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How the Nazis tried to steal X’mas

world Updated: Dec 17, 2009 00:22 IST

Presents wrapped in paper covered with Nazi symbols nestling beneath a tree adorned with swastikas and grenade-shaped baubles: welcome to Christmas under Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

As a new exhibition in the western German city of Cologne shows, the Nazis tried to skew the Christmas story to do away with the Jewish baby Jesus and impose their racist ideology and propaganda on the popular festival.

“Celebrating the birth of a Jewish baby was unthinkable for the Nazis,” Juergen Mueller, the chief researcher behind the exhibition, told AFP.

“But Christmas was too popular to be banned. They therefore decided to corrupt it.”

Nazi officials “invented a Germanic origin” for Christmas, renaming it “Julfest” and claiming that yuletide traditions stemmed from ancient rituals surrounding the winter solstice four days earlier.

Baby Jesus was turfed out of the crib and Santa Claus was reincarnated as a Viking knight.