Why We Shouldn’t Romanticize The Christmas Truce Of 1914

This article was originally posted by Business Insider.

One of the greatest war movies ever made is Grand Illusion, Jean Renoir’s 1937 film about a group of French prisoners of war held in a German aristocrat’s castle during World War I.

In the climactic moment of the film (spoilers ahead), the German baron Von Rauffenstein corners the French officer de Boeldieu in the midst of an escape attempt and pleads with his French counterpart to surrender himself.

They’re both of upper-class background, and although the officers have developed a grudging mutual respect that occasionally verges on actual friendship, they each understand that there are rules and protocol that they have no choice but to follow to follow in such a situation, even without any commanding officers present. Boeldieu refuses to surrender. Von Rauffenstein reluctantly shoots him, almost as a formality.

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