Christmas, 1944

DECEMBER 1944 – A family explores Christmas gifts in their home in Malente-Gremsmühlen, Germany. Scan © Mark Zanzig/

The story behind the image

This photo from our family archive shows (from left to right) my grandfather, my mother, my grandmother, my mother’s cousin, the nanny, and my aunt. They sit under the Christmas tree and explore the gifts that Santa has brought.

I find this photo remarkable for several reasons.

First of all, the image is part of a series of 12 images. That is a lot of images by 1944’s standards, especially considering the restrictions of the war times. I’d assume it was one roll of negative film that went into this scene. Wow.

Secondly, the series must have been shot from a tripod using the self timer or a long wired remote control, hidden from the view.

Thirdly, the original print has severly faded over the years, like many other prints in the archive. Here is how it looks today, unedited:

The original print 5-121 as it looks in 2021. It has faded over the past 76 years and had to be restored digitally. © Mark Zanzig/

Yet, it’s amazing to see what modern technology can do to restore such damaged images to preserve them as digital originals for decades to come.

And lastly, this was a German Christmas in 1944. The Second World War was in its last stages, and the people were worn out, everywhere. But my grandparents still celebrated Christmas as if nothing special was going on. They had moved to their ‘makeshift home’ in Malente-Gremsmühlen in the autumn of 1944 to escape the deadly risk of living in Kiel. The military harbor, the wharf and important weapon factories made the city a primary target for the allies – and my grandparents lived just about one Mile away from the military harbor. No wonder they were concerned. In Malente, just 40 kilometers from Kiel, they experienced peace and were secure.

And with these thoughts I wish you a Merry Christmas!

The high resolution image

Capture Date24-DEC-1944
LocationMalente-Gremsmühlen, Germany
Image Source6 x 6 cm black & white print
Digital Image SourceEPSON Perfection 4870 Photo
Digital Image Source FormatTIFF, 48 bits/pixel, AdobeRGB
Edited Image FormatJPEG, 24 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image Dimensions2457 x 2457 Pixels
CopyrightScan © Mark Zanzig/


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