UK and German artist commemorate World War I Christmas Day Truce

The Christmas Day Truce of World War I is being commemorated by artists from the UK and Germany in a joint street graffiti mural as part of the centenary remembrance.

Modern street artists have recreated the image of British and German troops playing football and giving gifts on Christmas Day in 1914 at Flanders Fields in Belgium. The image has become an icon of war time memorabilia as troops from both sides came out of their trenches and met in no-man’s land.

Flanders Fields was an important place of battle during World War I, and the truce was held at several points along the western front in Belgium.

Many troops ventured to meet their enemies around the Christmas holidays where they attempted to speak to one another, bury their dead, and conduct carol singing.  The football game image has become the iconic image of the truce.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 has become particularly poignant because of the sheer scale and numbers involved, with hundreds of soldiers openly gathering in the daylight. Since then, the images of the truce have been seen as a representation of peace and humanity.

After 1914, the Christmas truces did not continue on such a scale since orders had been given to troops to not congregate or meet with the enemy. The war had also become more violent and intense due to the mass loss of life at the Battle of the Somme and Verdun.

The UK Christmas Truce artwork is part of the World War I commemoration project “Flanders Fields: A place to remember”, which is holding several events during the four centenary years from 2014-18, the Mail Online reports.

The artwork has been created by two UK artists, Zadok and Ninth Seal, and one German artist, Sokar Uno. The artists brought their own interpretation of the truce to the mural while working side by side during the installation. It took four days in total to complete.

The artworks have been applied to a 60 square metrewall at both sites. In London, it sits on the side of a Victorian building in a major traffic area of Shoreditch so that it will be highly-visible. In Berlin, the artwork is on display in its central Potsdamer Platz.

It is hoped that through the artwork, today’s society will take a moment to remember the events of World War I and those who gave their lives.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE