TERRORISM

Hitler at 50: Rare color photos of a despot’s birthday

In grudging acknowledgment of a copious photographer, Life.com presents a series of rare color pictures from the over-the-top celebrations in Berlin that marked Hitler’s 50th birthday April 20, 1939 -- 73 years ago today. To see some of the ludicrously gaudy gifts bestowed on the German leader who convulsed a country of millions, see the full gallery at Life.com.

Fox_Hitler_50_4.jpg

The automobile engineer and designer Ferdinand Porsche (in suit) presents Hitler with a convertible Volkswagen for Hitler's 50th birthday, Berlin, Germany, April 20, 1939. "Hitler loved to have his driver tear along at 80 mph," LIFE magazine once noted, "until 1939 when he turned superstitious about accidents and made 35 mph the limit."
Hugo JaegerTime & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Fox_Hitler_50_1.jpg

The Ost-West-Achse (East-West Axis) in Berlin, site of a massive rally and parade in celebration of Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday, April 20, 1939.
Hugo JaegerTime & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Fox_Hitler_50_2.jpg

German troops goose-step past the reviewing stand during a massive rally and military parade in celebration of Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday in Berlin, April 20, 1939. (Hitler can be seen in center, reviewing troops.)
Hugo JaegerTime & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Fox_Hitler_50_3.jpg

Banners hang from buildings in honor of Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday, Berlin, April 20, 1939. The words on the banner, Wir danken dir ("We thank you"), reference a famous Bach cantata, Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir ("We thank you, God, we thank you"), but are obviously addressed to Hitler.
Hugo JaegerTime & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Fox_Hitler_50_5.jpg

Solid gold model of the Haus der Deutschen Kunst (a celebrated German museum), a gift from Luftwaffe commander and future suicide at the Nuremberg war crimes trials Hermann Goering to Adolf Hitler on Hitler's 50th birthday, April 20, 1939.
Hugo JaegerTime & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Hitler at 50: Rare color photos of a despot’s birthday

In grudging acknowledgment of a copious photographer, Life.com presents a series of rare color pictures from the over-the-top celebrations in Berlin that marked Hitler’s 50th birthday April 20, 1939 -- 73 years ago today. To see some of the ludicrously gaudy gifts bestowed on the German leader who convulsed a country of millions, see the full gallery at Life.com.

More From Our Sponsors