Hitler movies that escaped the censor

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The Independent Online
IMAGES OF Adolf Hitler's triumphant visits to the front, choreographed to the tiniest detail by the people from the Propaganda Ministry, are familiar. But the picture on the right is unique for showing what Germans were never allowed to see: wounded soldiers of the Wehrmacht.

No bandaged soldier of the kind gazing at the Fuhrer in the front row got past the censors unless he had been fighting on the losing side.

This one, frozen from a 16-mm motion-picture reel, survives because it was shot by Hitler's personal pilot, Hans Baur, and has been kept in a box marked "Hitler's movies" for half a century. It was taken in 1940 in France, on early colour film manufactured by the German Agfa company.

Baur, an amateur film-maker, flew the Fuhrer's personal Junkers aircraft around the expanding Third Reich between 1933 and 1945.

He was by Hitler's side on many important occasions, and diligently recorded these moments, unhindered by bodyguards.

Twelve reels of his work were found in a flowerbed in Munich by an American sergeant, Herbert St Goar. How they got there remains a mystery. The sergeant handed in eight of them to his government, and sent the remainder to his home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he occasionally played them for the entertainment of friends and family.

Only when the 82-year-old former soldier showed them to historians earlier this year did he discover the importance of the recordings.

The films, excerpts of which were shown by Spiegel-TV in Germany at the weekend, chronicle the Fuhrer's meetings with figures such as Benito Mussolini, visiting Berlin in 1937, and in the company of aides such as Hermann Goering. There are pictures of Hitler on the Eastern Front, state visits to allies, and secret holiday trips.

In the footage shown on television, Hitler is seen walking past a group of wounded soldiers, many of whom salute him by raising their arms. A man with his arm in plaster comes forward at one point and touches the Fuhrer's hand.

Baur lost a leg trying to flee from the Berlin bunker, was captured by the Russians and spent 10 years in a Soviet camp. He was repeatedly interrogated by his captors, who refused to believe that Hitler had not fled from the bunker, but committed suicide.

Baur was set free in 1955, and wrote his memoirs. A committed Nazi to the end, he died in his Bavarian home in 1993. On the wall of his guest lavatory was a collection of greeting cards from Hitler, arranged in the shape of a swastika.