Some things need no explanation, Nazi polar bears are one of them…
Wehrmacht officers pose for a snap with a polar bear
A bizarre trend for posing with men dressed up in polar bear costumes raged in Germany during the first half of the 20th century. Even Wolfenstein couldn’t think up Nazi polar bears, proving yet again that fact is stranger than fiction.
A formal celebration is gatecrashed by a polar bear
It appears that the polar bear was a somewhat inexplicable mascot for the Fanta drink. Fanta traces its origins from within Nazi Germany due to a shortage of the supplies needed to make Coca-Cola during the war years (notably a trade embargo on syrup from the United States).
Amused children gather round for a picture
More than two hundred intriguing snapshots taken by street photographers between the end of the First World War and the late 1960s. These prints were discovered by collector Jean-Marie Donat in various regions of Germany. Anonymous models pose next to placid, playful, sometimes disturbing ‘polar bears’: these bears traverse the decades, unchanged. The history of Germany unfolds.
A bear cannot resist having a picture with American soldiers in post-war Germany
The pictures, particularly those from the pre-war years have a grim foreshadowing of the horrors soon to be unleashed on the world. Pictures of smiling soldiers, families and children are a sometimes uncomfortable reminder that those who elevated the Nazis to power were normal, ordinary people. The polar bears began to disappear in the sixties and now remain consigned to the more bizarre pages of the history books.
A young German girl smiles with a Nazi polar bear
The incredible collection has been put together for a book, TEDDYBÄR. The book has been released by Innonces Publishing and has a limited print run of 500. Click here to purchase or for more information.
All pictures are copyright of Jean-Marie Donat.