Magazine article America in WWII

Have Yourself a Nasty Little Christmas: The Yuletide Greetings That Axis Propagandists Showered on GIs Weren't Exactly Full of Peace and Goodwill, but They Gave the Boys a Holiday Chuckle

Magazine article America in WWII

Have Yourself a Nasty Little Christmas: The Yuletide Greetings That Axis Propagandists Showered on GIs Weren't Exactly Full of Peace and Goodwill, but They Gave the Boys a Holiday Chuckle

Article excerpt

CHRISTMAS MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS to different Americans, and always has. It's a ray of heavenly light cutting through the darkness that binds human souls. It's the magical glow in the eyes of children who know something wonderful is coming. It's starlight and twinkling trees, traditions and presents, red bows and silver bells. But for practically every American, it's a time shot through with longing--for loved ones, for romance, for the old days, and for the warmth and brightness of home sweet home.

In the hands of a manipulator, that kind of longing can become a weapon. And so it did when the Axis propagandists of World War II got hold of it and twisted it like a knife into the hearts of America's GIs overseas. At least, that was what the propagandists of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan meant to do with it. Judging by veterans' stories, however, the morale-crushers didn't score much success. It's hard to find even a single story of an American shedding a tear of despair over the "Christmas cards" that Adolf Hitler's and Hirohito's boys rained down from the skies over Allied lines. To the contrary, there are plenty of stories of laughter, and of GIs saving some of the girlie pictures as pinups.

As lively and pictorial as Axis Christmas propaganda was, precious little made its way home with returning GIs. Who knows why? But as a result it is rare today, and fetches a pretty penny among collectors. Unlike the GIs of 65 years ago, you'd be lucky to have some land on your campsite. …

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