More than 70 years after the end of World War II, a never-before-seen trove of candid photographs featuring Adolph Hitler and his inner circle relaxing has surfaced.
The photo album, which will be auctioned off next week by C&T Auctions in Kent, England, was first discovered by British war photographer Edward Dean in 1945, when he and journalist Richard Dimbleby entered Hitler’s Berlin bunker a few weeks after its capture.
After entering the bedroom of Eva Braun, (Hitler’s longtime mistress and, briefly, his wife before both committed suicide in the bunker), a Russian solider accompanying the two Brits forced open one of Braun’s bedside dressers. Inside were the album, some clothing and a broken perfume bottle. Reportedly, the album still retains its perfumed scent.
As C&T Auction’s Tim Harper told the Daily Mail, “We can say with 100 percent certainty that this album was recovered from Hitler’s bunker.” The 13-by-9 album includes 73 photos in all, and still has its original cover and binding, with an embossed, stylized swastika on the front.
Some of Nazi’s Germany’s most infamous officials also make appearances in the album, with images of SS Chief Heinrich Himmler, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Goering (Hitler’s appointed successor) shown visiting Hitler.
It is not known for certain if Braun, an avid photographer, snapped the pictures herself. But the candid and informal atmosphere of the scenes it depicts makes it almost certain that they were taken by someone within the Fuhrer’s innermost circles. According to Harper, it is “rare to come across easy-going photographers of him that wouldn’t have got through the censorship, especially during the height of the Second World War.”
Among the most arresting images are those showing a relaxed, almost playful Hitler on the grounds of the Berghof, his private residence in the Bavarian Alps. Hitler visited the property frequently, and it also served as one of his headquarters before it was damaged by Allied bombers late in the war and later completely demolished by local government officials in the 1950s. “The one of him walking down the path outside the Berghof in a kind of jocular pose giving an almost Charlie Chaplin-type salute is quite striking,” Harper notes.
Other photos, meanwhile, give insider access to the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, including a photo of Hitler’s personal desk, and impromptu photos of German soldiers and rallies attended by Hitler and others.
Edward Dean held on to the album for nearly 40 years, only selling it to a private collector in the 1980s. It was sold again just a few years ago, but is back on the market (publically, for the first time) again. C&T Auctions has set a reserve price of £18,500 (approximately $22,000), although it may go for much more.