Yevgeny Khaldei and Hermann Goering

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Best known for his Reichstag flag rising picture, Yevgeny Khaldei (1917-1997) was the premier Red Army photographer from 1939 to 1948. Eventually, he was dismissed by Stalin’s anti-Semitism, but in 1945, he was the Soviets’ frontline photographer in the International Miltary Tribunals in Nuremberg. Nuremberg was a difficult assignment many photojournalists. Access to the courtroom was tightly governed under rules drafted by the Americans. Three glass enclosures were distributed along the edges of the room, and photographers were confined to them, two-by-two, and given only three minutes to shoot. One enclosure faced the dock, another faced the justices, and the third faced the those who had gathered to observe the proceedings. Khaldei finally circumvented the restriction by bribing an assistant to one of the Soviet justices with a bottle of gin in exchange for a better seat – the seat that yielded one of the most interesting photographs of Hermann Göring and the Trials.

Hermann Goering was extremely angry that the soldiers allowed a Russian (let alone a Jew) to photograph him. Dressed in his Soviet naval uniform (which further annoyed Goering) Khaldei pursued Goering aggressively: “I took lots of pictures of Göring because I thought, ‘Hitler is dead.’ That makes Göring public enemy number one. I took pains to be near him at all times.” With the help of an American MP and his baton, Goering was forced to face Khaldei’s lens, and even to have his picture taken with him. Towards the end of the trial, before the sentencing, Khaldei had his photo taken standing near Göring by a colleague. With the exception of his mother, Khaldei’s entire family had been slaughtered by the Germans in 1941.

Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally

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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.