Truce in the Forest
Setting: A small cottage in the Hurtgen Forest near the German-Belgian border . Christmas Eve in 1994 towards the end of World War II in Europe.
It was Christmas Eve, there is a knocked in the cottage of a mother and her son. They quickly blew the candle and the mother stepped on the door to open it and found two steel-helmeted men. One of the men spoke to the mother in a language they did not understand. There are three – Harry, Jim and Robin. The mother asked the boy to get Herman, the chicken The mother took them in and healed Harry- the wounded one. After they talk a few minutes, the mother told the boy to get Hermann, named after Hermann Goring, Hitler’s no.3 for whom the mother had a little affection.
The chicken that they had fattening for weeks in the hope that the father would come home for Christmas, but some hours before, when it was obvious that the father could not make it, the mother decided that Hermann should be cooked and be seve as an immediate, pressing purpose. Just as they were setting the table, there came another knock. The son was familiar of the uniforms the men were wearing, they were Germans (German corporal, Heinz, Willi) who was lost and will stay that Christmas night then continue their trip at daylight.
The mother will take them in and will be served with a hot meal with a one condition, that she has three another guest which are Americans and she said in lower voice that she wishes that today is Christmas Eve and there will be no shooting there. She also added that this is only one night, and she turned to the Corporal and raised her voice a little, that this Christmas night, they will forget about war, guns, bombing and killing. She ordered everyone to hand out their weapons.
There are three German soldiers, Hanz and Will, both are twenty three years old and the German Corporal at twenty three the eldest of them. While the son was helping to cook more potatoes, a German inspected the wounded soldier when he heard Harry moan and said that harry only needs rest and nourishment. They were all relaxed after their meal. Just before midnight, they all stood up looking to the star of Bethlehem except for Harry who was sleeping. It was as if they had all forgotten about the war.
At daylight, they had oatmeal, while Harry swallowed broth and drank an invigorating drink from the Corporal’s wine, sugar and an egg. The Americans and Germans were figuring their way out the forest and to their lines. The German Soldier said that the Americans must lead their way to the stream and continue along a creek and they will find the first Army rebuilding its upper course. Jim asked the German why don’t they head for Monschau then the German said Nein and told that they had retaken Monschau. The mother gave them all back their weapons and wished them good luck and said God bless.
The Americans and the Germans shook their hands then went to their opposite ways. The mother brought out their old family bible which was open to the Christmas story, the Birth in the Manger and how the Wise Men came from afar bearing their gifts. Her finger was tracing the last line from Matthew 2:12: “…they departed into their own country another way.