Adolf Hitler’s Home Counties Holiday Snaps

Nigel J. Clarke, 1996

A friend of mine has a theory that the only thing you need to do to sell a book is to mention Jack the Ripper, Aliens or Adolf Hitler in the title (preferably all three.) And I have to say that my eye was immediately drawn to this…

The subtitle is slightly (but not much) less grabby – Luftwaffe Target Reconnaissance, German Aerial Photography 1939 – 1942. It is actually a really fascinating document of London through a Nazi bomber’s eyes.

Each page shows a grainy black and white shot of a different part of the South East of England, paying special attention to the capital, of course. The photographs were taken by a specially created unit, led by a Major Josepf ‘Beppo’ Schmidt (how much more ‘Allo ‘Allo can you get?) and there’s a chilling photo at the beginning of fresh-faced young men loading a plane with camera film, a giant swastika carefully positioned in the foreground.

What they were really after was disrupting the supply chains – and you only have to look at the little gaggles of post-war housing scattered around the railway and major roads of Greenwich to see they were pretty successful in their goal, if a little untidy as they went about it.

The book covers the whole of London and the Home Counties, but Greenwich and its environs pop up in several of the pictures – not least because we had quite a few other juicy targets – in the form of the Naval College and the Arsenal at Woolwich. The factories around the peninsula and Silvertown were also interesting to the enemy – and as such, the different works and their purposes are carefully filled in by typewriter later.
You can order copies of the book online as well as individual prints, but the Greenwich ones don’t have previews (chiz.)

Personally I wouldn’t buy the book itself online in this particular instance as now…

….drumroll….

…I have to tell you about a great place to buy cheap local history books.

The Guildhall Library Shop at 5 Aldermanbury, EC2V 7HH, which is in the same building as the Guildhall itself (and a very curious clock makers’ museum, BTW) has one of the best collections of London history books I know of. And it has an excellent ‘remainder’ section, which is where I found Adolf Hitler’s Home Counties Holiday Snaps for – well, a snip.

It’s not a must-have for your Greenwich library – but at the sort of price I paid for it (sorry – can’t remember exactly how much…) it’s a nice addition. I’ll come onto the British response – maps of the damage done by the bombers – another day, but for now, do take a little trip to the Guildhall shop. It’s got all sorts of goodies in it…


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