Armistice Day: The Story of the Christmas Bell

EPSON scanner image
Philipp Fabry

My second great-grandfather, Philipp Fabry, born in 1863, wrote this story for Christmas 1923. It tells a remarkable, beautiful story.

was ein weihnachtsglöckchen zu erzählen weiß

The Story of the Christmas Bell

As a heavy iron plate I was loaded onto a smokey cargo train in Westphalia that took me to Offenbach on Main. There, I was driven from the station to the metal goods factory of P. Schlesinger. Many centners of the likes of me were stored there together, until two sooty men took one plate after the other to a large round press. With a forceful thrust, I, round like a circle, was pushed out of the plate. Many of my comrades and I, we fell into an iron chest. There we lay united, for several days, crowded together. Then we were fetched and taken to the annealing furnace, where we were made white-hot. And as this hellish heat was overcome and we had cooled down, we were taken to another press. Loaded under the punch that was menacing above me, I received a tremendous impact and thus came by my current shape. By chance, I came to a stop lying beside the chest that took in my comrades. Thereby, I escaped further pressings that my comrades had yet to endure until they received their final shape as igniters. As I, still a workpiece (as the first pressing is called), was found, I was thrown into a chest in which there were igniters ready for despatch and we were taken to the delivery department. Lucky for me, an interested person discovered me there who took me along in the war year of 1916 and now, for Christmas 1923, dressed me in a shiny little coat to turn me into a happy Christmas bell. My pretty clang had appealed to him.

So I escaped my destiny, to rule the battlefield as an igniter, and did not need to tear human bodies apart.

I owe this to Mr Ph. Fabry.


Philipp who worked as a bookbinder and bookseller and his wife Olga did handicraft of all sorts, and Philipp had a love for poetry. There is not only a story written from the bell’s perspective but a poem, too:

weihnachtsglöckchen gedicht

Christmas 1923

Meant as a lethal igniter,
I was made into a jingling bell.
And when at beautiful Christmas time
The meadows and streets are covered in snow
Ice flowers deck the windows
And the wind ghoulishly sweeps through the chimney
When the Christmas tree is glistening in the warm parlour
And the door still hinders curious looks
I am jingling to the children’s delight
Like a jolly ray of sunshine.

Then I will tell the children all
How many heroes fell for them
In the turmoil of war everywhere
By land and on the booming sea.
How the brave, with their bodies, protected
The homeland in the rain of bullets and the thunder of grenades
Then I will tell the children big and small
How I was turned into a little bell
How they wanted to press me into a murder weapon
That we must never forget.
Yes, I am glad to be called a Christmas bell
And that I was spared from tearing humans limb from limb.


EPSON scanner image
Philipp in 1925.
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