Vintage: Nazi Christmas party (1941)

Vintage: Nazi Christmas party (1941)

The Nazi Christmas was far from traditional. After taking power in 1933, Nazi ideologues initially renamed the Christmas festival Julfest, and propagated its Germanic origins as the celebration of the winter solstice. These ideologists also claimed that the Christian elements of the holiday had been superimposed upon ancient Germanic traditions. They argued that Christmas Eve originally had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, but instead celebrated the winter solstice and the ‘rebirth of the sun’, that the swastika was an ancient symbol of the sun, and that Santa Claus was a Christian reinvention of the Germanic god Odin.


Grasping his knuckles, a pensive Hitler looks down the table at dozens of Nazi soldiers at a Christmas meal in Munich.


Adolf Hitler and other Nazi officials celebrate Christmas at the Lowenbraukeller restaurant in Munich.


Officers and cadets begin their dinner.


Nazis believed religion had no place in the 1,000-year Reich, so they replaced the Christian figure of Saint Nicholas with the Norse god Odin.


Waffen SS (or Schutzstaffel) officers cadets sit at a long table during a Christmas party.


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.

(Photo credit: Hugo Jaeger — The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)