A Propaganda Misfire – "Adolf Hitler Speaks"
A Flip Book from the 1929 Nazi Party Rally

A Propaganda Misfire – "Adolf Hitler Speaks"
A Propaganda Misfire – "Adolf Hitler Speaks"A Propaganda Misfire – "Adolf Hitler Speaks"A Propaganda Misfire – "Adolf Hitler Speaks"A Propaganda Misfire – "Adolf Hitler Speaks"
Made by:

Photohaus Hoffmann, Munich




Paper and dark cardboard, tape-bound


9 cm x 5 cm x 1.8 cm, about 80 pages

Collection No.:

Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds DZO 0135

Starting from the movement's earliest days, the "Hoffmann National Socialist Photographic Studio" at Amalienstrasse 25 in Munich was one of the most important makers of pictures for Nazi Party propaganda. The owner, Heinrich Hoffmann, was a member of the German Workers' Party, the Nazi Party's forerunner, as early as 1920, and also belonged to Hitler's close social circle. It was at Hoffmann's studio that Hitler met Eva Braun in 1929. Hoffman's daughter Henriette married "Reich Youth Leader" Baldur von Schirach in 1932.

No other photographer was able to spend as much time at close quarters with Hitler. Starting in 1933, Hoffmann took advantage of this proximity to build up a media company that distributed an exclusive range of press photos, published magazines, and sold postcards, picture books, and busts and framed portraits of Hitler. In 1943 the company generated revenues of 15 million reichsmarks. Heinrich Hoffmann was a millionaire many times over.

Considering what a highly perfected photographic production operation Hoffmann developed later, in a sense the flip book from 1929 documents how propaganda ideas can fail. It shows a wildly gesticulating Hitler addressing the Sturmabteilung (SA), the party's paramilitary branch, on the Luitpoldhain at the 1929 Nazi Party Rally in Nuremberg. In the background are standards with large swastikas, a few members of the SA, and a hedge. At that time the Luitpoldhain was still a park – not yet the cleared, empty arena that it would become in 1933. The uniformed SA members had to position themselves amid hedges, a fountain, and parkland trees – hardly the perfect setting for a grand parade and speech.

Today it is hard to tell how people might have responded to a flip book like this back in 1929. But the flip book medium seems to portray an oddly shrunken Hitler, stripped of his words and reduced to frantic gesturing – what might be called a pocket-sized Hitler who can be made to act out anytime at someone's whim.

The flip book does not appear to have been a great success in its day. At any event, Photo Hoffmann produced no more of the genre. Even other sources probably made only two more such flip books: the "film pad publisher" Erich Bethe sold one named "Greeting from the Führer," and the Hamburg publishers Wahler und Sohn published one called "The Führer Speaks."

This flip book was sent to the Documentation Center in 2016 as a "contemporary document."

The flip book as a video (.mp4 file, 2.2 MB)

Series "Brought to Light – from the collection of the Documentation Center"

Text: Alexander Schmidt