There is an entire class of odd or just unexpected pictures of Adolf Hitler driving or being around cars. Adolf was a huge car guy - in fact, when in Landsberg Prison after the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, one of his big projects (besides writing Mein Kampf) was arranging a car loan for when he got out of jail.
|1933 photo of Hitler with an unknown driver. This must have been some sort of ceremonial occasion where Hitler's usual chauffeurs were not used.|
His chauffeurs were Ernst Johann Haug, Emil Maurice, Erich Kempka, and Julius Schreck. Hitler was incredibly particular about his chauffeurs and rarely consented to be driven by anybody but the four men named above. He also remained extremely loyal to them - not only was Maurice rumored to be romancing Hitler's girl Geli Raubal, but he also turned out to be Jewish. Hitler made him an honorary Aryan and even kept him in the SS. Being Hitler's driver was like being a keeper of the royal privy in the Renaissance, it was a ticket to good things.
|This is from 1931. Just a guy in the seat ahead... but look at the rear-view mirror. Could it be... Adolf Hitler?|
Hoffmann obviously posed both of these since the rear view mirror is tilted in Hitler’s direction.
|Here, Hitler demonstrates that he is decades ahead of his time by checking his VW for that special little emissions device.|
Hitler, of course, is credited with coming up with the VW Beetle. Who know that the Fuhrer was a gearhead?
|One of the very few times when Hitler is upstaged in a photograph.|
Did Hitler have a racing car? You betcha!
The racing car deal was not just for show - Hitler took a great interest in them. Hitler was always an enormous car enthusiast and his chauffeur, Kempka (shown below in the SS uniform in the middle), said, “his knowledge of car engines surpassed even that of experts.”
|Oh, how history could have been changed....|
This amazing machine below is the Formula 1 Silberpfeil (silver arrow), a Mercedes racing car.
Hitler liked Mercedes cars, and inevitably used one in parades. However, just because a company was German did not mean that he was a fan. Hitler once called BMW cars “junk.” When his architect, Albert Speer, bought one, Hitler privately sneered, but never mentioned it to Speer’s face.
Speaking of engines, below Hitler is inspecting what appears to be a BMW V-12. How many Fuhrers go on the shop floor to look at car engines?
|German car giant BMW admitted only recently to feeling “profound regret” for the “enormous suffering” it caused by using slave labor to fuel Adolf Hitler’s killing machine.|
Hitler liked to inspect new military vehicles, too. Below, he is getting a good look at a Schwimmwagen - an amphibious jeep. One can just read his expression as "What is this crazy thing?"
Below is the iconic shot of Hitler, from his Mercedes, giving the Hitler salute as he drives through crowds. This actually was a quite uncomfortable position, but Hitler literally could maintain it for hours on end.
|That appears to be Rudolf Hess in the back finding it all amusing.|
Hitler used cars as props constantly. When there was absolutely no reason to be in a car, when it would have been easier to just get out and walk over somewhere - Hitler would stand in the car instead, as in the shot below.
|Hitler standing in a car in Wilhelmshaven for the launching of the battleship Tirpitz, 1939. It was considered more "prestigious" in those days to sit in the back of the car, but Hitler always preferred to ride shotgun.|
Below is how you make an entrance: ranks of motorcycle cops, rows of military guys, and a red carpet to some BLM girls wiating to give you flowers. The big-ass car, of course, is the center of the entire tableaux.
Below is a rare shot of Hitler driving with President Paul von Hindenburg right after being appointed Chancellor.
Hitler loved toy soldiers (for real), and he also loved toy cars. It is very rare to find any photos of Hitler where he appears as gleeful as in the shot below.
|Ferdinand Porsche shows Hitler and Goering the new VW Beetle.|
Below is another shot, apparently from the same event.
Okay, one more time. Hitler's birthday would not be complete without a visit from the car guys. Below, it is now April 20 1939, and yet, it's time to look at the VW again.
|The automobile engineer and designer Ferdinand Porsche (in suit) presents Adolf Hitler with a model car during celebrations for Hitler's 50th birthday, Berlin, April 1939.|
Below, Schreck and Hitler at the 1933 Berlin car show. Hitler attended this event every year until the outbreak of the war.
Hitler liked to go to car shows. It was a chance to review technology, it attracted all sorts of foreign journalists... and he just liked cars. Above, it is February 17, 1939 in Berlin, and Adolf has chosen to visit the Berlin Car Show. The big three of the party, left to right: Goebbels, Goering and Hitler. Viktor Lutze is on the far right. Viktor Lutze, incidentally, was the commander of the SA, the brown shirted Party paramilitary force which was marginalized after the purge of 1934. Goebbels in his diaries described Lutze as a man of "unlimited stupidity." On May 1, 1943, Lutze suffered a car accident due to careless driving. He died during surgery the same day. Despite the weakened state of the SA, Hitler ordered an elaborate state funeral for Lutze and ordered his senior leaders to be very careful during driving. It always got back to cars.
Below, it is 1933 and Hitler is at... the car show. Where else?
Below is Hitler at the 1938 Berlin car show. What's fun about these pictures is seeing how poorly Goering sometimes feigns being interested when Hitler's back is turned. Incidentally, at that show, the Germans demonstrated the first helicopter, but Hitler is all abut the cars.
Hitler's obsession with cars could be painful. Below is a visibly sunburned Hitler in September, 1933. The day before, Hitler had stood in an open car for 3 hours in extremely hot temperatures. Leni Riefenstahl commented several times in later years how easily Hitler sunburned because of his very fair complexion. Hey, being the Fuhrer could be hard work!
He was a backseat driver even though he liked to ride in the front seat. He usually had a map on his knees throughout all his journeys, even though (as Linge later wrote), “he knew every street and little village throughout Germany. The map therefore was superfluous.” But, it no doubt made him feel better.
|Adolf Hitler in an open car during the opening of the first section of Frankfurt / Main Heidelberg motorway near Darmstadt,1935.|
Hitler wasn't just about cars, he was also about the roads that he drove on. He did not just authorize and build the autobahns - he very ostentatiously celebrated their completion with ceremonial drives down completed sections. The people were impressed.
Hitler also knew how to impress kings with cars. Above in 1940, Nepali men are seen carrying the 1938 Mercedes Benz that Adolf Hitler gifted to King Truibhuvan of Nepal. It had to be carried to the capital by men as there were no roads suitable for the car leading to the city.
And here we take our leave of Hitler and cars with this shot of him looking in awe at the view - traveling in a cable car 5300 feet to the top of the Predigstuhl in Bad Reichenhall (near Berchtesgaden). Since its first run on July 1, 1928, the Predigstuhlbahn is the oldest large-cabin cable car in the world that is preserved in its original form and operates year-round. And Hitler rode it.