The sinister ghosts of Christmas past went on display in Germany this month (December 2013) to remind visitors at an exhibition of how the greatest event in Christianity became warped by history's fanatics.
The exhibition in Ulm called "Decorated" is about Christmas tree ornaments through the ages - many of them devoted to the egos of demagogues like Kaiser Wilhelm, architect of WWI, Hitler and Stalin.
Visitors can see the porcelain heads of Hitler that replaced the angel or star at the top of the tree during the Third Reich.
Other must-have accessories during Hitler's regime included silver balls bearing the party salute "Sieg Heil!" or "Heil to Victory!" and little decorations bearing swastikas.
For citizens of Soviet Russia, who went against the official ideology of the atheist state, there were red stars to place on trees instead.
Kaiser Wilhelm gloried in photos of himself beneath Reich eagles with their wings spread out and model Zeppelin airships with the Iron Cross motif painted on their sides.
It was also fashionable between the years 1914 and 1918 to have a bauble made into the shape of "Big Bertha," the monstrous 150 ton howitzers used by the German army during WWI to pound fortresses and trench lines into oblivion.
Ulm's Brotkultur Museum is staging the fascinating exhibition which also reaches back further than the great dictators of the past century.
Over 400 tree ornaments are on show altogether, the collection of a private Ulm family which has loaned them for the display running until February next year.
The tradition to decorate a Christmas tree goes back to the middle ages.
At that time it was customary to decorate houses and churches from advent until Candlemas with green branches representing the "tree of paradise" from which Eve picked her apple in the Old Testament.
In the 16th century the first Christmas trees were decorated with apples, nuts, biscuits and paper flowers and made their entrance into middle-class homes.
They were also a Protestant counterweight to the Catholic cribs displayed in all churches.
The first angel, star and Christmas figurines were made from pressed cotton, papier-mâché, or wax in the 17th century.
Germany became the main centre of manufacturer of glass ornaments so beloved of Queen Victoria in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The most recent exhibits in the collection come from China where most of the world's cheap Christmas tree baubles are now produced.