THE reminiscences of Hitler's favourite photographer have been published in a new book.
Heinrich Hoffmann made a small fortune from photographing the Fhrer, but his nest-egg was seized by the Allies and he died in poverty in 1957.
Before his death, he gave a series of interviews to Joe Heydecker, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and a fellow photographer. Heydecker, who died ten years ago, gave instructions to his publisher that the Hoffmann conversations were not to be published until now.
The result is The Hitler Picture, a memoir from the man who, more than any other, helped sell the myth of the "Fhrer Superman" to the German people.
Until Diana, Princess of Wales, Hitler was arguably the most photographed individual in history – and most of the pictures taken for official uses in Nazi Germany were taken by Hoffmann.
There are hardly any close-ups of Hitler from the 12-year period of the Third Reich that were not taken by him: Hitler as orator, as private man, with children, in colour – Hoffmann recorded it all with his Leica cameras.
In one child-like, almost comical pose, the author of innumerable Second World War horrors is shown sitting on a curved wooden sled.
A spokesman for the German firm Residenz, which has published The Hitler Picture, said: "The image of Hitler that emerges in these talks with Heydecker is not only very personal; it is, in fact, almost depoliticised, giving it a certain grotesque quality."
Hoffmann, who served four years for war crimes, tells how he first met Hitler in 1929 and was one of few in the Nazi circle who knew of his relationship with Eva Braun.
He denied he was a propagandist for Hitler, saying: "I only photographed things that I saw and nothing else."
The book is scheduled to be translated into English later this year.