One of the scenes from Lilac Girls that readers often ask me about is the one, which takes place at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, where the camp staff, including the commandant, dress up as angels and shepherds and celebrate their own Nazi version of a Christmas party. “Is that based on fact?” they ask. Yes. In researching the book, it was fascinating to see how, during WWII, Hitler and Himmler actively suppressed all spiritual doctrines and created their own twisted religion.
Under Himmler’s watch, swastikas became part of Germany’s Christmas pageants, getting equal if not higher billing than the traditional crosses.
Hitler’s new religion was mandatory for members of the SS and many ardent Hitler supporters practiced the new religion and incorporated the swastika into their Christmas trees and holiday cards.
Nazi Christmas card
Nazi Christmas tree, above, ornaments below.
Soon Goebbels and Himmler were spreading their new, sanitized version of Christianity, one that removed God and Jesus from the narrative.
Magazines targeted at German women, like Frauen-Warte below, espoused Hitler’s religion, based on ancient runes, where the winter solstice was the focus, not God or Jesus. Suggesting the German people were supreme, editorials encouraged Germans to worship themselves, not God.
Once the war ended and Hitler was no longer in power, Christians in West Germany returned to their pre-war religious practices. But it’s disturbing to see how quickly one man could come so close to virtually erasing all traditional religions in Germany. This happened over seventy years ago, but this holiday season it’s a good reminder that we have to be vigilant to protect all of our precious rights.