In WWII around Christmas time a hospital ship was bringing wounded and maimed Allied soldiers home from Europe to the United States. Also on the ship, in the holds below, were German prisoners of war. The Red Cross had delivered Christmas packages to the Allied troops before departure. Enroute, the wounded soldiers opened their packages to discover a panoply of candy, crackers and other assorted goods. Although most were consumed quickly, there was a sizable surplus. Several of the Allied wounded got together and convinced their comrades to send the extra bounty down to the German POWs.
When the Germans received this gift, they were overwhelmed with gratitude. They began talking among themselves, asking “what can we do to show our thanks?” Being prisoners, they had little in the way of possessions to share. After discussion, they hit upon an idea. Practicing quietly among themselves, they prepared their gift.
Eventually the ship approached the shores of the United States. Early one starlit evening, facing an uncertain future as prisoners in a foreign land, the German soldiers began to sing. In beautiful harmony they raised voices to their benefactors on the decks above with a tender rendition of “Silent Night” in German. Many voices strong, they continued their serenade throughout the evening, repaying the kindness shown by their onetime foes.