Christmas 1942 was among the darkest days of World War II, but Americans found relief from the dreary war news at the No. 1 box office hit, Holiday Inn. It starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire and featured Crosby’s immortal rendition of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.
These cartoonists used the White Christmas theme to note the beginning of the defeat of the Germans in the Battle of Stalingrad, which raged from August 21, 1942 until February 2, 1943. The ultimate Russian victory was a turning point of World War II in Europe.
Irving Berlin, who was Jewish, wrote White Christmas in 1940. Reportedly, he raced into his office one day and asked his musical secretary to take down a new song. “Not only is it the best song I ever wrote, it’s the best song anybody ever wrote,” he said.
The song’s mix of melancholy and images of home resonated strongly with listeners during World War II. In 1942 alone, the single spent eleven weeks on top of the charts and then returned to the #1 spot again during the holiday seasons of 1945 and 1946, becoming the only single in history with three separate runs at the top of the U.S. charts. Eventually, Crosby’s “White Christmas” single sold more than fifty million copies.