In 1921, in a Munich beer hall, Hitler gave a Christmas speech to a crowd of 4,000 supporters. Everyone cheered when Hitler condemned “the cowardly Jews for breaking the world-liberator on the cross” and swore “not to rest until the Jews…lay shattered on the ground”. After the speech, the crowd sang holiday carols and nationalist hymns around a Christmas tree.
In Nazi Germany, Christmas was observed within the Nazi ideology. The biggest problem Nazis faced was the fact that baby Jesus was a Jewish child.
This didn’t fit with their racist beliefs and they had to react to remove these aspects of Christmas from civil celebrations. Their plan was to eradicate Christianity in Germany and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods.
In 1933 when Hitler achieved power, Nazis wanted to reject Germany’s Christmas traditions by trying to make Christmas less Christian. Nazis renamed the Christmas festival in “Julfest” and propagated its Germanic origins as the celebration of the winter solstice and the “rebirth of the sun” claiming that Christmas Eve originally had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ.
Nazis argued that the swastika was an ancient symbol of the sun and that Santa Claus was a Christian reinvention of the Germanic god Odin. Silent Night was transformed into a song of praise to Hitler:
“Silent night, Holy night,
All is calm, all is bright.
Only the Chancellor stays on guard
Germany’s future to watch and to ward,
Guiding our nation aright.”
The star that is traditionally placed on the top of the Christmas tree was also a big problem for the Nazis so they encouraged revelers to place a swastika atop their trees instead. Christmas trees were decorated with pagan runes, swastikas or sun-wheels.
The Nazification of Christmas did not end there. Children ate chocolate SS men and their mothers were prompted to bake biscuits in the shape of birds, wheels, and swastikas for their children. Changes were also made to the manger, which was replaced by a Christmas garden containing wooden toy deer and rabbits; Mary and Jesus were also depicted as a blonde mother and child.
In November 1937 the Heimatwerk organization of the Saxony branch of the Nazi Party produced a Nazi guide to Christmas, in which Virgin Mary becomes German and the Archangel Gabriel is turned into an Aryan god.
In 1944 the Nazis tried to reinvent Christmas once more as a day of remembrance for the fallen soldiers. A few months later both the Nazi regime and its pagan Christmas came to an end.