Thursday, December 23, 2010
A Merry Nazi Christmas
Life.com pulled from the late picture magazine's archives a number ridiculously intriguing photos of Adolf Hitler and company celebrating a very Waffen-SS Christmas. The pictures, one or two of which were published in Life in bygone days, were taken by Hugo Jaeger, one of Hitler's personal photographers. This yuletide celebration took place in Munich on December 18, 1941--eleven days after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. As Life.com notes, "killing operations" at the Nazi's Chelmno death camp had begun less than two weeks before.
Herr Hitler looks a little glum in the photo above. In fact, this view of the celebration makes it look like one of the dreariest office Christmas parties ever thrown. The photo below shows us, however, that the Nazi's typically went for big drama with stage setting. The Lowenbraukeller--yes, the party was held in a beer hall--is garnished with huge swastikas, huge trees, and streamers of tinsel.
The SS soldiers who manned the steins that night seem to be having a good time. As the website points out, the Nazis originally wanted to take religion out of the holiday--they had a plan (they always had a plan) to rig up a celebration harking back to the old pagan days. Something like a Fascist Festivus, or something like that, but the Volk wanted their Christmas.
It just so happens that I've been reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich recently, and these images help shade detail into the narrative. The images remind us how real history really was.