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From the Kriegsberichter's Eyes: A study in German Press Photos
Old 07-04-2008, 09:53 PM   #1
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Default From the Kriegsberichter's Eyes: A study in German Press Photos

I have been debating for quite some time whether to post this information publicly on the internet or try to publish this information in a book. After many years, it doesn't appear that a book will come true, so I will post this information in this thread to educate collectors what I know regarding press photos.

I have been actively collecting and studying German Press photos for many years and have been able to decipher/identify the markings and styles of captions utilized by the various press agencies during the era of the Third Reich.

If I have posted any information in this thread which is incorrect, please let me know so that I can make the appropriate corrections.

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During the era of the Third Reich, a propaganda section was established to coordinate and approve for release photographs taken by Kriegsberichter’s (war photographers) from all branches of the military and other organizations such as the RAD, SA, etc. This unit was under the direction of the Ministry for National Enlightenment and Propaganda run by Dr. Josef Goebbels. Once the censors approved the photograph for release, it was then distributed for civilian or military publication. These press photos would contain a wide range of subjects ranging from front line action to action on the home front.

All the photographs in this thread (which I will post in the near future) are images from official press photographs released by the Propaganda Ministry to the various German press agencies during the era of the Third Reich. Press photos are emulsion prints and will have a printed caption that is separately attached to the back of the photograph and is normally stamped by the releasing press agency. All the photographs in this thread are German press photos which were released by the various press agencies which existed during the era of the Third Reich. Each photograph is captioned with the original text which is attached to the back of each photo. There are a few photographs in which the text is no longer attached, which is unfortunate. Quite a bit of the value and history in the photograph is lost when the caption is missing.
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Old 07-04-2008, 09:56 PM   #2
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The reader will notice in this thread how the propaganda machine used these photographs to great effect during the war years. Each photograph is captioned with the original caption which is attached to the backs of the photographs. These captions were the captions which were used in the particular magazine or newspaper in which the photograph originally appeared.

The captions below each photo follow a specific pattern. Normally, the top line of the caption lists the specific number of the photo and the headline for the photo. Each press agency had their own system of numbering photos. Below the headline would be the description of the photo. The last line of the photo would consist of the date the press photo was released, the press agency which released the photo and the photographers who took the picture. It is important to note that the date the press photo was released is not necessarily the date the photo was taken. This was done to maximize the effect of propaganda on the people. It is not uncommon to see photos from the same event released on numerous different days. It was also not uncommon to see photos from the same event taken by the same photographer (or even the same photo) released by different press agencies or even the same photo released by different press agencies.

The most well known press agency of the Third Reich was the Hoffmann press agency. The other main press agencies during this time were Atlantic, Weltbild, Presse Bild Zentrale, Orbis, Scherl, Transocean and even the still operating European offices of the Associated Press.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:03 PM   #3
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The first press agency I will discuss is the Atlantic Press Agency.

The Atlantic press agency was located in Berlin and operated pre-war and throughout the war years. Atlantic press photos can be identified by the stamping on the back of the photo as well as the typed script, which will be discussed later. The style of the stampings changed over the years, while the colors of the stampings ranged from a light blue to a dark purple. It did change in the final stamp variation.

The earliest style of Atlantic stamp encountered is the basic circle stamp. This stamp can be seen as early as 1934 and ran through about May 1941.
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File Type: jpg Atlantic stamp 1.JPG (118.0 KB, 8230 views)
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:04 PM   #4
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A variation of this style of stamp was also utilized. It is not known the reason for this variation. The main difference is the address line at the bottom of the stamp.
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File Type: jpg Atlantic stamp 1 variation.JPG (77.4 KB, 8136 views)
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:06 PM   #5
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Another style of stamp was utilized by Atlantic in conjunction with the above two. This style can be seen from 1937-1939.
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File Type: jpg Atlantic stamp 2.JPG (55.5 KB, 8099 views)
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:07 PM   #6
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This style of stamp was utilized for only a very short period and most likely ended within a few months. It is not known how long it was in existence.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:08 PM   #7
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This next style starts to be seen in October 1940 and only ran for a few months. It was normally seen in conjunction with either of the first styles of stamps.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:09 PM   #8
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Beginning in December 1940, another style of stamp is seen. This style would normally be seen in conjunction with either of the first stamps or with the next style of stamp. This stamping did not exist for a very long time, only for a few months. It is believed to have been discontinued sometime in May 1941.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:11 PM   #9
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This next style completely replaced the first styles of stamps in March 1941. Most of the time it will be seen with the next stamp or in a few cases with the previous Atlantic stamp.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:12 PM   #10
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This Atlantic stamp would most always be seen with the previous stamp.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:13 PM   #11
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This variation of the Atlantic stamp was the most prolific. It can first be seen around May 1941, but only then sporadically. Beginning in February 1942, it was almost exclusively used until the end of the war. It would never be seen with either of the previously described Atlantic stamps.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:15 PM   #12
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However, there was a variation of the above stamp which also was utilized at the same time as the previous stamp. The only change this time was the removal of the letters 'PK' from the bottom left of the stamp.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:16 PM   #13
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There is also a stamp which can be seen very late in the war. The coloring of this stamp has changed from the normal purple/blue color as the previous stamps to pink ink.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:17 PM   #14
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A final variation in Atlantic stamps has occasionally been observed. It is not known the reason for this variation of stamp.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:20 PM   #15
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Just as the style of the stamp changed over the years, so did the press script that was attached to the back of each photo. An early style of Atlantic script is seen in this 1928 example. Even from this early date the photos were numbered but not the exact date of the release.
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