Military Review

Brotherhood of soldiers on the front and rear

Brotherhood is the spontaneous cessation of hostilities or hostility between parties to a conflict. Considering that all история humanity is a series of wars that were interrupted only for relatively short periods of time, it is not surprising that at certain moments the soldiers of the warring parties, who often had no idea what exactly they were fighting for, stopped the bloodshed, even for short periods time to peacefully communicate with those whom they should consider to be enemies. At the same time fraternization, as well as the benevolent relations between soldiers of the opposing armies and between occupiers and residents of the occupied territories, were forbidden throughout history.

Disputes about what fraternization really is do not cease to this day. Someone believes that a humane attitude towards the enemy is a real scourge of the army, which kills every fighting spirit and contributes to the disintegration of discipline. Most often, this way of thinking is characteristic of senior officers, who, unlike ordinary soldiers, are much more aware of the goals of war and do not often appear on the front lines. The soldier often thinks directly about his survival, for this reason, as soon as the fighting drags on, and the fighter for weeks, and sometimes months, is close to the enemy, he gradually ceases to perceive him as his enemy and begins to think of him as an ordinary person. And people are people, as Yury Bondarev wrote, the world is multilingual, but all people cry and laugh the same way.

Sooner or later, especially during periods of calm on the front, there was an increasing desire for fraternization among soldiers of the howling sides. In this situation is not easy. On the one hand, to respond to such manifestations is bad or good - this is the moral choice of each person. On the other hand, if you look at this problem from the point of view of the law, everything becomes much simpler. At all times fraternization was forbidden, in war such behavior equates to treason, and for treason they can be shot.

In this case, such a thing as fraternization, never just happened. Among the indirect and direct reasons for this behavior, the soldiers at the front identified the following:

- Breaking stereotypes about the enemy. Before the outbreak of the First World War, the governments of all the howling countries did everything to implant the idea of ​​the enemy as a kind of evil monster, barbarian or savage. At the same time, the Russian press wrote about the atrocities of the Germans and doubted whether they were Christians, and the German people were frightened by the Cossack raids and the looting of the Russian army. This principle has not gone away even after the end of the First World War. From the most recent examples, one can single out the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine, in which both parties did nothing but demonize each other in the information space. At the same time, during the years of the First World War, the propagandist image of the enemy, created even before the war, could break already in the first days of hostilities, when dealing with prisoners or the local population.

- Another reason for fraternization was the inhuman drill, which was especially characteristic of the armies of the XIX century. The soldiers, who were recruited from the most ordinary peasants or workers, faced with all the charms of military service. Long forced marches, endless steps, as well as other pleasures of military life, including corporal punishments that existed in some armies, caused among the soldiers a hidden hatred of their own commanders.

- Misunderstanding of what the war is being fought for, and who your real enemy is. It was sometimes very difficult for a simple soldier to figure out why he should lay down his head and help others die. The thought was forming in their heads that ordinary soldiers were not to blame for the war, no matter which side of the front they were. And there, and there were ordinary people who suffered from the whims of their governments. The idea that war is not profitable for soldiers was confirmed in their heads, and those who started wars rarely appear on the front line and even less often take direct part in hostilities.

- Common faith. Almost half of all European wars had religious motives, but the same Christian faith forbids the killing, at least on insufficient grounds. Therefore, very often the soldiers of the warring sides, without going into any tricks of military-religious propaganda, suddenly realized that they were all, in general, co-religionists.

- The excessive cruelty of the war, which was clearly manifested in the XX century. New types of weapons that appeared on the battlefield: machine guns, bombs, long-range artillery, gases, later chemical, atomic and biological weapon, no longer distinguished between military and civilian population. At all times, the inhabitants of the besieged city, who surrendered at the mercy of the winner, could only sympathize. However, now the civilian population was dying in cities, which could be separated from the front by thousands of kilometers. This cruelty of war caused in some people a desire to stop the horror that was happening around by any available means, fraternization became one of them.

The most famous cases of fraternization of military personnel belong precisely to the period of the First World War, which terrified contemporaries with enormous human losses and led to the collapse of four European empires at once. At that time, the principle of “live yourself and give the opportunity to live to others” became widespread - non-aggressive cooperation that arose during long periods of positional warfare on the western front. This process could be described as voluntary avoidance of violence. This process could be in the form of an undisguised truce or temporary pacts, which were locally established by the soldiers. In some cases, such agreements took the form of a tacit renouncement of the use of weapons or shots, which were carried out according to a certain pattern or ritual, which was to indicate peaceful intentions. Most often, such behavior could be found among representatives of the lower levels of the military hierarchy, where responsibility was in the hands of junior officers — privates and sergeants. Examples of this could be found among the sentries who refused to shoot at a detected enemy, or among machine gun crews, snipers and even artillery batteries.

At the same time, the development of technology in the twentieth century and especially in the twenty-first century has done everything so that fraternization is a thing of the past. All modern hostilities have little to the emergence of friendship with the enemy on the battlefield and the point is not that people suddenly became more violent. Modern soldiers can kill their opponent, being from him at a distance of kilometers. These are not the same combat operations of the First World War, when a soldier could hear what his opponent was talking about in his trench. Modern military operations are practically not of a positional nature and are often carried out by small mobile units as soon as possible. Yes, and shoot at the enemy from a distance of several hundred meters or the one that you see only through a telescopic sight, from a moral point of view, easier than killing in a bayonet attack. Some semblance of fraternization today can be seen only during civil unrest, when the forces of law and order can refuse to disperse anti-government demonstrations or join the protesters altogether.

Historical examples of fraternization

Not the brightest, but rather significant example of sympathy for the enemy, were the events of the end of 1812. Napoleon's defeated army fled from Russia. In the first stages of this exodus, Russian soldiers and militiamen did not particularly stand on ceremony with the wounded and exhausted soldiers of the Great Army lying along the roads. However, after the onset of cold weather and after the bridges across the Berezina were burned by order of Napoleon, the Russian peasant changed his wrath to mercy. Those of the soldiers of the French army and civilian personnel who did not manage to cross the Berezina and were left by Napoleon to die in the cold were partly lucky. They just started to feed. And although this act cannot be called fraternization, it demonstrates that the Russian soldiers assisted the defeated enemy without any requests or orders. They did it voluntarily, and the officers looked at it through their fingers. Someone saw in this ordinary peasant whim, and someone willingly supported the initiative of the lower classes, sharing their own rations with the captives. In any case, no one forbade doing this. Many of the soldiers of the Napoleonic army, who abandoned muskets and chose captivity, remained in Russia; some of them then worked as teachers and tutors for the offspring of noble families.

The second and already real case of fraternization refers to the 1848 year, the time of the February revolution in France. It was one of the European bourgeois-democratic revolutions, whose task was to establish civil rights and freedoms. The ban on 21 in February of public banquets, at which ardent speeches were made and calls for change, as well as open criticism of the ruling regime, became the reason for the revolution. The first ban of these activities by the French government led to the fact that already on February 22 of the year, that is, the next day, the Parisians took to the streets of the city and began to build barricades, and also to arm themselves than possible, crowds of workers broke into gun shops and took away all the weapons available there, which could inflict at least some harm to the enemy. The head of the government Francois Guizot, frightened by the unrest, sent the National Guard to the streets of the capital, but the guards did not want to shoot at the rebellious Parisians and began to fraternize with the rebels right on the barricades, and some of the soldiers simply went over to the revolutionaries.

Brotherhood of soldiers on the front and rear
Brotherhood of the insurgent people with the troops at the Tuileries palace 24 February 1848 of the year

However, before the First World War, such cases were private, not fully reflecting the essence of this phenomenon. Neither before this armed conflict, nor after it was fraternization acquired such a large scale. By this time, the machine gun, which had appeared on the battlefields not so long ago, had vividly proved its practical value, and the word “slaughter” had acquired an unknown meaning for many. Although at the time of Christmas 1914, when one of the most famous spontaneous truces on the western front, known as the “Christmas truce”, happened, the war lasted only a month 4, it had already become one of the bloodiest in human history. In the years of the First World War, not individual people, but whole companies or even regiments, came to the neutral zone. In fact, during the 1914 Christmas Truce, fighting on the whole front was stopped. The overwhelming majority of soldiers on the warring parties belonged to Catholics or to Protestants celebrating Christmas. Occurred in those days at the front resembled a real phantasmagoria, soldiers of howling parties could cross the front line and exchange gifts with the enemy. In addition, friendly football matches, a joint performance of Christmas carols and a burial ceremony for the fallen took place. The High Command reacted to these events with a delay, but, fearing the consequences, strictly forbade such actions, which violated the ban, was awaited by a military tribunal.

On the Eastern Front, fraternization first came a year later, in 1915, at Easter, and therefore became known as the “Easter Truce”. Russian soldiers, in the same way as European ones, found it difficult not to intermarry with their enemies, who were sitting and waiting for death literally in 100 meters from them. There was another nuance: the ration of Russian soldiers was more nutritious and satisfying, while the Germans often experienced food shortages, and their food was less tasty, besides, German soldiers always had alcohol, and in Russian trenches it was very rare . The first joint celebrations were held without excesses, but they were not massive, the command simply did not attach any importance to them. But already in 1916, 10 regiments of the Russian army took part in the Easter truce, and officers also took part in it.

Only after this, an order was issued to ban actions of this kind, but no one was punished. Later, many researchers began to accuse Austria-Hungary and Germany of the fact that such actions were invented for the purpose of moral corruption of the soldiers of the Russian army, forgetting that the opponents were morally decomposed equally. More in the decomposition of the army succeeded their own revolutionaries, who used fraternization with the enemy as an ideological weapon against the monarchical form of government.

During World War II, incidents that resembled fraternization were very rare. The fighting was significantly different from those that led the parties during the First World War. Therefore, the soldiers of the howling sides tried to establish friendly relations with civilians. And although the Second World War will be forever remembered for its unprecedented cruelty, there were cases of romantic relations between Wehrmacht soldiers and Russian girls in the occupied territories of the USSR, as well as between Soviet soldiers and German women, although they were condemned by the command. The allies were also worried about this. General Eisenhower said that there should be "no fraternization" between the American soldiers and the population of Germany. But gradually these prohibitive measures weakened. For example, since June 1945, American soldiers were allowed to talk with German children, from July in certain cases to communicate with the adult population, and in August the policy of prohibiting communication was completely abolished. Over time, the command allowed and marriages between white American soldiers and Austrian women (from January 1946 of the year; from December of that year it was possible to marry with German women).

And the spontaneous manifestations of joy at the meeting of the Allied armies in Germany in May 1945, nobody could stop. Separate episodes of fraternisation between the American and Soviet soldiers occurred during the so-called "meeting on the Elbe". Everything happened on the background of the fact that in the Red Army there was an instruction that forbade any kind of familiarity with the allied troops.

Information sources:братания-между-солдатами-враждующих
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  1. igordok
    igordok 2 March 2016 07: 44 New
    It seems to me that as a result of a long "sitting" there is a psychological effect similar to the "Stockholm" syndrome. You begin to treat the enemy "more humanely".
    According to the veterans, even in WWII, when they stood still for a long time, there was no direct "fraternization", but the music from the enemy side was perceived favorably, and often led to a lull in the firefight. And it was allowed to look after the wounded and killed in the neutral zone.
    1. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I 2 March 2016 10: 01 New
      I think that there is nothing to do with the "Stockholm syndrome"! From military stories, descriptions of such cases have come down to us when the opposing sides agreed to take turns visiting: a well, a spring, a vineyard, a plot of a potato field, a tomato field ... - on a "no-man's" strip, when for a while a "positional confrontation" arose and at the same time: waterless terrain, fig "logistics" (in short: with "grub" it was sloping!) ... And of course, when in hot summer weather (in this case, with the consent and even with the assistance of the command), they agreed on evacuation of the dead, wounded.
      1. strannik595
        strannik595 2 March 2016 10: 31 New

        And after their next chatter through the amplifier, I sang, overcoming my disgust for the mat, the first ditty, and ran from this place to a safe shelter, waiting for the howl of mines sent to me. But to my great surprise, a moment of dead silence reigned, and then, in fairly pure Russian, the words came through the same loudspeaker: “Rus Ivan, do you know the same thing? Come on! ”

        Our first thought was that it was a provocation to detect the speaker. But the temptation was great. The guys asked me (they couldn’t force me, since I wore the shoulder straps of the senior sergeant of the medical service) to repeat this risk. I sang another ditty from another place. And again, instead of shots, the Germans asked to sing more. I was even bolder and sang 3-4 more ditties. But the Germans are still asking! I answered them that, they say, the norm and additives will be tomorrow. There was not a single shot from their side that day.

        In the evening, the foreman brought in the dark breakfast, lunch, dinner, and we asked him to get to the nearest field airfield and ask for a megaphone for a while. But he could not get it and brought a phonograph tube. And she reinforces her voice even better, albeit with a rattling sound. And from then on, we began to feverishly compose ditties. We guessed it ourselves, and then the Germans confirmed that they were “Russian swear” and they really like it. Then we, when the ditties ended, just started to swear. And the Nazis applauded us
    2. alpamys
      alpamys 2 March 2016 14: 17 New
      Quote: igordok
      It seems to me that as a result of a long "sitting" there is a psychological effect similar to the "Stockholm" syndrome. You begin to treat the enemy "more humanely".
      According to veterans, even in WWII, when they stood still for a long time, there was no direct fraternization,

      The German told me what happened, they smoked on a neutral strip and even drank wine together.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 2 March 2016 07: 47 New
    During World War II, cases that would resemble fraternization were a very rare occurrence...And there are facts? .. When Russians and Germans, Americans and Japanese "fraternized" ..
  3. Aleksander
    Aleksander 2 March 2016 07: 48 New
    Later, many researchers began to accuse Austria-Hungary and Germany of the fact that such actions were invented with the aim of moral decay of the soldiers of the Russian army, forgetting that the opponents were morally decomposed. equally.

    I think that along with sincere fraternities, there were fraternities on orders as part of the information war against the Russian troops from Germany.
  4. bionik
    bionik 2 March 2016 07: 49 New
    It was not only the soldiers who "fraternized". Major General V.V., Commander of the 59th Guards Order of the Red Banner of the Guard Division Rusakov and the commander of the 69th Infantry Division of the 1st American Army Emil Reinhard drink accompanied by their subordinates on the occasion of a meeting on the Elbe.
    1. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I 2 March 2016 09: 39 New
      And, in my opinion, you are “confusing a fork with a bottle!” It is one thing to fraternize (namely, fraternization!) With the enemy (enemy) ... and another thing is getting to know allies, establishing and maintaining “good neighborly” relations with them. .. I, for example, still "distinguish" .... two "differences.
  5. Engineer engineer
    Engineer engineer 2 March 2016 10: 14 New
    My employee, born in 1936 (her kingdom is heavenly), told how during the occupation the Germans were "settled" in their village house. So they gave almost all their rations to the mistress. And in the evenings the "occupier" took little Margarita in his arms and tried to play with her, caressed her and ... cried! At the beginning of December 1941, a combat officer of the German army in an occupied Kaluga village showed the "mother" a photograph of his family, where, in addition to him and his wife, there were three more fair-haired weather girls and cried. And little Rita beat him with her fists, screamed and cursed, and he dodged laughing and ... cried.
    Finnish soldiers and officers were stationed in a neighboring house. Every evening they got drunk and drove everyone out into the street. December 1941.
    1. Bayonet
      Bayonet 2 March 2016 12: 32 New
      Quote: Engineer sapper
      how during the occupation the Germans were "settled" in their village house. So they gave almost all their rations to the mistress

      In our house there were Germans sappers, the bridge over the Don was restored. The old men told, they were normal hard workers, they shared food, they asked grandma to cook and no rudeness. There were different people.
    2. RuslanD36
      RuslanD36 2 March 2016 14: 00 New
      And our grandmother, still a small child from the hut, was expelled from us and forced to build a small dugout in a ravine.

      In any case, what you cited as an example is not fraternization, but humanism in relation to the civilian population

      IMHO fraternities arise in the absence of hostility to the enemy on both sides, as well as in the absence of motivation for the soldiers. If both sides are waging a war not for survival, but for the interests of politicians and businessmen, then soldiers on different sides have more in common than with leaders who sent them to fight.

      "You to me, I to you" is not fraternization, it is a tactic here and now. Fraternization is still not gaining profit, but friendly communication in a truce or reconciliation, contrary to the orders of the command.
  6. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 2 March 2016 11: 30 New
    There were no fraternities during the Second World War, but there were spontaneous
    reconciliation during lulls between fights.
    In the spring on the Leningrad, Volkhov fronts trenches
    dugouts, trenches were completely flooded with water, and soldiers
    both sides crawled out on the parapet to dry and bask.
    And they did not shoot at each other, in spite of any orders.
    Never shot at home-made toilets and toilets.
    1. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I 2 March 2016 11: 45 New
      Duc ... and I'm talking about the same .... "practical rationalism"!
  7. Cartalon
    Cartalon 2 March 2016 14: 03 New
    One could mention the civil war in the United States, and in an earlier period the communication of the command staff was the norm, the nobles, it was supposed to be a soldier to hate the enemy.
  8. Koshak
    Koshak 2 March 2016 17: 50 New
    K. Paustovsky. Restless youth (excerpt)

    ... Once, together with our wounded, an Austrian in gray windings, long as a pole, was brought into my carriage. He was wounded in the throat and lay wheezing and rolling his yellow eyes. When I passed, he moved his swarthy hand. I thought he was asking for a drink, bent down to his unshaven, skinny face, and heard a screaming whisper. It seemed to me that the Austrian spoke Russian, and I even recoiled. Then I hardly repeated:

    - There is a Slav! Fattened at the great, great battle ... my brother.

    He closed his eyes. Obviously, he put into these words a very important meaning for him and incomprehensible to me. Obviously, he had been waiting for a long time to say these words. Then I pondered for a long time what this dying man with a blood-caked bandage on his throat wanted to say. Why didn't he complain, asked for something to drink, and pulled the regimental badge with the address of his relatives out of his bosom by the steel chain, as all the wounded Austrians did? Obviously, he wanted to say that the force aches both in the straw and it is not his fault that he took up arms against the brothers. This thought merged in his feverish mind with the memory of a bloody battle, where he got by the will of the "Swabians" straight from his village. From the village where century-old walnut trees grow, casting a wide shade, and on holidays, a hand-made dinar bear dances in the bazaar to a barrel organ.

    When we started to take out the wounded in Lefortovo and approached the red Vologda militia, he said:

    - Take the Austrian. See, toil. And we will wait.

    We raised the Austrian. It was heavy and began to moan softly on the way. "Oh-oh-oh, - he said drawn out, - my womb Maria! Oh-oh-oh, my womb Maria!"

    In the hut, deep in the trampled garden, we brought him already dead.

    The military paramedic ordered us to carry the Austrian to the deceased. It was a barn with wide, like gates, wide open doors. We brought the Austrian into it, removed it from the stretcher, and laid the straw dust that was taken in by many bodies. There was no one around. A yellowed light bulb burned under the ceiling.

    Trying not to look around, I pulled from the Austrian from under the open collar of my jacket a regimental badge - a small book of two sheets of white oxidized metal. The name of the soldier, his number and the address of his relatives were engraved on it.

    I read it and copied it: "Iovann Petrich, 38719, Vesely Dubnyak (Bosnia)".

    At home, I wrote (for some reason, in block letters) a postcard about the death of Jovann Petrich and sent to Bosnia, to the village of Vesely Dubnyak, in the name of the Petrich family.

    When I wrote this postcard, I saw in my imagination a white low house - so low that its windows were on the elbow from the ground. I saw thickets of dead burdock under the windows and a hawk hanging over the house in the hot sky. And he saw a woman who had taken her child from the swarthy breast and looked with Shadowy eyes at the outskirts, where the wind curls the dust. Maybe this wind came from the field where Iovann lies, but the wind cannot speak and will never tell anything. But there are no letters.

    "Full of great, great battle ... my brother," - I recalled a heavy whisper. Who is to blame that the "Swabians" in tight green uniforms tore him, Joanna, from his native gardens? He was humble and kind, Joann, - this was evident from his gray round eyes, the eyes of a boy on the face of an elderly man ...