Hitler's Christmas party: Rare photographs capture leading Nazis celebrating in 1941
A less festive bunch it’s hard to imagine.
This is Hitler and his henchmen celebrating Christmas in 1941 – not that you’d know it from their glum expressions.
These probably had something to do with the recent dispiriting failure of Nazi attempts to seize Moscow and take control of Russia.
High command: Adolf Hitler and other Nazi officials celebrate Christmas at the Lowenbraukeller restaurant in Munich on December 18, 1941
Sons of the swastika: Cadets at the feast
The pictures from December 18, which have only just come to light, show Hitler and his generals at a party for SS officer cadets in Munich.
But the Nazi Christmas was far from traditional.
Hitler believed religion had no place in his 1,000-year Reich, so he replaced the Christian figure of Saint Nicholas with the Norse god Odin and urged Germans to celebrate the season as a holiday of the ‘winter solstice’, rather than Christmas.
Out of sight at the top of the tree behind Hitler was a swastika instead of an angel, and many of the baubles carried runic symbols and iron cross motifs. The remarkable pictures were captured by Hugo Jaeger, one of the Fuhrer’s personal photographers.
He buried the images in glass jars on the outskirts of Munich towards the end of the war, fearing that they would be taken away from him.
Later he sold them to Life Magazine in America which published many of them this week.
Other photographs show brownshirt thugs drinking beer.
In 1944-1945, the Nazis tried to reinvent Christmas once again as a day to commemorate the dead, in particular fallen soldiers – by that time Germany had lost almost four million men in the war.
But while many Germans baked biscuits and cakes in the shape of swastikas and adorned their trees with the symbols of the Nazi regime, most still called the festival Christmas.
Spoils of war: Officers and cadets begin their dinner
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