German Propaganda Archive

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Background: The Nazis were out to transform Christmas from a Christian holiday to a celebration of the family in a National Socialist context. The job was made easier since the German word for Christmas (Weihnacht) avoids a specific mention of Jesus Christ. This page has parts of a 64-page pamphlet for Advent, released in 1943. There is not a single mention of Christ in the pamphlet. Mothers were told to hang the calendar up on December 1, and turn one page a day, the final one on Christmas Eve. There are lots of pictures of winter scenes, fables, etc. I reproduce here pages with a strong propaganda content. For other Nazi material on Christmas, see a 1939 article, a booklet of material for Christmas 1944, and a discussion of how to transform traditional holidays into Nazi holidays.

Source: Vorweihnachten. Ausgabe 1943 (Munich: Franz Eher, 1943).


Advent 1943: A Nazi Pamphlet

 Vorweihnachten Cover

This is the cover to the pamphlet. A mother holds the booklet while her four children look on. The father is presumably at the front. Page 2 introduces the pamphlet: "Dear German mother! Christmas has always been particularly a festival for children. War and destruction may rage in the world, and everyone, man or woman, in Germany may have to arm themselves with hardness and will in order to continue the battle until victory — yet our children should delight in this most German of all holidays as much as possible. We are fighting this war for our children, for them we are bearing the burdens and dangers, but their eyes should remain bright during the Christmas season, and they should laugh with joy in anticipation and Christmas pleasure.... In most families, the father is in the field, and often they have been forced to leave their homes because of the war. Death's hard hand may even have torn holes in the family. Still, the German mother will hold her hand protectively over childhood joy and childhood thoughts in this Christmas season."


 Soldiers

22 days until Christmas. The caption beneath the picture: "Though your bravery, you give us at home a lovely Christmas season. Each child, as he sees the candle's glow and sings the songs, thinks of you, full of thanks."

 Children's War Art

18 days until Christmas. Military scenes for children.

 Things to draw

17 days until Christmas. The caption: "When winter storms keep children in the house, we can draw from memory all that we have experienced. The preceding year will become vivid for them once again in the sun, moon, stars, plants, and animals. The boys will want to busy themselves with the experiences of our victorious soldiers in the war. It is not important if the picture is beautiful, but rather that we take real pleasure when we draw."

 Marion Anderson

17 days until Christmas. This is sample letter a child could write to a soldier in the field. The explanation: "Do you know that a letter can bring the greatest joy? Why? Because through it you give something of yourself." The text of the letter: "Dear Uncle! Christmas will soon be here. Mother is already baking for the soldier's package. I want to write a letter with greetings from us all. We think of you so often, especially when we hear the news on the radio. Then I like to stand behind the stove. I wish you could have things so nice and comfortable. After school and homework, I always go sledding. Hilde made a wonderful snowman. Best wishes from Mother and me. Your godchild, Hildegard"

Soldoers amd a Christmas Tree

One day before Christmas. Two German soldiers stand by a Christmas tree covering the grave of a comrade. The text: "In war or in peace, you may never forget the quiet thankfulness and obligation owed to those whose sacrifices enabled you to celebrate Christmas. Therefore, a candle should burn in every home for those most loyal who stand eternal watch on the wide fronts of this war."

 Mother and Child

This looks at first glance to be a Madonna and child illustration, but it accompanies a story about a woodcutter, alone, lost in the woods, hungry. A soldier returning from the war is walking through the woods, as is a king who got lost during a hunt. The three meet, but none can help the others find their way. They wander together until they see a light coming from a small cottage where a mother holds her newborn child. They enter. The mother has wise words for each of the three men. Each gives the child a gift. It is a retelling of the familiar Christmas story, but with an entirely different content. The full translation is available.


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