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Very Lazy WWII Photo Diary

by ThatBritGuy Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 09:04:08 AM EST

Life magazine has published some remarkable, vividly creepy German WWII photos from its collection. They're very much worth a visit.

Adolf Hitler: Up Close - Photo Gallery, 17 Pictures - LIFE

Hugo Jaeger, one of Hitler's personal photographers, in 1970. Jaeger's story -- and the story of how LIFE came to own his photographs of Hitler -- is nothing short of astonishing. In 1945, when the Allies were making their final push toward Munich, Jaeger found himself face to face with six American soldiers in a small town west of the city. During a search of the house where Jaeger was staying, the Americans found a leather suitcase in which Jaeger had hidden thousands of color photo transparencies. He knew he would be arrested (or worse) if the Americans discovered his film and his close connection to Hitler. He could never have imagined what happened next.

The American soldiers threw open the suitcase that held the Hitler images. Inside, they found a bottle of cognac that Jaeger had placed atop the transparencies. Elated, the soldiers proceeded to share the bottle with Jaeger and the owner of the house.

The suitcase was forgotten.

More here on an independent site and on Life's original site.


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Sorry, but I find this to be a stupid story - so soldiers in the tough battles following D Day were more interested in some booze than some photos  - amazing. Nor do I find the photos "remarkable" - pretty standard Nazi propaganda pics. The caption to one is:

"Young, Beautiful, Doomed
German actress Marieluise Claudius leans back in a chair in the Chancellery during an artists reception in Berlin, 1940. A prolific film actress during the 1930s, she died of heart failure in 1941, at age 29."

So ? Oh, but it excuses a headline "Young beautiful, doomed" - sounds like promo for a 40s Hollywood film.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:00:20 PM EST
It's ostensibly interesting because so little of this stuff, while hardly rare at the time, is still around and available to the public.  (Though I suppose that might not be the case in Germany.)  Because people either want to destory it, get rid of it or just not look at it.  And you don't know if the people who do want to look at it or own it are really people you want to encourage!

I've had the fine bloody fortune to have to process a donation of this stuff.  It's not fun.  You want to go home and shower.  Not because it is about Nazis.  But because it is from Nazis.  There is a creepy intimacy factor and most people just don't want that level of intimacy with Hitler.  Many people won't keep the stuff in their offices.  And yet, the historical record necessitates it.  And there is something to be said for these sources and the way they bring everything out of mythology and back into reality.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 06:15:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
those objects have a lot of bad juju attached to them.

the pix are creepy and then some.

it really was the biggest occurrence of collective insanity we have in recorded history, and not too damn long ago.

what strikes me about hitler was how unprepossessing he looks, not a milquetoast exactly, but what was the name of that thurber character?

goes google... yeah walter mitty was the one.

he's a born anti-hero, it's in his body language when he's not in full trumpeting mode, at which point it's demonic possession, the black lamb becomes the roaring demagogue, and focusses the peoples' projection, alla grande.

maybe this unity (as they felt all on the same page) is the nemesis we rightly fear, and the antithesis of union, though they share such similar etymology.

the terribly existential work of making up one's mind for oneself, versus the comfortably numb reassurance of groupthink, that's what makes us better humans, and that's what these sick pictures drive home...this is what the front end of all that consequent agony and pain looked like, the damsels in white cavorting, the aging lanky majors in the shorts, the passion of belonging to the same herd, all mooing in the right direction, euphorised by agreement, all sick fucks... innocently jumping on the bus of progress, industrial superpowerdom, WORLD DOMINATION!!!

the bliss of the deluded ego, in full adrenalised flush, so happy together.

well, now i feel ill. thanks tbg.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 07:00:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been reading a good selection of WWII history recently. One of the strangest and most reassuring features of Nazi history is the way that many highly placed Germans spoke out against atrocity. Not a few of them risked - and sometimes lost - their lives through public criticism.

The Nazis were more or less a few Hitler cronies with trained support from the SS and the Gestapo. Even with an industrial propaganda machine, democratic support was always partial. It started strongly, but rapidly crumbled as the war became more and more of an obvious disaster.

Some of Hitler's most vehement critics came from Germany's military establishment. There were at least two other planned assassinations in addition to the famous failed bombing.

So in spite of Nazism, there was a solid core of more or less obviously enlightened morality in Germany. Nazism didn't so much destroy it, as it destroyed itself and left older more civilised values badly damaged, but unexpectedly functional.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 07:16:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you haven't already, do read William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. He covered Germany from Berlin and Paris during the '30s, saw the writing on the wall of what was coming, and was present when France surrendered to the Nazis.

I knew Shirer late in his life, and it always amazed me that he saw so much horror and still remained a nice person. But then, he also knew Gandhi, so perhaps it balanced.

by Mnemosyne on Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 07:20:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"unprepossessing" - in still photos - but many have attested to his charisma and ability to convince sceptical generals that they could win. The doc "The Double-headed Eagle" is one of the few which doesn't just show the usual dramatic bits with Hitler foaming at the mouth, but shows extensive extracts from his speeches, showing how he starts out very calm and even funny, and gradually gets the audience going. Speer, who was no fool, went to one of his speeches, noted how he had adapted to - on that occasion - a quite intellectual audience, Speer was a university lecturer and some of his students invited him to join them at the speech. He signed up for the Nazi party the next day.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 11:15:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...where one must note that Speer coloured his reminiscences, too, to make himself appear an all-naive intellectual drawn in by the devilish charm of Hitler, rather than a spineless man with ambition.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 02:09:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He wasn't exactly the only one who found Hitler persuasive, and many of these were not particularly ambitious. It's too easy to suggest that Hitler was obviously a fool/bad guy and that nobody could have sincerely supported him, even at the beginning.

For an intelligent study of how Hitler drew on existing elements in German culture, see "Hitler, the fuhrer and the people":

"Professor Stern has done a pioneering study of the rhetoric of Nazism, a rhetoric that coupled words and action. He examines the speeches, writings, and conversations of Hitler and places them in the context of traditional beliefs of the society into which Hitler, the "ideal outsider," made his way."

http://www.amazon.com/Hitler-F%C3%83%C2%BChrer-J-P-Stern/dp/0520029526

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 06:56:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's too easy to suggest that Hitler was obviously a fool/bad guy and that nobody could have sincerely supported him,

Stop your horses, no one was suggesting that. I talked about Speer, about whom you apparently haven't read enough.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Aug 29th, 2009 at 03:57:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you should have indicated what I ought to read - in addition to your opinions. I have read his autobiography, though a long time ago. As I recollect it,  he doesn't present Hitler as mesmeric, but just as very convincing that evening. In fact he condemns himself, not for being easily hypnotised by Hitler, but for having been irresponsible. He says that, especially as  a university lecturer, he ought to have read up on the Nazis, read Hitler's Mein Kampf critically, before taking such a decision.

Whatever his motives I don't find it implausible that he was genuinely impressed by Hitler - my basic point - he was not alone in this. Let's take another university lecturer, the eminent British historian, Arnold Toynbee, you can't accuse him of careerist motives in relation to Hitler, nor was he an uncritical admirer of Hitler before meeting him, as the beginning of the following quotation illustrates, so his opinion is more convincing, and his opinion, as far as Hitler's ability as a speaker is concerned, was very positive (thus making it plausible that Speer too was genuinely impressed):

toynbee hitler

The Avoidable War: Pierre Laval & the politics of reality, 1935-1936 By J. Kenneth Brody, p. 215

http://books.google.com/books?id=0u-1Q-UoeQMC

 

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Sep 1st, 2009 at 05:06:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ted Welch:
"unprepossessing" - in still photos - but many have attested to his charisma and ability to convince sceptical generals that they could win.

great pix slice through the mask, or sneak under it, or catch the subject in those rare moments it has fallen off.

and without it hitler looks like a banal little man caught up in a delirium of his own making. nothing epic about him.

madness is a twist of faith, and these generals confused the two, possibly because they could shift blame later if (when) it goes pearshaped, by saying they 'followed orders'.

all you need is one madman at the top, add a battery of meme-cloners, an efficient propaganda machine, and voila!

conveniently ignoring how the foamer speaks for a part of everyman, and displacing their own shadow onto the scapegoats du jour.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 11:19:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's just too simplistic to dismiss him like this and to say the generals were just stupid. History is more complex and bad guys aren't just idiots. That's why the The Double-headed Eagle TV doc is a useful corrective to the usual cartoon versions of history; it shows why so many - not stupid - Germans supported Hitler.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 06:44:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's just too simplistic to dismiss him like this and to say the generals were just stupid

i doubt the generals were stupid, actually Ted, but i don't doubt they were as deluded as you can get to be, and they clearly saw what they wanted to see, projected on the psychotic screen/mirror he provided.

of course i'm being simplistic, it's just a blog comment!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 04:01:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, exactly.

I'm not really interested in Life's captioning, but it's rather unimaginative and adolescent to dismiss a significant historical record as 'boring.'

They're candid shots of real people doing real things. Unfortunately the people happened to be monsters, and many of the real things were barbarities.

The interest for me is in the combination of a recognisable and familiar Europe, made disturbing and unrecognisable by fascist pageantry and values.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 07:03:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
They're candid shots of real people doing real things. Unfortunately the people happened to be monsters, and many of the real things were barbarities.

it occurs to me that as a race, we are addicted to stupidity because our own intelligence is perceived as frightening. people who evolve too much intelligence too early stick out and are often punished, as if the group is threatened by someone getting too far from the average.

perhaps some anti jewish hatred was stimulated by an envy of perceived greater shrewdness/intelligence even.

what will it take to make people enjoy developing their higher cerebral faculties, instead of being freaked out by them?

more humour?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 09:24:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"but it's rather unimaginative and adolescent to dismiss a significant historical record as 'boring.'"

 Oh, excuse me for disagreeing with you. "It's not very "significant" there's lots of such stuff, the Nazis were very media savvy  - what does it show we haven't seen before ?

For a really significant documentary on the rise of Hitler see "The Double-headed eagle" based on the extensive film from the period.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 11:08:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I understand, much of this archive was not for public...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 02:10:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But much very like this was.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 06:58:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. But, the best is to find revealing moments in them, when, even if for a moment, they drop the mask. The best one I saw was at some mass event (probably Nuremburg).

You know the Hitler acting like a maniac while speaking to the masses, right? Maybe you also know one of the other Hitlers, who acts like the uncle of the nation when receiving delegations in traditional clothes (especially when consisting of girls)?

Now, there is a take made when the stage managers apparently missed a beat. The peasant girls arrived to Hitler from behind too early, so when he was called and turned around, he was still the "maniac" Hitler, and the effort to quickly switch to the "nations' uncle" Hitler turned even more comical - so he grinned & blushed for a moment.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 04:24:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was an aspect of Hitler of which I was reminded by my young niece, who my brother and his wife found practicing expressions in the mirror at age 3.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 12:38:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
pretty standard Nazi propaganda pics

Most of them, but not all. For example the two car factory images show Hitler not in a standard pose and from a standard angle (one shows him with men larger than him, the other with a tired facial expression imitated by Bruno Ganz in Downfall). The photo showing the faces of Austrian brownshirts in front of Hitler is also interesting.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 04:16:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]

It reminds me of a story my grandmother told me before she died. Sometime during the 30's she was visiting friends in Germany and Hitler was visiting the city the same day, huge parade, flags from windows, people on balconies and so on. You really didn't wanted to be seen not having a swastika flag hanging from your window if you were at home that day. So she and the entire family she was visiting actually hid in the farthest reaches of their apartment, as far away from the windows as was physically possible. And my grandmother never got to see Hitler.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 09:28:34 AM EST


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