The German Experience 1937 – 1972 & The Arran Series

From the Pete Grafton Collection

The  German  Experience

Photo-snaps from The Third Reich to the Munich Olympics

Hitler Youth. 1937.   Believed to be Flensburg, near the Danish border.

“German gymnastics festival, Breslau.   24 – 31 July 1938”

Breslau: following the end of the Second World War, and national boundary changes, Breslau became part of Poland and is now known as Wroclaw.

“The Festival Procession at the Palace Square”

Four women friends, 1938.  From the same photo album as  the photos above.

Seated German soldiers with bottles of beer in a wood.  On the back of the photo: “Our first leave (from military duties).  Here the sun has just blinded me.”

Camouflaged Army quarters, believed to be the Eastern Front, circa 1942.

Different angle photograph of photo above. Note on the right what look like factories in the distance.

Photo taken by a German soldier, believed to be have been taken on the Eastern Front, circa 1942 – 1943.

Hamburg,  June 1943. “To you, dear Peter, in memory of your holidays. From your Margrit.”   On reverse of photo.

German Army butcher and carcass.

Injured German soldiers with German nurses, hospital room.  Unknown location.

“Chic Fraulein, Plon, August 1943” on reverse of photo

Plön, in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, is on the shore of the Great Plön Lake.  The Wehrmacht barracks at Stadheide near Plön on 30 April 1945 became the temporary headquarters of the remaining members of Hitler’s cabinet, following the suicide of Hitler in Berlin.  On Ist May Admiral Dönitz, the new head of the Third Reich moved into the barracks, but with advancing British troops, fled to Flensburg.  On 8th May, 1945 the German Forces of the Third Reich unconditionally surrendered.  The Second World War in Europe was over.

Group of male Germans in a snowy wood, circa late 1950s/early 1960s.   Print processed by a photo dealer in Hamburg-Wandsbek.

Four women, believed to be late 1950s.   Photo print by a Braunschweig (Brunswick) photo dealer.

Man with a camera and two women, in the countryside, unknown location. 1950s

Young woman on the Baltic coast. “Oh how good this tastes” written on reverse of photo. Photo taken by a female friend – note the shoes at the bottom right of the Baltic beach chair.

Guitar and accordion duo, German bar with customers. Unknown location. 1950s

Christmas 1960?    “24.1.61” photo processors’ stamped date on reverse.

Woman with her back to the camera. Traditional building. Unknown location. Possibly 1950s

Modern architect designed home, Germany.  Unknown location.

Heimat: The Good Years (1)   Mid to late 1960s. Unknown location.

Heimat: The Good Years (2)   Mid to late 1960s. Unknown location.

Women and men at a bar table, Hamburg.   1970.  Atika brand cigarettes centre foreground.  (Photo labs “1970” date stamp on reverse)

Small motorcade at the time of the Munich (Munchen) Olympics, 1972. Unknown location but believed to be in the Munich area.


The German Experience should also include photos from the post Second World War German Democratic Republic (DDR).    At the time of the 1990 re-unification the West German population was 63 million, and the East German population 16 million.  Photo snaps from the totalitarian DDR are rarely found in bric a brac shops in Germany, or elsewhere.  However, there are strong visual similarities of the German National Socialist (Nazi) years and the East German State Socialist years:  constant photos of the leaders: Hitler and Ulbricht; goose-stepping soldiers; mass rallies and gatherings and mass gymnastics in both the German National Socialist regime and in the east German “Democratic” Socialist regime.

Mass gymnastics, DDR, 1960s.  Photo reproduced in Seht, Welche Kraft! (“See, What Power!”), Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1971. (DDR)     Pete Grafton collection.

Mass gymnastics, The Third Reich, 1938.


If as a German citizen you were born in 191o in eastern Germany, and were 80 and still alive in eastern Germany in 1990, you would have lived through a country ruled by an autocratic militaristic monarch, rarely constrained by a fledgling democracy, followed by 14 years of Weimar democracy, followed by 57 years of totalitarianism (12 of those under National Socialism, and 45 under Soviet socialism).  No other part of a country in western Europe, including the Spain of Franco, and the Italy of Mussolini, experienced such a long period of totalitarianism.


The German Experience: Recommended viewing and reading


Heimat: Marita Breuer as Maria


The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics 1918 – 1945 by J.W.Wheeler-Bennett, Macmillan, London 1953.  An essential book in understanding how the German military were the power behind the throne, not only in side-lining  Kaiser Wilhelm II (who they regarded as militarily incompetent) before and during the First World War, but also in covertly supporting the Weimar Republic (including secret joint military exercises (including chemical warfare exercises) with the Russian Bolsheviks, and then in 1933 allowed Adolf Hitler to become Chancellor, believing they could control him for their own military aims.  It was Hitler who ended up controlling them. The German military class ended up being comprehensively crushed in 1945, never to recover, unlike 1918 when, as a group, they  remained unscathed.

Conscience in Revolt, London 1957.  First published in Germany in 1954 as Das Gewissen Steht Auf, Mosaik-Verlag, Berlin.  An account of the various groups and individuals who, at risk to their lives, protested against and opposed Hitler and the National Socialists.  Note the name of Willy Brandt above, who went on to become Chancellor of the German Federal Republic in 1969.

After Hitler by Jürgen Neven-du Mont, Pelican Books, 1974. First published in Germany as Zum Beispiel 42 Deutsche, Nymphenburger Verlagshandlung, 1968.  West Germans talk about the Second World War  and their life in the Federal Republic since the end of the war.


The  Arran  Series

Near Lochranza, May 2003.

photos Pete Grafton

Contact Sheet 2003/10

2003/10  Neg 4

Contact Sheet 2003/10  Neg 1

Contact Sheet 2003/10  Neg 14

Contact Sheet 2003/10   Neg 8

Contact Sheet 2003/10   Neg 17

Contact Sheet 2003/10   Neg 15

Contact Sheet 2003/11   Neg 12

Contact Sheet 2003/11   Neg 11

Contact Sheet 2003/11   Neg 9

Contact Sheet 2003/11   Neg 8

Contact Sheet 2003/11   Neg 14


Coming in late April, 2017

America at Home: The Kodachrome Slides

1:  The 1950s


This entry was posted in Germany, People, Scottish Rural, Vintage Photos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s