Meaning of Armistice

The term armistice comes from a Latin word that serves to refer to the suspension of hostilities that is agreed between armies in conflict. The armistice is a ceasefire, but not necessarily imply the signing of a treaty of peace.

Armistices are usually agreed to suspend battles during a certain special period, such as Greek cities that were not attacked during the Olympics or Christian armies that accepted a temporary peace at Christmas time.

On some occasions, negotiating an armistice can fail without stopping the armed conflict. This means that, despite the negotiation between the leaders or authorities of the opposing sides, the armies maintain their confrontations in the absence of a pact.

Armistices are often carried out, but not the signing of a peace treaty. That is the case of South Korea and North Korea, which established an armistice in 1953 but never concluded a peace agreement.

In general it can be stated that the armistice is the first step for a peace treaty. Despite the end of the agreed period of non-aggression, there is the possibility that the conflict will flare up again, most often the political authorities end up signing the peace.

Although the use of the term is not very frequent, in everyday language an armistice can be referred to as the cessation of aggression in the middle of an argument or fight. For example: “We are going to agree on an armistice for dinner and then we continue talking to solve the issue, do you agree?” .

The Christmas Truce

During the First World War an armistice was held which is known as the “Christmas Truce”. It was a ceasefire between the armies of Germany and Great Britain during the holidays, at Christmas 1914. It all started at the initiative of the German troops: on December 24 they began to decorate the trenches and sing Christmas carols in their language. Hearing them, the British fighters joined in responding with Christmas carols in English.

That day an exchange of Christmas songs and greetings took place among the same people who had been fighting hours before and who would continue doing so the following day. This truce encouraged them to share their own peace of these days with their companions and the celebration led them to exchange presents with the soldiers of the opposite side. In addition, they took advantage of the truce to bury the fallen and mourn the losses; They did it together and concluded by reading an excerpt from Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd”).

There are many captivating stories that took place that day. Throughout the entire battle territory the bullets ceased and the soldiers were able to rest. In most places this armistice only lasted one night, but in others it lasted until the New Year. Despite opposition from superiors, the entire army remained unemployed, celebrating as badly as possible those days in which the rest of the world enjoyed the company of their own.

This event was unique and received severe criticism from the superiors of the army. The following year, during these days, artillery shelling was ordered to ensure that the combatants did not soften in the midst of combat. Another measure taken to avoid this peaceful truce was to rotate the troops by sectors to avoid becoming too familiar with the enemy. Despite all this, they could not prevent some peaceful encounters between soldiers from both sides.

These types of truces are extremely common in wars and are known as informal armistices.


About the author