Child upon these maps do heed This black stain to be effaced Omitting it you would proceed Yet better it in red to trace Later, whatever may come to pass Promise there to go you must To fetch the children of Alsace Reaching out their arms to us May in our fondest France Hope's green saplings branch And in you, dear child, flower Grow, grow, France awaits its hour To rid the map of every trace of Germany, and of the Hun We must exterminate that race We must not leave a single one Heed not their children's cries, Best slay all now, the women too Or else some day again they'll rise, Which if they're dead they cannot do We have a one and only enemy Who digs the grave of Germany Its heart replete with hatred, gall and envy We have a one and only enemy The villain raises its murderous hand Its name you know, it is England
This is it!
War has been declared!
Well, little brother?
Going to spend the war repainting statues?
I've put you on the list too!
In two days, we're all leaving for basic training in Glasgow.
At last, something's happening in our lives!
Well, you coming?
Two more minutes, Mr. Sprink.
I have been ordered to read this message from our beloved Kaiser:
This is a dark hour for Germany.
Our land is besieged and we must brandish the sword.
I hope that with God's help we shall use it well, so we may re-sheathe it with dignity.
Two more minutes, Lieutenant!
We're going out!
100 meters to the German trenches.
We've been shelling their machine-gunners, so we should be alright.
We take their front line, then the farm just behind!
The 134th will relieve us tonight and we can rest up in the rear.
We'll have back-up from the Scots on our left.
You'll recognize their black caps. Don't worry about them, pay close heed to what I tell you to do.
I'm like you.
I too want to go home.
So do what you must and we'll all be home for Christmas.
Come what will.
Up along the sap!
Don't stay here little brother...
So one of us survives.
Come on, William...
I abandoned him.
Like a coward! I abandoned him.
I let him die, all alone!
You had no choice.
And now, we must pray for him and for all the other casualties.
The reinforcements have arrived.
We're leaving, Dale.
You stay here with the wounded. Yes, Lieutenant.
I'll see you back at base.
I know you're in the trenches, Father.
It's Andrew Duncan.
I'm not far, Padre.
Father, I'm eight, eight feet...
The others are too far away, but me...
You've got to come out and help.
Just walk straight ahead and you'll be on top of me.
I knew I could count on you, Father.
Father, what are you doing? This is suicide!
Don't run off like that! Damn you!
Get back! Get back here!
We're ordered to stay in the trench! Cease fire!
That was a stretcher-bearer. What?
You shot a stretcher-bearer.
How do you know?
You fired first?
A Scots marauder, Sir!
Think I got him. Good.
Stay vigilant. At the slightest move, sound the alert.
Come with me.
Deposit the enemy weapons in the Friedrichsstrasse trench!
Go help them. Right.
Have to rebuild it.
Relax, no one saw me.
Christ! What happened?
You were barely 15 mins in there.
Reinforcements didn't... Machine gunners in the sap.
Lost a third of my men in 5 mins.
When you saw the Scots retreat on your left you gave up on the farm.
So, any word?
I tried the Red Cross, but no go.
No news from the enemy-occupied zone.
The Germans appear to be treating civilians correctly.
Your wife is most likely at her parents' with the baby.
During the shelling, a faulty canon exploded.
Killed the officer and his 5 men outright.
I asked you be drafted in to replace him.
Artillery, a fine corps. You'll move up fast.
Keep your gunner's career, I stay here with my men.
Find another Lieutenant, no shortage.
I'm Major General here, I'll do as I see fit.
You'll do as I say.
I'll let you spend Christmas in your unit.
Then you go to Poitiers for training. That's an order.
If you want your visit to remain secret you'd best leave, my orderly's coming.
You rest up here for 3 days.
Then, the front line by the Delsaux farm.
The sector should be quiet for Christmas.
Get some rest.
See you before you leave for Poitiers.
Lieutenant, found some blankets for tonight.
What's wrong, Lieutenant?
My wallet! I've lost my wallet.
The wallet with the photo you showed me?
What a shame...
But you hardly need photos of your wife's face.
I'd a mishap too.
Look at that, Sir.
Two centimeters higher and I was a goner!
And it still rings!
Unstoppable, just like me! Eh, Lieutenant?
It means placing one every five meters.
Every five meters?
How many is that in all?
Or 20 trains for Lille via Brussels.
It'll take me longer to send these trees to the front than our canons.
Show Miss Sörensen in!
How is he?
His regiment came under surprise attack four days ago.
But they drove back the enemy.
As regards your proposal...
I'm afraid to say, I cannot accept it.
As a Dane, I feel the gravity of the situation escapes you.
For five months now, two million of our men have fought unrelenting.
We have neither the time nor the urge to organize recitals.
It took me a while to realize I'd approached the wrong person.
So I contacted the Kronprinz, who'd be delighted to have a recital at his HQ on Christmas Eve.
I was told you were responsible not just for canons and convoys, but also the soldiers.
So if you would kindly sign here, next to the Kronprinz, before informing your men.
You'll only see him one night. What's the point of that?
It'll be much more than one night.
Our minutes are longer than yours.
Mother, William and I got your package and letter.
Thanks for the mittens and the mufflers.
It's so cold here, they're most welcome.
The thought of you at home nice and warm keeps us going!
Thanks for the cake, too.
I hope we have some left for Christmas Eve.
Your two sons, who love you...
3 cases of whisky! That's a lot of ammunition.
I presume I'm invited?
Sir, my men are completely exhausted.
We're all tired, Gordon.
Every single one of us.
I can bring you no relief before three days.
And if the Germans do attack tonight or tomorrow, as they may you'll just have to deal with it.
Our valiant stretcher-bearer.
Who nearly got one of his own men killed in no-man's -land.
A stretcher-bearer is supposed to save lives not endanger them.
I gave orders, very clear orders that it was forbidden to leave these trenches in case of a German counter attack.
Yes Sir, but...
But you don't give a damn!
Now I suggest you drop the St. Bernard act in future and never forget something called military discipline!
Do you understand?
Can you tell me what you're doing here in the front line in the absence of combat?
Visiting a friend...
Where do you think you are?
Your local parish?
You will return with me immediately to the back line.
Come on, man! Make yourself useful.
This way is shorter.
Take a right through the cludgies, the latrines. This way?
Yes, this way. Get me out of here, will you?
Sorry we have to go through the cludgies, Sir...
Christ! Sniper, Sir!
What a bloody disgusting mess!
Bad place to take a fall, Sir.
Get me out of here! Absolutely, Sir.
Shut up, will you!
As a priest, I'm used to silence...
Just a rifle shot. It's dead calm.
Be wary, they'll stop at nothing, even on Christmas Eve.
Know who had this brilliant idea?
For you, Lieutenant.
You'll be leaving us for one night.
To go where?
Home, in a way, where you'd be better off.
Why do you dislike me, Sir?
After your regiment was disbanded I had to take you.
But I prefer masons, bakers, farmers.
Artists like you are a dead loss, nothing but a millstone.
Now go. This officer's taking you.
Get a move on!
It's 10 o'clock and nothing's done!
Easy on there.
It's not too short?
I told you, Lieutenant, I'm the best barber in Lens.
Even the mayor used to come to my shop!
And Henri Hennebicque, was he a customer?
Hennebicque... Doesn't ring a bell.
My father-in-law, deputy mayor, lives at 21 Cypress Alley.
You never told me.
Cypress Alley, I know it well!
Been a few times to have my bike fixed at Narcisse Denoyelle's, number 43.
Right, I can see it now, a little blue gate.
I feel I can tell you, now...
Sometimes, of an evening, I head up along the embankment towards the farm, softly softly, so not to get killed.
I sit down and I look...
I know the Delsaux farm well.
I'd cycle there for eggs and milk.
Just beyond the farm is the road to Lens.
Straight to Lens.
On foot, I'd be home in an hour.
No bother, one hour!
My mother would be waiting at the door, a full pot of coffee on the stove, just like before...
What a nuisance, these damn lice!
There you go.
I think I'm done, Lieutenant.
Ponchel, there's no mirror in front!
Christ, what an idiot!
But you're grand, Sir, tip-top for the party tonight.
If you say so! I do...
This way, please.
Miss Sörenson, most honored.
I will not tolerate mistakes! Clean that up at once!
Know where Nikolaus Sprink is?
Know where Nikolaus Sprink is?
He arrived about an hour ago.
Sprink? The tenor?
Miss, though we've owned this house for 300 years, it is no longer our home since September 23 last.
Ask elsewhere, if you would.
With any taste they'll have put him in my room on the top floor.
You poor thing! Good taste indeed!
Prussians with taste! You shouldn't even answer those people.
No! I have lice.
We'll sing again together, just like before.
I am not like before, Anna.
Sing for me! Sing for us!
I'm glad to see the war has spared you.
That you volunteered as a private, was most impressive.
I did not volunteer.
I was called up like all the others.
I congratulate you on your initiative, Miss.
It takes a woman to remind us that despite the war, it is Christmas.
Thanks to you and your voices, tonight shall feel just like Berlin, where I hope to return as soon as possible.
Perhaps next spring, if all goes to plan.
Everyone smokes in the trenches.
You kill time as you can.
It's five years today since we met.
Five years already?
To have to brush with death to realize how time flies.
That's the terrible thing.
All these fat, sated men parading, swilling Champagne.
Anna, I must return to the front... to sing for my comrades.
Tonight, above all.
For months I've dreamt of this and you want to go?
I don't want to leave you, but I must go sing for them.
I'll return afterwards.
I'll come too.
Out of the question!
It's too dangerous. You don't realize.
When you left, not a second passed without my wondering if you were still alive.
You are and I am with you. Nothing else matters.
I've too long awaited this night.
I'll not lose a single instant.
And without my pass from the Kaiser you'll not get far.
You have a pass from the Kaiser?
The Major General places his trust in you.
Couldn't they leave us be on Christmas Eve?
The dirty work always falls to the same!
I volunteer to go.
I want no trouble, Gueusselin.
Approach their lines, recce the machine guns and back.
With this moonlight can I return fire if spotted?
Stealth and speed if you want a hot meal.
Hey lads, where'd you get the pipes?
Where'd you get the pipes? I found it.
The guys in 92nd heard we'd be in the trenches for Christmas.
That was decent! Don't suppose there's a spare set?
Sit here, you can use mine.
Padre, give us a song.
I'm dreaming of home?
Come boys, louder!
They seem to be having fun.
Wouldn't you like to as well?
This is Anna Sörensen.
What's all this?
Are you mad bringing this lady here?
Lieutenant, I convinced the Kronprinz that a little music would do no harm.
Come quickly, something odd is afoot.
I don't like this, Lieutenant.
Could be a diversion for some dirty trick.
Good evening, Englishmen!
Good evening Germans, but we're not English! We're Scottish!
Very nice, but that's enough.
This is not the Berlin opera.
It's better than Berlin.
Well I never! That beats the lot...
A summit meeting and we're not even invited!
Shut it, Ponchel!
What the hell's going on?
Do you speak English?
Yes... a little.
We've been talking about a ceasefire for Christmas Eve. What do you think?
The outcome of this war won't be decided tonight.
No one would criticize us for laying down our rifles on Christmas Eve.
Don't worry, it is just for tonight.
What the devil are they up to?
Maybe the Germans are fed up.
They want to surrender.
I doubt it.
Give me a bottle of champagne and my beaker.
What idiot did...
Good evening, I'm Anna.
You first... Go ahead.
Felix! Where have you been?
No, his name is not Felix, it's Nestor.
It's Felix... No, Nestor.
It's the cat from the Delsaux farm. No, I know better than you.
It's Felix... No, Nestor.
Here, I've had enough.
It's Felix... No, Nestor.
See? It's Nestor. It's Felix.
Nestor's heading for the French side.
A pretty girl. Very.
This is my wife.
That's my wife's favorite part in Paris.
The Luxemburg Gardens.
Got a picture of your wife?
Like you, I had a photo of her, but...
I lost it.
I've drawn her face, but... it's not really the same.
Do you live on Rue Vavin?
I find your wallet in my trench, the night of the assault.
I kept it because of the address.
A little hotel on Rue Vavin.
Spent a week there with my wife, two years ago.
For our honeymoon.
Hold on, that's Gueusselin's bottle!
Who cares, he's turned in.
I doubt it.
Thank you, very much... Sirs.
How many months pregnant was she there?
That was in Lens, at her parents' last July...
Then there were complications, she was confined to bed...
I asked to stay by her side, but no go.
Called to war, I'd to leave her there.
But... Don't you write?
How is she?
I've had no letters since September.
The front is impassable.
I don't even know if it's a boy or a girl.
I abandoned you.
I abandoned you here.
Don't go for the piety either?
The French gave me some champagne.
Sing for us.
Sing for them.
Good evening, gentlemen.
Please... Make way.
Thank you, thank you.
You were wonderful.
I'm Jewish. Christmas means nothing to me.
But I'll never forget tonight.
So what about the young lady?
Yes, I wanted to ask you.
Could she spend the night in your shelter?
I meant: when is she leaving?
Alas, you cannot sleep in my shelter.
I have company.
A big rat, for 3 days now, but I'll get him in the end.
We'll find a solution.
Good night, Lieutenant.
Don't worry, Miss.
I'll find you a safe place.
So, Lieutenant, what did you put in your report for HQ?
I wrote: 24th of December, 1914: no hostilities on the German side tonight.
Well, that's the truth.
Tonight, these men were drawn to that altar like a fire in the middle of winter.
Even those who aren't devout came to warm themselves.
Maybe just to be together.
Maybe to forget about the war.
But the war won't forget us!
Listen. Someone's digging out there.
Mines! Those damn Scots are digging a mine sap!
They'll fill it with explosives and blow us sky high.
No, they're not digging any sap.
They are, I tell you!
You just got too pally with them last night.
Look who's talking! Look!
Jonathan, come with me.
What the hell are you doing? The truce is over.
Any minute the Germans will start shooting, get back in the trench!
Get back down!
Good morning, Lieutenant. Good morning.
Is it possible that we officers talk about the dead?
Bring your coffee!
Thanks, Ponchel. You can leave us now.
My men will remove the bodies of the men killed last week, so you can bury them.
And we will return the remains of your men who fell in front of our lines last November.
That makes sense.
Burying the dead on the day Christ was born.
That makes sense.
Sorry, but why does an alarm go off every morning at ten o'clock?
Changing of the guard?
No, my aide-de-camp used to have coffee every morning at ten, with his mother.
He's worried he'll forget about all that with the war.
We've just got used to it.
So have we.
Need a hand?
GOD IS WITH US Can you come, Father?
In a few days, their families, their wives, will receive the terrible news...
What we'd rather not think about.
For them, nothing will ever be the same again.
You too, one day they'll cover you and dump you in a hole.
Let us go, while there's still time.
I have my pass, Holland is not far.
It is at peace, we'd have a future.
Impossible! That'd be to desert.
It's not desertion, it's staying together.
I'm a soldier. Like all the others.
I have duties, like everyone here.
Holland is quite a way.
We'd get caught. Even with your pass.
There's another solution.
The French border is 100 m away. We only have to cross it.
I've made tea. Perhaps you'd like some.
By the way...
The others asked me to give you these letters.
We don't trust the military post and as you're going back to Berlin, we thought...
Come on, Morallec!
Go for it!
Looks like trouble for the Jerries.
I heard last night, about your wife...
If you like...
I can get a letter through to her.
Why would you do that? If you got caught...
One letter won't stop us winning the war!
And anyhow when we'll have taken Paris, and it's over, you can invite us for a drink in Rue Vavin.
You don't have to invade Paris to drop round for a drink.
How many cartridges have you to fire per day?
Seven and eight.
Us, five! Doesn't surprise me!
Yesterday, William managed to bag two Jerries who'd been sniping at us for hours.
If he keeps this up, he'll qualify as the best shot in the whole platoon.
All our mates have their eyes on your cake, but William and I are guarding it closely.
Lots of love from both of us.
Still here? Weren't they sending a car?
We waited, but no one came for her.
I guess the party dragged on at HQ, they're not awake yet.
HQ called me 5 minutes ago.
They told me you'd vanished.
They thought you'd deserted, Sprink.
I told them you were here with Miss Sörensen, that you came to sing for your comrades.
That really impressed them!
I was asked to keep an eye on you till they arrive.
Miss Sörensen will return to Berlin and you will be put under arrest.
For disobedience on the front.
I'm not sure I understand?
So what's the plan for tomorrow?
A little football match and an aperitif with those across the way?
Or will you shoot them like rabbits having shared champagne?
All that is now meaningless.
To die tomorrow is even more absurd than yesterday.
That'll do, Sprink!
Any coffee left?
Damn that cat!
Is the French Lieutenant here?
Yes, he just arrived.
What're you doing here?
We said each to their own camp.
I know, but...
Our artillery will shell you in 10 minutes.
So I suggest you come shelter in my trench.
Had you been relieved, I'd not have warned your successors.
They would have shot you first anyway.
Par for the course!
Not a word, Sprink!
Damn! Have to rebuild it all over!
By the way...
That letter for my wife...
We've ceased fire.
It's time for you to go back.
Hope you both make it through the war.
I don't think it's over yet.
I wouldn't be surprised if our own artillery opened fire after your attack.
Par for the course!
This time, we leave it at that.
It was nice knowing you.
Perhaps, in other circumstances, we could have...
Yet maybe a drink in Rue Vavin, as a tourist!
That would be smashing! Is that how you say?
Your French beats my German.
No merit in that. Your wife is not German.
Goodbye. Good luck.
Goodbye. Good luck.
I managed earlier to recce their machine guns.
What are you doing here?
We want you to take us prisoner.
Prisoner? That's not possible!
How do I explain your presence to my superiors?
I can't do that!
Go back to your trenches, playtime's over.
Sir, if we return to the German side they'll separate us.
Put us in whatever jail you like, but let us be together, I beg of you.
Couturier. Yes, Sir?
Take these two to the rear, to the village.
They're prisoners. Put them in the schoolroom, I'll bunk elsewhere.
And stay with them, we're back tomorrow.
Can you give these to the Red Cross?
Where's Ponchel? Been calling him for the past hour.
Said he was going for nosh, Sir.
Dearest, I cling to your memory, like a climber to his rope, so not to fall...
The poor guy died between our lines...
Let President Poincaré come take Lorraine himself for all I care!
Try as we did, before we knew it, they'd scored six!
They admitted later that most of them play together in a Munich club called Bayern...
Never will I forget her voice in the night...
I stayed in my trench, in peace.
Drink with those bastards? I'd rather die!
Better trenches, must admit...
The Scots photographer promised us pictures at New Year's.
Be a chance to get back together...
A Bavarian gave me his address, to visit when it's over...
We and the British decided to accept the Krauts' invitation.
We'll go spend New Year's Eve with them.
We'll sing that song the Scots taught us.
And above all, drink to the health of all those bastards, who sitting pretty, sent us here to slug it out!
Who sitting pretty, sent us here to slug it out!
He's all yours now.
Give me some water.
You're being sent back to your parish in Scotland.
I've brought you your marching orders.
I belong with those who are in pain, and... who have lost their faith.
I belong here.
I am very disappointed, you know.
When you requested permission to accompany the recruits from your parish, I personally vouched for you.
But then, when I heard what happened...
I prayed for you.
I sincerely believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ guided me in what was the most important mass of my life.
I tried to be true to His trust and carry His message to all, whoever they may be.
Those men who listened to you on Christmas Eve will very soon bitterly regret it.
Because in a few days' time their regiment is to be disbanded by order of His Majesty the King.
Where will those poor boys end up on the front line now?
And what will their families think?
Excuse me, Your Grace. The boys are ready.
They're waiting for me, to preach a sermon to the soldiers replacing those who went astray with you.
May our Lord Jesus Christ guide your steps back to the straight and narrow path.
Is that truly the path of our Lord?
You're not asking the right question.
Think about this: are you really suitable to remain among us, in the house of our Lord?
Christ our Lord said:
Think not that I come to bring peace on Earth.
I come not to bring peace, but a sword.
The Gospel according to Saint Matthew.
Well, my brethren, the sword of the Lord is in your hands.
You are the very defenders of civilization itself.
The forces of good against the forces of evil.
For this war is indeed a crusade, a holy war to save the freedom of the world.
In truth, I tell you, the Germans do not act like us, neither do they think like us, for they are not, like us, children of God.
Are those who shell cities populated only by civilians, the children of God?
Are those who advance armed, hiding behind women and children, the children of God?
With God's help, you must kill the Germans, good or bad, young or old.
Kill every one of them, so it won't have to be done again.
The Lord be with you!
And also with you!
May God Almighty bless you, the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost.
Everyone to their posts!
Every man to his post!
No, stay here!
What're you doing? Come back!
What the hell are you doing? Shoot the bloody Kraut!
What are you waiting for?
Shoot him, goddammit! Holidays are over!
What the hell do you think you're playing at?
Stand down from your posts.
Shame on you, Gordon.
Shame on you.
Be silly to die disguised as a German, eh Sir?
What the devil were you doing?
I had a German help me...
Saw my mother.
We drank a coffee, just like before.
You have a son.
Henri, his name is...
How did you let yourself...
If you came to preach, leave now!
Don't you realize the gravity of this?
It's high treason! Punishable by death.
Only, we can't execute 200 men.
That's all that saves you.
Not counting all the other cases of fraternization reported since.
If public opinion hears of this...
Have no fear, none here will tell.
I hope not!
Who'd want to! Want to?
The men involved feel no shame.
If they won't tell, it's because none would believe or understand.
Carousing with the enemy while the country's partly occupied!
The country? What does it know of what we suffer here?
Of what we do, without complaint?
Let me tell you, I felt closer to the Germans than those who cry Kill the Krauts! Before their stuffed turkey!
You're talking nonsense.
No, you're just not living the same war as me.
As those across the way.
You and your men will rejoin the Verdun sector.
You're right about one thing.
I don't understand this war.
My corps was the cavalry.
You should've made a career of it, like I said.
Today, I'm asked to fight a war where the shovel outweighs the rifle.
In which people swap addresses with the enemy, to meet when it's all over...
Plus the cat we found with a note from the Germans: Good luck, comrades!
I was ordered to arrest the cat for high treason...
Until further notice.
You're a grandfather, Dad.
His name is Henri.
What are you on about?
How do you know that?
You wouldn't understand.
Let's try and survive this war for him.
In two days' time you will be in East-Prussia to take part in an offensive against the Russian army.
I hope you'll show pugnacity in the face of the enemy.
This train will cross the fatherland, but it won't be possible for you to see your families.
I think you can guess.
Long live Kaiser Wilhelm!
Long live the Kaiser!
They hand it out to just anybody!
This film is dedicated to the soldiers who fraternized on Christmas 1914 in several places on the front.