During the American War of Independence, the Americans, led by a not-yet-traitorous Benedict Arnold, waged war on British-loving Canada. Specifically, the cheese-eating Frenchy British-loving region of Quebec.
It was probably a matter of who the French hated least.
Aaron Burr was on the march to Quebec when he stopped by a Kennebec Indian party. Burr's group was carrying plenty of rum, and they were warmly welcomed by the Kennebecs. Soon, alcohol did what it does best, and Burr met and knocked up an Indian woman named Jacataqua. Obviously, pregnant women aren't the most able of combatants in a battle, so Burr was concerned about her safety. But Jacataqua so endeared herself to the regiment that they paid her the courtesy of not eating her dog.
"Wow, I, uh ... thanks, I guess. Not eating my dog should really be a given."
Before the final assault on Quebec, Burr was walking unarmed by himself in the woods near the army camp. He was thirsty, so he started to drink some water from a nearby brook. By the sort of chance rarely found outside Hollywood, an enemy British officer arrived at the other side of the brook at that time and didn't immediately kill the shit out of him. Instead, they politely saluted each other and the British officer offered Burr his cup.
He couldn't get those sideburns wet for fear of being pulled under the water.
The two soldiers declared a private truce between themselves and got to know each other. They met up again a few more times before the attack on the city and promised to stay good friends once the war was over. The British officer also pledged to bring Jacataqua and Burr's child to safety if the Americans were defeated at Quebec.
And defeated they were -- horribly and embarrassingly. But the British officer kept to his promise. Jacataqua was placed in a nunnery in the city, where she gave birth to her child in safety. Aaron Burr went on to become the Vice President of the U.S. under Jefferson, during which time he became famous for straight up shooting a dude.
"May all my offspring kill a man for slights upon their manhoods!"
Between the two world wars, the Spanish fought a civil war between Hitler's Fascist buddy Francisco Franco and the rest of the country. The Fascists ultimately won, but not without a fight.
And thank goodness, because it wouldn't have been much of a war otherwise.
The majority of the conflict in the Spanish Civil War was spent on so-called "quiet fronts," in which the opposing camps didn't just shoot on sight. With forced conscription and disease spreading across the front, soldiers on both sides began to get sick of the war. After all, they were all Spaniards. Letters taken from the front in 1938 suggest that some soldiers spent the quiet periods of the war interacting in relative peace with their opponents on the battlefront, even trading goods like cigarettes, which doesn't make sense from a tactical point of view unless you're trying some elaborate plot to kill the enemy through lung cancer.
"The cancer is just to pin them down while diabetes takes the flank."
One letter from a soldier shows that he even wrote home to his family asking for goods he could use to trade with his "buddies in the Fascist zone." In fact, the soldiers actively encouraged each other not to fight if at all possible. When newly arrived Republicans came to the front, the Nationalists would shout, "Reds, don't shoot. It's not our fault."
"Blame this guy, he's the one with the stupid glasses."
The two enemies became friendly pretty quickly, with men on both sides promising to alert the others if their officers ordered them to attack. And every night, their partying and singing echoed around the country.
Understandably, their officers were pretty pissed off about the war they were trying to start that just couldn't get off the ground because the opposing sides liked each other too much.
It was a civil war, after all.
It can't be overstated how absolutely horrible World War I was for basically everyone on Earth. One of the largest wars ever fought in history, most of the soldiers were conscripted by their respective governments to kill loads of people who had never personally wronged them, fighting in foreign lands while starving and suffering fatigue and bullet wounds. It's really no surprise that, on Christmas Day 1914, these conditions led to the biggest bag of "screw this war stuff" ever opened.
"It's what I've always wanted!"
Think what you will of the Germans, but they were the ones who kicked off the cheer on Christmas Eve. The German frontline put lights all along their trenches and began to sing Christmas carols and put up banners wishing the British a Happy Christmas. The soldiers then came out of the trenches to meet and greet the enemy. They exchanged autographs and stories, and they agreed not to fire on each other on the following Christmas Day.
A tradition that has spread to every household since.
The commanders, noticing too late to stop the truce that was already in full swing, simply stood back and let it happen. Across the entire front, soldiers from both sides shared Christmas dinners and services with each other, often in the enemy trenches themselves.
"Call this a trench? We have two, maybe three whores at a time."
During the day, the British and the Germans played soccer against one another, using bundles of straw or empty jars in place of a ball. One man even set up a makeshift barber shop in the middle of no man's land to serve both British and German troops, charging a couple of cigarettes for a haircut.
War and soccer are literally the only ways these two countries communicate.
The Christmas Day truce marked one of the most poignant moments in a horrible war. However, not everyone approved of the truce. A young soldier named Adolf Hitler denounced the episode, declaring that this sort of understanding "should not be allowed." It's surprising (or not -- he was Hitler), but Hitler experienced a similar act of humanity during the same Great War. Hitler himself adorned his private residence with paintings of a British war hero named Henry Tandey. Why? During a WWI battle, Tandey spared the life of the wounded future Fuhrer in a rare act of mercy.
It is very possible to be too nice for your own good.
Sure, Hitler didn't really learn anything. But it does raise the question of how many potential future-Hitlers have been avoided by small acts of kindness early in life.
For surprising sources of charity from terrible people, check out 5 Inspiring Acts of Kindness by Terrifying Crime Syndicates. Or read about the 5 True War Stories That Put Every Action Movie to Shame.
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