When I met Hitler, Mussolini

Saint Ivuga

Saint Ivuga

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Aug 21, 2008
Saint Ivuga

Saint Ivuga

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Joined Aug 21, 2008
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When I met Hitler, Mussolini and saw the devastation at Dunkirk: Astonishing images from a German soldier's photo album

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 2:59 PM on 3rd November 2010
Rare photos taken by a German soldier of the devastated beaches of Dunkirk after the evacuation have been found 70 years on by the family of a British war veteran.

The pictures were taken a few hours after 330,000 Allied soldiers were rescued from the beaches by an armada of little ships having been defeated by the Nazis.

The remarkable album was later taken from a German house as a memento by British serviceman Corporal Frank Smith.

This image, taken just hours after 330,000 Allied soldiers were rescued, shows piles of rifles abandoned by the British Expeditionary Force on the Dunkirk beaches

French tanks lie abandoned on the road to Dunkirk showing the chaos and confusion faced by retreating forces

It includes shots of the Germans surveying the wreckage of downed aircraft and scores of damaged trucks and tanks on the battle-scarred shores of Dunkirk.

One image shows a British warship washed up on the sand with a huge hole blown through the middle of it while another is of a huge pile of hundreds of rifles left behind.

The album of 200 photos and postcards was owned by an unknown German soldier.

Ironically, it was abandoned in a Nazi house on Luneburg Heath in northern Germany nearly five years later in 1945 as the Allied forces advanced towards Berlin.

Sunk and badly damaged shipping can be seen in this image from the harbour in Calais. The port was to suffer further devastation four years later during the Normandy landings

German soldiers examine a massive torpedo washed up on a beach in northern France. The image is one of 200 in the photo album

Scores of abandoned trucks and cars give a sense of the chaos faced by Allied troops as prepared to evacuate

It was picked up by Cpl Smith, aged 31 at the time, who brought it home with him as a souvenir.

Despite hardly ever speaking about his experience of war, Cpl Smith kept it at his home until his death in 1968, aged 54, when it was passed to his widow Rosina.

It is now owned by his son, Mike Smith, 67, from Lymington, Hampshire, who is hoping to reunite the poignant pictures with the family of the unknown soldier in Germany.

The remarkable set of photos tracks the progress of the German soldier, believed to have been called Richard, from Nazi rallies through to the Blitzkrieg of western Europe.

On this occasion the soldier, known only as Richard, takes a photograph of Hitler just before he signs an autograph. The soldier wrote to his relatives: 'The family dream has come true. I could have touched him'



A chilling smile from Joseph Goebbels (left), the Nazi propaganda minister, and the Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini aboard a train are images also included in the remarkable photo album

There are also a number of personal photographs of leading Nazi figures, with one showing Hitler signing an autograph for the soldier.

The album is accompanied by postcards he sent, including one which described his meeting with the Fuhrer.

It read in German: 'The family dream has come true. I could have touched him.'

The majority of the postcards, dating from 1932 to 1939, were addressed to a Dora Hinrichs, owner of the Gastof zur Heide Museum in Wilsede, near Luneburg Heath.

Mike Smith said: 'My father didn't speak about the war to me - like many men of his generation he just didn't mention it.

A wrecked British fighter plane lies mangled on the beach at Dunkirk

A German soldier poses in front of the wreckage of a beached ship as others move closer to inspect the damage

German guns train their sights across the Channel towards Britain

'But I know he came to this building and the Nazis either fled or were defeated there. He found this album and thought it was interesting, so he kept it with him.

'He did send a postcard back to England at the time, with a picture of the museum on the front and a list of members of his regiment on the back.

'He kept it at home, tucked away in a drawer somewhere, and never mentioned it.

'When he died, my mother kept it of course, and it came to me after she passed away.

'Because my dad never spoke of it, we haven't given it a great deal of thought until recently but it's an absolutely fascinating set of pictures.

'The album is very old and is starting to fall to pieces, but it's filled with black and white pictures taken by the German soldier.



The album is believed to have belonged to a German soldier, known only as 'Richard' (left). It was taken from a German house during the final days of the war by British Cpl Frank Smith (right)

'It shows his progress through Belgium to Dunkirk, with many photos of what happened after the British left.

'It's really remarkable to have it from a German perspective, and see was left behind.

'There are no clues in it as to what happened to the soldier and we don't know whether he survived the war.

'My wife is German and by complete chance, we visited the exact building the album was taken from some years ago. It is an agricultural museum with a pub next door, and it looks exactly as it did in the 1930s photographs.

'We did mention to people there that my father had been there during the war, but they clammed up immediately and didn't want to speak about it.

'It would be really interesting to find out more about the soldier's family, and perhaps even reunite them with the album one day.'

Cpl Smith served with 2741 squadron, an RAF regiment focused on ground defence and anti-aircraft activities.

After the war he ran a grocery store and fishing tackle shop in Lymington and had two daughters and a son, Mike.

A family portrait - perhaps relatives of 'Richard' - complete with a photo of Hitler on the wall behind them

Read more: Nazi's photo album reveals images of Dunkirk and Hitler signing autographs | Mail Online

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