On this day, 128 years ago, a young child named Heinrich Hoffman was born in Fürth, Germany. 35 years later, Heinrich Hoffman would become the official photographer for the NSDAP (The National Socialist German Worker’s Party) — hand picked by party leader, Adolf Hitler as his official photographer.
Getting his start in photography in 1908, the young Hoffman worked in his fathers photography store in Munich, and as a freelance photographer part time. It’s believed that in 1914, during a political rally, Hoffman snapped a picture of a young Hitler at a demonstration, and the photo subsequently ended up being used for propaganda. Just prior to joining the NSDAP, the photographer worked for the German Army.
Being the fuhrer’s only authorized photographer was a full time commitment, and Hoffman began to go everywhere that Hitler went. From large Nazi demonstrations in Berlin, to leisurely outings in the Bavarian Alps, Hoffman shadowed Hitler and shot… and shot… and shot. By the fall of the Reich, Hoffman had taken a staggering 2 million photographs of Hitler, which, due to their pervasive use as propaganda, ended up becoming a very lucrative venture for the Photographer.
When the war ended, Hoffman was arrested by the US Military and sentenced to four years in prison for profiteering. His photographic collections were gathered and sent to the National Archives where they are now considered to be in the Public Domain. Upon being released from prison, Hoffman wrote his memoirs named Hitler Was My Friend, which recounts his time with the dictator, and reveals his responsibility for introducing Hitler to his future wife, Eva Braun. The book is criticized for failing to mention any information about the holocaust, or insights into military strategy, it is still hailed as a brilliant fly on the wall perspective of a man who was Hitler’s confidant, and loathed by Propaganda Minister Goebbels and Secretary Bormann for his apolitical nature.
Enclosed are a series of rare photographs that Hoffman took of Hitler practicing his exaggerated hand gestures for future speeches. Upon seeing the negatives, Hitler ordered the photos to be destroyed, but the photographer hid them, and after the seizure of his archives, were unearthed to the public.
… did anyone else find these kind of hilarious?