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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Oxford World's Classics)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Oxford World's Classics)
Price: £5.58

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far too expensive!, 11 Aug. 2014
I'm fortunate enough to have the complete OUP paperback edition of Sherlock Holmes. The whole lot. I bought them when they first came out.

I am stunned, however,to see the price of just one of these paperbacks now - £19.40p. How can this be justified? I don't want the kindle edition. I want a new paperback.

Time was when OUP published classics at reasonable prices. This is now extortion. It's even more unforgiveable in an age of print-on-demand books when the price could be much cheaper.

This is a disgrace. OUP need to wake up and rethink what they're doing.


The Hitler I Knew: Memoirs of the Third Reich's Press Chief
The Hitler I Knew: Memoirs of the Third Reich's Press Chief
by Otto Dietrich
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the shadow of Dr Goebbels - An astonishing book, 4 Aug. 2014
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This is an astonishing book - the most clear-eyed psychological analysis of Adolf Hitler produced by a Nazi insider. Written by Hitler's press chief, Dr Otto Dietrich, it explains the workings of Hitler's mind and actions better than nearly any other book. Yet it's quite short - just over 200 pages. Dietrich knew how to write and brought all the skills of journalism - clarity and conciseness - to bear on his subject. His book is full of sharp insights into Hitler and his henchmen and their nefarious activities.

For almost 14 years Dietrich worked closely with Hitler. He organized the great Nazi propaganda campaigns during the elections of 1932, becoming Hitler's constant companion as he endlessly crisscrossed Germany by car and plane. At one time he controlled the entire German press. He also was in charge of foreign correspondents in Berlin.

During WW2 Dietrich met Hitler every day. When major events happened Dietrich determined the way they were reported in Germany and abroad. Dietrich demanded editors toed the Nazi party line. He ran courts that punished and purged editors who failed to obey Nazi orders. He knew what he was doing. He knew about politics and he was a true believer. In the beginning he says he really believed Hitler was a man of peace who was promoting the welfare of the German people.

`Whenever one thinks of the Führer,' he wrote in the 1930s, `a deep love surfaces that is sufficient to justify the sentence: "Hitler is Germany - Germany is Hitler!" ... He was not, is not, and never will be a dictator who forces the people to accept his personal wishes. He is a Führer, and that is the highest thing that can be said of any human being. That is why the people love him, trust him and rejoice in him. This man for the first time in history has allowed them to fully express themselves.'

By the end of WW2 Dietrich had changed his mind. He was angry - enraged at how Hitler had wrecked Germany. Five months after the end of the war Dietrich started writing this book in a British internment camp. He completed his manuscript in 1948. It was smuggled out of prison with instructions to published after his death. This came earlier than expected. He died in 1955.

In this book Dietrich rails against his former master and sets out to examine what went wrong. Why did Hitler, who was so popular and embodied the hopes of millions, crash in ruins? How was he able to fool everybody, including the author? What can we learn from his disastrous rule? This book is one of the earliest examinations of Hitler's reign - proceeding major works by Alan Bullock, John Toland, William Shirer, Joachim Fest, Albert Speer, Ian Kershaw, Richard Evans and countless others. When first written it broke new ground and is still a primary source for historians. Much of Dietrich's information has stood the test of time even if there are gaps in what we would like to know.

More than half a century after his death at the early age of 55 Hitler's press chief is emerging from the shadows. Less flamboyant than his Nazi rivals he has attracted less public attention. But Dietrich was a key figure - the ultimate spin doctor at the heart of the Third Reich. During his trial in 1949 for crimes against humanity Nuremberg prosecutors described him as 'by far the most important' of the Nazi leaders, including Goebbels, involved in propaganda. Indeed Hitler himself described Dietrich as `an extremely clever man.'

He was. He had a doctorate in political science. So what drew this intellectual and millions of Germans to the Nazis? The clue lies in the title. Nazi was acronym for the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Hitler, argues Dietrich, offered voters a German version of socialism - Socialism with a German face - a German folk-state containing the racial essence of the German people.

The communists, on the other hand, engaged in treason. They were in the pay of a foreign country. They received huge funds from Lenin's and Stalin's Soviet Union to provoke revolution and grab power in Germany. They engaged in nationwide terror - murdering and bombing and causing chaos. Hitler created the Nazis to combat them.

In this book Dietrich explains why Hitler's vision for Germany appealed to voters and why it went wrong. Hitler, he argues, was trying to create a classless state - a racial community of people that would eliminate `the evils of the party system' and solve what some saw as `the Jewish problem.' In the early days, he assures us, `There was no talk at all of extermination of the Jewish race.' The Germans also wanted to scrap the Treaty of Versailles.

The book is divided into two halves. The first part - Hitler as leader of party, state and armed forces - looks at Hitler's character and talent. `Hitler,' he tells us, `was a demonic personality obsessed with racial delusions ... But he was in no sense mentally ill; rather he was mentally abnormal, a person who stood on the broad threshold between genius and madness.'

Dietrich was impressed by his leader's abilities:- `Hitler had extraordinary intellectual gifts - in some fields undoubted genius. He had an eye for essentials, an astonishing memory, a remarkable imagination, and a bold decisiveness that made for unusual success in his social undertakings and other peaceful works.'

But Hitler had no moral sense - `his thinking was both primitive and cranky'. He had a split personality and was at war with himself. He had no restraint and became more extreme and dictatorial as time went on.

Dietrich provides a subtle and nuanced examination of Hitler's curious character - one of the best I've read - and helps unravel the mystery of this terrible man who destroyed so much. He tells us how Hitler changed from a popular leader to a gambler with destiny and examines his foreign policy during the war.

On page 38 he says:- `On the day the war began Hitler donned the gray uniform and declared that he would wear it until the end of the war. When he put off his civilian clothes, he also stripped himself of the political skill he had possessed up to then. Throughout the war until the day of his death he displayed not a single impulse toward political activity, no ambition to employ statesmanship in foreign affairs. All his fire, his hardness, his savagery, and his passion which had failed him in foreign politics he now poured into the role of a soldier and Supreme Commander. The fact that he led the war not as statesman, but as a commander obsessed with military ambitions, was the crowning misfortune that his demonic personality brought to the German nation.'

Two pages later he writes these prophetic words that are relevant today:- `History shows that wars fought on a military plane alone seldom come to a good end. And heads of state who during a war have done nothing but lead campaigns and have failed to consolidate their victories politically - have failed to shape successful battles into a new order - resemble rockets that shoot flaring into the sky and fall, burnt out, as fast as they rose. In this sense Hitler was a shooting star that glowed only briefly and in its fall shattered the German Reich and shook the entire world.'

If only George W. Bush and Tony Blair had read those words before they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. As for the Vietnam war... I could go on...

Dietrich's message is clear - there's more to war than `shock and awe'.

In addition, he examines the administrative chaos caused by competing empires in the Nazi government, Hitler's ruthless will power, his lack of flexibility and much else. In part two he describes scenes from Hitler's life - so different in reality from what the public thought at the time. What he tells us may be familiar now, but was new when he first put pen to paper and has been confirmed by historians since.

What about the Holocaust? It gets scant attention in this book. That reflects the different way people look at WW2 today compared to the past. Nowadays more emphasis is put upon this appalling tragedy explains the historian Roger Moorhouse in his modern introduction to Dietrich`s book:- `This tendency to view the Third Reich almost exclusively through the prism of its persecution of the Jews is of rather modern provenance and would have been alien to many in the 1940s.'

Nonetheless, the question refuses to go away. So how anti-Semitic was Dietrich? More than he lets on. As Prof Jeffrey Herf reveals in his book "The Jewish Enemy - Nazi Propaganda during WW2 and the Holocaust" Dietrich played a major role in the campaign against the Jews. As I said, at Nuremberg prosecutors described Dietrich as 'by far the most important' of the Nazi leaders, including Goebbels, involved in propaganda. He was found guilty of Crimes against Humanity for disseminating anti-Semitic propaganda in his daily press directives issued during the Holocaust:-

`It is thus clear,' stated the Tribunal, `that a well thought-out, oft-repeated, persistent campaign to arouse the hatred of the German people against Jews was fostered and directed by the press department and its press chief, Dietrich. That part or much of this may have been inspired by Goebbels is undoubtedly true, but Dietrich approved and authorized every release . . . The only reason for this campaign was to blunt the sensibilities of the people regarding the campaign of persecution and murder which was being carried out . . . These press and periodical directives were not mere political polemics, they were not aimless expression of anti-Semitism, and they were not designed only to unite the German people in the war effort . . . Their clear and expressed purpose was to enrage the German people against the Jews, to justify the measures taken and to be taken against them, and to subdue any doubts which might arise as to the justice of measures of racial persecution to which Jews were to be subjected . . . By them Dietrich consciously implemented, and by furnishing the excuses and justifications, participated in, the crimes against humanity regarding Jews . . .'

Holocaust apart, what is extraordinary about this book is the detail - how Dietrich wrote a sophisticated analysis so soon after the war describing what was wrong with Nazism. He got much of it right and his examination stands up to modern scrutiny.

Nevertheless, one critic has dismissed this book as `a self-serving piece of rubbish.' The book may be self-serving. But it's also a perceptive analysis of Hitler's personality. Decades later many of the facts he presents - and his arguments - have been confirmed by distinguished historians. Whatever one thinks of the man's morality he wrote a valuable book. Dietrich was an intelligent intellectual. Like Albert Speer, who also wrote perceptively about Hitler, he provides problems for modern readers and comes with a health warning. But to dismiss him out hand is wrong. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the tyrant.

Psychologically Hitler is one of the most puzzling major leaders. He's more difficult to understand than Churchill, Mrs Thatcher, Eisenhower etc. Dietrich was one of the earliest insiders to write a book that explained the tyrant's dual nature and how it fooled so many people. He makes Hitler understandable. One can see how the trick was done and why socialism, Hitler-style, seemed so appealing to many in the beginning. Dietrich wrote a number of books supporting Hitler, including "With Hitler on the Road to Power" in 1933 where he enthusiastically described what he thought was Hitler's struggle for the soul of the German people. `I presented National Socialism as imbued with the desire for peace,' he admits. `At the time I honestly believed this. Now I owe to the public the tragic sequel to that book, the second part of the drama, which alone explains Hitler's plunge into the abyss and the collapse of the German Reich.'

In his introduction the historian Roger Moorhouse raises an interesting question. When did Dietrich start to have doubts about Hitler? Dietrich is vague, but gives readers hints in his preface printed as an appendix at the end of this edition. He claims in the course of years he came to hate Hitler's despotic nature.

But once he'd boarded the Hitler train speeding towards its doom it was impossible to get off. `In spite of repeated attempts on my part to break free,' he says, Hitler `did not permit me to leave ... Only at the end, when I watched the inglorious collapse and the obstinacy of his final downfall, was I able suddenly to fit together the bits of the mosaic I had been amassing for twelve years into a complete picture of his opaque and sphinx like personality. Revelation of the bestialities in the concentration camps at home and in Poland opened my eyes, and showed me in firm outline the shifting contours of this man's character. When we study his portrait in retrospect, the lights and shades fall quite differently from the way we used to see them. Up to the end, we were looking at the portrait from an entirely different angle. The uncanny duality of his nature and the monstrousness of his true being suddenly became apparent.'

Hence Dietrich's complete reversal after the war and repudiation of Hitler and the Nazis. The Nuremberg tribunal sent him to seven years imprisonment, but he was out of jail in 18 months. Like many high Nazi officials, he denied he was aware of the crimes of National Socialism. And he tried to downplay his own role in the co-ordination and control of the press. He claimed he served Hitler only as `a postman'.

`I always acted in good faith and from patriotic motives,' he claimed. If that was a crime then he was just as guilty as 70 million Germans were guilty.

In 2010 Stefan Krings published a major biography entitled "Hitler's press chief Otto Dietrich" (1897-1952). He argues at times Dietrich was even more powerful than his rival Dr Goebbels. Krings says that for decades historians have been fixated on the more colourful Goebbels and shifts the balance towards Dietrich.

It's an argument Jeffrey Herf makes in his book "The Jewish Enemy". He says:- `Joseph Goebbels enormous celebrity, his voluminous published work and his remarkable diary have all influenced scholarship about Nazi propaganda. Whereas the minister of propaganda was obviously a key figure, he did not control daily and periodical journalism in the Third Reich to the extent that is often thought to be the case. Adolf Hitler did, or rather Hitler did so via Otto Dietrich and the Reich Press Office.'

In short, Dr Dietrich was a much larger cog in the Nazi propaganda machine than many people once thought. Expect to hear more about him as the years roll by.

Meanwhile, his memoirs present readers with dilemmas judging by the conflicting views they excite. If you're an unrepentant Nazi and refuse to admit you were wrong you cause offence. If you criticise Nazism, repent and say democracy is the way forward you're told you're self-serving and insincere. This has prompted one critic to observe:-

`So a repentant Nazi. Strange how few repentant Communists or socialists are around nowadays. Communism slaughtered even more people than the Nazis and they still do in China, North Korea and Cuba. But most socialists haven't the common decency to admit they were wrong. It needed a Nazi to show them what they should have done.'

Make of that what you will.


Hitler Was My Friend
Hitler Was My Friend
by Heinrich Hoffmann
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hitler's photographer returns, 29 July 2014
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This review is from: Hitler Was My Friend (Hardcover)
'History has not been kind to Heinrich Hoffmann.' So writes the modern historian Roger Moorhouse in his introduction to this latest edition of the memoirs of Hitler's personal photographer. 'At best, Hitler's former "court" photographer is viewed as a genial buffoon; a "useful idiot" whose artistic talents were exploited for Hitler's benefit. At worst, he is seen as an active and convinced acolyte; an aider and abettor of the 20th century's most infamous dictator.'

Hoffman was all these things. But he was also something else. As Hitler's personal photographer Hoffmann was one of the most important photographers in the 20th century - arguably the most influential photographer in the history of photography. More influential than Henri Cartier-Bresson, Cecil Beaton, Don McCullin and all the FSA, "Time/Life" and "Picture Post" photographers rolled into one, plus a host of additional photographers too numerous to mention.

Notice I use the word `influential' - not the greatest, though Hitler's personal photographer was good at his job. But Hoffmann did something more. Unlike most photographers who merely record events, he influenced them. Indeed, Hoffmann changed history.

Because of his Nazi connections most people - especially those in the photographic world - underestimate Hoffmann, or dismiss him altogether. He's hardly mentioned in official photographic histories - he's the ultimate embarrassment. No analysis of his work by Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes, John Berger, or other photo gurus. No praise similar to that heaped on photographers who worked for Lenin and Stalin, or other communist regimes. No exhibitions.

Hoffmann's photos are still radio-active decades after they were taken and spark controversy and even hatred. The German filmmaker Wim Wenders once observed, `Never before and in no other country have images and language been abused so unscrupulously as here, never before and nowhere else have they been debased so deeply to transmit lies.' Those words might apply to Hitler's personal photographer, but do they tell the whole story?

Leave aside the fact that Hoffman was a Nazi and morally dubious for a moment ... just consider him photographically. He was - and is - the only photographer in history to work intimately with a major head of state over a long period of time. Hoffmann secured the ultimate journalistic scoop - constant access to Adolf Hitler for 25 years from before he came to power until nearly the end when the dictator committed suicide in 1945.

Someone once said 'Hitler was a gangster, but a gangster with style'. Hoffmann and his team captured that style. In the early 1920s Hitler was hostile to photography. Then he met Hoffmann and changed his mind when he discovered Hoffmann had an interest in art - a passion he shared. This created a bond between them. Inasmuch as Hitler had friends Hoffmann became a friend - a person he could trust. Hoffmann was amiable, easy-going and an entertaining raconteur as these memoirs show. He was fun to have around and mastered the art of discreetly taking natural photos close-up without fuss and could melt into the background when necessary. Hoffmann was therefore in a unique position to capture Hitler on film.

Hoffmann did as much as anyone to create the Hitler image. He helped transform the Nazi leader from a weird-looking outsider - a sartorial wreck - into a superbly attired all-conquering Fuhrer. Hitler, he tells us, was sensitive about his appearance and relied on Hoffmann to photograph him privately in various clothes before wearing them in public. The dictator looked grotesque in lederhosen - fat, flabby and effeminate - leaning against a tree. That picture alone could have destroyed his credibility and his political career. A photo of Hitler sporting an SA hat looked equally comic. Hitler realised how damaging these photos were, forbad publication and never again wore those clothes. He also banned pictures that showed him wearing glasses, not to mention photos with Eva Braun.

The historian Richard Evans says Hoffman allayed 'the Nazi leader's anxiety about being photographed in unflattering situations by capturing his image in the most appealing possible ways. Hoffmann's work ensured Hitler's picture was always all over the media by the late 1920s. His photographs were always the best.'

Ever discreet, Hoffmann published only approved images. But the photographer had a shrewd journalistic sense. He realised his pictures were historically important and was never afraid to take revealing and less flattering images. These he hid in his files realising he could publish them one day and present a more rounded portrait of the Fuhrer.

Hoffmann also influenced Hitler's body language. Hitler was a great actor and realised personality could be expressed by the way you stood, walked, or saluted. It was important to appear dignified and soldierly. Hoffmann took a series of Hitler rehearsing gestures and expressions so Hitler could judge which would be most effective when making a speech. The two worked together creating a powerful image. Most people look their best when young. Hitler improved physically with age. He looked better and more handsome as he got older. By the time he was in his late 40s and early 50s he had perfected an indelible image.

The photographer not only influenced the way Hitler looked, he also affected his health by introducing him to the controversial Dr Morell. He played a role in the leader's love life - such as it was - by introducing Hitler to Eva Braun who worked in his Munich studio. In addition, Hoffmann helped make Hitler rich. He suggested the dictator should collect a royalty each time his likeness was used on a German stamp. And it was Hoffmann who helped select works of art displayed at annual exhibitions at the House of German Art in Munich, something that has enraged art lovers ever since.

But it's Hoffmann's photos that are most important. How many did he take? In these memoirs he says:- `The total number of photographs taken by myself and my assistants in my various branches all over Europe must be in the region of two to two and a half million.'

It's an astonishing number. The only previous head of state who was extensively photographed was the last Tsar, Nicholas II - about 100, 000 photos - mainly family snapshots. Hitler was next, but on a much vaster scale. At the height of his success Hoffman says his photographic activities assumed `almost the form of a miniature industry. One after another I opened subsidiary studios in Berlin, in Vienna, in Frankfurt, in Paris, in The Hague, until finally I had no less than twelve studios and a hundred or more employees dotted all over Europe.' Four of those employees were photographers. The plum jobs - working close-up with Hitler and his henchmen - Hoffmann reserved for himself.

How good a photographer was Hoffmann? The answer - outstanding. He was one of the top photographers in his profession before he met Hitler. Besides being adept at press work and photo journalism he was a skilled portrait photographer. Before WWI he had worked in London with one of the renowned portrait photographers of the day, E.O. Hoppé. He brought a battery of skills to his craft. That's what made him so influential. If he'd produced rubbish Hitler would never have employed him.

In the 1920s and 30s Germany was a world leader in photography. The introduction of the Leica camera in 1925 revolutionised picture taking. This small camera, which used 35mm film, had high-quality fast lenses and enabled photographers to shoot up to 36 pictures rapidly under challenging conditions. Now you could take a camera anywhere and tell a story in pictures. Illustrated magazines sprang in the Weimar republic as photographers published photo essays capturing everyday life and celebrities.

During WWII most Allied photographers used cameras made in Nazi Germany.

Hoffmann was a pioneering photo-journalist and one of its most gifted practitioners. He realised the Leica would enable him to seize a moment and take natural-looking pictures of Hitler on the move. Hoffmann was often onboard Hitler’s car, train, or aircraft, literally looking over his master’s shoulder. He was with him as he moved amongst crowds, or relaxed at a roadside picnic. Hoffmann was nimble and had a precise sense of timing. His best pictures are full of life and movement. Hitler’s Press Chief, Dr Otto Dietrich, saw him at work. Hoffmann, he recalled, ‘always espied the most effective subjects and situations, with eagle eye; he photographed the events like lighting and with astounding agility.'

Hoffmann also mastered the difficult art of taking snapshots indoors without flash using available light. This enabled him to take candid pictures without disturbance - pictures of Hitler and Chamberlain negotiating the Munich agreement, or important military conferences.

Unlike Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who keeps photographers at a distance on public occasions and is photographed with telephoto lenses, Hoffmann took his pictures close to Hitler. The result was more intimate. Hitler - one of the great actors of the 20th century and an artist - he spent 18 years painting before he was drawn into politics - learned how to present the best image for the camera.

Pictures were carefully selected for publication and only the most flattering used. But when you look at the totality of Hoffmann's work it's a extraordinary record of Hitler and his court - the view from headquarters - the most comprehensive coverage of any leader at that time. There was nothing comparable on the Allied side. It's more than propaganda. Journalistically Hoffmann did a remarkable job, whatever one may think of the man morally. He and his team photographed Hitler and his henchmen plotting, working and relaxing - their ceremonies and buildings, headquarters, military conquests and triumphal entries into defeated countries - the Nazi world they created - though minus the horrors. The Hoffmann team even took thousands of photos of Hitler in 3D.

Hoffmann was brave as well as enterprising. During his political career there were over 40 attempts to assassinate Hitler. A stray bullet, or well-aimed bomb, might have killed Hoffmann as well as his master. He took risks when Hitler did. It was dangerous working amongst crowds and travelling through war zones. You can sometimes see Hoffmann at work in Nazi newsreels and movies, including "Triumph of the Will". There he is, a small tubby figure raising a Leica to his eye, snapping away as the dictator moves among his troops, acknowledges the crowds and drives through conquered cities. One picture shows Hoffmann photographing Hitler on a balcony in Salzburg during the Anschluss in 1938 - alone with the Führer, using his privileged position to take exclusive close-ups - a hallmark of his work.

It's said that Hitler seldom smiled. This is untrue as Hoffmann's photographs show. Hitler even smiled during his last photo call in 1945 when he met Hitler Youth fighters in the chancellery garden shortly before he committed suicide. It's a reminder that this man who committed monstrous crimes was human. This is what makes Hoffmann's pictures so disturbing. We can see Hitler's charm - his charisma - at work. Look at the smiling, laughing faces as Hitler talks to the crowds, or passes by - the rapturous expressions - the joy of the children as they meet the Fuhrer - the adulation of the troops in the days of victory. They love the man.

Hoffmann's postcards and large prints of Hitler sold in their thousands. In addition he did something rare at that time. Hoffmann published 50 picture books - major photo essays about Hitler and the Nazis - all immaculately printed in high quality gravure. One featured the SA - the brown-shirted storm troopers who helped Hitler to power. Another showed the huge Nazi pavilion at the 1937 Paris exposition. We see intimate photos of Hitler in private - "The Hitler Nobody Knows" - "Hitler Off Duty" - "Hitler in His Mountains." Then there's "Youth Around Hitler" - charming pictures of the Fuhrer meeting adoring young people. Could this man really be evil? We see Hitler celebrating his 50th birthday and all eyes focussed upon him at Nuremberg rallies. Other books show "Hitler in his Homeland" - "Hitler Builds a Greater Germany" and "Hitler in Italy" meeting Mussolini. We see Hitler marching into Austria, the Sudetenland and Bohemia. Hoffmann was with him in Poland at the start of the WW2. And he recorded Hitler's greatest triumph - the conquest of France in 1940 - in "With Hitler in the West."

The books stopped when the victories stopped. But Hoffmann still went on photographing and recorded Hitler as Nazi Germany collapsed. He was in the Wolf's Lair when the bomb exploded in 1944. As the war went on his camera captured an aging Hitler ground down by defeat.

Hoffmann is one of the most intriguing and controversial photographers in history. Because of his close association with Hitler his work presents problems for historians few of whom have got to grips with him, or produced a balanced look at his career. Much is made of his drinking - something he cheerfully admits in these memoirs - and his role of court jester in Hitler's entourage. Little do detractors realise that a master photographer was at work. Few people took Hoffmann seriously. But one person did - the person who mattered - Adolf Hitler.

Like millions of Germans Hoffmann was inspired by Hitler. The Fuhrer provided endless photo opportunities from public ceremonies to invading Russia. He was a dream - or perhaps a better word would be nightmare - subject and Hoffmann responded. `The Third Reich fostered the modern era's first full-blown media culture,' observed Prof Eric Rentschler in his book "The Ministry of Illusion". Hoffmann was part of that culture, but dealt in stills rather than moving images.

Hoffmann was more than a drunken fool. He would never have produced the astonishing amount of high quality work and 50 books if he were constantly drunk and incapable. Once he had a camera in his hand he was intelligent and knew what he was doing. And have no doubts you needed intelligence to operate a Leica. It was never an easy camera to use, any more than a violin is easy to play. It needed a high level of skill to operate, let alone take pictures close to Hitler in public when the eyes of the world were upon you and crowds surging round. A photographer needed steady nerves, a technical mastery and a steely determination to seize the exact moment to take winning and even iconic photos.

Hoffmann may have been less inspired than Cartier-Bresson - few photographers are that good - but he was only a notch or two down - silver rather than gold. Hoffmann was at least as talented as many photojournalists who fled from Hitler's Europe such as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Kurt Hutton and Felix H. Man. He was as good as the photographers employed by America's "Life" magazine, or Britain's "Picture Post". His work appeared in both those magazines as well as - bizarrely - "Homes and Garden" and "Country Life". And his photos were published in thousands of other newspapers and magazines at home and abroad.

How conscious was Hoffmann of what he was doing - recording a monstrous political figure? He was aware of the aesthetics, but not the moral implications of the pictures he was taking. To be fair, few people were aware how appalling the Nazis would become once they achieved power in 1933. Hitler was good to his staff and an exciting person to work for. Something was always happening when he was around. Having invaded Poland in 1939 and started a world war Hitler went on creating ever larger photo opportunities - colossal historic events. And Hoffmann was there to record this man who set these events in motion. Like many people who worked for Hitler he was too busy getting on with his job to sit down quietly assessing the moral impact of what he was doing.

In his book "Goodbye to Berlin" Christopher Isherwood wrote, `I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.' That might apply to Hoffmann. He seldom thought about the moral consequences of working closely with Hitler. His memoirs reveal no soul searching, no worries about how his photos might be interpreted. He seems unaware he was working for an increasingly criminal regime.

Hoffmann claimed he had no interest in politics. This was true in the sense that he avoided political intrigues and was not involved in any of the major political decisions that led to war and turned the world upside down. He kept a certain independence. But his photos had a political impact.

Writing in another context in 1929 the novelist E. M. Forster observed:- `Let us at once dismiss the notion that any fool can use a camera. Photography is great gift, whether or no we rank it as an art.'

And Hoffmann had that gift. He took some of the most important photographs ever taken. Yet he is routinely vilified by people who use his work. In his book "Hitler and Power of Aesthetics" Frederick Spotts wrote:- `The appointment of Hoffmann, an alcoholic and a cretin who knew little more about painting than did the average plumber, had appalled the artistic community.' Hoffmann's influence in the art world may have been baleful, but it's an exaggeration to claim he artistically ignorant. Indeed, Spotts uses a Hoffmann portrait of Hitler on the cover of his book and many of his pictures in the text. They are there as evidence to support the author's other arguments.

In fact Hoffmann devotes a whole chapter in his autobiography to Hitler and the arts. Here he reveals a good general knowledge of the subject. Among the artists he mentions are Leonardo, Rembrandt, Cranach, Watteau and the sculptor Myron. Hoffmann also reveals a liking for modern art and appreciates Picasso, Renoir, Gauguin, Van Gogh and other artists too numerous to mention in this review. And this artistic knowledge fed through into his photographs.

By force of circumstance much of Hoffmann's work was workaday - typical press photos. He had to capture life on the wing. Hoffmann was a spectator - an unobserved observer - watching historic events unfold before him. Unlike a movie director he was unable able to control those events. He had to grab what he could. But there were times when Hoffmann produced iconic images - images that still define the way we regard Hitler.

Some critics refuse to acknowledge Hoffmann's photographic talent and abilities. They deny them altogether. I can think of no other photographer who has attracted such sustained abuse down the years while achieving so much. Hoffmann's photos are more widely published than the work of any other photographer. They have a supreme historic importance few photos can match. They are living documents - poured over by millions of people and eagerly used in newspapers, magazines, books, TV documentaries and movies - long after the demise of the Third Reich.

But they are a tainted legacy. And the man who produced them has suffered as a result.

Along with the filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl, Heinrich Hoffmann displayed a genius for promoting the Hitler image - the Hitler style. But Riefenstahl filmed Hitler on a only a few occasions - a few days in 1933 for her films "Victory of Faith" and "Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces", a few days for "Triumph of the Will" (1934) and a few days for Olympiad (1936). And that's it. Hoffmann, on the other hand, took hundreds of thousands of photographs of Hitler over 25 years, often at crucial moments in history. Through his catalogues and books, he provides a textbook example of how the continuous bombardment of images can help sustain power.

And, of course, he had the ultimate subject - Adolf Hitler - a man who knew how to play up to the camera.

In her article "Fascinating Fascism" Susan Sontag was so busy slagging off Leni Reifenstahl and a book about Nazi regalia that she never mentioned Hoffman. As for her book "On Photography" - there's no mention of Hoffmann even in passing.

How accurately do Hoffmann's pictures capture Hitler and Nazi Germany? In many ways they don't. They fail to show the evil. Where are the death camps, the Holocaust and ruined cities? But that was never his role. As Hitler's personal photographer - a court photographer - he was there to show the Fuhrer and cronies at work and in private, as well as on public occasions. It's the view from headquarters, not lower down.

Some people claim his photos are just propaganda. And it's true his pictures convey a benign image of the dictator. But how accurately did Mark Shaw depict President Kennedy for "Life" magazine? There we see - apparently - a happy family man. No hint of a foul-mouthed, ruthless politician who betrayed his wife, enjoyed nude bathing with hookers in the White House swimming pool and bedding every woman in sight, including a communist spy. The same was true of Richard Avedon's portraits of Kennedy and his wife. Apparently we're looking at the ultimate happily married couple.

Hoffmann recorded the most sustained and detailed portrait of an evil man in history. In his book "The Art of the Third Reich" Peter Adam found it incredible that a man who had `the face of a psychopath could fascinate so many'. But did Hitler have a `face of a psychopath' - obvious features we can recognise in other criminals? Hoffmann suggests not. Perhaps something is lacking in the photographer until we think of pictures taken by other photographers of evil leaders such as Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, the rulers of North Korea, Bin Laden etc. Evil men can look charming and sometimes are. That's part of the way they deceive ordinary people. Photographs may reveal character, but ultimately they are no more able to take you inside the dark recesses of a person's mind than a painting.

At the time they were taken Hoffmann's photos were the most comprehensive photo essay ever recorded of one human being. They tell us an enormous amount about the world Hitler created and inhabited even if they fail to tell us everything. Which is why historians and journalists keep using them even as they insult the man who took them. Use and abuse seems to be their watchwords. There's an element of hypocrisy here. They use his photos because they're good and historically important. Great photographs, sorry you took them seems to be their attitude.

At the end of the Second World War Hoffman was arrested. Initially he was classified as a major war criminal on a par with the worst offenders. Sanity prevailed. He was hardly Heinrich Himmler. But lesser charges were brought and Hoffmann was tried before a West German court as a Nazi profiteer. One man's profiteering is another man's enterprise. Hoffmann was an astute businessman and became a millionaire. Long before most people he recognised Hitler was the coming man who needed documenting. But the lawyers were having none of that. The crimes of the Nazis were too bad to excuse.

So Hoffmann spent five years in prison and all his property - including his photographs - was confiscated. In those twilight years he was constantly interrogated - even about the atomic bomb about which he knew nothing. As he says he'd never even heard of it until atom bombs were dropped on Japan at the end of the war. In all his time in captivity none of his interrogators seems to have taken an intelligent interest in his photographs except as records of a criminal regime. The kind of questions a photographic historian is interested in were never asked. Hoffmann makes up for some of the deficiencies in his memoirs, though there's a lot more we should like to know.

Once out of prison Hoffmann was poverty stricken. But he never gave up. Although in poor health he set about writing this book in the last years of his life. It was an act of defiance. "Hitler was my Friend" he called it. No excuses, no apologies. This is what he did and why - take it, or leave it. If the Hitler he encountered was more amiable and human than the genocidal murderer of history so be it. The Nazi leader had a split personality. His personality changed depending on the people he was dealing with. To artists and photographers he admired Hitler could appear charming and reasonable. That's the Hitler Hoffmann saw.

His book was translated by Col. R. H. Stevens who wrote the Preface. He was a staff officer on special intelligence duties. If anyone should have had a strong resentment against the Nazis it was Stevens. The Gestapo had arrested him and he spent more than five years in Sachenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. Nonetheless Stevens was eager to meet Hoffmann and spent some weeks in his company. He found the photographer genial and easy to work with. `He is a typical bohemian,' he writes, `grandiloquent in phrase and gesture, generous, unpractical, perhaps not always strictly accurate, but a born raconteur; in many way a child, yet withal a shrewd judge of men...'

Hoffmann told him his memoirs made no claim to be a major contribution to history. They were, he said, `A patchwork of reminiscences and impression; of events in which I took part and of people who played leading roles in them and whom I knew intimately.'

But Hoffmann was good at conveying the atmosphere of Hitler's court. He gives a vivid impression of what it was like to work close to one of the greatest tyrants in history. And Hoffmann knew he was good at his job. No-one could take that away from him. When Hitler's propaganda chief, Dr Goebbels, tried to insist he wear a numbered official photographer's badge Hoffmann refused. "Everybody knows me, with or without number or badge or anything else,' he told him. `I am not Number XYZ - I am Heinrich Hoffmann.' And Heinrich Hoffmann he remained - minus a badge.

When he first published these memoirs in 1955 Hoffmann emblazoned the words "World's most famous photographer" in large letters across the jacket. He was half right. His pictures of Hitler were - and are - published worldwide - more now than ever as we have the Internet. But while Hoffmann was a celebrity in Nazi Germany he was less well-known abroad. He was overshadowed by his subject. A good photographer never gets in the way of the person he is photographing. Hoffmann never did. So it's more true to say he is the world's most famous unknown photographer.

Hoffmann's photos are an astonishing legacy. The Third Reich may have crashed in ruins and its leaders vanished. But Hoffmann's photos - this extraordinary body of creative work - remains. I can think of no major photographer - and have no doubts Hoffmann was a major photographer, one of the most important in history - who had such an extraordinary career. He is one of the few Nazis whose creative work is freely available and used worldwide today. His work still has impact even if its creator is seldom acknowledged.

And new pictures keep emerging from the files. A vast treasure trove of images has never been published - tens of thousands of pictures waiting for a diligent researcher to examine. It's about time they were. In his modern introduction to these memoirs Roger Moorhouse displays a greater understanding of Hoffmann's work and the dilemmas it poses than many critics and takes a more balanced look at his career.

But we need more. The Third Reich may have gone, but Hoffmann's photos ensure Hitler and Nazis are always with us. It's a sinister legacy. Hoffmann's pictures were seized, stolen and scattered after the war. The whole collection needs collating and proper assessment - a catalogue raisonné. It'll take years to produce as Hoffmann was prolific. But let's start. His photos are too important to be treated in a slapdash and casual manner.

In his final words in his memoirs Hoffmann says:- `The man from whose side I scarcely stirred for a quarter of a century lives on in my memory. History, of which I was permitted to perpetuate a few fragments on my films and plates, has marched on ... But later when a few pictures are pulled out, to be shown as documentary evidence of this buried piece of European history to those future generations which were not there to live through it, then among them will be some truly historic photographs, ghostly transfixed fragments of history, perpetuated by a man named Heinrich Hoffmann.'

Time has proved him right. Although most critics and the photographic world refuse to acknowledge him, Hoffmann is the most influential photographer in history. Like it or not Heinrich Hoffmann is a VIP - a Very Important Photographer.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2014 3:03 PM BST


Hitler Was My Friend: The Memoirs of Hitler's Photographer
Hitler Was My Friend: The Memoirs of Hitler's Photographer
by Heinrich Hoffmann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hitler's photographer returns - a VIP?, 28 July 2014
`History has not been kind to Heinrich Hoffmann.' So writes the modern historian Roger Moorhouse in his introduction to this latest edition of the memoirs of Hitler's personal photographer. `At best, Hitler's former "court" photographer is viewed as a genial buffoon; a "useful idiot" whose artistic talents were exploited for Hitler's benefit. At worst, he is seen as an active and convinced acolyte; an aider and abettor of the 20th century's most infamous dictator.'

Hoffman was all these things. But he was also something else. As Hitler's personal photographer Hoffmann was one of the most important photographers in the 20th century - arguably the most influential photographer in the history of photography. More influential than Henri Cartier-Bresson, Cecil Beaton, Don McCullin and all the FSA, "Time/Life" and "Picture Post" photographers rolled into one, plus a host of additional photographers too numerous to mention.

Notice I use the word `influential' - not the greatest, though Hitler's personal photographer was good at his job. But Hoffmann did something more. Unlike most photographers who merely record events, he influenced them. Indeed, Hoffmann changed history.

Because of his Nazi connections most people - especially those in the photographic world - underestimate Hoffmann, or dismiss him altogether. He's hardly mentioned in official photographic histories - he's the ultimate embarrassment. No analysis of his work by Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes, John Berger, or other photo gurus.

Hoffmann's photos are still radio-active decades after they were taken and spark controversy and even hatred. The German filmmaker Wim Wenders once observed, `Never before and in no other country have images and language been abused so unscrupulously as here, never before and nowhere else have they been debased so deeply to transmit lies.' Those words might apply to Hitler's personal photographer, but do they tell the whole story?

Leave aside the fact that Hoffman was a Nazi and morally dubious for a moment ... just consider him photographically. He was - and is - the only photographer in history to work intimately with a major head of state over a long period of time. Hoffmann secured the ultimate journalistic scoop - constant access to Adolf Hitler for 25 years from before he came to power until nearly the end when the dictator committed suicide in 1945.

Someone once said 'Hitler was a gangster, but a gangster with style'. Hoffmann and his team captured that style. In the early 1920s Hitler was hostile to photography. Then he met Hoffmann and changed his mind when he discovered Hoffmann had an interest in art - a passion he shared. This created a bond between them. Inasmuch as Hitler had friends Hoffmann became a friend - a person he could trust. Hoffmann was amiable, easy-going and an entertaining raconteur as these memoirs show. He was fun to have around and mastered the art of discreetly taking natural photos close-up without fuss and could melt into the background when necessary. Hoffmann was therefore in a unique position to capture Hitler on film. Long before selfies became popular Hoffmann took Hitler's selfies for him - thousands of intimate photos in public and private.

Hoffmann did as much as anyone to create the Hitler image. In modern parlance he helped Hitler curate his own brand. Hoffmann helped transform the Nazi leader from a weird-looking outsider - a sartorial wreck - into a superbly attired all-conquering Fuhrer. Hitler, he tells us, was sensitive about his appearance and relied on Hoffmann to photograph him privately in various clothes before wearing them in public. The dictator looked grotesque in lederhosen - fat, flabby and effeminate - leaning against a tree. That picture alone could have destroyed his credibility and his political career. A photo of Hitler sporting an SA hat looked equally comic. Hitler realised how damaging these photos were, forbad publication and never again wore those clothes. He also banned pictures that showed him wearing glasses, not to mention photos with Eva Braun.

The historian Richard Evans says Hoffman allayed `the Nazi leader's anxiety about being photographed in unflattering situations by capturing his image in the most appealing possible ways. Hoffmann's work ensured Hitler's picture was always all over the media by the late 1920s. His photographs were always the best.'

Ever discreet, Hoffmann published only approved images. But the photographer had a shrewd journalistic sense. He realised his pictures were historically important and was never afraid to take revealing and less flattering images. These he hid in his files realising he could publish them one day and present a more rounded portrait of the Fuhrer.

Hoffmann also influenced Hitler's body language. Hitler was a great actor and realised personality could be expressed by the way you stood, walked, or saluted. It was important to appear dignified and soldierly. Hoffmann took a series of Hitler rehearsing gestures and expressions so Hitler could judge which would be most effective when making a speech. The two worked together creating a powerful image. Most people look their best when young. Hitler improved physically with age. He looked better and more handsome as he got older. By the time he was in his late 40s and early 50s he had perfected an indelible image.

The photographer not only influenced the way Hitler looked, he also affected his health by introducing him to the controversial Dr Morell. He played a role in the leader's love life - such as it was - by introducing Hitler to Eva Braun who worked in his Munich studio. In addition, Hoffmann helped make Hitler rich. He suggested the dictator should collect a royalty each time his likeness was used on a German stamp. And it was Hoffmann who helped select works of art displayed at annual exhibitions at the House of German Art in Munich, something that has enraged art lovers ever since.

But it's Hoffmann's photos that are most important. How many did he take? In these memoirs he says:- `The total number of photographs taken by myself and my assistants in my various branches all over Europe must be in the region of two to two and a half million.'

It's an astonishing number. The only previous head of state who was extensively photographed was the last Tsar, Nicholas II - about 100, 000 photos - mainly family snapshots. Hitler was next, but on a much vaster scale. At the height of his success Hoffman says his photographic activities assumed `almost the form of a miniature industry. One after another I opened subsidiary studios in Berlin, in Vienna, in Frankfurt, in Paris, in The Hague, until finally I had no less than twelve studios and a hundred or more employees dotted all over Europe.' Four of those employees were photographers. The plum jobs - working close-up with Hitler and his henchmen - Hoffmann reserved for himself.

How good a photographer was Hoffmann? The answer - outstanding. He was one of the top photographers in his profession before he met Hitler. That's what made him so influential. If he'd produced rubbish Hitler would never have employed him.

In the 1920s and 30s Germany was a world leader in photography. The introduction of the Leica camera in 1925 revolutionised picture taking. This small camera, which used 35mm film, had high-quality fast lenses and enabled photographers to shoot up to 36 pictures rapidly under challenging conditions. Now you could take a camera anywhere and tell a story in pictures. Illustrated magazines sprang in the Weimar republic as photographers published photo essays capturing everyday life and celebrities.

During WWII most Allied photographers used cameras made in Nazi Germany.

Hoffmann was a pioneering photo-journalist and one of its most gifted practitioners. He realised the Leica would enable him to seize a moment and take natural-looking pictures of Hitler on the move. Hoffmann was often onboard Hitler's car, train, or aircraft, literally looking over his master's shoulder. He was with him as he moved amongst crowds, or relaxed at a roadside picnic. Hoffmann was nimble and had a precise sense of timing. His best pictures are full of life and movement. He mastered the art of taking snapshots indoors without flash using available light. This enabled him to take candid pictures without disturbance - pictures of Hitler and Chamberlain negotiating the Munich agreement, or important military conferences.

Unlike Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who keeps photographers at a distance on public occasions and is photographed with telephoto lenses, Hoffmann took his pictures close to Hitler. The result was more intimate. Hitler - one of the great actors of the 20th century and an artist - he spent 18 years painting before he was drawn into politics - learned how to present the best image for the camera.

Pictures were carefully selected for publication and only the most flattering used. But when you look at the totality of Hoffmann's work it's a extraordinary record of Hitler and his court - the view from headquarters - the most comprehensive coverage of any leader at that time. There was nothing comparable on the Allied side. It's more than propaganda. Journalistically Hoffmann did a remarkable job, whatever one may think of the man morally. He and his team photographed Hitler and his henchmen plotting, working and relaxing, their ceremonies and buildings - the Nazi world they created for themselves - though minus the horrors. The Hoffmann team even took thousands of photos of Hitler in 3D.

Hoffmann was brave as well as enterprising. During his political career there were over 40 attempts to assassinate Hitler. A stray bullet, or well-aimed bomb, might have killed Hoffmann as well as his master. He took risks when Hitler did. It was dangerous working amongst crowds and travelling through war zones. You can sometimes see Hoffmann at work in Nazi newsreels and movies, including "Triumph of the Will". There he is, a small tubby figure raising a Leica to his eye, snapping away as the dictator moves among his troops, acknowledges the crowds and drives through conquered cities. One picture shows Hoffman photographing Hitler on a balcony in Salzburg during the Anschluss in 1938 - alone with the Führer, using his privileged position to take exclusive close-ups - a hallmark of his work.

Hoffmann postcards and large prints of Hitler sold in their thousands. In addition he did something rare at that time. Hoffmann published 50 picture books - major photo essays about Hitler and the Nazis. One featured the SA - the brown-shirted storm troopers who helped Hitler to power. We also see intimate photos of Hitler in private - "The Hitler Nobody Knows" - "Hitler Off Duty" - "Hitler in His Mountains." Then there's "Youth Around Hitler" - charming pictures of the Fuhrer meeting adoring young people. Could this man really be evil? We see Hitler celebrating his 50th birthday and all eyes focussed upon him at Nuremberg rallies. Other books show "Hitler in his Homeland" - "Hitler Builds a Greater Germany" and "Hitler in Italy" meeting Mussolini. We see Hitler invading the Sudetenland and Bohemia. Hoffmann was with him in Poland at the start of the WW2. And he recorded Hitler's greatest triumph - the conquest of France in 1940 - in "With Hitler in the West."

The books stopped when the victories stopped. But Hoffmann still went on photographing and recorded Hitler as Nazi Germany collapsed. He was in the Wolf's Lair when the bomb exploded in 1944. As the war went on his camera captured an aging Hitler ground down by defeat.

Hoffmann is one of the most intriguing and controversial photographers in history. Because of his close association with Hitler his work presents problems for historians few of whom have got to grips with him, or produced a balanced look at his career. Much is made of his drinking - something he cheerfully admits in these memoirs - and his role of court jester in Hitler's entourage. Little do detractors realise that a master photographer was at work. Few people took Hoffmann seriously. But one person did - the person who mattered - Adolf Hitler.

Like millions of Germans Hoffmann was inspired by Hitler. The Fuhrer provided endless photo opportunities from public ceremonies to invading Russia. He was a dream - or perhaps a better word would be nightmare - subject and Hoffmann responded. `The Third Reich fostered the modern era's first full-blown media culture,' observed Prof Eric Rentschler in his book "The Ministry of Illusion". Hoffmann was part of that culture, but dealt in stills rather than moving images.

Hoffmann was more than a drunken fool. He would never have produced the astonishing amount of high quality work that he did if he were constantly drunk and incapable. Once he had a camera in his hand he was intelligent and knew what he was doing. He may have been less inspired than Cartier-Bresson - few photographers are that good - but he was only a notch or two down - silver rather than gold. Hoffmann was at least as talented as many photojournalists who fled from Hitler's Europe such as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Kurt Hutton and Felix H. Man. He was as good as the photographers employed by America's "Life" magazine, or Britain's "Picture Post". His work appeared in both those magazines as well as - bizarrely - "Homes and Garden" and "Country Life". And his photos were published in thousands of other newspapers and magazines at home and abroad.

How conscious was Hoffmann of what he was doing - recording a monstrous political figure? He was aware of the aesthetics, but not the moral implications of the pictures he was taking. To be fair, few people were aware how appalling the Nazis would become once they achieved power in 1933. Hitler was good to his staff and an exciting person to work for. Something was always happening when he was around. A world war provided the ultimate photo opportunity with colossal historic events. And Hoffmann was there to record the man who set these events in motion. Like many people who worked for Hitler he was too busy getting on with his job to sit down quietly assessing the moral impact of what he was doing.

In his book "Goodbye to Berlin" Christopher Isherwood wrote, `I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.' That might apply to Hoffmann. He seldom thought about the moral consequences of working closely with Hitler. His memoirs reveal no soul searching, no worries about how his photos might be interpreted. He seems unaware he was working for an increasingly criminal regime.

Hoffmann claimed he had no interest in politics. This was true in the sense that he avoided political intrigues and was not involved in any of the major political decisions that led to war and turned the world upside down. He kept a certain independence. But his photos had a political impact.

Writing in 1929 in another context the novelist E. M. Forster observed:- `Let us at once dismiss the notion that any fool can use a camera. Photography is great gift, whether or no we rank it as an art.'

And Hoffman had that gift. He took some of the most important photographs ever taken. Yet he is routinely vilified by people who use his work. In his book "Hitler and Power of Aesthetics" Frederick Spotts wrote:- `The appointment of Hoffmann, an alcoholic and a cretin who knew little more about painting than did the average plumber, had appalled the artistic community.' Hoffmann's influence in the art world may have been baleful, but it's an exaggeration to claim he artistically ignorant. Indeed, Spotts uses a Hoffmann portrait of Hitler on the cover of his book and many of his pictures in the text. They are there as evidence to support the author's other arguments.

In fact Hoffmann devotes a whole chapter in his autobiography to Hitler and the arts. Here he reveals a good general knowledge of the subject. Among the artists he mentions are Leonardo, Rembrandt, Cranach, Watteau and the sculptor Myron. Hoffmann also reveals a liking for modern art and appreciates Picasso, Renoir, Gauguin, Van Gogh and other artists too numerous to mention in this review. And this artistic knowledge fed through into his photographs.

By force of circumstance much of Hoffmann's work was workaday - typical press photos. He had to capture life on the wing. Hoffmann was a spectator - an unobserved observer - watching historic events unfold before him. Unlike a movie director he was unable able to control those events. He had to grab what he could. But there were times when Hoffmann produced iconic images - images that still define the way we regard Hitler.

Some critics refuse to acknowledge Hoffmann's photographic talent and abilities. They deny them altogether. I can think of no other photographer who has attracted such sustained abuse down the years while achieving so much. Hoffmann's photos are more widely published than the work of any other photographer. They have a supreme historic importance few photos can match. They are living documents - poured over by millions of people and eagerly used in newspapers, magazines, books, TV documentaries and movies - long after the demise of the Third Reich.

But they are a tainted legacy. And the man who produced them has suffered as a result.

Along with the filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl, Heinrich Hoffmann displayed a genius for promoting the Hitler image - the Hitler style. But Riefenstahl filmed Hitler on a only a few occasions - a few days in 1933 for her films "Victory of Faith" and "Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces", a few days for "Triumph of the Will" (1934) and a few days for Olympiad (1936). And that's it. Hoffmann, on the other hand, took hundreds of thousands of photographs of Hitler over 25 years, often at crucial moments in history. Through his catalogues and books, he provides a textbook example of how the continuous bombardment of images can help sustain power.

And, of course, he had the ultimate subject - Adolf Hitler - a man who knew how to play up to the camera.

In her article "Fascinating Fascism" Susan Sontag was so busy slagging off Leni Reifenstahl and a book about Nazi regalia that she never mentioned Hoffman. As for her book "On Photography" - there's no mention of Hoffmann even in passing.

How accurately do Hoffmann's pictures capture Hitler and Nazi Germany? In many ways they don't. They fail to show the evil. Where are the death camps, the Holocaust and ruined cities? But that was never his role. As Hitler's personal photographer - a court photographer - he was there to show the Fuhrer and cronies at work and in private, as well as on public occasions. It's the view from headquarters, not lower down.

Some people claim his photos are just propaganda. And it's true his pictures convey a benign image of the dictator. But how accurately did Mark Shaw depict President Kennedy for "Life" magazine? There we see - apparently - a happy family man. No hint of a foul-mouthed, ruthless politician who betrayed his wife, enjoyed nude bathing with hookers in the White House swimming pool and bedding every woman in sight, including a communist spy. The same was true of Richard Avedon's portraits of Kennedy and his wife. Apparently we're looking at the ultimate happily married couple.

Hoffmann recorded the most sustained and detailed portrait of an evil man in history. In his book "The Art of the Third Reich" Peter Adam found it incredible that a man who had `the face of a psychopath could fascinate so many'. But did Hitler have a `face of a psychopath' - obvious features we can recognise in other criminals? Hoffmann suggests not. Perhaps something is lacking in the photographer until we think of pictures taken by other photographers of evil leaders such as Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, the rulers of North Korea, Bin Laden etc. Evil men can look charming and sometimes are. That's part of the way they deceive ordinary people. Photographs may reveal character, but ultimately they are no more able to take you inside the dark recesses of a person's mind than a painting.

At the time they were taken Hoffmann's photos were the most comprehensive photo essay ever recorded of one human being. They tell us an enormous amount about the world Hitler created and inhabited even if they fail to tell us everything. Which is why historians and journalists keep using them even as they insult the man who took them. Use and abuse seems to be their watchwords. There's an element of hypocrisy here. They use his photos because they're good and historically important. Great photographs, sorry you took them seems to be their attitude.

At the end of the Second World War Hoffman was arrested. Initially he was classified as a major war criminal on a par with the worst offenders. Sanity prevailed. He was hardly Heinrich Himmler. But lesser charges were brought and Hoffmann was tried before a West German court as a Nazi profiteer. One man's profiteering is another man's enterprise. Hoffmann was an astute businessman and became a millionaire. Long before most people he recognised Hitler was the coming man who needed documenting. But the lawyers were having none of that. The crimes of the Nazis were too bad to excuse.

So Hoffmann spent five years in prison and all his property - including his photographs - was confiscated. In those twilight years he was constantly interrogated - even about the atomic bomb about which he knew nothing. As he says he'd never even heard of it until atom bombs were dropped on Japan at the end of the war. In all his time in captivity none of his interrogators seems to have taken an intelligent interest in his photographs except as records of a criminal regime. The kind of questions a photographic historian is interested in were never asked. Hoffmann makes up for some of the deficiencies in his memoirs, though there's a lot more we should like to know.

Once out of prison Hoffmann was poverty stricken. But he never gave up. Although in poor health he set about writing this book in the last years of his life. It was an act of defiance. "Hitler was my Friend" he called it. No excuses, no apologies. This is what he did and why - take it, or leave it. If the Hitler he encountered was more amiable and human than the genocidal murderer of history so be it. The Nazi leader had a split personality. His personality changed depending on the people he was dealing with. To artists and photographers he admired Hitler could appear charming and reasonable. That's the Hitler Hoffmann saw.

His book was translated by Col. R. H. Stevens who wrote the Preface. He was a staff officer on special intelligence duties. If anyone should have had a strong resentment against the Nazis it was Stevens. The Gestapo had arrested him and he spent more than five years in Sachenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. Nonetheless Stevens was eager to meet Hoffmann and spent some weeks in his company. He found the photographer genial and easy to work with. `He is a typical bohemian,' he writes, `grandiloquent in phrase and gesture, generous, unpractical, perhaps not always strictly accurate, but a born raconteur; in many way a child, yet withal a shrewd judge of men...'

Hoffmann told him his memoirs made no claim to be a major contribution to history. They were, he said, `A patchwork of reminiscences and impression; of events in which I took part and of people who played leading roles in them and whom I knew intimately.'

But Hoffmann was good at conveying the atmosphere of Hitler's court. He gives a vivid impression of what it was like to work close to one of the greatest tyrants in history. And Hoffmann knew he was good at his job. No-one could take that away from him. When Hitler's propaganda chief, Dr Goebbels, tried to insist he wear a numbered official photographer's badge Hoffmann refused. "Everybody knows me, with or without number or badge or anything else,' he told him. `I am not Number XYZ - I am Heinrich Hoffmann.' And Heinrich Hoffmann he remained - minus a badge.

When he first published these memoirs in 1955 Hoffmann emblazoned the words "World's most famous photographer" in large letters across the jacket. He was half right. His pictures of Hitler were - and are - published worldwide - more now than ever as we have the Internet. But while Hoffmann was a celebrity in Nazi Germany he was less well-known abroad. He was overshadowed by his subject. A good photographer never gets in the way of the person he is photographing. Hoffmann never did. So it's more true to say he is the world's most famous unknown photographer.

Hoffmann's photos are an astonishing legacy. The Third Reich may have crashed in ruins and its leaders vanished. But Hoffmann's photos - this extraordinary body of creative work - remains. I can think of no major photographer - and have no doubts Hoffmann was a major photographer, one of the most important in history - who had such an extraordinary career. He is one of the few Nazis whose creative work is freely available and used worldwide today. His work still has impact even if its creator is seldom acknowledged.

And new pictures keep emerging from the files. A vast treasure trove of images has never been published - tens of thousands of pictures waiting for a diligent researcher to examine. It's about time they were. In his modern introduction to these memoirs Roger Moorhouse displays a greater understanding of Hoffmann's work and the dilemmas it poses than many critics and takes a more balanced look at his career.

But we need more. The Third Reich may have gone, but Hoffmann's photos ensure Hitler and Nazis are always with us. It's a sinister legacy. Hoffmann's pictures were seized, stolen and scattered after the war. The whole collection needs collating and proper assessment - a catalogue raisonné. It'll take years to produce as Hoffmann was prolific. But let's start. His photos are too important to be treated in a slapdash and casual manner.

In his final words in his memoirs Hoffmann says:- `The man from whose side I scarcely stirred for a quarter of a century lives on in my memory. History, of which I was permitted to perpetuate a few fragments on my films and plates, has marched on ... But later when a few pictures are pulled out, to be shown as documentary evidence of this buried piece of European history to those future generations which were not there to live through it, then among them will be some truly historic photographs, ghostly transfixed fragments of history, perpetuated by a man named Heinrich Hoffmann.'

Time has proved him right.

Like it or not, Hoffmann is a VIP - a Very Important Photographer.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2015 4:57 PM BST


Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile
Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile
by Paul Manning
Edition: Paperback
Price: £27.78

21 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars MARTIN BORMANN AND THE LOCH NESS MONSTER, 26 July 2014
Paul Manning committed journalistic suicide when he published this book in 1981. Until that time this American broadcast journalist had a good reputation. During World War II Manning had worked as a correspondent with the great American broadcaster, Ed Murrow, appearing on CBS Radio and the Mutual Broadcasting System.

But later in life Manning developed an obsession. He became convinced that Adolf Hitler's right-hand man, Martin Bormann, had escaped from Berlin in 1945 and was living in South America.

`There are those who know he is not dead, and I am among those who hold this belief,' he declared in his book "Martin Bormann - Nazi in Exile" - the book I'm reviewing here.

A few years earlier in March 1973 he told readers of "The New York Times" that Bormann `was alive in South America'.

That was an unfortunate claim because Bormann's remains had been unearthed in Berlin the previous December alongside those of Hitler's surgeon Dr Ludwig Stumpfegger. The Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann had seen their dead bodies lying side by side near the Lehrter station shortly after they fled from Hitler's bunker in May 1945. Axmann's story was confirmed by a Post Office worker who later buried the bodies. Now in 1972 building workers discovered the skulls and bones of the two Nazis at the spot where Axmann and the Post Office worker had last seen them.

Stumpfegger, a tall man, was easy to identify. So was Martin Bormann. He was identified by his teeth and a mended collar bone that his family said he'd broken in a riding accident. Scientists at the Institute of Forensic Medicine carried out extensive tests and declared the bones were consistent with photographs and dental records of Martin Bormann. In April 1973 the West German government declared Bormann officially dead.

More proof came in 1998 when the bones were subjected to DNA tests. Bormann's remains were compared with DNA from a relative of Bormann. Investigators confirmed the remains belonged to Bormann.

Two years later Bormann's bones underwent further tests - a mitochondrial DNA comparison. The results were published in the February 14, 2001 issue of International Journal of Legal Medicine. The results supported overwhelmingly the hypothesis that the remains were those of Martin Bormann.

Why does this scientific evidence matter? Because it proves Bormann died in Berlin in 1945 and never fled abroad, let alone to South America. Although there were numerous sightings none was true. All stories that claim Bormann was alive after May 1945 are false. That is the great weakness of Paul Manning's book. He put too much trust in anecdotal evidence and admits he never once saw or spoke to Martin Bormann. His book contains no photos of Bormann after 1945, let alone in South America. There are only three pictures of Bormann in the book - a frontispiece and two shots of him with Hitler, but nothing that proves he survived the war.

Manning's book also lacks proper references - cited sources. The author provides vivid descriptions of Bormann's supposed life in South America - his numerous journeys, fantastic wealth and influence, his thoughts, health, etc. But he fails to supply documentary evidence, or tell readers where he acquired his information. Writing on the SpitfireList blog the political researcher Dave Emory says journalistic colleagues were sceptical about Manning's claims. `Although his research on Bormann was partially funded by CBS News, the network never "went" with the story,' he writes. `Manning paid dearly for his efforts. He was actively marginalized, his family suffered the resultant economic hardship.'

He also had difficulty finding a publisher for this book.

And with good reason. Firstly the forensic evidence presented by the West German Government was convincing. Secondly, another journalist who argued that Bormann escaped and was living in South America, Ladislas Farago, excited international ridicule. Experts poured scorn on his newspaper articles and his book "Aftermath", published in 1974, that flew in the face of the evidence. A sceptical Tim Heald wrote in the London "Times" newspaper:- `The mystery of Martin Bormann is rather like the curious business of the Lock Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman. No one is sure that the monster actually exists but from time to time absolutely irrefutable proof is produced, only to be amazingly refuted.'

The West German government's confirmation of Bormann's death at the end of World War II and Farago's publishing fiasco made journalists wary about extravagant claims. Manning failed to heed the warnings. He plunged headlong into trying to track down a non-existent Martin Bormann. Manning became convinced that a double had been killed and substituted for the real Martin Bormann in 1945. `The alleged Bormann skull is that of a grisly stand-in,' he claimed in his book, `a substitute whose teeth and entire dental structure had been carefully prepared over a period of time on an inmate of Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen who looked almost like the Reichsleiter...'

Manning would have us believe the SS buried the dead body of a Bormann double and a stand-in for the surgeon in some freight yards amid all the shelling and bombing and thousands of dead bodies that littered central Berlin. This was on the off-chance that eventually someone might discover the bodies and recognise Martin Bormann, when in reality Bormann had escaped abroad.

This, I suggest, is implausible. It's too complicated and leaves too much to chance. Berlin was in flames. Are we expected to believe, amid all the chaos of the Third Reich's final days, that Bormann expected the enemy to discover his buried corpse just lying around in the rubble? There was no point in this elaborate deceit if it failed and his body remained hidden for years - which is what happened. His enemies would think he was still alive and try to hunt him down. Surely the sensible thing would have been to plant a double in the bunker, or Reich Chancellery, where a number of people committed suicide? Then the Russians would definitely have found a body and might have thought him dead.

That's assuming you believe the double story. I don't. Nor did the forensic scientists who studied the remains and later carried out DNA tests. And nor do serious historians.

Manning believes in 1948 Bormann arrived in South America disguised as a Jesuit priest. He then has Bormann ricocheting from one place to another - even returning briefly to Europe. Someone was apparently always on Bormann's trail and knew where he'd gone, but nobody ever caught up with him.

This caused one critic, Chris Quinn, to observe:- `Manning argues that after the War Bormann became "the object of history's greatest manhunt" by American, British, and Israeli and countless other nations' intelligence agencies. However Manning also states that the CIA was complicit in the escape and continued protection of Bormann from Nazi hunters. Why would the US government attempt to capture Bormann while at the same time trying to conceal his location?'

Paul Manning sees Bormann at the top of a huge global empire. The former Nazi leader, he tells us, was eighty on 17 June 1980 and `goes on and on, quietly making history in worldwide financial circles ... Bormann today may be likened to a classic member of the board of a vast international business complex, of an organisation holding greater assets than any private investment house on Wall Street.'

Again the critic Chris Quinn raises doubts:- `The scope of the conspiracy required to allow Bormann to live for decades in South America while simultaneously running a huge network of corporations simply fails any rational scrutiny. So many people would have to be involved that at least one would leak the story to the mainstream press.'

The unsourced information Manning provides becomes more and more implausible.
`Adolf Hitler's heir lives a life of ease. He resides on a luxurious estate on an Argentine estancia,' he assures us, never having visited the estate. He tells us Bormann's `vast living room on his Argentinean-pampas ranch is decorated with ... Rembrandts and Durers and other fine paintings that he had purchased or acquired as gifts over the years for Adolf Hitler.'

Really? Which paintings are these? There are comparatively few Rembrandts and Durers. Can anyone name these paintings? Has anyone seen them? After all these decades it's reasonable to assume some information would have surfaced by now.

We're told Bormann was writing his memoirs using a pencil, `but he simply cannot get all the right words out ... Nothing is ever completed, but the pages pile up...'

So here we are 35 years later. Has anyone seen these pages? Where are they?

`Martin Bormann speaks wistfully one day of returning to the Federal Republic but, realist that he is, he accepts that this can never be.'

How does Manning know that when he never met, or spoke to Bormann? Who told Manning? And how does the author know Bormann `enjoys small intimate parties...'

At one point we're told Bormann visited the Ali Baba nightclub in Asuncion, Paraguay, in the company of Dr Mengele.

Another time we're told, `Bormann appeared very much the plantation overseer, with boots, white pants and shirt and a wide-brimmed panama hat.'

Manning gives us snatches of conversation in direct quotes, but where do they come from? What is the source? :- `His thoughts of the past and present are coherent. He speaks of Albert Speer with disdain saying that this "technocrat which we (Hitler and Bormann) made is a traitor to the party. His memoirs twisted the history of those days out of all proportion".'

Yes, but where's the proof? After all these years all that's surfaced are details of distant sightings from various files, but no close-up evidence, no photos, no documents, no artefacts - nothing convincing. The only details about Bormann's death, earthly remains and DNA surfaced in Berlin. Nothing has emerged from South America.

Rumours yes, proof no.

Even that maverick David Irving says Bormann, as well as Hitler and Eva died in Berlin in 1945.

You can shell out good money on this kind of book if you want. But you can also download a copy for free online. The wise reader, however, needs to proceed with caution and keep asking as more and more extravagant claims are made - what is the source of this information? And why has so little been confirmed decades later?

Paul Manning died in 1995, a few years before Bormann's remains were DNA tested. Death spared him the final indignity - proof beyond doubt that Bormann had died in 1945 and Manning had wasted years of his life chasing a mirage.

Why bother writing a review about this old and discredited book? Because copies are still available and fooling readers today. Worse still, modern conspiracy theorists are falsely claiming it's a reliable source of information when it's anything but.

Amid all the mistakes and fantasies there's one comforting thought in this book. Readers will find it on pages 169 - 172. There, like most responsible historians, Manning argues Hitler committed suicide in the Berlin bunker on 30 April 1945, along with his new bride Eva Braun. Now there's something for conspiracy theorists to think about when they claim the unhappy couple escaped from the stricken city and fled abroad with Martin Bormann.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 9, 2016 8:28 PM BST


Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground
Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground
by Jonathan Kay
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.66

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Distrubing - America is heading for the rocks, 20 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a most disturbing book. It's a little dry, but I've read it twice and find it's arguments convincing. I think the author is right. The Truthers are doing immense damage to rational discourse. Their numbers are increasing and they are undermining the democratic system and America. You've only to read their ravings amongst the one star reviews on Amazon's American site to see how deranged some of them are.

It's their hatred of genuine expertise I find so disturbing. Anyone with genuine knowledge is immediately suspect. In the past you could dismiss these fringe loonies. But the author demonstrates many are now found in the educated middle class. When they start spouting junk watch out. America is heading for the rocks and with it the free world if it fails to deal with the problem.

Another book worth reading is "Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory Has Shaped Modern History" by David Aaronovitch.
He, too, is worried by the influence conspiracy theorists are having.


1997 Conservative anti Tony Blair New Labour Election Poster A3 Print
1997 Conservative anti Tony Blair New Labour Election Poster A3 Print
by Vintage Poster Shop
Edition: Map

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Events have proved it right!, 22 Jun. 2014
This poster was controversial when first published. No longer! History has proved it correct. Blair was the man who gave us five wars in six years - including Iraq, the greatest uncontrolled immigration in Britain's history and he and Gordon Brown failed to predict the international financial collapse - a triple whammy!

These may be "honest mistakes". So was the Munich agreement. Neville Chamberlain's reputation has never recovered. Nor, I suspect will Blair's. He's crossed the Chamberlain line.


London's New Routemaster
London's New Routemaster
by Tony Lewin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.84

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hail the Boris bus!, 14 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So London's Mayor Boris Johnson - the man who gave us the Boris bike and presided over London during the triumphant Olympic Games and Diamond Jubilee celebrations, now brings us the Boris bus - London's new Routemaster. For the first time in history riding on a London bus is in danger of becoming cool.

This book is a celebration and published in association with Transport for London. So it's an official publication and sings the praises of the bus and everyone involved, including Boris Johnson! That having been said there's no doubt the new bus was needed and is a remarkable achievement. In the 1970s and 80s some terrible designs with screeching brakes, disfigured London. No-one seemed able to design a good-looking comfortable bus. To travel on one was a down-market experience - something for the old and society's losers. The bendy buses, introduced by the previous mayor Ken Livingstone, were a disaster - a challenge to drive and menace to other roads users, especially cyclists and pedestrians struggling to cross the road. Then along came Boris Johnson. He promised to scrap the foreign-built bendies and replace them by a British built Routemaster. Despite scepticism he succeeded and created a new icon for the capital.

Did I say British built? Yes, this bus was built in the UK, but outside London. People across the country have benefited. The bus is built in Northern Ireland, the engines in Darlington, the seats in Huddersfield, the flooring in Liskeard etc. Where the brilliant red paint comes from I have no idea. Perhaps someone will let us know.

Although this is an official publication the author Tony Lewin, knows his subject and provides a lot of fascinating information. The book is lavishly illustrated and recounts the history of double-deckers in London while telling us about the development of the new Routemaster. Interestingly the designers regarded the bus, which is larger than the original Routemaster, as a slow moving building on wheels. To prevent this big vehicle looming over our streets the designers rounded off the corners and curved the exterior reducing the visual mass of the bus. Unlike the drab off-the peg vehicles that made bus travel in London such an unpleasant experience the new Routemaster is tailor-made for the capital - a bespoke design with a distinctive character.

What Londoners see on their streets now - 600 buses are planned - is changing the look of the capital providing stylish public transport for ordinary people and something that will appeal to visitors.

The new Routemaster was chosen from many designs submitted in a public competition. The book also shows pictures of some of the runner-ups. Many of these designs look good, too. So other cities in the UK and abroad might find a new design for their public transport already on the drawing board if they want something different from the Boris bus.

So, we've had the Boris Bike. Now we've got the Boris Bus. And soon we'll have the Boris train! Yes, new designer Underground trains are planned. Great to think ordinary people can travel round the capital in style.


Panasonic DMC-TZ60EB-K Lumix Compact Digital Camera (18.1 MP, 30x Optical Zoom, High Sensitivity MOS Sensor) 3 inch LCD (New for 2014) - Black
Panasonic DMC-TZ60EB-K Lumix Compact Digital Camera (18.1 MP, 30x Optical Zoom, High Sensitivity MOS Sensor) 3 inch LCD (New for 2014) - Black

5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars LOOKS GREAT-BUT TELE PHOTO LENS TOO LONG!, 4 Jun. 2014
I've been using Panasonic Lumix compact cameras for a number of years and am delighted with the pictures they produce. For the past 18 months I've used a DMC-SZI and I've written a review about it here on Amazon.

Now along comes this new camera with an eye level viewfinder which I really want. There's only one problem - the lens. A 30x zoom is far too long and powerful! A 10X zoom would be ideal. A smaller lens would be more compact and cheaper.

Is it too much to hope Panasonic will produce this camera with and eye level viewfinder and 18 million pixels, but a smaller lens?

So at the moment I'm awarding the camera three stars, though I expect it would deserve more if it was produced in the form I prefer.
Comment Comments (16) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 4, 2014 3:38 PM BST


Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich
Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich
by Ladislas Farago
Edition: Paperback

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute drivel - Avoid!, 1 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is junk. First published in 1974 it excited international ridicule. Gales of helpless laughter swept around the world. Serious historians have laughed ever since. But the ignorant and conspiracy theorists lapped up every word. They believe this book is true despite mountains of evidence that proves it's fraudulent.

The British historian Stephen Dorril claimed its author, the journalist Ladislas Farago, was the 'most successful disinformer or dupe' regarding the presence of Nazis in South America.

And in his book "The Nazi Menace in Argentina" Ronald Newton told readers the historic record had been left 'booby-trapped with an extraordinary number of hoaxes, forgeries, unanswered propaganda ploys and assorted dirty tricks'.

Ladislas Farago fell for them hook, line and sinker. In fact his book "AFTERMATH" was sunk in 1972 - two years before it was published. In that year he published a series of articles in two newspapers - the London Daily Express and the New York Daily News. Farago claimed one the world's most wanted Nazis, Martin Bormann, had survived the war and was now leading the life of a prosperous businessman in Argentina. And the papers published a photo to prove it.

Unfortunately, the photo turned out to be a picture of an innocent man - a respected schoolteacher. And the man Farago claimed was his star informant denounced the articles.

"The Ottawa Journal" summarised the story that went round the world under the headline - `Never saw Bormann or looked for him Bormann ... Stories are phonies, Argentinean says.' The paper reported:- `The New York Times says in a report from Buenos Aires that an Argentine intelligence officer credited in news stories with tracking down top Nazi Martin Bormann has said he never saw Bormann, or even looked for him. The Times quotes Juan Jose Velasco identified as the main informant in a series of articles researched by Ladislas Farago and carried recently by the Daily News here and the London Daily Express as saying the documents used by Farago were forgeries. "I think he's dead," The Times quotes Velasco as saying.'

The Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh rubbed salt in the wounds - `Bormann Documents "Hoax," Israeli Expert Charges' ... `An Israeli expert said today that the recent "revelations" that Hitler's deputy Martin Bormann was alive in Argentina were untrue and based on documents that "are a hoax." Vaacov Caroz, an Israeli writer and acknowledged expert on Intelligence matters, said the documents cited by author Ladislas Farago as proof that Bormann fled to Argentina in 1948 and still lives there contain no information that has not been available to the public from other sources for years.'

According to the Independent Press - Telegram (10 December 1972 - Page 35):- `The Argentine Federal Police, from whose files Farago said the documents printed with his articles had come, stated categorically last Wednesday that none of the published documents had come from their files. Commissisioner Osvaldo A. Messore, chief spokesman for the federal police, was supplied last Monday with a written list of the documents cited by number in Farago's article and with copies of the Daily Express in which the facsimiles of some documents were reproduced. As Farago's series unfolded, much of its content seemed familiar to those who have kept up with newspaper and magazine publications on the flight of Nazis to South America since the war. There also were gross errors in key details, such as the name and description of the Argentine ranch where Bormann allegedly had been traced by Argentine intelligence officials.'

So collapse of Farago's newspaper articles. Worse was the come.

A few days later, the West German authorities dug up Bormann's remains in Berlin. His corpse was last seen 27 years before in 1945 by the Hitler Youth Leader Artur Axmann near the Lehrter station. This was shortly after Bormann fled from the bunker following Hitler's suicide. In 1972 workmen discovered human remains near the site. The skull was examined and Bormann identified by the teeth. Also the bones. Bormann had damaged his shoulder during a riding accident and the bones showed evidence of this.

The London Times newspaper carried this report dated 28 Feb 1973:- `The West German authorities ended their search for Martin Bormann today with a ruling that a skeleton found here late last year belonged to Hitler's deputy.

`"The hunt for Bormann is over", Herr Wilhelm Metzner, the Frankfurt prosecutor who has been in charge of the Bormann investigation, said."

The report forwarded to Herr Metzner from West Berlin Institute for Forensic Medicine `said Bormann had been identified through the skeleton's teeth, measurements, skull shape and mended collar bone.'

The Times carried a further report dated 11 April 1973:- `Martin Bormann is officially dead ... "The investigation into what happened to Hitler's deputy is now officially closed. There is no doubt whatever that Bormann committed suicide in Berlin in 1945."

`Thus Herr Joachim Richter. A Hesse Land prosecutor, announced in Frankfurt today that one of the longest criminal investigations ever undertaken has come to an end. Herr Richter's conclusion is based on a combination of personal accounts by a number of people who saw Bormann's body in 1945 and on a vast amount of scientific documentation.'

Bormann's body was found next to a much taller man, Hitler's personal surgeon Dr Ludwig Stumpfegger, who's corpse was also spotted in 1945. He, too, was successfully identified.

A wise man would have abandoned his book. But no! Farago had received advance payment of $100,000 for his book and published "AFTERMATH - Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich" in 1974. The result was catastrophic. Abuse and scorn rained down upon him.

Farago died in 1980 and escaped the final humiliation - the proof beyond all doubt that Bormann died in 1945. This evidence confirmed that the stories Farago told about the Nazi leader living in South America were false.

In 1998 Bormann's remains were DNA tested. An article in The Los Angeles Times sums up what happened:-

`NAZI'S FAMILY SAYS CASE CLOSED - May 06, 1998 Reuters

BONN -- Martin Bormann's family welcomed news that DNA tests had shown remains found more than 20 years ago were those of the Nazi, saying they hoped the findings would lay to rest speculation over his whereabouts.

Scientists confirmed Monday that DNA testing showed a skull and other remains found at a Berlin building site in 1972 were those of Bormann, Adolf Hitler's right-hand man.

The bones discovered in Berlin were widely thought to be those of Bormann after dental records and injuries found on the remains matched those of Hitler's henchman, but rumours of his escape and survival continued.

The DNA test "rules out any further speculation over the death or survival of Martin Bormann after 1945 for any serious reporter," the family said in a statement.

The family has consistently maintained that Bormann died in May 1945.'

Yes, even the family were convinced Martin Bormann died at the end of the war. Two years later Bormann's remains underwent further tests - a mitochondrial DNA comparison. The results were published in the February 14, 2001 issue of International Journal of Legal Medicine. They supported overwhelmingly the hypothesis that the remains were those of Martin Bormann. Here is a summary of the report in US National Library of Medicine - National Institute of Health:-

`Identification of the skeletal remains of Martin Bormann by mtDNA analysis.

Anslinger K1, Weichhold G, Keil W, Bayer B, Eisenmenger W.

Author information: (1) Institute of Legal Medicine, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany.

Contrary to statements of an eye-witness who reported that Martin Bormann,
the second most powerful man in the Third Reich, died on 2 May 1945 in Berlin,
rumours persisted over the years that he had escaped from Germany after World War
II. In 1972, skeletal remains were found during construction work, and by
investigating the teeth and the bones experts concluded that they were from
Bormann. Nevertheless, new rumours arose and in order to end this speculation we
were commissioned to identify the skeletal remains by mitochondrial DNA analysis.
The comparison of the sequence of HV1 and HV2 from the skeletal remains and a
living maternal relative of Martin Bormann revealed no differences and this
sequence was not found in 1,500 Caucasoid reference sequences. Based on this
investigation, we support the hypothesis that the skeletal remains are those of
Martin Bormann.

PMID: 11296895 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]'

Still unconvinced? Then visit the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. You will see it gives Martin Bormann's dates as 1900-1945. In other words Bormann died at the end of the war and never escaped. The museum adds this about Bormann:- `West German authorities officially declared him dead in 1973 after his remains were discovered and positively identified.'

So why bother to review this discredited book that has been out of print for decades and excites so much derision from informed and authoritative sources? Because there are still people who believe it's true, quote it in their books and praise it in reviews here on Amazon. Some believe Hitler and Eva Braun escaped, too, and fled to South America.

I would draw their attention to pages 125-127 in Farago's book where he does get something right. There he describes the suicides of Hitler and Eva in the Berlin bunker on 30 April 1945. `Martin Bormann,' he tells us, 'watched as the gasoline-soaked bodies of Adolf Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun, were slowly consumed by the flames of the improvised pyre.'

So no trip to South America, or anywhere else. And if Bormann was dead shortly afterwards all the stories Farago recounts about him in South America are fantasies. South Americans saw this rich foreigner flashing his money around, fed him tales and took his cash. He was even aware this was happening.

`I was consistently warned,' he tells us on page 97, `that these Latins were past masters in producing documents on any matter, even of the greatest sensitivity, by the relative simple method of forging them.'

And they did! Farago was conned time after time. His informers led him a merry dance.

One reader assured me at the climax to his 550-page book Farago `wrote that he personally met Martin Bormann in South America.' Some meeting! Even Farago derides it. On page 491 he wrote:- `It was at this stage (1973) that I saw Martin Bormann - saw him is the right word, because it would be too much to say that we met.'

You're telling me! After being given the run-around by various con-men who were trying to get him to pay $500,000 for Bormann's bogus memoirs (which contained nothing of interest about Hitler) Farago was taken to a remote convent hospital `somewhere in southern Bolivia'. There, he tells us, he was granted `a five-minute visit (with no questions asked and, certainly, no answers given.)' On entering the room he found a senile, old man propped up in bed who uttered two sentences:- `Dammit, don't you see I'm an old man? So why don't you let me die in peace?'

Farago left. And that's it! No interview, no photographs, no finger-prints. Hardly conclusive proof that Bormann survived the war.

We can ignore everything else - the dodgy photos that Farago assures us are Bormann in South America, but look nothing like him. We can chuckle about the `beauty queen called Miss Nazi World' and attempts to seduce Bormann's mistress at the Bim Bam Bum nightclub. We may wonder as we're told Bormann `commuted constantly' to a 'heavily fortified German camp ... It's owner Fritz Schneider, an ex-Nazi who became a fanatical leader of a mystic sect in his exile, had thoughtfully installed an antiaircraft gun on the estancia to assure Bormann's safety from Jewish raiders who, Schneider feared, might come by helicopter for the snatch.'

Bormann is even supposed to have fathered four more children. Where are they, by the way? Anyone seen them? Any photos, information, or DNA proof? Of course not!

Since this wretched book was published there's been no outpouring of information confirming Bormann ever set foot in South America. Conspiracy theorists can't even agree on what year Bormann arrived. Farago claims he arrived by ship in 1948 disguised as a Jesuit priest.

Meanwhile in his book "MARTIN BORMANN - Nazi in exile" Paul Manning claims Bormann boarded a ship the previous year - that's 1947 - `a rather sizeable freighter' - sailed to South America and `steamed into the harbor of Buenos Aires in the winter of 1947'.

And in Harry Cooper's book "HITLER IN ARGENTINA" a Nazi spy called Velasco claims he and Bormann together escaped to Argentina onboard a submarine in the summer of 1946.

So which year did Bormann arrive in South America - 1946, 1947, or 1948? The answer? ... None of them as Bormann died in Berlin in 1945. These conspiracy theorist constantly disagree with each other, let alone reputable historians. Yet they expect readers to believe their fantasies. Well, it's time for the nonsense to stop. It's time readers adopted a more critical attitude and got wise to what's going on.

Even that maverick David Irving says Bormann, as well as Hitler and Eva died in Berlin in 1945.

In September 2009 the Daily Mail newspaper published an article by Beth Hale entitled:- `MI5 obsession with Hitler's deputy Martin Bormann led Britain on Nazi goose chase.'

By the late 1940s Britain Secret Intelligence Service was fed up with constant sightings of Martin Bormann that came from all over the world. They were convinced he was dead. Beth Hale uncovered a typical incident:- The `files reveal an entertaining account from November 1951 when Special Branch officers are called to a report that Bormann has walked into the offices of the Chicago Tribune, in London.

`The journalist - Arthur Veysey - was convinced but the policeman was not.

"At a glance it was obvious he was not (Bormann)," he wrote in a memo.

`The man was in fact Harry Adcock, alias Harry Beaumont, the officer notes, adding that the fake Bormann lived in 'cheap lodging house' in N7 and was in fact a 'casually employed waiter' who was 'slightly unbalanced' and whose 'imagination runs riot when he has had a few drinks.

`The officer adds: "I have emphasised to Veysey that he was hoaxed - and easily at that".'

And those words - `he was hoaxed - and easily at that.' - apply to Farago and a host of gullible conspiracy theorists who think Martin Bormann survived the war. They're still writing their fantasy books - I've reviewed some of them here on Amazon - and they're still fooling the gullible. Get wise. Read some proper history and study the evidence and you'll avoid being duped. Farago was a buffoon. Why emulate him?
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 22, 2016 5:37 PM BST


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