UK spy photos of Hitler published
Published Thursday, May 24, 2007 1:23PM EDT
LONDON - New photographs of Adolf Hitler taken before World War II show the Nazi leader arriving at a concert dressed in tails, receiving flowers from two blond girls at a music festival and getting out of a black convertible.
Charles Turner, a music composer who was recruited as a spy, told his children that he took the photos at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany, in 1939, after using the love of music he shared with Hitler to gain access to the dictator's inner circle, his son David Turner said.
"The miraculous happened. My father was invited to join Hitler's entourage for the day, Wednesday, July 26. He was given carte blanche permission to photograph the fuehrer," David Turner said.
The composer was one of the last Englishmen to speak to the dictator before Nazi forces invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, his son said.
Charles Turner had attended the festival annually since 1934 and was recruited as a spy four years later when war seemed imminent. He had been invited to meet Hitler by a member of the local chamber of commerce, his son said.
However, historians said the images bear a striking resemblance to photos of Hitler published in magazines at the time.
"When I first looked at them I thought these were castoff photographs by one of his official photographers," said Michael Burleigh, an expert on the Third Reich.
Jan Palmowski, a senior lecturer in King's College London's German department said the photos don't suggest that the photographer had special access.
"They're not that astonishing and don't show anything new," he said. "There's something that looks quite managed. He must have been allowed to take these official photos, but they must have managed him quite carefully."
One image captures a common Hitler motif: the dictator accepting a bouquet flowers from two girls. In another, dressed in white tie and tails, a stern Hitler strides in front of his aides.
In others, surrounded by uniformed bodyguards, Hitler wears a fedora and a baggy double-breasted beige raincoat.
One photo shows Hitler arriving in a Mercedes convertible as the future Nazi armaments minister, Albert Speer, chats with SS commander Heinrich Himmler in the background beside a uniformed Nazi photographer.
The composer said he met with Hitler and senior Nazi officials -- including propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, Turner's son said. Afterward, he sent a detailed report back to London that remains classified, his son said.
Charles Turner died in 1977 and the photos were kept as family mementos after his death. His son, a teacher, decided to make the photos public now after he started researching his family's roots.
He has sold the syndication rights to the photos to a small British photo agency.