27 December – Today in German History

1936

  • Death of Hans von Seeckt in Berlin, Germany. General von Seeckt was the head of the German army from 1920-1926 during the time of the Weimar Republic. Although the Versailles Treaty forbade Germany an up-to-date army, through an agreement to train Russian troops, von Seeckt was able to have his own personal experiment with up to date weapons. He resigned from the army in 1926 and became a member of the Parliament.

1942

  • The German military formed the Smolensk Committee and began enlisting Soviet POWs in the battle against Russia.
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26 December – Today in German History

1943

  • On December 26, the German Battleship Scharnhorst is sunk by British warships in the Arctic after decoded German naval signals reveal that the Scharnhorst is on a mission to attack an Anglo-American convoy to Russia. Hitler’s navy had posed serious threats to convoys shipping supplies to the Soviet Union since the fall of 1941. American, British, and Soviet merchant ships had suffered devastating attacks in the Arctic, mostly by German U-boats. Operation Rainbow was the German plan to attack two Anglo-American convoys as they sailed between Bear Island and the North Cape en route to the Eastern front. But Enigma, the British code-breaker, once again provided the Allies with the sensitive strategic information they needed to anticipate and prevent disaster. The Scharnhorst, Germany’s 31,000-ton battleship, which had already sunk the British cruiser Rawalpindi, was surprised by the British battleship Duke of York, which sank it in what became known as the Battle of North Cape.
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25 December – Christmas Truce of 1914

 

Just after midnight on Christmas morning, the majority of German troops engaged in World War I cease firing their guns and artillery and commence to sing Christmas carols. At certain points along the eastern and western fronts, the soldiers of Russia, France, and Britain even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At the first light of dawn, many of the German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. In 1915, the bloody conflict of World War I erupted in all its technological fury, and the concept of another Christmas Truce became unthinkable.

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25 December – Today in German History

800

  • Karl der Große (Charlemagne) is crowned Emperor of the empire which would come to be called the Holy Roman Empire.

1914

  • The Christmas Truce – Just after midnight on Christmas morning, the majority of German troops engaged in World War I cease firing their guns and artillery and commence to sing Christmas carols. At certain points along the eastern and western fronts, the soldiers of Russia, France, and Britain even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing. At the first light of dawn, many of the German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.

1046

  • Enthronement of Suidiger (Pope Clement II), the second German pope. Suidiger had been the bishop of Bamberg. He was installed as pope by the German king, Heinrich III on December 25, 1046. There had been three rivals claiming the office of the pope when Heinrich III arrived in Rome. He deposed all three and installed Suidiger as Clement II. Clement II is most noted for his efforts to eliminate simony (the buying and selling of church offices). He convoked the council of Rome in 1047. He died in 1047. He was buried at Bamberg and is the only pope to be buried in Germany.

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24 December – Today in German History

1818

  • Austrian, Franz X. Gruber writes the music for Silent Night in Ansdorf (near Salzburg), Austria. Lyrics by the Austrian Josef Mohr in 1816.

1942

  • Jean Francois Darlan, the French Admiral and collaborator in the Vichy government, was assassinated in Algeria.

1944 

  • A German U-Boat torpedoed the Belgian transport ship S.S. Leopoldville with 2,235 soldiers aboard. About 800 American soldiers died. The soldiers were crossing the English Channel to be reinforcements at the battle that become known as the Battle of the Bulge.
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