Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Can anyone identify the year and city in which this photograph was taken?


  1. Since no one else wants to venture a guess, Andrew, I will (unless I'm the only soul who reads AndrewandJoshua).

    The photograph appears to have been taken during the Blumenkrieg, the "War of Flowers," which lead to the official annexation, or "Anschluss," of Austria to Germany in the spring of 1938. The Anschluss was officially declared in Vienna by Hitler himself, who had been driven triumphantly by motorcar into Austria, crossing the border of Germany into the city of Baunau am Inn, Hitler's birthplace; the pompous procession then continuing on to Anton Bruckner's home town of Linz, Hitler's own boyhood home, before finally arriving at the Capital.

    The city in this photograph cannot be Vienna, however, because the coat of arms of the state of Upper Austria is clearly visible in the foreground (and less clearly elsewhere). This indicates to me that this city must be either Linz or Baunau.

    I wish the skyline were more discernible, particularly the rising structure to the right in the background, which seems to suggest Baunau rather than Linz.

    So, my guess, Andrew, is Baunau am Inn, Austria, March, 1938.

    Now that I have made a complete fool of myself . . . .

  2. Oops! I meant, of course, Braunau, Austria, not Baunau.

  3. I suspect you must be right.

    I had no clue, Josh had no clue, my father had no clue.

    I looked at World War II websites for over a year, trying to find an identification for the photograph, without success.

    The photograph appears to be completely unknown.

    Thank you.

  4. If you ever are bored, take a look at the website Third Reich In Ruins (perhaps you already know it).

    The administrator has an abundance of historic photographs about the war years in Germany.

  5. The web address:

  6. Thanks, Andrew, for the web address.

    The first thing that struck me about the photo was that it was in color. Color photography was uncommon in 1938, employed for only the most important events in those days. The arrival of Hitler at the peak of his power in his hometown would have certainly qualified. The pomp of the occasion is everywhere evident.

    The architecture in the photo could have placed the site in Bavaria; indeed, the main building here reminded me of the Old Town Hall at the east of Marienplatz, in Munich.

    The most frustrating item in the photo for me is that background structure on the left. It looks conspicuously like the top of the Belfry in the middle of Braunau. Note the eves of the turret where it is articulated with the main body of the structure; compare this to the many available photos of the Braunau Belfry. The angle of the turret slope seems the same, though, somehow, the turret looks different from what we see in modern shots. (Was the turret damaged then replaced?)

    The Braunau Belfry is seen in many photos of Hitler's birth house.

    Your Chinese friend is back.

  7. I believe Braunau Am Inn may be eliminated.

    I just visited several websites and viewed current and old photographs of Braunau Am Inn. Buildings in the center of town are not as tall and not as multi-storied as the buildings in the photograph.

    I was too dumb even to consider the possibility that the banner in the photograph represented a city’s or a province’s coat of arms. I merely assumed that the banner was a garden-variety banner.

    I am currently checking out Linz (which I visited once, briefly). The city layout in the photograph seems wrong for the Linz of today, and I do not remember any medieval monument at the edge of the main city square (I do remember, however, a white marble Baroque monument in the main city square).

    When you have a chance, look at and look at the photos posted about Hitler’s 1938 visit to Linz. Nothing seems to match up with the mystery photograph I posted.

    I have, at least, ruled out Edina. The architecture does not match and, so far as I know, Hitler never visited Minnesota, although Eva Braun made several low-key visits to Minnetonka to visit her cousin, Mildred—and even participated in a box social at First Methodist Church!

  8. It was the photos at this website, that, for me, ruled out Braunau Am Inn.

    The photos are spread out over several pages.

    Of course, I very well might be wrong.

  9. It's the Hauptmarkt in Nürnberg. No idea of the date, though.

    First picture:

  10. Thank you, Benjamin.

    Within the last hour, I solved the mystery myself, too, when I finally located two online photos of much the same scene.

    I was ten minutes away from publishing a post when you commented.

    I thank you.

  11. My pleasure. The fountain gave it away.

  12. Uh . . .

    Benjamin . . .

    Uh . . .

    You are not our landlord, are you?

    I see from sitemeter that you also are from Brookline.

    Just wondering.

    Actually, I am curious if Alec or Alex called you, and asked you to play a practical joke on us.

    Don't hold out on us!

    I'll be able to tell the instant I telephone one of those guys!

  13. Nope. No practical joke, and, as far as I know, nobody's landlord---though the revenue would be useful.

    And sitemeter's aim is ever-so-slightly off; I'm actually in Cambridge, though in Cambridgeport, which puts me relatively close to Brookline.

  14. Well, that's good to know--and now I won't have to ask you whether the music is too loud!

    My brothers are prone to play practical jokes.

    Since your profile was non-public, and since you were from Brookline (according to sitemeter), I began to think that my father had solved the mystery, that he had told my brothers, and that they had taken it upon themselves to play a practical joke on us.

    They do things like that.

  15. Not to worry, I've no connection to the family. I just happen to read your blog now and again and came across the post about the mystery photo.

    As for the music, though, could you turn it down a bit? My wife has a recital tomorrow, and she's trying to get to bed early. Or, at the very least, can you restrict it to songs by Les Six?

  16. Sorry, but we don't have any CD's with us in Boston with songs by Les Six, but there are plenty of those back home in the Twin Cities at my parents' house.

    We're listening to one of George Szell's Haydn discs at the moment--very, VERY quietly.

    I'll have to check out the musical schedule at Boston Musical Intelligencer, and look up that recital!

  17. Actually, I don't think it made it to the Intelligencer, perhaps because it's in Deerfield (tomorrow afternoon at 3, should you be out in the Connecticut valley), though she would no doubt approve of your recording, as she lived in Cleveland for a number of years.

  18. No, it did not make The Boston Musical Intelligencer, because I just looked, in vain.

    Now I shall search Deerfield concerts.

  19. Sorry, didn't mean to be mysterious. Carla Chrisfield, soprano; William Merrill, piano. It's at the Memorial Hall Museum (the historical society), a relatively short recital:

    Auric (Printemps); Durey (Trois poèmes de Petrone); Honegger (Petit cours de morale): Poulenc (Banalités); Tailleferre (Six chansons françaises); Milhaud (La tourterelle); Satie (Trois mélodies de 1916).

  20. Thank you.

    I had not yet had a chance to do a Deerfield concert search, because I was on the phone with my mother and father.

    You know, Josh and I would be prospects for that recital, but we have to help my boss's wife tomorrow.

    Last Saturday, my boss had to go back into the hospital, unexpectedly, and he was released only on Friday.

    We need to go over and help out tomorrow.

    We wish you and yours a great concert!

  21. Many thanks. Enjoy the weekend, and I hope all is well with your boss.