This photo could be titled "The Creepy Side of Christmas." It shows an infamous and immediately recognizable dictator surrounded by his Nazi synchophants at his Christmas party in December 1941.
Christmas 1941 lacked some of the traditional joy of the season. The United States had been shocked into the war when Japan attacked the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor 71 years ago today. England had endured a savage bombing campaign by Germany that came to be known as the Blitz. Germany controlled most of Europe and seemed about to conquer the Soviet Union. Japan was dominating Asia and the Pacific.
But Christmas Day 1941 marked the peak of Axis power. Soviet troops were about to turn back the Nazi invasion. Japan's dominance of the Pacific would end six months later when the U.S. Navy inflicted a smashing defeat on the Imperial Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway.
The photo was shot by Hugo Jaeger for Life magazine.
Stay tuned for more pictures of Christmases past.
(Note: This post first appeared on Drye Goods on December 12, 2009.)