Forest Park bookseller Augie Aleksy has always enjoyed building battlefield dioramas. He spent years in his Oak Park basement constructing a massive recreation of Napoleon’s 1815 Battle of Waterloo.
This year, in honor of World War I’s 100th anniversary, he produced a tiny reenactment of the 1914 “Christmas Truce” between German and English soldiers.
The miraculous impromptu ceasefire along the Western Front in Belgium started with Christmas Carols rising from the snowy trenches on the English and German sides, Aleksy said.
“They were songs both sides knew,” he said. “Adeste Fidelis was one of them, as was Silent Night.” Some German soldiers popped up from the trenches and hollered “Merry Christmas” over to the British, who hollered back.
“They met in the no-man’s land during the ceasefire,” Aleksy recalled. “First thing they did was bury their dead.” Solders exchanged chocolate, cigarettes and souvenirs.
Aleksy’s diorama depicts the trenches on both sides and a famous no-man’s land soccer match on a snow-covered plain. It also portrays a small cemetery and officers from both sides. He removed the weapons from model soldiers’ hands to depict the soccer players and also included light-up Christmas trees — just because.
The diorama sits in the window of Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, 7419 Madison St.