Online Readers Identify Nazi Photographer

The self-portrait that led to crediting the snapshots to Franz Krieger, a military photographer and driver.

The self-portrait that led to crediting the snapshots to Franz Krieger, a military photographer and driver.

It appeared to be something of a mystery: a little photo album that had fallen into the hands of a New York garment industry executive with debts to pay off. In one snapshot was a bus with German lettering on the side. In another, a kitten on a soldier’s lap.

Then came black-and-white images of prisoners of war, some in rags, some in jackets with Star of David patches, staring blankly into the camera.

A few pages later were photographs of Hitler in a train station. As he framed the shot, the photographer was almost as close to the Führer as he had been to the Führer’s captives.

The photographs were obviously taken during World War II. But who was the photographer?

That was only one of the secrets the album had kept.

This week the photographer was identified in less than three hours, thanks to the collective expertise of online readers. He was Franz Krieger, who joined — and then quit — a Wehrmacht propaganda unit known as the Propaganda kompanie. Seventy years ago this August, when he was in his mid-20s, the unit sent him on a tour of the Eastern Front.

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