My First Memories of Christmas

Christnas eve, Auschwitz, Source: Auschwitz Museum

My first memories of Christmas when  I was three years old and much is mixed with snow, church bells, Silent Night and tinged with the magical mystery of early childhood.

But the circumstances were unusual. My father was a Canadian Trade Commissioner working in Oslo Norway when Germany invaded in April 1940.  I along with my older sister, mother & father were interned in an enemy country, Nazi Germany for two long years, when thanks to a prisoner/diplomatic exchange between Canada and Germany was completed by both governments, and we were able to return to Canada in the Summer of 1942.

My Christmas memory of that first year 1940 is not precise,  but it has this glowing mystical quality that seems proper to infants.  We were permitted to attend Mass in the small Catholic church nearby  with strains of Stille Nacht, Heilege Nacht as we walked over the snow with our Gestapo guards to the  church.

Peter Monty, SJ is Chaplain for the Deaf in Ottawa.

  • Friederika Priemer
    Posted at 04:09h, 29 December Reply

    Dear Fr. Peter Monty, as a German born in February 1942 I am very sorry for what you had to go through in your childhood at Christmas and I am very ashamed that your memories of your first Christmas include Gestapo guards…

  • Richard Grover
    Posted at 09:22h, 29 December Reply

    Thanks Peter. Your story seems almost like a miracle in the midst of a world wide nightmare. Maybe there will be miracles in the world wide nightmare we are in today. Richard

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 10:53h, 29 December Reply

    Thank you for sharing this experience Peter!

  • Ninian Mellamphy
    Posted at 13:19h, 29 December Reply

    it is reassuring to read a few lines about the memories of a three-year-old, because there are too many hesitations among the population about the accuracy of a someone in his eighties recalling events in early childhood. As an eighty-five-year-old whose mother died when I was three, I can easily believe in Fr. Monty’s memory of that 1940 Mid-Night Mass in Norway, with its Nazi guards and its unforgettable “Silent Night.”

  • Eric Jensen
    Posted at 15:26h, 04 January Reply

    Thank you, Peter!

    Any memories of Japan, where you were born?

    New Years blessings,


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