading German troops and the defending Allies were dug in along battle lines in Belgium and France. From sodden trenches, soldiers shot at each other across a no-man’s-land strewn with injured and dead comrades. But on December 24, at points along that western front, Germans place lighted trees on trench parapets and the Allies joined them in an impromptu peace: the Christmas truce of World War I, a hundred years ago.

The truce “bubbled up from the ranks” despite edicts against fraternization, says historian Stanley Weintraub, whose book Silent Night tells the story. After shouted exchanges promising, “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Some erstwhile enemies serenaded each other with carols. Others emerged from trenches to shake hands and share a smoke. Many agreed to extend the peace into Christmas Day, so they could meet again and bury their dead. Each side helped the other dig graves and hold memorials; at one, a Scottish chaplain led a bilingual recitation of the 23rd Psalm. Troops shared food and gifts sent from home, traded uniform buttons as souvenirs, and competed in soccer matches.

“No one there wanted to continue the war,” Weintraub says. But the top brass did, and threatened to punish troops shirking duty. As the new year began, both sides “went on with the grim business at hand,” Weintraub says. But they fondly recalled the truce in letters home and diary entries: “How marvelously wonderful,” a German soldier wrote, “yet how strange.”

Patricia Edmonds. (2014) The Christmas Truce. National Geographic, 226(6), 22

For more information, read this excellent article from MasterFILE Premier. It includes many photographs from that day, including the painting above:

Hart, P. (2015). CHRISTMAS TRUCE. Military History, 31(5), 64.

This Week in History: December 16, 1775

Jane Austen, one of the finest novelists in the English language, was born at Steventon, Hampshire, England, the seventh of the eight children of the Reverend George Austen and his wife, Cassandra. Austen and her only sister, Cassandra, were sent to school for several years, but much of Jane’s formative reading was done in her father’s library.

From Bloom’s Literary Reference Online – Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present, Second Edition.

To find out more visit the following databases under the Books and Literature topic on our Resources page at :

Bloom’s Literary Reference Online

Literature Criticism Online

This Week in History: December 3, 1967

transplantOn December 3, 1967, a South African heart surgeon, Dr. Christiaan Barnard, performed the first human heart transplant operation. Leading a large team of surgeons at Groote Shuur Hospital in Cape Town, Bernard replaced the mortally diseased heart of Louis Washkansky, a 53 year old grocer, with the healthy heart of a 25 year old motor accident victim, Denise Darvall. Barnard said the main problem was not the operation itself, but persuading the patient’s immune system not to reject the new heart.

On this day : the history of the world in 366 days. New York, NY : Crescent Books. (1992.).

To find out more, visit the following databases available through the library:

Gale Virtual Reference Library:

Christiaan N. Barnard. (2004). In Encyclopedia of World Biography (2nd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 7-8). Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from

Health and Wellness Resource Center:

Christiaan Barnard: his first transplants and their impact on concepts of death. (Looking back…)

Raymond Hoffenberg. British Medical Journal. Dec 22, 2001 v323 i7327 p1478(3).

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