How Hitler's Nazi propaganda machine tried to take Christ out of Christmas
Nazi Germany celebrated Christmas without Christ with the help of swastika tree baubles, 'Germanic' cookies and a host of manufactured traditions, a new exhibition has shown.
The way the celebration was gradually taken over and exploited for propaganda purposes by Hitler's Nazis is detailed in a new exhibition.
Rita Breuer has spent years scouring flea markets for old German Christmas ornaments.
She and her daughter Judith developed a fascination with the way Christmas was used by the atheist Nazis, who tried to turn it into a pagan winter solstice celebration.
Gold and silver Christmas tree baubles inscribed with Nazi and non-religious German iconography lying on swastika wrapping paper
Food for thought: A swastika-shaped cookie cutter for the kitchen
These Christmas tree decorations - shaped like a bomb, a hand grenade and an Iron Cross medal date from the First World War
Selected objects from the family's enormous collection have gone on show at the National Socialism Documentation Centre in Cologne.
'Christmas was a provocation for the Nazis - after all, the baby Jesus was a Jewish child,' Judith Breuer told the German newspaper Spiegel. 'The most important celebration in the year didn't fit with their racist beliefs so they had to react, by trying to make it less Christian.'
The exhibition includes swastika-shaped cookie-cutters and Christmas tree baubles shaped like Iron Cross medals.
The Nazis attempted to persuade housewives to bake cookies in the shape of swastikas, and they replaced the Christian figure of Saint Nicholas, who traditionally brings German children treats on December 6, with the Norse god Odin.
The symbol that posed a particular problem for the Nazis was the star, which traditionally decorates Christmas trees.
Civilians were encouraged to send patriotic Christmas cards to soldiers at the front
The Iron Cross shaped Christmas tree decorations commemorate the start of World War One
Recipes for Nazi and Germanic-themed breads and cakes
'Either it was a six-pointed star, which was a symbol of the Jews, or it was a five-pointed star, which represented the Soviets,' Breuer said. It had to go.
In the 1930s, the Nazis tried to change the ideology of Christmas. But when World War II started, the focus became more practical.
Civilians were ordered to send Christmas cards to the soldiers at the front. There were also tips on how to make Christmas cookies in the face of food shortages.
In 1944-1945, the Nazis tried to reinvent the festival once again as a day to commemorate the dead, in particular fallen soldiers. 'By then nobody felt like celebrating,' Breuer explained.
Happily, t5he German people mostly ignored the clumsy propaganda efforts and continued with the same traditions as before.
The is a legacy of the Nazi Christmas. The wartime version of the traditional Christmas carol 'Unto us a time has come' is still sung. 'The Nazis took out the references to Jesus and made it into a song about walking through the snow,' Breuer said.
Surprisingly, German churches put up little opposition to the Nazification of Christmas. 'You would have expected them to protest loudly and insist that it was a Christian festival,' said Breuer. 'But instead they largely kept quiet, out of fear.'
The Nazis felt they could exploit Christmas to bring the nation together behind the war effort
Most watched News videos
- Obama and Trump sit down to discuss the transfer of power
- Emotional Chelsea Handler fights back tears over election results
- The 2016 John Lewis Christmas ad campaign is finally here!
- Seth Meyers gets emotional talking about mom's disappointment
- Three-month-old baby appears to say 'I love you' to mother
- Boy flies 5,000 miles home to see sick Mum in hospital
- Incredible behind the scenes look at Planet Earth's snake attack
- Army veteran confronts suspected remembrance poppy conman
- Trump slams Obama and Iran over mysterious money transfer tape
- Is this the creepy moment the corpse of a girl OPENS her eyes?
- Meghan Markle posts a short video on her 'press day in London'
- Kimmel explains five stages of grief to cope with Trump victory
The comments below have been moderated in advance.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.
We are no longer accepting comments on this article.