Postcard from... Berlin


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The Independent Online

Seventy-two-year-old Peter Georgi had been doling out gifts to the children of the store’s wealthy customers for 13 years. But KaDeWe’s management decided that with an average of 100,000 people visiting the shop each day, Mr Georgi was too old and therefore too unfit to cope with the crowds. “At over 70, a Father Christmas has a right to retire,” was how the marketing boss dismissed the callous treatment meted out to Mr Georgi.

Germany’s Santas are now exacting a degree of revenge, albeit on their customers, if the mass circulation Bild newspaper can be believed. Bild has searched recent police reports and come up with a list of bad Santas. The most evil example was a Santa from the southern town of Offenburg. Dressed in full Father Christmas regalia, he raided a mattress shop in the town and stabbed a saleswoman with a knife before running off with the cash. Another Santa, also in full festive kit, robbed a 15-year-old boy in a public lavatory. A third bad Santa was found to have forced customers to be photographed while locked in a Santa embrace. Afterwards, he routinely demanded cash for the photos.

But Mr Georgi was no bad Santa. His dismissal generated huge publicity which whetted the appetites of the Fatherland’s Santa hunters. He now has a new job handing out presents in Bremen.