Early life and career
Hoffmann worked in his father's photographic shop and as a photographer in Munich from 1908. He joined the NSDAP in 1920 and was chosen by its new leader Hitler as his official photographer. A photograph taken by Hoffman in Munich's Odeonsplatz on 2 August 1914 purports to show a young Hitler among the crowds cheering the outbreak of World War I and was used in Nazi propaganda; its authenticity has been questioned. Hitler and Hoffman became close friends—so close, in fact, that when Hitler became the ruler of Germany, Hoffmann was the only man authorized to take official photographs of him. Hoffmann's photographs were published as postage stamps, postcards, posters and picture books. Following Hoffmann's suggestion, both he and Hitler received royalties from all uses of Hitler's image (even on postage stamps), which made the photographer wealthy. In 1933 he was elected to the Reichstag and in 1938 Hitler appointed him a 'Professor'.
Hoffmann married Therese "Lelly" Baumann, who was very fond of Hitler, in 1911. Their daughter Henriette ("Henny") was born on February 3, 1913 and followed by a son, Heinrich ("Heini") on October 24, 1916. Henriette married Reichsjugendführer (National Hitler Youth commander) Baldur von Schirach, who provided introductions to many of Hoffmann's picture books, in 1932. Therese Hoffmann died a sudden and unexpected death in 1928. Hoffmann and his second wife Erna introduced his Munich studio assistant Eva Braun to Hitler. Braun later became Hitler's mistress and ultimately, his wife on April 29, 1945 and partner in suicide the following day.
During the Third Reich Hoffmann wrote many books on Hitler such as The Hitler Nobody Knows (1933) and Jugend um Hitler (1934). In 1938 Hoffmann wrote three books, Hitler in Italy, Hitler befreit Sudetenland and Hitler in seiner Heimat. His last book, Das Antlitz des Führers, was written shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.
Hoffmann was arrested by the Americans on 10 May 1945 and after the war he was tried and sentenced to four years for Nazi profiteering. Upon release from prison on 31 May 1950, he settled in the small village of Epfach in the Munich area, where he died 7 years later at age 72. His widow, Erna, continued to live there together with the former silent-movie star Wera Engels.
A large archive of his photographs was seized by the United States Government during the Allied occupation of Germany. These are now held by the National Archives and Records Administration and comprise an important source of images for scholars of the Third Reich. These photographs are considered to be in the public domain in the US owing to their status as seized Nazi property (otherwise their copyrights would not yet have expired).
Secret photos of Adolf Hitler
A total of nine photographs taken by Hoffman reveal how Adolf Hitler rehearsed his hand gestures for his public speeches. He used to ask Hoffmann to take pictures of these so he could see what he would look like to the German people during his public speaking appearances, which he used to his advantage to emphasise his notion of a "great national revival" of Germany. Egon Hanfstaengl, son of Hitler's one-time foreign press officer Ernst "Putzi" Hanfstaengl, said in a documentary, Fatal Attraction Of Hitler: "He had that ability which is needed to make people stop thinking critically and just emote."
- Mit Hitler im Westen (1940) ISBN 4-87187-883-X
- Anton Joachimstaler (1999). The last days of Hitler: the legends, the evidence, the truth. Arms & Armour Press. ISBN 1-86019-902-X.
- Kellerhoff, Sven Felix (14 October 2010). "Berühmtes Hitler-Foto möglicherweise gefälscht". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- Langer, Walter C., "The Mind of Adolf Hitler", New York 1972 p.99
- David Culbert (1997). "The Heinrich Hoffmann Photo Archive: Price vs United States (United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 20 November, 1995)". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 17 (2).
- Angela Lambert (January 2007). The Lost Life of Eva Braun. St. Martin's Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-312-36654-X.
- Enoch, Nick. "Mein Camp: Unseen pictures of Hitler . . . in a very tight pair of Lederhosen". Daily Mail.
- Media related to Heinrich Hoffmann at Wikimedia Commons