The Rare Photos Of Hitler Practicing Hate Speeches In Front Of The Mirror He Never Wanted To Be Seen

Adolf Hitler was known for his speeches. Hitler’s speeches blamed all of Germany’s problems on its weak leaders, Marxist traitors, and Jewish people. His words and gestures rallied millions to his cause, and they ended in the slaughter of millions more.

Hitler and the Nazi Party were masters of propaganda, and one of their most important tools was photographs of the Führer. They even used photographs of Hitler playing with dogs to this end. But these rare photographs of Hitler preparing to give speeches show the hidden side of Hitler’s rise to power. 

Hitler was a vain, insecure man who worried that he would look foolish while he performed. To remedy this, his personal photographer Heinrich Hoffman took photos of Hitler speaking to reassure the Nazi leader that he could strike a powerful pose.

These Hitler photos were so embarrassing to the Führer that he ordered Hoffman to destroy them – but the photographer refused, revealing another side of the dictator.

  • These Candid Photos Of Hitler Were Taken Just Months After He Was Released From Jail

    In 1924, Adolf Hitler was sentenced to five years in jail for leading his party in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the German government, known as the “Beer Hall Putsch.” Hilter served nine months in Landsberg jail, dictating his autobiography Mein Kampf and planning the future of the party. 

    In Mein Kampf, Hitler concluded that “men are won over less by the written than by the spoken word.” He also argued that “every great movement on this earth owes its growth to great orators and not to great writers.”

    After his release from prison in 1925, Hilter practiced his skills in front of a mirror while his official photographer Heinrich Hoffmann snapped pictures.

    The results are a study in Hilter’s behind-the-scenes efforts to transform himself into a successful orator.

  • Hitler Didn’t Want Anyone To Know That He Wasn’t A Natural Orator

    Hitler was vain and controlling – and he didn’t want anyone to see the pictures of his rehearsal poses. In fact, in 1936, Joseph Goebbels, his minister of propaganda, wrote about Hitler’s amazing speaking abilities. Goebbels waxed poetic about Hitler’s oratorical talents, overwhelming the Führer with praise. He also claimed Hitler’s talents were natural.

    “It would be ridiculous to think he attended some sort of speaker school; he is a rhetorical genius who developed his own abilities with no help from anyone else,” Goebbels said.

    Of course, that wasn’t true at all. Hitler relied on Hoffman’s black-and-white photos to practice speaking poses.

  • Hitler Had 'Dead' Eyes And 'Moist And Clammy' Hands

    Hitler apparently wasn’t very charismatic in person. Psychologist Henry Murray noted in a 1943 US intelligence report that Hitler had “dead, impersonal, and unseeing” eyes. Hitler was below average in height and had a receding hairline and “moist and clammy” palms. And he was terrible at small talk.

    That might be one reason that Hitler asked Hoffmann to take the photographs. Hitler asked for feedback on his delivery, gestures, and body language. Then he looked over the photographs, declaring “no, that looks silly,” or “I’m never doing that again.”

  • Hitler Wanted The Photos Destroyed Because They Were So Embarrassing

    Hitler never wanted anyone to see these photographs. He ordered Hoffmann to hide the photos, but the photographer ignored the Führer’s request and eventually published the photographs in a book called Hitler Was My Friend in 1955. 

    As historian Roger Moorhouse explained, “[Hitler] was concerned about how he looked and his public persona.”

    The photographs undermined one of the key components of Hitler’s appeal: his passion. As Goebbels emphasized in 1936, “He speaks his heart, and therefore reaches the hearts of those who hear him.”

    But the photos made Hitler look like an amateur who didn’t have a natural instinct for passionate speeches.

  • Hitler's Inflammatory Rhetoric Was Terrifying, And His Delivery Made It More So

    Long before Hitler became the Führer, he used his speeches to go after Marxists, non-Aryans, and above all, Jewish people. But it wasn’t just the words that made Hitler’s speeches powerful – his delivery played an important role in inflaming his followers. 

    In 1921, Daniel Binchy, a young Irish student who later became the Irish ambassador to Berlin, witnessed Hitler speak in Munich. Binchy described Hitler as a “born natural orator,” who was met with “hysterical enthusiasm.” 

    “His voice rose almost to a scream, his gesticulation became a pantomime, and I noticed traces of foam at the corners of his mouth,” Binchy wrote in his diary. Binchy declared Hitler “a harmless lunatic with the gift of oratory,” but a friend of his retorted, “No lunatic with the gift of oratory is harmless.”

  • Hitler Was Practicing For His Next Major Role: Dictator Of Germany

    Hoffman’s photographs capture Hitler just before his party rose to seize political power in Germany through democratic elections. The party quadrupled in size between 1925 and 1929, and the Great Depression further pushed the party to political prominence.

    They continued to gain seats in Germany's elections. In 1930, the party became the second-largest party in the country, and by 1932, they held 37% of the seats in the Reichstag, in part due to a massive propaganda effort. 

    By 1933, Hitler had taken control of Germany as a dictator. That same year, he opened the first concentration camp at Dachau.