Peace on Earth

When he had returned to his unit, Oberleutnant Wilhelm Laufenberg

saw that a few of his men were still awake and were engaged in a

conversation— a conversation into which he became easily integrated, himself—the four soldiers telling him that the truce was still being observed, and of a football game they had engaged in with the Brits, losing by only a goal. Laufenberg told them of the Belgian soldier and the two Americans in the London Rifles and of his splendid Christmas.  He then told the four German soldiers in his command of his pledge to kill no more—forevermore—a sentiment that was quickly seconded by them all, as they and the Oberleutnant parted company, each looking for a spot to lie down and catch some much needed rest, and to a man they all felt giddily happy—for the first time since they had become soldiers at war.

The colonel smiled at the thought of replacing the entire London Rifle Brigade, assign them to a support or a reserve trench somewhere in Switzerland and replace them with soldiers from the Indian Army, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims, non-Christians to whom Christmas meant little or nothing to, and he hurried towards the Indian troop area, where he would begin the process of doing just that.

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The German colonel saluted the general smartly and smiled thinly. They were going to replace their soldiers with a Prussian unit and would order them to begin shelling the enemy immediately.

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Oberleutnant Wilhelm Laufenberg slipped the belt buckle into his greatcoat and smiled; he would find Sammy Baldwin and give it to him now, before the hostilities resumed, which he was certain they would, sooner or later. He crossed over easily and slipped into the British trench, which appeared deserted. Laufenberg wondered where they had all gone, then thought they might be engaging in another football game and wondered if maybe he could join them in it, as he loved football. That’s when he heard the first shots and wondered if they were perhaps celebrating more, after all it was just before dusk on the day after Christmas and, as far as he knew, the truce was still in effect.

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