At the height of World War II, the Associated Press made secret 
arrangements with an SS officer to obtain pictures taken by Nazi 
photographers that were distributed to American newspapers — a
 deal authorized by senior U.S. officials.
The extraordinary arrangement, which began in 1941 and ended with 
Hitler’s fall, is detailed in a lengthy internal report the AP released
 Wednesday morning. It comes several months after Norman Domeier,
 a German historian, discovered a letter describing the deal in the
 papers of AP’s then-bureau chief.
The report includes documents recently declassified at the request of 
AP’s management, including letters of approval from a wartime
 censorship office run by an ex-AP editor who reported to President 
Franklin D. Roosevelt. As part of the arrangement, AP shared pictures
 of U.S. war operations and Allied advances, which were reviewed by
Hitler and published in Nazi publications.
“With one known exception, the AP images that appeared in German
 publications through this arrangement were unaltered by the Germans,
 “ the report said, “but captions were rewritten by the Germans to 
conform to official Nazi views.”
U.S. counterintelligence agents unaware of the approval found “definite
 proof” that the AP was “engaged in operations coming within the 
purview of the Trading with the Enemy Act,” according to a document 
referenced in AP’s report. The case wasn’t pursued.
In an interview this week, AP officials strongly defended the arrangement, 
saying it was conducted in neutral countries, and that there was 
tremendous news value in offering its newspaper customers photos
 of Hitler and German military activities — even if the photos were 
taken by Nazis, who were expert propagandists.
John Daniszewski, AP’s vice president for standards and editor at large,
 said that the organization’s journalists “were doing their best to get out
 information that the world needed.” He defended the photos — they
 are still available for purchase on an AP website — by noting that 
blatantly staged propaganda was excluded and that AP’s captions 
made the Nazi origins clear. 
But a review of photos published in American newspapers shows that
 wasn’t always the case.
The June 30, 1942, edition of The Washington Post carried a photo 
of Hitler shaking hands with ex-German officials, including one
 wearing a Nazi navy uniform. The photo credit is “Associated Press 
WIREPHOTO.” The photo was also published by Nazi magazine Berlin
 Rom Tokio, crediting Helmut Laux, the Waffen SS officer who made 
the deal with AP.
In 1944, American newspapers 
ran a photo from the same
 Nazi magazine, this time of 
Hitler shaking Mussolini’s hand 
shortly after an assassination
 attempt on German leaders. 
The caption in the New York
 Herald Tribune described the
 handshake as “according to the
 German caption accompanying
 this photo.” The photo credit
 is, “Associated Press radiophoto.”
There are hundreds, likely thousands, more.
In the Chicago Tribune: Hitler drawing on a map. The caption says 
it arrived “via Lisbon.” The photo credit is, “Associated Press wirephoto.”
In the New York Times: Hitler at a conference. The caption says, “This
 photo, received from Lisbon, is described as.…” The credit is
 “Associated Press.”
In the Boston Sunday Globe: Hitler chatting with a blinded soldier. 
The caption says: “Der Fuehrer is seen chatting with some of his
 warriors, including the man in black, blinded in combat. The photo 
comes from Germany via Lisbon.”
Daniszewski, the AP vice president, said that given the time period — a war, with censors on both sides — readers would have known that Nazis had taken the photos, even if those origins weren’t specifically described.
Asked why the captions distributed with the photos didn’t include references to Nazi or SS photographers, Daniszewski said, “It is easy to second-guess eight decades later, but we do not believe and did not find in our research any intention to deceive anyone about the German origins of these photos depicting scenes from the German side of the battle lines and inside Germany itself.”
But Nicholas O’Shaughnessy, a communications professor at Queen
 Mary, University of London and the author of a book on Nazi 
propaganda, said it was plainly apparent that the Germans had succeeded 
in finding a “direct route into the Allied consciousness through 
their propaganda.”
“It was extremely cynical of the AP to use these photos,” he added. “One
 tries to justify these things by saying the camera doesn’t lie. But Nazi 
cameras always lied. They were a colossal kind of fairy tale. None of 
these images are real. This is how Hitler wanted to be seen.”
The story of AP’s deal to swap photos with the Nazis began to emerge 
only recently, after Domeier’s visit earlier this year to the Wisconsin 
Historical Society, where the papers of Louis P. Lochner, the AP’s
 Pulitzer Prize-winning Berlin bureau chief, are collected. Domeier
 found a 1946 letter to him from a former German employee named 
Willy Brandt (not the former German chancellor).
“I have a confession to make, Chief,” Brandt wrote, “but don’t get
 a shock.”
Brandt describes the chaotic moments after Hitler declared war on
 the United States in December 1941. Lochner and other American
 reporters were arrested and held for five months by the Germans. 
Brandt was also taken in by German authorities, several of whom 
were vying to get hold of the AP bureau and especially its photo 
Laux, described in U.S. Army documents as a “violent Nazi,” took 
control of what became known as the Bureau Laux. Photos were
 traded in Lisbon via diplomatic pouch with the help of another AP
 correspondent. A route through Sweden later emerged. 
At least 10,000 photos went back and forth. Domeier was astonished.
“They had dealings every day with the Nazis,” he said. “That is
something that needs to be explained.”
AP officials had already turned up
evidence of the arrangement after
 Harriet Scharnberg, another
German researcher, published a
 paper last year on an AP subsidiary’s
employment — before 1941 — of a
photographer with known SS ties.
As Domeier presented his findings
 in March to the German Historical
 Institute, the AP was preparing to release its own investigation.
Its findings turned up details that further startled Domeier.
What Brandt apparently didn’t know when he wrote his letter is that
Lochner, the very person to whom he was describing the deal, had
been a central player in it all along.
The AP’s investigation found that Laux was somehow aboard a train 
Lochner rode when he was deported from Germany. 
“He had a proposition to make,” the AP report said of Laux. Lochner 
was receptive to the idea, telling him whom to contact within the
 Associated Press.
AP officials notified the U.S. censorship office of the deal on July 13, 1942.
 The office was run by Byron Price, a former AP executive editor, 
recruited personally by Roosevelt, according to the AP report. The 
report does not detail the Americans’ rationale for approving the deal, 
except to indicate that there might be “information value” to the
 backdoor relationship.
After the war, Price sent a letter to AP General Manager Kent Cooper
 praising the wire service and expressing “deep appreciation” for its
 “patriotic cooperation.”
In the years after the war, Lochner wrote several books about Germany,
 including his experiences covering Hitler, Germany and the war. A
 525-page collection of his letters to his family was published in 1961.
Cooper also wrote a memoir of his time with the Associated Press, 
billed as “a history of the world’s greatest news agency and of the 
exciting career of the man who made it so.”
Neither of them mentioned the deal with the Nazis.
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