Adolf Hitler (1889–1945), leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), strikes a pose for photographer Heinrich Hoffmann whilst listening to a recording of his own speeches. These photographs taken reveal how Adolf Hitler rehearsed his hand gestures for his public speeches. He used to ask Hoffmann to take pictures of these so he could see what he would look like to the German people, as one of Hitler’s greatest and most well-known skills was his public speaking, which he used to his advantage to emphasise his notion of a “great national revival” of Germany.
Once he saw them, he would vet the pictures and decide whether to incorporate the various animated movements in his engagements. Hitler later banned them from being published for being “beneath one’s dignity”. But the photos, which were never intended to be seen, survived the war. The vetoed photos were stored in Hoffmann’s studio until his arrest at the end of the war, whereupon they disappeared into various archives.
They were later published in his little-known memoir, “Hitler Was My Friend”, in the 1950s and have now been released in English to be seen by the general public. They capture the meticulous training Hitler undertook to perfect his famous speeches, and give a rare insight into his vanity and controlling personality. (more photos and info here: +, +, +)
This photograph by my Austrian colleague Klaus Pichler is part of the project Someone I Know, curated by Stuart Pilkington. It brings together some of the best known emerged and emerging photographers from across the globe.
In September 1933, LIFE magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt traveled to Geneva to document a meeting of the League of Nations. One of the political figures at the gathering was Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, one of Hitlers most devout underlings and a man who became known for his “homicidal anti-Semitism.”
Goebbels soon learned of the Jewish blood flowing through Eisenstaedt’s veins. Subsequently, when Eisenstaedt approached Goebbels for a candid portrait, the politician scowled for the camera, and the famous photo that resulted shows the man wearing “eyes of hate”.
Here’s what Eisenstaedt later shared regarding experience:
“I found him sitting alone at a folding table on the lawn of the hotel. I photographed him from a distance without him being aware of it. As documentary reportage, the picture may have some value: it suggests his aloofness. Later I found him at the same table surrounded by aides and bodyguards. Goebbels seemed so small, while his bodyguards were huge. I walked up close and photographed Goebbels.
It was horrible. He looked up at me with an expression full of hate. The result, however, was a much stronger photograph. There is no substitute for close personal contact and involvement with a subject, no matter how unpleasant it may be. (…) He looked at me with hateful eyes and waited for me to wither. But I didn’t wither. If I have a camera in my hand, I don’t know fear.” (read more)
Some photographs are so much of their time that, as years pass, they acquire an air of genuine authority — about an event, a person, a place — and even, perhaps, of inevitability. This is what it was like, these pictures tell us. This is what happened. This is the moment. This is what must be remembered.
Of the many indispensable photos (#4 - at the bottom) made during the Second World War, Margaret Bourke-White’s portrait of survivors at Buchenwald in April 1945 — “staring out at their Allied rescuers,” as LIFE magazine put it, “like so many living corpses” — remains among the most haunting. The faces of the men, young and old, staring from behind the wire, “barely able to believe that they would be delivered from a Nazi camp where the only deliverance had been death,” attest with an awful eloquence to the depths of human depravity and, perhaps even more powerfully, to the measureless lineaments of human endurance.
What few people recall about Bourke-White’s survivors-at-the-wire image, however, is that it did not even appear in LIFE until 15 years after it was made, when it was published alongside other photographic touchstones in the magazine’s December 26, 1960, special double-issue, “25 Years of LIFE.” (read more)
German photographer Hein Gorny and the American Adolph Carl Byers photographed the city’s most famous buildings and architectural ensembles from the air and from the ground. Gorny and Byers were working on a book called “In Memoriam”, which was never published.
PHOTOBOOK: HOMMAGE À BERLIN - PHOTOGRAPHS 1945/46
In 2011, the pictures of the ruins were published in the book “Hommage à Berlin – Photographs 1945/46” (by Collection Regard) and are supplemented by the work of German photographer Friedrich Seidenstücker whose photographs were amongst those in Gorny’s estate. See from the air, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and the other places remain forever etched in time, witness to the ravages of the war.
“My father worked as an advertizing and wildlife photographer and hardly ever took photos of the city. But this was his planned book on Berlin, showing pictures of the city before and after the war. (…)
These were the first, if not only, photos of Berlin taken by a German photographer just a few months after the end of the war. At the time, in the winter of 1945/46, the airspace over the city was tightly controlled by the Allies, and German nationals were banned from flying over Berlin. (…)
He was traveling with an American military photographer, Adolph Carl Byers, who had come to Berlin in the summer. Somehow Byers managed several times to sneak my father into a small American plane. He took several trips during autumn and winter 1945/46. (…)
Before he pressed the shutter release, my father composed the photos in his mind. To position the Leica or Rolleiflex at the right angle, they circled several times around a site. For him the most important thing about these shots was the shadows. Without shadows, my father told me, aerial photographs look lifeless. Once he called off a flight because clouds suddenly blocked out the sun. He was incredibly picky when the light and shadow weren’t right.” (Peter Gorny)
Today, these pictures are of enormous historical value. Berlin has resurrected itself out of the ruins - resurrected itself from the ashes of utter despair. It was clearly an achievement bordering on the miraculous when looking at these pictures. Berlin has not only resurrected itself - it has blossomed and has assumed a deeply important place in the heart of Germany, Europe and the world.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
“My work examines the disappearance of Nazi Germany‘s concrete fortification on the Atlantic Coast remnants around Cap Ferret. Not only their physical disappearance because of corrosion, water and sand, but also the one that results from man converting those relicts by using them in many different ways.
Those different layers/stages of disappearing are, what I‘m trying to capture, photographically and with regards to content. A ‘snapshot’ of what a place like Cap Ferret is ‘now’, sixty years after the end of the Second World War. Getaway destination and historical location both at the same time.” (Markus Oberndorfer)
More info on his website.
The book will be first presented in a few days, at Galerie OstLicht, Vienna on March 22, 2013, 8pm.
PHOTOFILM: OMEGA POINT
EXCERPT from “THE IMAGE OF THE INBETWEEN” by LYDIA NSIAH
“The clouds appear to move intermittently in the sky above Cap Ferret. Several bunkers, which have almost entirely sunken in the sea and sand, are scanned by the photo-camera. Waves break on them. The viewfinder moves in the panorama, and focuses one of the objects: “NOS!”/”WE!” is written on it. […]” (read more)
Markus Obersdorfer’s digital photofilm ‘Omega Point’ (2008/2012) consists of around 1300 single photographs, which are turned from ‘still’ into ‘moving’ pictures by the filmic montage. The song, and with it the title for the film, have been contributed by the American sound artist DDay One.
The photographs move along with the rhythm of the sound. Image and sound interlink and merge. The photofilms subjets are the former fortifications of World War II in Cap Ferret, animated by stop-motion technique. Image by image, and sound by sound, the void of the Cap opens up, and with it does the temporal intermediate of the bunkers, which are swallowed by the ravages of time.
Watch Markus Oberndorfer’s 2008 photofilm ‘Omega Point’ with music written and produced by DDay One:
Find more exhibitions of his work here.
These are rare photos of Austrian Nazis and local residents that look on as Jews are forced to get on their hands and knees and scrub the pavement. They were published only one time before in Austrian newspaper “Der Standard” - more info at the bottom.
‘REIBPARTIEN’ / ‘SCRUB GROUPS’
So-called “Reibpartien” (a trivializing term; English: “scrub groups”) in Vienna’s 2nd district had to clean the streets, shortly after the “Anschluss” (annexation; March 12, 1938). Pictures like the ones above, showing the inhumane actions against Jews immediately after the annexation, weren’t published by the Nazi press. The authorities probably didn’t want to show the true colors of Nazism to the world.
In photo #1 you can see what these Viennese Jews had to remove: “Österreich” (Austria) paroles, written by opponents of the Nazi Party, some days before a referendum that should have taken place on March 13, 1938. But the referendum (about the decision, if Austria should stay an independent country or unite with Nazi Germany) was cancelled under the pressure of Adolf Hitler.
THE UNDERWORLD HAD OPENED ITS GATES
It is to be assumed that these humiliated Jews and the onlookers, gapers, bystanders that surround them all lived in that neighbourhood. Probably they have seen each other before, or even knew each other, talked to each other.
The German author Carl Zuckmayer, who lived in Vienna at that time and was later expatriated by the Nazi government, wrote about the scenes that took place in Vienna after the annexation:
“Die Unterwelt hatte ihre Pforten aufgetan und ihre niedrigsten, scheußlichsten, unreinsten Geister losgelassen. (…) Die Stadt verwandelte sich in ein Alptraumgemälde des Hieronymus Bosch: Lemuren und Halbdämonen schienen aus Schmutzeiern gekrochen und aus versumpften Erdlöchern gestiegen (…)”
“The underworld had opened its gates and vomited forth the basest, most despicable, most horrible demons. (…) The city transformed into a nightmare painting of Hieronymus Bosch: Lemures and half demons seem to have cracked out of dirty eggs and climbed out of swampy holes in the ground (…)”
The people in these photos don’t look like demons to me, but that what’s makes the scenery even more oppressive. Also the fact that some even brought their kids to watch this “spectacle.” It makes one wonder if they ever talked about these scenes after the end of World War 2. Or did they all remain silent, or even say things like “We didn’t know anything, we didn’t see anything, we weren’t part of it”? Like so many Austrians and Germans did…
All photos courtesy: Martin Pollack Archiv. The photos were first published in “Der Standard” (on Mar 2, 2013) and are now part of the Austrian National Library archive (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek). I scanned them directly from the newspaper, that’s why the image quality is rather bad.
I translated parts of the original German article (written by Martin Pollack) and combined it with my own words.
“Lee and I were mostly inseparable. We were together at the liberation of the concentration camp Dachau. Then we moved into Hitler’s headquarters in Munich. Lee and I found an elderly gent who barely spoke English, and we gave him a carton of cigarettes and said, “Show us around Munich.” He showed us Hitler’s house, and I photographed Lee taking a bath in Hitler’s bathtub, which is a fairly memorable picture in the book The Lives of Lee Miller.” (read more)
(David E. Scherman; interviewed on Aug. 15, 1993; excerpted from: John Loengard, LIFE Photographers: What They Saw, Boston, A Bullfinch Press Book, 1998)
Here’s a less known version of the photograph (source):
“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.”
― Peter Sellers as ‘President Merkin Muffley’ in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’
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