Mystery of Nazi Photographer Solved Thanks to Crowdsourcing

Owner of photo album gets the answers he was looking for.

Published: June 22nd 2011
in Culture » Art

The photo.

The identity of a Nazi photographer responsible for a compelling photo album from WWII has been revealed, thanks to an online hunt. Yesterday, The New York Times Lens blog, and Der Spiegal (the popular German weekly) joined forces to determine the provenance of the 214 never-before-seen photographs, some including Hitler himself, by publishing posts asking readers for assistance.


Within hours, the identity of the anonymous photographer was determined to be one Franz Krieger (1914-1993) a photojournalist from Salzburg, Austria.  The mystery was solved thanks to contributions from two people, Harriet Scharnberg and Peter Kramml. Scharnberg is writing her PhD dissertation on German propaganda photographs, and Kramml wrote a book about Krieger’s photographs in 2008.


According to Kramml, Krieger joined the Propagandakompanie, a propaganda unit of the Wehrmacht in 1941. By 1942, he had quit the Propagandakompanie, and worked as a supply driver on the Eastern Front, however, never ceasing to document his travels via photograph. Kramml stated that the city of Salzburg possesses roughly 35,000 negatives shot by Krieger in its municipal archive.


The photo album‘s owner is  a 72-year-old executive in the fashion industry who lives in New Jersey and works in the garment district of Manhattan. The owner lent the photographs to the Times, in hopes he can sell them to cover heart surgery payments and dig himself out of debt.


“I knew I had a part of history, and I was very troubled about it falling into the wrong hands. But my needs are great,” the executive, who wishes to remain anonymous, explained to The New York Times.

Related articles: (Nazi photographer, Franz Krieger, Nazi photographs)
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