Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hitler and Children

Hitler Loved to Pose with Children

Adolf Hitler
 Hitler with children attired in native garb on the Obersalzberg. Credit: C&TAuctions/BNPS.
I have another page full of pictures of Adolf Hitler. However, that is sort of a depository for any interesting Hitler pictures that I come across. Thus, it's a lengthy page without a specific sub-theme. It may take a while to load for some viewers. For convenience, I have broken out only those shots which show Adolf Hitler posing with children.

Adolf Hitler
One of many pictures of Hitler being nice to German children.
We all have heard of the tendency of politicians to kiss babies. Strangely enough, there aren't many - perhaps any - pictures of Hitler actually kissing any babies. I haven't found any, at least.

Adolf Hitler

But he sure liked to pose with children. And they adored him.

Adolf Hitler
Hitler with Hitler Youth on the Obersalzberg 1937. Note the German Maidens in the background awaiting their turn with the Fuhrer.
Hitler at heart was a politician, though of course, he morphed into many other things besides that. Part of his myth-making method was to pose with children, the younger the better. Hitler thus went out of his way to pose with children. Entire events appear to have been stage-managed to insert him into some kind of camp outing or pageant.


Many of these events were held on the Obersalzberg, the mountain home to his private residence in Berchtesgaden. This would have been a scenic outing for the children, and also quite convenient for Hitler.

Adolf Hitler
 Hitler at some celebration at the Berghof. Credit: C&TAuctions/BNPS.
Hitler's posing went well beyond just attending rallies of children, however. He also consciously posed with angelic-looking children individually.

Adolf Hitler
Eva Braun taking one of the many propaganda shots of Hitler walking with children.
Eva Braun often took these propaganda shots. It probably made the children feel at ease to have a woman involved in the process.

Adolf Hitler
Hitler with a German girl at the Obersalzberg (Berghof, apparently). Note the huge Swastika flag in the background and Hitler wearing the armband - they never missed a chance to get those symbols in.
One child appears in many of these shots, which were intended to appear on picture postcards. The girl was named Rosa Berneli (or Bernile) Nienau, from Munich. Rosa visited on her birthday in the summer of 1933, and Hitler invited her out of the crowd and up to Haus Wachenfeld for strawberries and whipped cream. This particular postcard (the one above) was published with the caption "Thanks for the Birthday Invitation."

Adolf Hitler
This is a "well-known postcard" with Rosa, the local girl who appeared in many photos with Hitler.
Hitler's personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann (or perhaps Hoffmann's former assistant, Eva Braun) made maximum use of propaganda photos taken of the two together during this and other visits.

Adolf Hitler
Another picture with a (terrified) child. I am tempted to try to identify her as Rosa, but I have no other information on this. One of Adolf's techniques at mass rallies (note all the people in the distance, watching), to greet a child, accept flowers from her, pat her cheek. This "humanized" him.
Hitler, with no children of his own, developed what may have been a genuine fondness for the girl. Unfortunately for propaganda purposes (for those times and that place), Rosa turned out to have a Jewish maternal grandmother. Martin Bormann abruptly ended the visits. However, Hitler did allow her to visit now and then thereafter despite knowing of her ancestry.

Adolf Hitler
Hitler blessing a child, to the mother's (and apparently child's) delight. I am tempted to identify the girl as Rosa, but that is just a guess.
There were plenty of simple local families who were delighted to pose their children with the Fuhrer. Many of them may not even have known exactly who Hitler was - mass media did not reach into every remote cabin and cottage. However, Hitler obviously was a rich, important man, and in those days that alone counted for a lot.

Adolf Hitler
Hitler greeting a member of the German Maidens with that weird Germanic cheek squeeze. They were the corollary group to the Hitler Youth. Note the masses of maidens in the background. She likely had just given him those flowers he is holding, which someone is about to take from him. Every single girl watching envied this girl, who likely was some kind of leader. If you look closely, it appears that the girls in the background are giving the Hitler salute (Hitlergruß).
Hitler used children as props during his rallies. In a typical scenario, some toddler who could barely walk would come out to hand Hitler flowers on behalf of whatever town he was visiting.

Adolf Hitler
Hitler being nice to a child before the masses.
These little flower ceremonies apparently began when Hitler was campaigning across Germany before becoming Chancellor.

Adolf Hitler
A girl welcoming Hitler to her city during the 1930s. She appears to be a member of the female counterpart to the Hitler Youth, the BDM (German Maidens).
Flying in his personal Junkers Ju 52, Hitler would touch down at some town and wait for the child to bring him the flowers as a sort of homage (a word actually used on some postcards). Then, they would pose looking at each other with blinding smiles.

Adolf Hitler
Hitler greeting more German boys.
Hitler posed with boys and girls alike. Often, he appears to be sizing the boys up as future soldiers.

Adolf Hitler
An odd photo of Hitler with children where the children have not yet been told to smile adoringly yet.
Naturally, all of the children were told exactly how to pose. Hitler did not just jump in behind them and get a snapshot. Invariably, the children would be smiling up at him adoringly or presenting him with some gift such as the obligatory flowers.

Adolf Hitler
"Children pay homage to the Fuhrer" 1934.
Hitler also acted as a sort of uncle for the Goebbels children. Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda had six children. Some said that Hitler "liked" Magda, but then they said that about all of the attractive women around the Fuhrer. None of the Goebbels children (or Magda) survived the war.

Hitler Helga Goebbels
 Hitler and Helga Goebbels. They died within hours of one another in the Berlin bunker.
Hitler appeared to genuinely like the children. He was sort of a doting uncle. However, there is no question that, whatever he felt about them, the pictures were designed solely to further his image.

Another shot of Hitler with a Goebbels child, perhaps Helga again. Next time you see a picture of a politician posing with a baby, remember this shot.
Just like today, the kids would line up to get Hitler's autograph.

Adolf Hitler
Hitler signing autographs for Hitler Youth.
Greeting the Fuhrer was considered a high honor. Getting picked out from the crowd to stand beside him with his arm on your shoulder was even better. Note how, in the photo below, he appears to have chosen the youngest boy in the group to stand next to him. This, of course, made him look bigger.

Adolf Hitler
Hitler with Hitler Youth on the Obersalzberg 1937. Note the German Maidens in the background awaiting their turn with the Fuhrer.
The overwhelming tendency was for Hitler to pose with children barely out of diapers. This presumably conveyed some of their innocence upon him. It also made him appear to be the protector of the most vulnerable. Another effect was to make Hitler appear to be the guardian of the future.

A more subtle purpose was to appeal to women - some of Hitler's most ardent supporters were women. In fact, Hitler put a lot of thought and effort into gaining the support of women. Hitler was the only rock star in the Germany of the '30s and early '40s. Appealing to his admirers' maternal instincts was part of the image.

Adolf Hitler children
Hitler with children at the Berghof. An obvious propaganda shot, like virtually all of his appearances with children. I don't have a date on this, but whenever it was, there were several pictures taken that day. This was most likely circa 1935-1937 after the Berghof was finished being refurbished for him in 1936. Perhaps a house-warming party in 1936.
Some of the shots show what Hitler was looking for. In the photo below, the young girl smiling broadly captured the right "look."

Adolf Hitler
Hitler with some children decked out in their Sunday best.
The same shot below, printed in color for a postcard. Once again, the girl has just the right look, looking playfully ahead.

Adolf Hitler
Same children as in the above shot +1 more child on the left (apparently added for artistic balance). They now are properly posed and the shot is in final form for a postcard. Hitler's armband is made distinctive, and the little boy's vest on the left is colored to appear reminiscent of a Swastika. Whether or not the propaganda people consciously knew about subliminal advertising, they seem to have picked it up instinctively.
Below, a girl at a typical flower presentation. Adolf Hitler being greeted by a child in front of his personal Ju 52, which places this picture to some time in the 1930s (he switched to a faster Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor when the war began in 1939). Note how perfectly the plane's swastika gets in the shot like a halo over Hitler's head. Hoffmann knew what he was doing. Below, another typical flower ceremony shot.

Adolf Hitler
A picture dated 1937 shows German Chancellor and Dictator Adolf Hitler receiving flowers from a little girl. Note the similarity to other photos above - these photo ops were very carefully staged by the propaganda people. I am tempted to identify also as Rosa, but it could have been any young girl. AFP PHOTO (Photo AFP/Getty Images)


No comments:

Post a Comment