In 1925, a 35-year-old Adolf Hitler was released from prison after a short stint following an attempted coup, dubbed the "Beer Hall Putsch." While incarcerated he wrote his manifesto/autobiography Mein Kampf. He was eager to seize power in Germany.
One of Hitler's best talents was oration. He first developed his acumen for public speaking in beer halls, where his rants would start out cool and precise, then escalate into hypnotic histrionics as his audience became more engaged (and drunk).
This talent for sweeping crowds along with his hateful screeds didn’t come naturally. Hitler was extremely self-conscious about his appearance, and wanted to make sure his visual impact was as persuasive as his words.
For that purpose, Hitler asked his personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann to take photos of him rehearsing speeches. Hitler would try out various gestures and expressions, then review the pictures to see if his postures looked stunning or stupid.
Though Hitler ordered Hoffmann to destroy the pictures for being “beneath one’s dignity,” the photographer kept them in his studio. He later published the photos in his memoir, Hitler Was My Friend.
We have this image now of Hitler almost as a buffoon, but 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.
He was a very modern politician. He was concerned about how he looked and his public persona.
He had that ability to make people stop thinking critically and just emote.
It derived from his readiness to appear bare and naked before his audience, to tear open his heart and display it.