Heinrich Hoffmann (12 September 1885 – 15 December 1957) was Adolf Hitler's official photographer, and a Nazi politician and publisher, who was a member of Hitler's intimate circle. Hoffmann's photographs were a significant part of Hitler's propaganda campaign to present himself and the Nazi Party as a significant mass phenomenon. He received royalties from all uses of Hitler's image, even on postage stamps, which made him a millionaire over the course of Hitler's reign. After the Second World War he was tried and sentenced to four years in prison for war profiteering. He was classified by the Allies' Art Looting Investigators to be a "major offender" in Nazi art plundering of Jews, as both art dealer and collector and his art collection, which contained many artworks looted from Jews, was ordered confiscated by the Allies. He recovered the art in 1956 by order of the Bavarian State.
After completing his primary school education, Hoffmann trained as a photographer from 1901 to 1903. He found employment in Heidelberg, Frankfurt on the Main, Bad Homburg, Switzerland, France and England until 1909. In 1909 he owned a photographic shop in Munich and started to work as a press photographer. In 1913 he founded the image agency Photobericht Hoffmann. In 1917 Hoffmann was conscripted to the German Army and served as a photo correspondent with the Bavarian Fliegerersatz-Abteilung I in France. In 1919 Hoffmann joined the Bavarian Einwohnerwehren, a right-wing citizens' militia. That year he witnessed the short-lived post-war Bavarian Soviet Republic in Munich and published a collection of photographs he had taken as Ein Jahr Bayrische Revolution im Bilde ("One Year of Bavarian Revolution in Pictures"). The accompanying text by Emil Herold suggested a connection between the "Jewish features" shown in the photographs and the subjects' left-wing policies.
A noted photograph taken by Hoffmann in Munich's Odeonsplatz on 2 August 1914 apparently shows a young Hitler among the crowd cheering the outbreak of World War I. This was later used in Nazi propaganda, although its authenticity has been questioned.
Hoffmann claimed that he only discovered Hitler in the photograph in 1929, after the Nazi leader had visited the photographer's studio. Learning that Hoffmann had photographed the crowd in the Odeonsplatz, Hitler told Hoffmann that he had been there, and Hoffmann said he then searched the glass negative of the image until he found Hitler. The photograph was then published in the 12 March 1932 issue of the Illustrierter Beobachter ("Illustrated Observer"), a Nazi newspaper. After the war, the glass negative was not found.
After years of consideration of the photograph, in 2010 historian Gerd Krumeich, a noted German expert on the First World War, came to the conclusion that Hoffmann had doctored the image. Krumeich examined other images of the rally and was unable to find Hitler in the place where Hoffmann's photograph placed him. Also, in a different version of Hoffmann's photo in the Bavarian State Archive, Hitler looks different than in the published image. Other analysts have pointed out that Hitler's moustache in the image is not the same style that can be seen in photographs of Hitler while he was serving in the German Army. They also point out that Hitler makes no mention in Mein Kampf of having been in the Odeonsplatz crowd. As a result of the doubt raised by these considerations, the curators of a 2010 Berlin exhibition about the Hitler cult inserted a notice saying that they could not vouch for the image's authenticity.
Hoffmann met Hitler in 1919 and joined the Nazi Party on 6 April 1920. He participated in the Beer Hall Putsch as a photographic correspondent. While the Nazi Party was banned Hoffmann joined the ephemeral Großdeutsche Volksgemeinschaft and rejoined the Nazi Party in 1925. The following year he co-founded the Illustrierter Beobachter. In November 1929 he represented the Nazi Party in the district assembly of Upper Bavaria and from December 1929 to December 1933 he served as a city councillor of Munich. In 1940 Hofmann became a member of the Nazi German Reichstag.
After Hitler had taken control of the party in 1921, he named Hoffmann his official photographer, a post he held for over a quarter-century. No other photographer but Hoffmann was allowed to take pictures of Hitler,[notes 1] and Hoffmann himself was forbidden to take candid shots. Once, at the Berghof, Hitler's mountain retreat, Hoffmann took a picture of Hitler playing with his mistress Eva Braun's terrier. Hitler told Hoffmann that he could not publish the picture, because "A statesman does not permit himself to be photographed with a little dog. A German sheepdog is the only dog worthy of a real man." Hitler strictly controlled his public image in all respects, having himself photographed in any new suit before he would wear it in public, according to Hoffmann, and ordering in 1933 that all images of himself wearing lederhosen be withdrawn from circulation. He also expressed his disapproval of Benito Mussolini allowing himself to be photographed in his bathing suit.