“While not all commanders opposed the fraternization, top commanders, when they heard what was happening, issued orders against it. Governments advised fraternization with the enemy was treason, subordinate commanders were told of ‘the absolute necessity of encouraging the offensive spirit of the troops.’
“The next year, 1915, truces at Easter were tried but they failed, and at Christmas, Allied commanders issued orders forbidding familiarities with the enemy. Troops were rotated around the front to keep them from getting to know the other side. But the human element occasionally broke through; artillery fire was directed to areas where casualties could be avoided, and the men would still, if briefly, get together here and there.
“It is amazing the effect this time of year has on the world. During World War I, men on battlefields put down their weapons and embraced in brotherhood, even if only for a few hours.
“You might call it miraculous.”