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Fuhrer Or Forgery?

Written by: George Chittenden : 15 Dec 2019

This world famous photo was taken by photographer Heinrich Hoffmann at a rally in support of war against Russia in Munich’s Odeonsplatz on August 2nd, 1914. The image supposedly shows a young Hitler cheering the start of World War One, but is it real? And if it’s been manipulated, how much manipulation took place? We do know that he was in Munich when the image was taken, because the very next day he petitioned the King of Bavaria to allow him, an Austrian, to fight for Germany. Hitler mentions petitioning the King in his autobiography Mein Kampf, which was published in 1925, but he fails to mention his attendance at the rally.

Hitler supposedly celebrating the outbreak of WWI

Hitler supposedly celebrating the outbreak of WWI

So when was the image discovered? Well, apparently not until 1929 when he mentioned being there to Heinrich Hoffmann, his personal photographer, and amazingly Hoffmann found him in the image, which was incredibly beneficial in terms of propaganda. The day before the election of the Reich president in 1932, at a time when Hitler's patriotism was under criticism, because he had evaded service in the Austrian army, this photo was published. As you can imagine, this potential piece of fake news changed the course history.

Hitler (on right) during WWI

Hitler (on right) during WWI

So why do people think it’s fake? Well to begin with no negative exists for this photo, and a film clip of the rally shows a man resembling Hitler, but he is further back and not in this prominent position near the front. Largely though it’s that famous toothbrush moustache that creates doubt. They were only introduced during WWI to allow men to wear gas masks more comfortably, and were unknown before 1914. Many believe it is actually Hitler and originally he had a large moustache, similar to images you see of him during the Great War, but it’s only his moustache which was manipulated to make him more immediately recognisable to Germans in the Thirties.

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