Hitler practicing his speeches - rare photographs of Hitler preparing to give speeches show how the dictator worked to make his rhetoric and actions as powerful and captivating as possible
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. In the days before his rise to power, he hired a personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffman, to take photos of him rehearsing his speeches.
The album reveals images of the Nazi leader in a series of poses, using expressive face and hand gestures, which he would practice and review before addressing the German public. They capture the meticulous training Hitler undertook to perfect his famous speeches, and give a rare insight into his vanity and controlling personality. Once he saw the pictures, he would decide whether to incorporate the various gestures and poses into his speeches and appearances.
The photos were taken soon after Hitler was released from a nine-month stint in prison during which he dictated his autobiography, Mein Kampf. After seeing the photographs, Hitler requested Hoffmann to destroy the negatives, but he didn’t obey. They were published in his memoir, “Hitler was my friend”, which came out in 1955. Hoffmann, who introduced Hitler to his then-studio assistant Eva Braun, survived the war and spent four years in prison for Nazi profiteering. He died in 1957, aged 72.
Roger Moorhouse, a historian who wrote the introduction to the photographer’s book, said:
“It makes perfect sense that he would be doing this. We have this image now of Hitler almost as a buffoon, but he had a lot of charisma and his speeches made people sincerely believe he would lead them back to greatness. He was an absolutely spellbinding public speaker and these pictures show that it was something he worked very hard on. When you listen to his speeches now, he sounds like a ranting, raving maniac, but we know that it came across in a very persuasive way. These pictures give an important insight into how he practiced. He was a showman and rehearsed his gestures to get a particular reaction from his audiences.
He experimented with his own image and asked Hoffmann to take photographs for him to review. Then he’d look at them and say “no, that looks silly” or “I’m never doing that again”. He used Hoffmann as a sounding board, but never intended the images to be published. Hitler was a very modern politician in that way. He was concerned about how he looked and his public persona.”
Balfour visits Jerusalem - British Conservative politician visits Jerusalem while the city's Arab residents were on strike as a protest against the Balfour Declaration, which supported plans for a Jewish homeland in Palestine
The Balfour Declaration, was a public pledge by Britain in 1917 declaring its aim to establish "a national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine. The declaration turned the Zionist aim of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine into a reality and resulted in a significant upheaval in the lives of Palestinians.
The statement came in the form of a letter from Britain's then-foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, addressed to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a figurehead of the British Jewish community.
It was conceived during World War I and was included in the terms of the British Mandate for Palestine after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The so-called mandate system, set up by the Allied powers, was a thinly veiled form of colonialism and occupation. The system transferred rule from the territories that were previously controlled by the powers defeated in the war - Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria - to the victors.
The declared aim of the mandate system was to allow the winners of the war to administer the newly emerging states until they could become independent. The case of Palestine, however, was unique. Unlike the rest of the post-war mandates, the main goal of the British Mandate there was to create the conditions for the establishment of a Jewish "national home" - where Jews constituted around 10 percent of the population at the time. Upon the start of the mandate, the British began to facilitate the immigration of European Jews to Palestine. Between 1922 and 1935, the Jewish population rose to nearly 27 percent of the total population.
Increased Jewish immigration under the mandate created tensions and violence between the Palestinian Arabs and the European Jews. One of the first popular responses to British actions was the Nebi Musa revolt in 1920 that led to the killing of four Palestinian Arabs and five immigrant Jews.
Balfour's visit to Egypt, Palestine and Syria in 1925 was met by protests and demonstrations, and in Jerusalem Arab citizens went on general strike. The tension was palpable, with British troops securing the streets wherever Balfour went, for fear of violence breaking out.
Skeleton Dancers - a sacred Tibetan dance ritual found in Himalayan Buddhist lineages
In 1925 explorer Joseph Rock visited Choni monastery in Gansu province, where he based himself for two years while undertaking his unsuccessful attempt to reach the mountains of Amnyi Machen. During that time he witnessed the “devil dancers” of Choni.
The Skeleton Dancers are performing a sacred ritual, intended to reflect the transient nature of things, including states of mind and the body itself. The monks pictured in the photo above seem to be performing the dance known as Durdak Garcham, “Dance of the Lords of the Cemetery.” The dance celebrates the liberation that comes from acceptance of our impermanence.
The skeletons depicted in the dance are Chitipati, a pair of lovers known as the Lord and Lady of the charnel ground whose dance represents the eternal dance of death, as well as the attainment of perfect consciousness. They are worldy guardians, typically depicted as skeletons, each with a third eye of wisdom, holding scepters made of human heads and spines in one hand and a blood-filled kapala, sometimes with a still warm brain inside, in the other hand.
The Lord and Lady can usually be distinguished from other skeleton deities by the crowns with five small human skulls, as well as the fan-shaped ornaments on their ears. They represent a “dynamic vision of death and transformation” and a “joyous freedom from attachment” rather than “morbid pessimism” as the imagery conveys in Western societies.