Sunday, March 20, 2016

Kriegsweihnachten, Christmas in War Time

Wehrmacht soldiers from XXXXVI. Armeekorps (based in germany) reading book in their barrack during Christmas of 1940. The first German Christmas of World War II was celebrated in December of 1939 while the front was for the most part silent; the Western Allies and Germany were in the midst of the so-called "phoney war" between the period after the Invasion of Poland in September of 1939, and the Invasion in Norway later in April of 1940. In bunkers and trenches, pillboxes and depots, private homes and unit bases, all along the border, across Germany, and in occupied Poland, those German soldiers unlucky enough to not be with family and loved ones, spent time together amongst their comrades and exchanged simple gifts of fruit and drink, laughed and played, and sang traditional German Christmas songs such as "O Tannenbaum" - a timeless song of Christmas. Christmas 1940 was also a relatively quiet period, the Western Allies, minus Great Britain, were now occupied by German troops and the Eastern Front had not yet erupted - that would come in June of 1941 with the Invasion of the Soviet Union. The Battle of Britian was also over, leaving the vaunted Luftwaffe bloodied and although not defeated by any means, unable to achieve air superiority over the British Isles. Troops once again spent Christmas in bunkers and foriegn cities, now in a front stretching from the most northern arctic tip of Norway to the most southern tip of France in the Mediterranean.

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