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German Christmas 1942
The card was sent to a Minna Urban, living in Nürnberg (Nuremberg) in southern Germany. Within three years Nuremberg would become particularly known for the Nuremberg Trials, the prosecution by the victorious Allies of surviving Nazis such as Göring, Hess, Ribbentrop and Speer, and of German Forces commanders including Raeder, Keitel and Dönitz.
Theo’s return address is Münster in north west Germany, which in 1942 was a city with a significant concentration of German Army barracks and units. Theo was fortunate to be writing his card to Minna in Münster in December, 1942. Over a month before, in north Africa, at the Second Battle of El Alemain the seeming invincibility of the German Army was broken when German, and Italian soldiers, were defeated in battle, and thousands taken prisoner. Field Marshal Rommel on 3 November, 1942 started a withdrawal.
Later in November – the 19th – USSR mounted a counter attack against the Germans at Stalingrad in near sub-zero temparatures and by 22 November, 1942 General Paulus the commander was telegramming Hitler that the German Sixth Army was surrounded.
From Christmas 1942 onwards, although it was not immediately clear at the time, the Allies had started to turn back German National Socialism and break for ever the German military class that had helped to put the National Socialists in power in 1933. (1) The Third Reich was annihilated two Christmas’s later, in the unconditional surrender of May 8 1945.
Other Christmas letters and cards had been posted in 1942 for Allied Forces in North Africa and the Middle East.
The German National Socialists, enemies of Christians and Christianity, stripped Christmas of its Christian meaning, reverting, as they saw it, to its original German significance and meaning: a celebration of the winter solstice, the rebirth of the sun, and coming together of the community, witnessing the strength of their race. The Santa Claus was a Christian corruption of the German god Odin they claimed. The image of Mary and the baby Jesus in the manger was changed to an Ayran mother with a blond child.
We do not know whether Minna did get back in touch with Theo, or whether they survived the war.
- For the background to the German Army holding the reins of power behind the scenes from 1918 to 1933, and then outwitted by Hitler, who they thought they could control, see The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics 1918 – 1945. J.H.Wheeler-Bennett, Macmillan, 1953.