"Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

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Grisu
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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by Grisu » 30 Oct 2010 15:23

Adam Carr wrote:I'm still of the view that the techniques available in 1932 for faking photos would not stand up to modern scrutiny, even on a print or reproduction if the original plate is lost. The only thing that would refute that is another photo of the same spot at the same time, in which Hitler cannot be seen.
Adam Carr wrote:Hoffman could not have taken two photos of the same spot at the same time with the camera technology of 1914.
Adam, you have written about the photo technology and photo faking techniques of the late 1910s and early 1930s, respectively. Could you provide some sources that explain these two aspects in greater depth?

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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by J. Duncan » 06 Nov 2010 10:02

I re-read the original source article for this topic and discovered upon careful examination that without the negative (which was not found), any argument that the picture was "probably faked" is nonsense. Only the negative would "prove" the case conclusively since photos taken from other angles not showing Hitler do not mean Hitler was never there at all. In the Hitler film clip of the event, Hitler is much further to the left than he is in the still picture. Hitler may have moved around in the crowd or was only in that area briefly. The film clip is a "reel" problem (pun intended!). I tried real hard to compare the people in the film with the people around Hitler in the still photo. There are a lot of "tweed" hats in the still picture which I can't discern in the film clip. If you look very carefully in the film, there is a tram running in the background, as well as one of those buggy-like cars of the period. What's strange about the film clip is that the photographer showed doesn't really look like Hoffmann (who was shorter and had a lame back) so I don't think the "photographer" in the film clip is Hoffmann, and the "kids" sitting on the lion's precipice are different in the film than they are in the still picture, unless those kids were taking turns perching in that spot. The film doesn't prove anything....based upon careful examination, I think the film clip is a lost or cut section from a more modern film, and not necessarily from a German archive.

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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by OpanaPointer » 06 Nov 2010 13:25

J.D., there is a nearly 20-year interval between the photograph and the "discovery" of AH in the photograph. So any copies made prior to 1932 can be compared to the one in question to see if they match up or not. There are people looking into this. Not a high priority for them, of course.
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Grisu
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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by Grisu » 06 Nov 2010 23:08

Let's get some facts straight:

The source for the whole discussion is the current exhibition of the Deutsches Museum Berlin (DHM) called "Hitler und die Deutschen" (transl. Hitler and the Germans). In one section of the exhibition, the organizers try to illustrate Hitler's rise from an unknown soldier to the Führer - and all the propaganda around it. Some basic information can be found on the homepage of the DHM.

The photo we're discussing here is part of this exhibition, where the caption reads "Möglicherweise handelt es sich bei diesem Bild um eine Fälschung aus der NS-Zeit." (transl. This picture is possibly [my emphasis] a falsification of the national socialist era, souce).

Now here comes the first bend: Several media ran stories along the lines of "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked", "Odeonsplatz picture declared a fake", etc. In other words, the original message of the caption has been altered drastically: It's quite some distance from "possibly" to "probably" and on to "certainly" (or a degree of certainty that allows to declare something). Let's just keep this in mind.

One more thing: Historiography works with various degrees of certainty. From an academic perspective it is entirely legitimate to draw certain conclusions based on the (systematic study of) certain sources. Historians (critically) assess sources, draw their conclusions, and state their qualified professional opinion.

Now let's see who this guy is who stated his qualified professional opinion, i.e. who alluded to the possibility of the picture being a forgery. It's historian Gerd Krumeich, who is one of the leading German scholars in WW I studies. He has written his doctoral thesis in this field, was the head of several a research projects on WW I, and held the chair of Modern History at the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf from 1997 to 2010. Even a brief glance into his extensive list of publications (see here) shows that he is part of the scientific community, which entails that he has been exposed to academic criticism for decades.

What did he do?

First, he was skeptical of the timeframes surrounding the publication of the picture: According to Hoffmann, he talked to Hitler about Odeonsplatz in 1929. Hoffmann scrutinized the five plates he had from the rally, but did not find Hitler in any of them. Some weeks later, again according to Hoffmann, a sixth plate surfaced - and contained the face of the Führer. In 1930, the "Illustrierter Beobacher", a national socialist propaganda magazine co-founded by Hoffmann, who was still a key photo contributor, featured a photo of the rally, but not the one containing Hitler. The question that one may ask is why a propaganda medium doesn't make use of a fantastic propaganda photo. The photo was not published until two years later, just prior the the Reichspräsident election - after Hitler had been attacked during the election campaign for his possible lack of patriotism. Now the photo fitted perfetly, the caption read: "Adolf Hitler, der deutsche Patriot" (Adolf Hitler, the German patriot). Enough to qualify the photo as fake? No.

Next, by studying various versions of the picture, Krumeich came to learn that Hitler's hair looked different in different versions of the photo, leading the historian to assume that at least some parts of the pictures were retouched.

Third, he examined other pictures that were taken on that day on Odeonsplatz and didn't discover Hitler in any of them, even not in those covering the area where Hitler stood according to the published photo.

Fourth, another scholar, Thomas Weber from Aberdeen University, has studied film footage of the rally and has come to the conclusion that Hitler may well have been there, but that nonetheless Hoffmann retouched the photo in question to put Hitler in a more prominent spot. A man somewhat resembling Hitler can indeed be spotted on the film, but closer to the Theatinerkirche than on the published picture. His book "Hitler's First War. Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War" has recently been published by OUP (see here).

So, where do we stand now? In his article "Der Erste Weltkrieg im propagandistischen Kalkül von Joseph Goebbels" (transl. First World War in Joseph Goebbel's propagandistic calculations), published in "Nationalsozialismus und Erster Weltkrieg" (transl. National Socialism and First World War), ed. Krumeich, Bernd Sösemann, renowned expert on mass communication and propaganda, states that "etliche starke Indizien zusammengetragen, die den Gedanken an eine Manipulation nahe legen" (transl. several strong pieces of evidence [were] gathered, which certainly allow to think of manipulation). Nothing more, and nothing less.

Having understood the genesis of the caption of the photo in the exhibition, i.e. having understood the source of the discussion, allows us to go on. And in doing so, some claims made in this thread so far have to be criticised:

- The claim that the picture cannot be faked as there are also moving images of the rally has to be re-considered in the light on Weber's findings. The same counts for the claim that "later footage shows him [Hitler] very very clearly". (In addition, it should be noted that known images of the 1914 Hitler don't really resemble the Odeonsplatz-Hitler.)
- The claim that is was impossible to fake the photo using photo technology and photo faking techniques of the late 1910s and early 1930s is yet to be backed by substantial sources.
- The claim that the hypothesis was first posted in a German periodical/tabloid as well as the claim that it is against German law "to say otherwise" are both factually incorrect. No one in Germany gets "locked up" for their scientific findings.
- The claim that only the examination of the original photo plate may lead to reliable results does not consider other promising approaches.

References:
DHM (online): Hitler und die Deutschen, URL.
Die Welt (online): Berühmtes Hitler-Foto möglicherweise gefälscht, URL.
Klartext Verlag (online): Gerd Krumeich, "Nationalsozialismus und Erster Weltkrieg", URL.
List of publications Bernd Sösemann (online): Gesamtbibliographie, URL.
List of publications Gerd Krumeich (online, pdf): Schriftenverzeichnis, URL.
Oxford University Press (online): Thomas Weber, "Hitler's First War", URL.

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Adam Carr
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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by Adam Carr » 07 Nov 2010 02:50

Thanks Grisu for that useful summary. I don't think I said that the photographic technology of the time would not have allowed the photo to be convincingly doctored. I think I said that I doubted that the doctoring techniques of the time would stand up to modern scrutiny. I'm not any kind of expert on this, but this will be my view until someone demonstrates the contrary.

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Grisu
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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by Grisu » 07 Nov 2010 09:34

You are welcome, Adam. I have read your statement "that the techniques available in 1932 for faking photos" (see here) as statement assessing technological (im)possiblilities of the 1930s. As I don't know anything on this subject, I looked up a few things but didn't come to any conclusion.

Thanks for clarifying this.

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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by OpanaPointer » 07 Nov 2010 13:49

We now have two "Three letter agencies" in the US unofficially involved in looking into this matter. Seems we have closet historians everywhere.
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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by J. Duncan » 07 Nov 2010 15:09

Thanks Grisu for your analysis. Obviously, I'm excited to learn more about this issue. What's strange (if true) is the modus operandi behind Hoffmann's possible fabrication. Someone in an earlier post pointed to the propaganda value of a photo, yet Hitler already had his Iron Cross. Nevertheless, Hoffmann was very skilled and capable of doing it.
The Soviets became masters of retouching and altering photos. Some were very crude while others were very good, such as the erasing of Trotsky from Lenin's podium. (see the book by David King, "The Commissar Vanishes"). I think one of early Nazi air-brushes was that photo of Hitler's bodyguard which featured Schreck, Schaub, Schneider, and Maurer...2 people were erased (possibly Emil Maurice)....I think that photo was from the Hoffmann archive, which proves that
Heinrich was certainly willing to alter photos.
The film clip for me has become problematic. I've studied it over and over. The film doesn't move in that "choppy" and sped-up style of early / pre-WWI films. I think that the film clip could either be a fake or a re-enactment for a later cinematic piece or documentary that was cut or edited out. Some historian later finds it and uses it for his own project without authenticating it. Surely one would think that such a rare gem like that would be used countlessly by historians yet it is largely ignored.

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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by robertmountfor » 07 Nov 2010 15:33

Oh dear.....all this dialogue over one picture that is clearly authentic.

The question you should be asking is why shouldnt it be him?
He was a passionate nationalist! He would WANT to be there!
He LIVED in Munich, a short walk from Odeonsplatz! Do you honestly think for one second that, knowing what was to be announced that day, he would not have been there?
He rejoiced in hearing that news. It would have been way out of character for him to sell a lie such as is being purported.
As for the Emil Maurice picture, he is there.....you can see his feet very clearly so the techniques used were very primitive.

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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by Grisu » 07 Nov 2010 15:50

robertmountfor, I agree that it might well have been exactly as you say. But still, you seem to mix up supposition and evidence.

supposition (n.): an idea that you think is true although you may not be able to prove it
evidence (n.): information, documents, etc. that prove that something is true

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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by OpanaPointer » 07 Nov 2010 18:43

robertmountfor wrote:Oh dear.....all this dialogue over one picture that is clearly authentic.

The question you should be asking is why shouldnt it be him?
He was a passionate nationalist! He would WANT to be there!
He LIVED in Munich, a short walk from Odeonsplatz! Do you honestly think for one second that, knowing what was to be announced that day, he would not have been there?
He rejoiced in hearing that news. It would have been way out of character for him to sell a lie such as is being purported.
As for the Emil Maurice picture, he is there.....you can see his feet very clearly so the techniques used were very primitive.
The question has been raised. I'm interested in the answer however it comes out.
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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by J. Duncan » 07 Nov 2010 22:57

robertmountfor has a point too, for we are now engaged in "revisionism"...think about it...although most history gets revised.

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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by OpanaPointer » 08 Nov 2010 00:30

J. Duncan wrote:robertmountfor has a point too, for we are now engaged in "revisionism"...think about it...although most history gets revised.
Depends on the version of "revisionism" you use. It's okay to get the facts straight. It's not okay to change the facts to suit a particular paradigm. I refuse to not use words just because one definition is less than savory. "Debunking", for example. The woo-istas want to make it a dirty word. I think it's important to remove the bunk from their theories. This upsets them. That makes me happy.
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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by Adam Carr » 08 Nov 2010 05:18

Robert, the issue is not whether Hitler was there. As you say, it's highly likely that he was there. The issue is whether Hoffman's photo shows him there.

You do make a good point about the supposed motive for the Nazis fabricating the photo - to "prove Hitler's patriotism." How did a photo of him cheering the outbreak of the war prove his patriotism more than his war service did? His application to join the Bavarian Army on the outbreak of war, his meritorious service, his Iron Cross and his gassing in 1918 were all on the public record to attest to his German patriotism. This doesn't seem like much of a motive for fabricating the photo to me.

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Re: "Famous Hitler rally picture probably faked"

Post by robertmountfor » 08 Nov 2010 09:59

it is sadly, fashionable usually in anti establishment circles although not in this case, to alter history to fit a political agenda. we know all the famous ones. . hindenberg disaster reichstag fire etc. however there are occasions where the facts cannot be disputed. if zapruder hadn't been filming that day would governor connelly be the the latest suspect? or more likely the jealous wife jackie? in the military without papers the face of the individual can and has been used as identification. as someone very familiar with AH i feel certain we are looking at one and the same man. my remarks on his patriotism were not intended as a reason for reinforcing a propaganda lie. and my comments are made to show that it is him. many people are just not content with the plain truth and look for alternative versions to show the world how we are being controlled by those in authority. there are certainly cases that deserve a second look. . . doctor david kelly for instance. but not this one.

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