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Activists kick off real WWI remembrance

Yorkshire gives imperialist slaughter the boot

Yorkshire peace campaigners re-enacted a football match yesterday which first took place between German, French and English soldiers during the unofficial "Christmas truce" that briefly halted the first world war in 1914.

After laying a white-poppy wreath at Bradford's war memorial with the Raise Your Banners group, organisations including Yorkshire CND and Quakers had a kick-around in the town's Centenary Square.

Later campaigners held an evening of reflections on war and peace.

Organisers said: "We are clearly going to be bombarded by the Tories with rubbish about the glories of war and we are trying to show it is not like that - just death and slaughter of working people for the profits of the rich."

Next year the British government plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the first world war, which peace campaigners fear will glorify the imperialist conflict.

Yorkshire peace activists have different plans.

Campaigner Christopher Butler said: "We started our campaign against disinformation about World War I and also the meaning of Remembrance Day with events in Bradford."

The kick-around marked the actions of men from both sides during Christmas 1914.

The governments of Europe had rejected calls for a truce in the then five-month-old conflict.

But on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day about 100,000 men left the trenches and walking unarmed into the no-man's land separating the German and Allied sides.

They sung carols together, exchanged gifts of cigarettes, schnapps, chocolate and plum pudding. Most famously, some played football.

But the senseless slaughter resumed the next day.

The truce was not repeated as those in command of both sides threatened disciplinary action against troops for fraternisation.

The slaughter continued for another four years, wiping out a generation of young men on both sides.


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