Adolf Hitler attends the 1939 launching of the battleship Tirpitz.
Adolf Hitler attends the 1939 launching of the battleship Tirpitz.Hugo Jaeger—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Adolf Hitler attends the 1939 launching of the battleship Tirpitz.
Nazi troops parade before Hitler in 1938 Nuremberg.
A hand-worked castle inlaid with precious stones, given to Hitler for his 50th birthday, April 20, 1939.
Julius Schaub, Hitler's personal aide and adjutant, at a party.
German actress Hannelore Schroth at a reception for German artists held in the Berlin Chancellery in 1940.
Actress Marieluise Claudius leans back in a chair in the Chancellery during an artists reception, Berlin, 1940. A prolific film actress during the 1930s, she died of heart failure in 1941, at age 29.
Hitler observes military maneuvers in St. Polten, Austria, in the spring of 1939.
Hitler speaks in Munich on the 15th anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, in which Hitler and other Nazi party members attempted to overthrow the German government.
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (front row, second from right) walks past a Nazi honor guard on the way to a meeting with Adolf Hitler in 1938.
Adolf Hitler at the 1939 International Auto Exhibition in Berlin.
Adolf Hitler at the 1939 International Auto Exhibition in Berlin.
Ferdinand Porsche (left, in dark suit) presents a newly designed convertible VW to Adolf Hitler in celebration of the Fuhrer's 50th Birthday, Berlin, Germany, 1939.
Nighttime Munich is lit with torches and festooned with swastikas in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, 1938.
Hitler salutes German troops in 1938.
Adolf Hitler attends the 1939 launching of the battleship Tirpitz.
Hugo Jaeger—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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Hitler, His Inner Circle and Assorted Hangers-On: Color Photos

Oct 05, 2014

In the late 1930s, very few photographers were using color film. German photographer Hugo Jaeger was an early adopter, and when Adolf Hitler was introduced to Jaeger's work, he liked what he saw.

"The future," Hitler reportedly told Jaeger, "belongs to color photography."

Between 1936 and 1945, Jaeger was granted unprecedented access to Hitler, traveling and chronicling, in color, the Fuhrer and his confidants at small gatherings, public events and, quite often, in private moments. Here, LIFE.com presents a small selection of photographs from Jaeger's astonishing—and chilling—archive, featuring Hitler with his fellow Nazis, sycophants and assorted hangers-on.

[Read the stranger-than-fiction story of how Time Inc. came to own Hugo Jaeger's archive, and see more of his photos]

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