Heinrich Hoffmann

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For other people named Heinrich Hoffmann, see Heinrich Hoffmann (disambiguation).
Heinrich Hoffmann

Heinrich Hoffmann (12 September 1885 – 15 December 1957) was a German photographer best known for his many published photographs of Adolf Hitler.

Early life and career[edit]

Hitler's field headquarters, Hitler with staff, May or June 1940, Heinrich Hoffmann front row far right

Hoffmann worked in his father's photographic shop and as a photographer in Munich from 1908. [1] In 1919 he published a collection of photographs taken during the Bavarian Soviet Republic. The accompanying text by Emil Herold suggested a connection between the "jewsish features" shown in the photographs and the subjects left-wing policies.[2] He joined the NSDAP on 6 April 1920.[1] After Hitler took over the party in 1921, he named Hoffmann as his official photographer, a post he held for over a quarter-century. A photograph taken by Hoffmann in Munich's Odeonsplatz on 2 August 1914 shows a young Hitler among the crowds cheering the outbreak of World War I and was used in Nazi propaganda; its authenticity has been questioned.[3] Hitler and Hoffmann became close friends—in fact, when Hitler became the ruler of Germany, Hoffmann was the only man authorized to take official photographs of him.[1] 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 Hoffmann a millionaire. In 1933 he was elected to the Reichstag and in 1938 Hitler appointed him a 'Professor'.[1]


Hoffmann married Therese "Lelly" Baumann, who was very fond of Hitler,[4] in 1911. Their daughter Henriette ("Henny") was born on 3 February 1913 and followed by a son, Heinrich ("Heini") on 24 October 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. In the autumn of 1929, Hoffmann and his second wife Erna introduced his Munich studio assistant Eva Braun to Hitler.[5] Braun later became Hitler's mistress and ultimately, his wife on 29 April 1945 and partner in suicide the following day.[6]

Youth around Hitler, a Hoffmann picture book


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.

Later life[edit]

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.[1] 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.

Photographic archive[edit]

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).[7]

There is also an archive called the 'Bildarchiv Hoffmann', at the Bavarian State Library (or Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) in Munich, Germany.[8]

Secret photos of Adolf Hitler[edit]

Adolf Hitler rehearsing poses for his speeches in photos reportedly taken in 1927.

A total of nine photographs taken by Hoffman reveal how Adolf Hitler rehearsed poses and 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 emphasize his notion of a "great national revival" of Germany.[9] Hitler asked that the photographs be destroyed, an order Hoffmann disobeyed.[10]


  • (1919) Ein Jahr bayrische Revolution im Bilde Munich: Photobericht Hoffman
  • (1940) Mit Hitler im Westen ISBN 4-87187-883-X


  1. ^ a b c d e Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 304.
  2. ^ Burke, Christopher (2013). Burke, Christopher; Kindel, Eric; Walker, Sue, eds. The Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuesum in Wien. Isotype: design and contexts 1925-1971 (London: Hyphen). ISBN 9780907259473. 
  3. ^ Kellerhoff, Sven Felix (14 October 2010). "Berühmtes Hitler-Foto möglicherweise gefälscht". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Langer, Walter C., "The Mind of Adolf Hitler", New York 1972 p. 99
  5. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 219.
  6. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 947, 948, 955.
  7. ^ 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). 
  8. ^ Angela Lambert (2007). The Lost Life of Eva Braun. St. Martin's Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-312-36654-X. 
  9. ^ Enoch, Nick (8 February 2012). "Mein Camp: Unseen pictures of Hitler . . . in a very tight pair of Lederhosen". Daily Mail (London). 
  10. ^ Wright, Terence (13 September 2013). "The Photography Handbook". Routledge. pp. 183–184. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 


  • Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) [1995]. The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, the Evidence, the Truth. Trans. Helmut Bögler. London: Brockhampton Press. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8. 
  • Kershaw, Ian (2008). Hitler: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-06757-6. 

External links[edit]