Mysterious WWII photographs in NYT identified in a few hours by historian






As Tuesday dawned, what we knew about an anonymous photo album by a Nazi photographer was only what could be inferred from its 214 pictures (all but one uncaptioned). We could see he had amazing access: taking portraits of Russian and Jewish prisoners one month, standing just a few feet from Adolf Hitler the next. We knew he had been to the Eastern Front, we surmised that he worked for the Propagandakompanie and we guessed that the pretty woman in the album’s closing pages was someone special....

We now know that the photographer was Franz Krieger, a native of Salzburg, Austria, who lived until 1993. And we know that the woman was Frieda Krieger, his wife. She was killed on Nov. 17, 1944 — as was their 2-year-old daughter, Heidrun — when America’s 15th Air Force bombed Salzburg....

Before lunchtime in New York, Harriet Scharnberg had written from Hamburg, Germany, to say:

The photographs, at least a lot of them, were taken by the photographer Franz Krieger (1914-1993). Krieger worked as a photojournalist in Salzburg, Austria. In the summer of 1941, he went to Minsk as a member of the Reichs-Autozug Deutschland. In Minsk, he took pictures of Soviet prisoners of war and he also visited the Jewish ghetto and photographed the poor people there. On his way back to Berlin, he took the pictures of Hitler meeting [Adm. Miklos] Horthy in Marienburg.

Ms. Scharnberg explained in a subsequent e-mail that she is writing her Ph.D. dissertation at Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg on German propaganda photographs depicting Jews. This is her specialty as a historian, she said. She has worked in the photo archives of the Neuengamme concentration camp memorial and at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research.



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