The photo was taken by Munich photographer Heinrich Hoffmann at a rally in support of war against the allies in Munich’s Odeonplatz on August 2, 1914. But it was not until March 12, 1932 that it was published in the Nazi party newspaper The Illustrierte Beobachter, or “Illustrated Observer,” the day before the presidential election, after Hitler’s opponents had attacked Hitler over his flight from military service in Austria-Hungary and questioned his patriotism.
The caption on the original printed picture reads: “Adolf Hitler, the German patriot in the middle of the crowd stands with blazing eyes”. Hitler was superimposed to lend credibility to the image of the Nazi leader as a patriot and a man of the people. The photo went on to become a favorite Nazi propaganda picture, appearing with captions such as “Adolf Hitler: A man of the People”. It was used countless times in newspapers, propaganda papers, biographies and school books.
Hoffmann, who was one of the founders and the main supplier of pictures for the Nazi paper, always claimed he had discovered Hitler in the photo by chance after the future Führer visited his studio in 1929. When Hoffmann was told by Adolf Hitler that he was there during the Declaration of War in 1914, Hoffman scoured and scrutinized every picture he had of that momentous day. Hoffmann then dug out a glass picture negative he’d planned to throw away and found Hitler in the image. “I only needed to search for a very short time, one standing there, yes, it’s him – his hair falls over the forehead,” Hoffmann once said. “His face cannot deceive – it is him”.
The event of the Declaration of War in 1914 was filmed and the footage was examined later and Hitler was identified clearly in it. It even shows Hoffman himself taking photos. So the photo is not fake, Hitler was there in the crowd, although the original glass-plate negative (which was Hoffmann’s property) has never been found.