Watts made a second trip in August after being invited to present some of his research at the Oxford Symposium for Religious Studies held at the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, held Aug.
Watts joined scholars from India, Canada, the United States, England, and Romania in presenting scholarly papers over the three-day symposium. The first gathering of students for educational purposes in Oxford begin circa AD.
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In an up room of St. Mary the Virgin Church, a few students gathered to study religion, philosophy, and law. The latter at first suspected a devious plan for yuletide slaughter, but suspicion soon gave way to trust. Legacy of WW1 Christmas truce lives on. WWI football matches stopped by superiors. Intent on obeying orders, he tried desperately to ignore German good cheer. But then, around midday, his sergeant reported that Germans were standing on their parapet, unarmed and in full view.
We will send you some beer. In an attempt to assert control, Stockwell shouted that he wanted a chat with his German opposite number.
Stockwell met him halfway. He told the German that he was not allowed to fraternise and warned that his men might open fire at any moment. As Stockwell turned toward his trench, the German called out: For the rest of the day, not a shot was fired. All along the line, Christmas Day was shaped by the willingness to disobey orders. Granted, in some places killing continued, but in many places, delightful chaos reigned.
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Hundreds of soldiers subsequently recalled meeting their enemies, shaking hands, singing songs, exchanging presents. One Englishman by coincidence met his German barber, who provided a shave and haircut. Fraternisation led inevitably to football. Men who could not otherwise communicate shared a common language in the game. The locations of these matches remain obscure, in part because few soldiers subsequently admitted taking part.
That score echoes through the accounts. Yet since the stories originate from various parts of the front, this suggests either incredible consistency in the results, or a remarkable willingness to remember the event in exactly the same way. Equally possible, all recollections might relate to a single mythical encounter that never actually took place. In truth, it matters not if a match ending actually occurred, since myths are often more powerful than facts.
At least it did not end in penalties. Playing football rudely exposed the contrived nature of wartime animosity. For that reason, it was quickly quashed.
In truth, there was never any danger that goodwill would endure. Everyone accepted that the moment of compassion was just that — a moment.
The German captain appeared on the parapet, bowed and fired two shots in reply. The guns resumed their murderous cacophony; slaughter resumed. The footballs were put away.
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The Christmas Truce is significant precisely because it happened only once. It was a last, desperate act of humanity before the war imposed its tyrannical will upon combatants, erasing their individuality and turning them into automatons of death. Yet remembrance is based on scattered, often contradictory recollections.