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- Thu Dec. 9, 2010, 2:01pm by Harold Marcuse
The famous photo of Hitler in a crowd in front of the Munich
Feldherrenhalle waving his hat to cheer the outbreak of the Great War is
included in the "Hitler and the Germans" exhibition now being shown in
Berlin. The catalog caption mentions that it is probably a forgery.
This Dec. 8 article in the newspaper Die Welt explains why (it includes the
Berühmtes Hitler-Foto möglicherweise gefälscht
If you don't read German, here is my summary:
Four reasons why the picture is probably a forgery:
1. Hitler didn't look like that in 1914 (mustache, suit)
2. The picture was supposedly discovered by Hitler and Hoffmann in 1929,
but not used in 1930 when photographer Hoffmann's magazine Illustrierter
Beobachter printed a different picture of the gathering. It was first
published in 1932, when Hitler's patriotism was under fire during the Reich
presidential election, because he had evaded service in the Austrian army.
3. No negative of the image has been preserved, but several prints from it,
showing Hitler's drooping forehead hair in different positions. Six other
negatives of the crowd are preserved in Hoffmann's archive.
4. A film clip of the gathering recently discovered by Thomas Weber (author
of Hitler's First War, 2010), shows a man resembling Hitler, but farther
back in the crowd, near the Theatiner church, not in this prominent
position near the front. Also, far fewer people are in the square, leaving
enough room for a street car to roll through unimpeded. [of course that
clip might have been taken earlier or later in the day]
None of these reasons are airtight--only finding the original negative
would settle the question definitively. In any case, if it is a forgery, it
is far more sophisticated than those by Stalin around the same time.
- Dec. 9, 2010, 10:02pm by Debunks
Actually, it's probably not a forgery.
- Dec. 9, 2010, 10:43pm by Wally
This is quite an interesting story.
> None of these reasons are airtight--only finding the original negative would settle the question definitively.
Undoubtedly finding the negative would settle the question, as none of the reasons provided are in any way airtight, as you say.
> In any case, if it is a forgery, it is far more sophisticated than those by Stalin around the same time.
If it were a forgery, and the evidence for that doesn't appear overwhelmingly convincing, it would make sense that it would be of a superior quality than Stalin's shoddy attempts. The state of the art in Germany at the time was decades ahead of anyone, and they led the world in optics, which was a major component of photographic manipulation. Hoffmann was well-versed in these things and it is certain that he had the know-how to pull off such a hoax.
As for the less-than-airtight postulations:
> Four reasons why the picture is probably a forgery: 1. Hitler didn't look like that in 1914 (mustache, suit)
This is the most inane of the reasons given as it is entirely uncertain exactly what Hitler's appearance was at that time. There are no existing pictures of him just prior to his enlistment. Whether or not he was sporting a mustache is not documented, but he had had a mustache of various sorts off and on since the age of 17 when he grew his first as a young walk-about in Linz, and would have one during the War. And the idea that Hitler--who was rooming with a tailor and his wife at the time--did not own a suit is ludicrous. Hitler always preferred to dress as well as his means allowed, and Popp the Tailor no doubt was able to offer him a very good discount as the two were quite friendly.
> 2. The picture was supposedly discovered by Hitler and Hoffmann in 1929, but not used in 1930 when photographer Hoffmann's magazine Illustrierter Beobachter printed a different picture of the gathering.
He no doubt took more than one shot that day, making this point a bit silly.
> It was first published in 1932, when Hitler's patriotism was under fire during the Reich presidential election, because he had evaded service in the Austrian army.
I've read that Hoffmann got the idea from Hitler to examine the photos with a magnifying glass. He assured him that he was indeed in the crowd that day and that it would be advantageous to find the proof of it was already in their possession. But even if the picture had not been found--or forged, as the case may be--the facts of Hitler's meritorious service, and his reasonable explanation that he had no wish to fight for the polyglot state of Austria-Hungary, would have been sufficient to demonstrate his bona fides to the electorate.
> 3. No negative of the image has been preserved, but several prints from it, showing Hitler's drooping forehead hair in different positions.
Again, Hoffmann most probably took a number of different shots. The fact that there were a number of prints with Hitler's hair in various crowd-jostled states seems inoccious.
> Six other negatives of the crowd are preserved in Hoffmann's archive.
This is a bit problematic, and is the strongest circumstantial disparity presented. Of course, the reason could be as simple as the fact that since the famous photo saw publication that its near-twins did not, it was probably separated from its brothers and not later reunited.
> 4. A film clip of the gathering recently discovered by Thomas Weber (author of Hitler's First War, 2010), shows a man resembling Hitler, but farther back in the crowd, near the Theatiner church, not in this prominent position near the front.
Unless Hitler had Scotty transport him to his historic prominent position in front, it can safely be supposed that he had to make his way through the crowd and occupied more than one position throughout the day.
> Also, far fewer people are in the square, leaving enough room for a street car to roll through unimpeded. [of course that clip might have been taken earlier or later in the day]
Your statement in brackets is no doubt reason enough.
While these suppositions are hardly enough to declare the famous picture a fraud, one should not just rule out the possibility. As an open question, it is intriguing and should not be dismissed out of hand as Hitler and his crew were capable of all manner of subterfuge. However, were I compelled to make a bet on the issue, as the weight of the evidence now stands I would wager the picture is authentic.
- Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:37 am (PST) by: "She Wolf" firstname.lastname@example.org
How could he have a suit if he lived in a homeless shelter and painted
pictures and ate at soup kitchens? Everybody knows that. Homeless people
dont have suits. He did not live with a tailor because they are all
Jews. Hitler didn't live with Jews. And even if he did he would not get
a discount from a Jew but he did not anyway. What a mistake for a
so-called expert. And of course the picture is true. You just wish it
was fake because you always think Hitler made stuff up. He was a war
hero and he was in that picture. It is in all the books. I saw it before
and that is him.
- Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:49 am (PST) by: "levi bookin"
What did homeless people wear? If all he had was a suit, then it was a suit.
Some of the homeless were Jews, while busily controlling the financial
world. One actually gave Hitler a greatcoat. Another had something to do
with selling his paintings. Shirer gives a detailed account of Hitler's down
and out days. Maybe read it.
There is no dispute that he received the Iron Cross First Class, which was
for bravery in the field. That has nothing to do with the authenticity of
the photograph. The fact that you have seen it before proves nothing.
Walter would probably not say it, but I would warn you against repeating a
discourtesy such as "so-called expert." Otherwise, your posts will be
- Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:14 am (PST) by: "Wally" email@example.com
This is hilarious; one of the funniest things I've read outside of
There is no way I could take offense to the attempted insult; this is
the funniest thing I've read in a long time and it made my day.
- The Munich Hitler was a far cry from the Vienna Hitler. When Hitler
turned 24 on April 20, 1913, he was eligible for his inheritance from
his father. On May 16, 1913, he received the substantial sum of over 819
Kronen. This was a goodly sum, and Hitler once again was able to do
basically as he pleased.
- On May 24, 1913, he purchased a full wardrobe of new clothes, and
with his sizable inheritance in his pocket, moved from Vienna to Munich,
in Bavaria, accompanied by Rudolf Haeusler. He soon took up residence in
the home of a German tailor named Joseph Popp and his wife.
- When Hitler petitioned to join the German army in August 1914, it is
highly unlikely that his money was gone, and it is documented that he
was still living with the Popps and paying rent. He was not homeless.
- If you agree that that was Hitler in the picture in question, why
would you then deny that he owned a suit at the time? He is wearing a
suit in the picture!
- Sat Dec. 11, 2010, 8:57am by Levi
> This is the most inane of the reasons given as it is entirely uncertain
> exactly what Hitler's appearance was at that time. There are no existing
> pictures of him just prior to his enlistment. Whether or not he was sporting a
> mustache is not documented, but he had had a mustache of various sorts off and
> on since the age of 17 when he grew his first as a young walk-about in Linz, and
> would have one during the War.
It does seem to me that the Hitler in the photo is a later Hitler, compared with the Hitler in the army. The shape of his head seemed to have changed. Whether one can grow a mustache of his army size one from a toothbrush, in the time available, I don't know. If it is Hitler in the photo, it means that he had a toothbrush in 1914, grew the long drooping one in the army, then went back to a toothbrush. Maybe he thought it advisable for political purposes.
My wife's question is, why would he want to be proved as cheering the outbreak of war? He proved his patriotism by volunteering to serve.
- Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:44 pm by Franz Gustav
What do you mean all tailors are Jews? That is antisemitic. You should be ashamed. And homeless people have suits all the time. Rich guys give their old suits to shelters and homeless people wear them to find a job. And you are a so-called expert at fake photography? You 'saw it before'. Right.
I don't know if that is really Hitler.
- Sun Dec 12, 2010 5:28 am by Bronwyn
Good points, Franz.
Tailoring has never been limited to one group of people. To say all tailors in Germany at the time were Jews is goofy.
And you are correct on the fact that homeless people had suits. One of my books, a pictorial which is the companion book to a documentary made on the Nazis shows homeless German men sitting on a sidewalk with their feet in the gutter. All of them are neatly dressed and their shoes are even polished so they shine. The caption on the photo stresses that even when things were bad in Germany between the wars, men were eager to get work, and knew they had better chances if they were neatly dressed. They may have not had homes, but they were certainly trying to increase their chances at getting employment by keeping themselves neatly groomed and dressed as well as possible. I did notice that some of the suits did not fit quite right, and I took that to mean they were probably purchased second-hand or given outright by people who could afford to do so.
I don't think it's Hitler. The man in the photo has what seems to me to be a fuller, rounder face shape than Hitler had. The fact that every other man in
Europe in general seemed to have the same hair style at the time doesn't help much, either.
- Sun Dec. 12, 2010, 5:35am by Bronwyn
"You just wish it was fake because you always think Hitler made stuff up."
Have you read the entirety of "Mein Kampf?" Have you also read Hitler
biographies by other writers? There is often quite a difference between what
Hitler says happened and what biographers have discovered by studying historical
sources. It becomes clear when you juxtapose his own writings with those of
others that there is clearly a disconnect. Hitler made stuff up.
- Sun Dec. 12, 2010, 7:19am by Bronwyn
I apologize for the tone of my previous message. It comes across as unkind, and
I am sorry. I should have more clearly stated that it is MY impression when I
read "Mein Kampf" and compare it to other biographies of Hitler that there is a
problem with facts. Additionally, what I have read leads me to believe that
Hitler made stuff up.
- Sun Dec. 12, 2010, 8:58am by Wally NOTE: this post is illustrated--see the original
As I mentioned, this is a subjective judgement, and others will see it differently. However, it seems to me that the evidence against the pictures authenticity is far from compelling, and one would hope that evidence of a more substantial nature would have to be presented to judge it a hoax.
- It is typical that when someone posts with a certain tone, others respond in a similar manner automatically. Sociologists will point out that this is natural and have observed that when people engage in face to face conversation, they will often mimic each others gestures and mode of speaking unconsciously. In other words, anyone wishing to receive a measured response to their comments would be well-served keep this phenomenon in mind. If one is fishing for a confrontation ("Everybody knows that" - "What a mistake for a so-called expert" - "You just wish it was fake"), they will get one. If they were looking for conversation to begin with, one would think that they would not post in such an abrasive manner.
- Images of Hitler before the very early 1920's are very rare indeed. Between 1905 and 1915, there are no known pictures of him, and the 1905 image of a 16 year-old Hitler is merely a drawing. However, from the numerous descriptions we have from his various acquaintances, we know that 1) his usual thin and unsubstantial appearance was made even more so by his years as a homeless man in Vienna, and 2) he experimented with various types of mustaches over these years, sporting 'staches from handlebar to a thin line. There are a series of pictures of Hitler in the early 1920's modeling various looks (below is one of them; notice the wider-than-usual mustache), including a variety of mustaches, demonstrating that he did not settle on his signature 'stache until shortly after he began his political career.
- Hitler was always thin. Hitler himself explains that while in Vienna his condition was less-than-healthy due to his down-and-out status, and this certainly rings true. He was eating in soup kitchens, and while the usual fare of such charitable institutions will allow a fellow to survive, they are hardly hearty enough to promote a robust constitution.
- Hitler received his inheritance from his father in May 1913, and moved to Munich. Presumably his diet improved at that point. A mere 8 months later, he underwent his physical examination for the Austrian military. He was found to be practically anemic and in an unhealthy state and was rejected.
- Another 7 months passed between January 1914 and August 1914, when he was accepted into the German army. It is reasonable to assume that while he was probably in no way what one could consider robust at that point, his health had improved to the point that he was accepted. It is unreasonable to assume that he would have been allowed to enlist if he had not been found to be fit enough. All accounts of the period agree that there was hardly a shortage of willing recruits and the authorities would not have been inclined to scrape the bottom of the barrel.
- The evidence against the authenticity of the picture is completely circumstantial, and the opinion on whether or not that is how Hitler would have looked in 1914 is purely subjective. When I look at that famous picture, it strikes me that that is just how Hitler would have looked in 1914, extrapolating from his well-known 1915 appearance. But as I say, mine is a subjective opinion and not intrinsically superior to the other opinions so far expressed that it doesn't look like Hitler.
- Here is a Youtube clip of a documentary in which the newly discovered footage of the same scene as the famous picture is shown at 4:23:
Here is the picture in question:
Here is Hitler in 1915:
The 'stache is a little wider, to my eyes, and his face is battle worn but basically the same. Later in 1915, the 'stache would get even longer:
- Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:35 am by Bronwyn
Thanks for posting all the photos, Wally.
Perhaps it's because I tend to associate Hitler with a certain moustache (THE
Hitler 'stache) that I find the second photo (after the drawing) in the suit and
tie to be surprising. That facial hair can't be much wider than what he settled
on later, but to me it looks a lot better and somehow softens his face. And I
had another odd perception. Most men I know look a bit younger when they shave
their facial hair (shaving takes about 5 years off my husband's face), but he
looks very old without it. I know the photo may very well be older, but if his
goal was to look young and virile, facial hair was a good idea for him.
You speak of his physical condition. This may have been covered elsewhere, but
if so, I've forgotten it. Do you know how tall he was? I tried looking it up,
and I got everything from 5'6" to 6'1". That large a difference tells me that
all but one of the sources I found are incorrect.
And where I was certain before that that is not him in the crowd, now I am not
certain. I went in the bathroom and made faces as if I were cheering or
hollering, and found it widened my face substantially. I still wonder, however,
if he was thin, how wide his face might be made to appear by facial distortion
due to expression.
I guess we'll have to keep our fingers crossed that someone with facial
recognition software processes the photo and then releases their results. I
suspect that's the best way to find out for certain at this point.
- Dec. 12, 2010, 7:26pm by hmarcuse
I was the original poster about the German news article discussing possibility that the photo of Hitler at the Feldherrenhalle gathering in Munich in August 1914 might be a forgery. The article clearly states that there is as yet no way of definitively deciding the matter, which I included in my summary. Still, I found the possibility to be of interest because Hitler was so adept at manipulating what the public thought about him, and, IF TRUE, doctoring this photo would be further evidence of the skill and success of that strategy, as well as a warning to historians to consider the authenticity of ALL evidence carefully before using it.
Well, after looking very closely at the photo (and the video clip on youtube--thanks Wally!--which quickly and seamlessly switches to the photo), I have some questions.
Is the hand/arm in front of Hitler holding the hat Hitler's arm, or someone else's (and therefore the hat someone else's)? I have always assumed that it was Hitler wafting his own hat, but that cannot be--there is a man's blurry face right below it, clearly visible in the blow-up. This isn't really a question, but I wonder whether anyone else thought it was Hitler waving his hat?
When I blow up the blow-up of Hitler in my browser, I looks like the shoulder of the man in the black bowler hat to Hitler's right overlaps Hitler's right cheek. But Hitler's shoulder is clearly in front of the man's body. That would be a strange error to make if Hoffmann had inserted Hitler's head. Does anyone else see that?
A couple of other remarks: the German article (published Oct. 14, not in December, my mistake) makes clear that the multiple prints of this photo in Hoffmann's archive are identical EXCEPT for Hitler's hairline, providing clear evidence that the photo had been at least touched up. (No rapid fire photography in those days.)
Also, the article mentions the assessment of another German historian in a recently published collection (Bernd Sösemann, Nationalsozialismus und Erster Weltkrieg [Essen: Klartext, 2010]), who considers 'the thought of a manipulation likely.'
I use photos all the time to illustrate my lectures, and several iconic famous ones are not authentic, to whit: one of a specific burning synagogue in Berlin on Kristallnacht (while others were burned, that one was saved by a local policeman--the billowing smoke was added later); the photo of a "gas van" used in eastern Europe (none were ever found--that photo shows a wreck of a truck of the same model and make); the photo of a prisoner at Buchenwald hung by his bound wrists on a pole with a whip-wielding guard standing nearby (that was from a postwar DEFA film). Someday when I have time (ha ha) I will add these to a web page I began about specific "myths" (misconceptions) in German history.
- Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:03 pm by Wally
Harold: A couple of other remarks: the German article (published Oct. 14, not in December, my mistake) makes clear that the multiple prints of this photo in Hoffmann's archive are identical EXCEPT for Hitler's hairline, providing clear evidence that the photo had been at least touched up. (No rapid fire photography in those days.)
If true, this is the only potentially convincing evidence yet presented for this thesis. I would be very interested in examining these prints, and am looking forward to the testimony of experts on the matter. I completely concur with your assessment--and that of Sösemann--that Hitler and his cronies were capable of any sort of subterfuge, and nothing they had their hands in can be immune to skeptical inquiry.
Harold: I use photos all the time to illustrate my lectures, and several iconic famous ones are not authentic, to whit: one of a specific burning synagogue in Berlin on Kristallnacht (while others were burned, that one was saved by a local policeman--the billowing smoke was added later); the photo of a "gas van" used in eastern Europe (none were ever found--that photo shows a wreck of a truck of the same model and make); the photo of a prisoner at Buchenwald hung by his bound wrists on a pole with a whip-wielding guard standing nearby (that was from a postwar DEFA film). Someday when I have time (ha ha) I will add these to a web page I began about specific "myths" (misconceptions) in German history.
I hope that you do get around to creating such a page. It would be a valuable resource. I admit to having been fooled by a few of these spurious images--including the gas van and the synagogue--and would be grateful to have information available to factually delineate between the false and the reliable in this area.
I can relate to the difficulties involved in finding the time for all the various projects one would like to complete. I am currently working on finished drafts of the rest of the Nuremberg Defendants, the next chapter of the ongoing Hitler biography, an annotated Mein Kampf, bio's of Goebbels, Bormann, and Himmler, and a detailed Cold War chronology. While it is a bit frustrating, at least I am never without something to do!
Thanks again for your introduction of this thread; it is the most interesting since the Aristocrat Mustache Affair, and far more historically valuable.
- Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:15 am
by She Wolf
i do not except and do not care what you all think so it is ok. i am a
reincarnation. i remember being in the square that day so take my word
for it. i can never forget that day. i never make stuff up.
- Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:36 am by Levi
The sentence is somewhat cryptic. A reincarnation of whom? What were you wearing?
- Mon, Dec. 13, 2010, 11:05am by Harold
Wally, there was one other fairly convincing piece of evidence: The 1914 photo was published in a 1936 propaganda brochure opposite a 1918 photo of another gathering in Munich--with Hitler visible in that one too! For German historian Krumeich, who raised the doubt originally, that is the most convincing evidence. Still, just because one photo was forged, it doesn't mean the other was too. (I haven't seen that brochure--only one available to me is at UCLA, but it is non-circulating.)
To Levi's wife: A picture speaks a thousand words. Just look at the vehemence with which some people on this thread "know" that the photo is authentic. Visual evidence is often far more convincing than someone reporting something (even if they claim to have a document). Remember that (forged) national guard document that showed "W" Bush didn't attend his service? Although the statement was true, someone needed to have a visual document to get traction on the claim. (And boy, did that one backfire on the news anchor who broke the story.) Another example comes to mind: this past summer I was combing through the Munich Post for articles about Hitler before 1933. In April 1932 it reported that at the Hotel Kaiserhof in Berlin the Nazis spent as much on a single breakfast as 2 unemployed get for a week (namely 2.3 Marks; and 1500M on a group dinner), when they were claiming to be the common/poor folks' party. The next day the Post printed the bill itself. Although the Nazis claimed it was a forgery, it was proved authentic in July. Lots of damage to the Nazi cause at the polls, but ultimately not enough to keep them out of power.
Finally, I did take several hours yesterday to pull together information on this photo into a web page:
I ordered several of the books from interlibrary loans (NONE are in my library), but it will take a while to get them, and I'll be busy by then with other things. It's very hard to take time away from teaching demands to do this kind of research. But I'll try.
Oh, and note that I found a non-colored version of the blow-up that doesn't have the man's shoulder in front of Hitler's right cheek. The implication would be that that "flaw" occurred when the image was colored. The images are on that page I made.
- Friday, December 17, 2010, 9:30pm, She Wolf wrote:
you do not no ANYTHING about reincarnation. you do not remember small things you remember big things. and you have to be hypnotized to remember small or big things and the hypnotizer has to ask the right question. just to show how much I like you the next time i get hypnotized i will find out your question. the last time i remembered that my mother was very beautiful. i remembered that i always slept with Eva normal like a stud. i remembered that the jews started it. so you are wrong about everything because i remember and you do not. when i get hypnotized i will tell you some more. you are lucky because now you can no the truth if you just except it. have a merry Christmas everybody!
The Once and Future Führer
- Saturday, Dec 18, 2010 at
9:46 am Levi wrote:
Thank you for your very interesting post.
I have some questions:
"the last time i remembered that my mother was very beautiful." Have you (I mean She Wolf, not Adolf], never seen a picture of Klara Hitler?
"i remembered that the jews started it." What did the Jews start?
"have a merry Christmas everybody!" Was Adolf a Christian? There has been some debate about this recently.
- Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:41 am (PST) june.train
Group, I finally am allowed to catch up on everything because of Christmas break from school. And look what I have been missing! Wow! Hitler himself....I mean herself! Hmmm. Did you ever notice that anyone who is hypnotized and *remembers* a former life is always someone famous? They are never a garbage man or a frankincense dealer. It is always Napoleon or Cleopatra or somebody like that. Have you ever gone to a dating site and looked for a male Eva Braun? Wait a minute, that is a little scary. Forget I suggested it!:-) As for the photo, is there any more about it? I always thought it was authentic and am surprised it may not be. That is all I can think of, June
- Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:53 am (PST) bynxofneriak
Four words: "Normal like a stud."
That solved a long-standing debate!
I'm glad you've been able to catch up, and hope to hear your thoughts and opinions while you have a break from school.