Rare glass plate propaganda photos of Hitler digitised into US National Archive

Apr 26, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Rare glass plate propaganda photos of Hitler digitised into US National Archive

Apr 26, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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1,270 of 41,000 glass negatives created by Hitler’s personal photographer and “key propagandist”, Heinrich Hoffman have been scanned into the US National Archives. Many of these negatives were broken and had to be reassembled in a process taking around 9 months to complete, overseen by Richard E. Schneider.

The photographs were originally created as propaganda to help influence the public’s perception and opinion of Hitler. He was often portrayed as a hero, with carefully selected compositions, and angles to reinforce this message. The photographs begin around 1920 and were confiscated by the US Army in 1962, which is how they ended in the possession of the National Archives.

Schneider is a special projects preservationist at the National Archives and began studying and digitizing the negatives last summer, finishing just last month. Many of these images have never been seen before, and cover everything from traditional portraits to Nazi rallies. Schneider tells the Washington Post that “what makes this digitization project special is that the ensuing image has been reproduced from the original negative, rather than it being a copy of a copy”.

Billy Wade, supervisory archivist at the National Archive says that all of the images will soon become available for viewing online.

These images just go to show that manipulation of the viewer of a photograph through the use of clever angles, lighting and composition is not a new phenomenon. And it’s certainly not something limited to “Instagram influencers”, as many seem to believe these days. Photography has been used since day one to tell a story, that isn’t always the truth.

“The camera never lies”? No, the camera has always lied.

[via Washington Post / Images National Archive]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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5 responses to “Rare glass plate propaganda photos of Hitler digitised into US National Archive”

  1. Jay S Avatar
    Jay S

    How exactly was the camera lying? Hitler was well-liked by the German people.

    1. Marko Avatar
      Marko

      True and sad. Although after the war most Germans claim they had nothing to do with his party (only about 9% of Germans admit Nazi affiliation), the truth is he was very liked and adored for his twisted ideology by just about all of them.

      The camera is not lying, he was their hero (and probably would be now too..)

      1. Doug Avatar
        Doug

        Great to see that historians have time to share there valuable knowledge on this blog !

        1. Marko Avatar
          Marko

          No need to be an historian. Europeans and mostly Germans’ actions under Hitler’s ruling are very well documented.

        2. Marko Avatar
          Marko

          Although Hitler’s party received “only” 44% of the vote in 1933 elections, his popularity soared when he invaded France. Ans although most Germans would not have support his sick ideology of murdering every Jew, black, homosexual and all the other undesirable around, they had no problem looting their property and taking over homes of said minorities.