Walter Frentz (21 August 1907 – 6 July 2004) was a German cameraman, film producer and photographer, who was considerably involved in the picture propaganda of Nazi Germany.
Walter Frentz, who followed Adolf Hitler’s inner circle as a Luftwaffe cameraman during the final years of World War II.
Frentz met Albert Speer, who would become Hitler’s architect, during his time as a student in Berlin. Frentz started in film with a 1931 feature about kayaking in Austria and Yugoslavia, and in 1933 worked on a film for the Ufa company on an oceanliner’s voyage to New York.
Through Speer, Frentz met Leni Riefenstahl, who made masterful propaganda films for the Nazis, including “Triumph of the Will” in 1934.
Frentz worked with Riefenstahl on that film and on “Victory of the Faith” in 1933, often using a hand-held camera.
In 1936, he worked with her again on “Olympia,” Riefenstahl’s famed meditation on muscle and movement at the Berlin Olympics. He also made a Nazi-commissioned film glorifying German workers, entitled “Hände am Werk” (“Hands at Work“).
Lacking assignments, he joined the Luftwaffe – the German air force – in 1938 and was a cameraman as Hitler entered newly annexed Austria that year.
After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, setting off World War II, Frentz recorded the Nazi leader’s victory parade in Warsaw. He also filmed Hitler entering Paris when France capitulated the next year.
In 1941 – again through Speer – he was assigned to Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair bunker in East Prussia, staying with the Nazi leader’s inner circle until shortly before the end of the war.
He witnessed a massacre of civilians in present-day Belarus during a trip with SS chief Heinrich Himmler, and was sworn to silence on his return.
In March 1945, Frentz took the last pictures of Hitler before the dictator’s April 30 suicide in his Berlin bunker. Fleeing Berlin on one of the last planes out, he was arrested by Nazi SS officers at Hitler’s Obersalzberg complex in the Bavarian Alps, and part of his photo archive was confiscated.
Frentz, who had never joined the Nazi party, was held for several months after the war by U.S. forces at the Hammelburg prison camp. He gradually returned to film, working on a documentary titled “5,000 Years of Egypt” in 1953 and various films on nature parks in Germany and Europe.
Frentz was the subject of a 1992 documentary by director Juergen Stumpfhaus, “The Eye of the Third Reich.”
He made very important pictures at the Mittelbau-Dora underground production site (Nordhausen) and filmed Hitler for the last time in Berlin.
He died at Überlingen in 2004.
See also : www.walter-frentz.de