Fortean Times features a timely tale:
Imagine the scene. It’s December 1936, and the shadow of war has not yet fallen over the people of Germany, who are now experiencing their fourth Christmas since Hitler’s National Socialist Party came to power and began its transformation of modern Germany. The streets of every town and city are busy with last-minute shoppers; the sounds of carol-singing and the rattle of Winter Relief collection tins fills the evening air; people wish one another a Happy Christmas as they stand before a great tree, proudly decorated and topped with a huge swastika.
We tend to think of the relationship between organised religion and totalitarian regimes – as in the Soviet Union – as one in which freedom of religious belief and expression are ruthlessly suppressed in the name of the unity of the state. But if that is the case, what exactly is taking place in our notional Christmas scene – one which could be taking place in any German town from 1933 to 1943? Does the substitution of the swastika for the cross reveal the Nazis’ transformation of a key Christian festival into a pagan rite, an appropriation of a popular tradition for political ends or an uneasy coexistence between the German people’s old-fashioned Christmas pleasures and the imperatives of their new masters?
Is it possible, even, that a regime which was shortly to embark on an apocalyptic and genocidal course of action that would plunge the entire world into conflict saw itself as Christian?
Insert your own War on Christmas joke below.
Posted in History
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