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In December 1914, a series of unofficial, spontaneous local truces and cease-fires brought a temporary halt to the escalating cycle of attritional combat on select sectors of the Western Front of World War I. British and occasionally French and Belgian troops fraternized with their German opponents in the no-man’s-land separating the fortified positions of the belligerents in France and Flanders. Initiated by front-line troops in direct contravention of orders from military authorities, these instances of fraternization included exchanges of gifts and souvenirs; bartering of food, tobacco, and items of clothing; joint religious services and burials of fallen soldiers; performances of Christmas carols; and even, according to some sources, impromptu soccer matches. Though difficult to estimate with any degree of precision, up to 100,000 troops may ...

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