The Wolf Truce, 1917

A story came out of the horrors of the First World War of an enemy of a novel kind; that wolves on the Eastern Front grew so bold, so numerous, soldiers on both sides were forced to turn their guns on these pack predators.

It was the Winter 1917 and WW1 was into its fourth year. The war on the Eastern Front, between German and Russian forces, was being fought with no less single-mindedness than the slaughter on the Western Front.

So, what could have caused the two sides to not only pause their fighting but momentarily join forces?

The wolves—nowhere to be found quite so large and powerful as in Russia—were desperate in their hunger and regardless of danger (

It seems the war was destroying wolves’ homes just like it was many people’s homes and they were driven by a desperate hunger. Perhaps the lack of men to shepherd livestock in the fields and villages imbued these pack predators with a newfound boldness too.

A report from Berlin stated that large packs of wolves had moved from the forests of Lithuania and Volhynia into the interior of the German Empire. “As the beasts are very hungry, they penetrate the villages and kill calves, sheep, goats, and other livestock. In two cases children have been attacked by them.”, it reported.

It got worse. Around armies in the area, wolves went from picking off lone individuals to whole groups of soldiers. In one instance a large wolf pack set upon wounded soldiers as skirmishers from both sides were hotly engaged.

Seeing this, both sets of troops instinctively turned their rifles on the new foe and, together, killed 50 before each side returned to their lines.

Yet the attacks continued unabated, their aggression undiminished. So, a tacit agreement came to pass that both sides would unite to fight this newfound enemy. Several hundred wolves were corralled and shot before conventional hostilities resumed.

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