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Little Known Facts About World War I

Published by monica on Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Photo credit by elycefeliz

World War I was a terrible conflict that lasted from 1914-1918 (the ceasefire was declared in 1918, but the peace treaty wasn't signed in 1919). Here a few little known facts about this conflict:

The Christmas Truce - It sounds like something out of a movie, but it really happened! During World War I, German and British forces who were fighting in Flanders declared a a truce on Christmas Eve, 1914. They sang Christmas carols, played a few friendly games of soccer, and even exchanged gifts! Troops on both sides of the conflict were exhausted, demoralized, and in need of some good cheer after living in trenches for months on end. The truce happened in a very organic way. There are various accounts of the event, but most of the stories say that the truce was instigated by an impromptu German concert. After singing a few carols, a few British decided to join in. One story goes that when the Germans invited the British to sing a carol with them, one Brit shouted, “We'd rather die than sing in German”. A sharp-witter German quickly retorted, “It would kill us if you did!” The joke helped to break the ice, and the two sides began to sing carols, share tobacco and rations, and even light a few candles for makeshift Christmas trees. The truce lasted until New Year's Day.

This could get confusing...- The Treaty of Versailles ended World War I. It was signed in 1919, exactly five years to the day after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. However, this is not the only treaty known as The Treaty of Versailles. All told, there are nine Treaties of Versailles. In addition to the one signed in 1919, there were also Treaties of Versailles signed in 1756, 1757, 1758, 1768, 1774, 1783, 1787, and 1871. There is also a “Small” Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on the same day as the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. The Small Treaty was between the League of Nations and some of the new nations that were established after the end of World War 1.

President Wilson's Legacy - Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States during the first World War. In addition to creating the League of Nations (the predecessor of the United Nations), Wilson is also remembered as the President who declared the first Mother's Day in 1914. President Wilson is the only US President who has the distinction of being buried on Washington D.C.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's....a hot-air balloon? - During World War I, the Europeans deployed hot air balloons for reconnaissance. Each balloon was manned by a team of two men. They would report on enemy troop movements and help to direct artillery. Unfortunately, the balloons were an easy target, and so each balloon needed to be heavy guarded by aircraft in order to protect the balloon teams. In addition to hot air balloons, airships such as zeppelins and dirigibles were also used on the front lines.

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