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This year, historians have been commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. The map below displays the infamous Western Front, where French and British troops were locked in a stalemate with the invading German army. The solid red line represents the furthest German advance, while the dotted red line represents the front at the time the map was created in 1917. If you have ancestors on either side of the war, they may have fought or died in the territory outlined.
If your relatives served early in the conflict, they also could have been involved in an unlikely peace between the Central and Entente powers that celebrates a centennial this year. On Christmas Day, 1914, WWI combatants emerged from their trenches to shake hands, exchange souvenirs and play soccer. Some soldiers even have recalled singing Christmas carols across No Man’s Land (the area between the front lines, guarded by land mines and riflemen), with the British verses of “Silent Night” mingling with the Germans’ “Stille Nacht.” While World War I was marked by horrific violence, the “Christmas truce” reminded the two sides of their shared humanity. Maybe your ancestor got caught up in the holiday spirit and offered the “enemy” a cigar.
From the December 2014 Family Tree Magazine