Darkest Christmas

December 1942 and a World at War

Peter Harmsen

A global account of how—as the outcome of World War II still hung in the balance—millions of men and women around the world, torn from their civilian lives, passed the most important holiday of the Christian year.
Date Published :
October 2022
Publisher :
Illustration :
B/w and color
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781636241890
Pages : 240
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


December 1942 saw the bloodiest Christmas in the history of mankind. From the islands in the Pacific to the China front, from the trenches in Russia to the battle lines in North Africa, in the skies over Europe and in the depths of the Atlantic, men were killing each other in greater numbers than ever before. The Holocaust continued, and innocent civilians were murdered by the thousands throughout the evil Nazi empire, even as the perpetrators celebrated the birth of Christ.

Millions stationed in far-off lands amid the greatest conflict in human history feared this was their last Christmas in freedom, or their last Christmas alive. At the same time as the slaughter continued unabated, throughout the world there were random acts of kindness, born out of an instinctive feeling of the essential brotherhood of man. These gestures also straddled religious barriers and sometimes included those of non-Christian faiths. Even some Japanese, otherwise embarked on a self-declared crusade against the West, relented for a few precious hours in acknowledgment of the holiday.

At the same time, Christmas 1942 saw the injunction of ‘good will to man’ distorted in ugly and callous ways. At Auschwitz, SS guards played cruel games with their prisoners. In Berlin, the German heart of darkness, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels spent time with his family while still buried in feverish fantasies about the Jewish world conspiracy.

Christmas 1942 saw the entire range of man’s conduct towards his fellow man, reflecting the extremes of behavior, good and bad, that World War II gave rise to. The way the holiday was marked around the world tells a deeper and more universal story of the human condition in extraordinary times.

About The Author

Peter Harmsen is the author of New York Times bestseller Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze and Nanjing 1937: Battle for a Doomed City, as well as the War in the Far East trilogy. He studied history at National Taiwan University and has been a foreign correspondent in East Asia for more than two decades. He has focused mainly on the Chinese-speaking societies but has reported from nearly every corner of the region, including Mongolia and North Korea. His books have been translated into Chinese, Danish and Romanian.


Chapter 1: Pacific Ocean
Chapter 2: Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Australia
Chapter 3: Japan, occupied Asia
Chapter 4: India, Siberia and the Middle East
Chapter 5: Eastern Front
Chapter 6: Germany, Holocaust
Chapter 7: Occupied Europe
Chapter 8: North Africa, Britain
Chapter 9: Atlantic Ocean
Chapter 10: Americas

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