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Christmas, 1939, 1940 and 1942

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By December, 1939, the war had begun for England, but it was the “phoney war.”

 “In Woolworths,” recalls that company’s online history,  “customers chose cards, decorations and stocking fillers, much the same as usual. To be sure the tinned peaches and jars of honey sold a bit better than usual as the wisest customers squirreled some away ‘just in case’, but inside the store you would hardly know the country was at war.”  In America, the public was getting the idea via movie reels:

One American travelogue newsreel in summer 1939 visited a Woolworth store in Berlin. A summary of the film remains in the production company’s database.

Pan fascia reading 25 und 50 Pfg. Laden F. W. Woolworth Co. GMBH
Voiceover – Woolworths, a familiar sight from home.
Voiceover – Let’s take a look at the range on sale
Pan to Adolf Hitler tea tray – 25 pfennigs,
Pan to set of 6 teacups and saucers with swastika pattern – 50 pfennigs.
Pan to window sign.
Voiceover. The sign reads “Our management is not Jewish.”
“Jews are not welcome here.”

Here is Time’s reporting from December 25, 1939.  A year later, Christmas, 1940, all was still pretty serence around the White House though of course Europe had been plunged into darkness and Britain assaulted from the air:

It was a quiet week in the White House. Each night from the tower of Epiphany Church, the bells rang out: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. At a reception for the members of the Supreme Court the President, cheered after his cruise, cheerfully greeted the Justices. It was quiet compared with the gathering last year, when Frank Murphy, just appointed to the Court, was the lion of the week, and the talk buzzed of the new appointments that had put James Cromwell in Canada and Robert Jackson in the Department of Justice. ..

Last week preparations for Christmas went on as usual. In the east end of the second-floor corridor stood the small family tree, decorated with ornaments handed down via attic trunk from one Christmas to the next. And, as in the past, the President’s plans called for the familiar, pleasant ritual of the season


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