The city of Nuremberg was a symbol of the Nazi regime. Once a city of toys, it was transformed into the scene of massive rallies, torchlight parades, Hitler Youth jamborees, and reviews of the Wehrmacht. Nuremberg fell to the U.S. Third Army on April 20, 1945, Hitler’s birthday, and its symbolic nature made it the scene of the subsequent Nazi war crime trials.
Before the war, Hitler’s personal photographer Hugo Jaeger made the photos of the Nazi rallies in Nuremberg (above). Unlike those of Hitler’s main photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, these photos were in color. Jaeger was granted unparalleled access to Hilter and traveled with him for years in the run up to, and during, the second World War. In 1945, when the Allies pushed towards Munich, the photographer found himself face-to-face with six American soldiers and feared he would be arrested when they found the thousands of color negatives he had hidden in a leather suitcase. Instead, the soldiers threw open the case to discover a bottle of cognac, which they eagerly opened and shared withJaeger, ignoring the transparencies beneath. To preserve the photos, he buried them in 12 glass jars on the outskirts of Munich, returning over the years to check on them, repack and rebury them.
In 1955, Jaeger finally retrieved all 2,000 transparencies and stored them in a bank vault before selling them to LIFE magazine in 1965.