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CAUTION GRAPHIC!! Photo recce FW - 'Eye in the Sky' - and a horrible secret (Babi Yar)

Article about: A few graphic pics. You might not want to peruse this a work or around kids. Content: A row of pics in relation to a Focke Wulf FW 189 'eye in the sky' photo recce and a 'secret' or interest

  1. #1

    Default CAUTION GRAPHIC!! Photo recce FW - 'Eye in the Sky' - and a horrible secret (Babi Yar)

    A few graphic pics. You might not want to peruse this a work or around kids.

    Content: A row of pics in relation to a Focke Wulf FW 189 'eye in the sky' photo recce and a 'secret' or interesting background to the pics.

    Fotofund aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg - Das Geheimnis des fliegenden Auges - SPIEGEL ONLINE

    More pics in the link.

    Text is in German but I supplied a translation for English speaking forum members below (PHEEEW! Even though fluent in German, it takes time. After tanslating two texts today, that aint gonna happen anytime soon, so enjoy):

    "The high quality B&W Photos shows laughing Luftwaffe servicemen posing with their aircraft somewhere in the East.
    Interior pics from the plane, the gunner manning the MG in the glass dome, the navigator elevated on a step behind the pilot.
    Also a row of harse carts on the ground snapped from the rear of the plane. The shadow of the plane shows clearly on the ground, as the plane whizzes past the coloumn.

    Who snapped these fascinating Photos? The unknown pics emerged vis an anonymous person on the internet.
    Inquiries in regards to the unknown photographer came forth.

    Within a very short span of time a veritable detective work dredged up info. A historic puzzle which finally was crowned with succes: Information and background about the enigma of the 'Eye in the Sky' was brought forth.

    The facts; the plane is a recce aircraft type Focke Wulf FW 189. The plane is in the spotlight in the row of pics.
    In some pics, the city of Charkow can be seen.

    Judging from the apparel, vegetation and the circumstances of the front lines, the photos are most likely snapped in the autumn/summer of 1942.

    It didnt take long to find out to which unit the plane belonged.
    From the Luftwaffe records its possible to discern which units operated the FWs and where and when they were in action: The aircraft belonged to a 'Staffel' of the Recce squadron/Nahaufklärungsgruppe 10 "Tannenberg".

    ID on the plane in the pics in question and ID from else where on the internet (photo of the tail boom of the plane with fuselage code) narrowed it further Down.

    The letters and numbers T1GM reads as follows "T1" abbreviation for Aufklärungsgruppe 10. The "G", the seventh letter of the alphabet for Maschine Nr. 7. "M" for the 4. Staffel, 2. Gruppe of the Geschwader.

    Still the identity of the photographer was a unknown. Research in official German records were initially fruitless

    What was left were the Photos themselves. The crew of the FW snapped pics of each other - navigator, gunner, another luftwaffe serviceman and somebody in a army/'Heer' uniform.

    One is seen clutching a camera, so there were at least two cameras on board the aircraft. Maybe one person with two cameras?

    Several pics were snapped from the seat of the youthful-looking navigator. Might he have been the camera owner and operator?
    Its possible, because the German servicemen liked to snap pics.

    That an amateur cameramn would be amongst the crew of a recce unit was well within the realm of the possible.

    But who was the unknown serviceman from the army on board the plane? He has a chute but no flight suit and clearly doesnt belong to the Luftwaffe crew. Did he carry dispatches? Or was he, as many thought, a 'Bildberichter' from a Propagandakompanie (PK)? He is seen in four pics in the roll of pics; just before boarding the plane with his case in hand, then two times in the aircraft and he is seen - most likely landing after a succesful mission - smiling at the camera. His upper body is seen poking out from a hatch in the pane after the plane has come to a stop.

    I KNOW HIM!!
    He was ID'ed by accident by Reinhart Schwarz from the 'Archiv des Hamburger Instituts für Sozialforschung (HIS).'

    He reqognized the person from pics from having seen the original roll of film.
    He even knew the identity of the person wielding the camera: Johannes Hähle.

    Then the ball started rolling.

    Hähle was born on 15. Februar 1906 in Chemnitz. He became a merchant and learned how to take pics.
    He joined the NSDAP in '32.
    As war broke out, Hähle joined the 'Baubataillon 146' most likely straight out of the 'Reicharbeitsdienst.'

    He arrived on the Eastern Front on Juy 1. 1941 working for Propagandakompanie (PK) 637. Hähle covers the progress of the 6. Army/6. Armee as 'Bildberichter.'

    The 6. Army occupies Charkow in October 1941 and defends it in May of 42 against a large massing of Soviet troops.

    Around this time the photos were snapped.

    Shortly there after, Hähle was wounded. A note states that he is in the hopital around July 1. 42.
    10. September is the date where Hähle joins the Propaganda reserve/Propaganda-Ersatz-Abteilung in Potsdam.


    As Hähle was wounded, he was spared the Stalingrad debacle. Through research in the 'Bundesarchivs' in Koblenz, it emerged that Hähle joined the DAK in Tunesia in the Winter of 1942/43.

    After only a few months there, he returns to Europe and serves in Belgium and France. At some point he is with the PK 698.
    In the 'Bundesarchiv' his pics of taken of the Atlantic Wall/Westwall shortly before D-Day is still at hand.

    On June 10 - four days after D-Day - Johannes Hähle is killed in action in Normandy near LaBijude to the North of Caen.
    After his death he is promoted to 'Leutnant.'

    The circumstances of his death and the location of his remains are hitherto unknown.

    In spite of that, Johannes Karl Hähle is not just somebody.

    He is the person who snapped the pics of maybe some of the most important rolls of film from WWII.

    On the 29. and the 30. of September of 1941 members of the 'SS Sonderkommando 4a' supported by the Wehrmacht killed 33.771 Jewesh men, women and children in the ravine of Babi Yar on the outskirts of Kiew.

    One of the biggest massacres of the Holocaust.

    The person who clicked the shutter and thus recorded the indescribable crime in colour - in Agfacolor - for posterity was the 'PK Bildberichter' Johannes Hähle. All in all 29 frames.

    Hähle didnt take pics of the massacre itself. He mostly likely arrived at Babi Yar on October 1.
    His photos still show evidence of what took place: German servicemen who roots through giant hills of clothes - the victims had to go to their death naked.
    Some pics show details; shoes, undergarments, personal Photos belonging to the victims. Hähle arranged some of these in order to get a more emotional pic.

    Other Hähle pics show SS guards in the ravine, where workers plant small trees in the soil hastily thrown over the dead. An attempt to disguise the evidence of the crime against humanity.

    What were the emotions of the witness Hähle? And why was he there in the first place? Was he tasked with snapping pics of Babi Yar? Did he go there of his own accord? Was he himself drawn to the Ravine of Death? Or did he happen to be there at that exact time by accident, as the nearby city had only recently been occupied?

    Evidence from the PK 637 shows, that Hähle supplied 188 under the theme of 'Action in the East/Einsatz im Osten' on the 30. of September of 1940.
    13. October further seven photos in relation to the battle of the encirclement of Kiev/"Umfassungsschlacht ostw. Kiew".

    The canister with the shocking Baby Yar pics were not amongst these photos. Hähle kept them as he did further pics of another massacre in Lubny in the Ukraine.

    He also kept the roll of film from the Focke Wulf aircraft.

    Thus the pics were not known in the immediate postwar years. US forces confiscated truckloads of PK material.
    In 1962 the archive pics were handed over to the archive in Koblenz. Amongst the documentation were 108 rolls of film, that Hähle had snapped.

    Hähle's widow sold the colour photos from Babi Yar in 1954. They went to a journalist from the 'Spandauer Volksblatt.'
    The photos were handed over to the authorities in Frankfurt, where legal minds would peruse the scenes from Babi Yar. The pics then disappeared when in the hands of the offcial lab in 1993.
    Being prudent Schulz had kept the colour originals and only handed over B&W snaps.

    Nobody cared about those how ever. The 'Stern' editor - himself a former 'Kriegsberichter' - rejected the offer of a scoop. The pics were deemed as 'unsuitable' for the emotinal state of the public.
    Some B&W pics was shown in a display on the War.

    Only in 2000 does the colour snaps emerge again. The widow of the journalist Schulz sold the three series of frames to the 'Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung.' In the following years, the pics were on public display in relation to information on the 'Wehrmacht.'

    The Focke-Wulf roll of film were not in the public view. How they were to be placed online on the Internetforum is not clear.

    The person who put them on the forum is hidden behind the nickname 'Bachelor.' He contacted the editor after an article on the subject. He explained in German, that he had found the roll of film in 'the archive of a small town in the former USSR just before the photos were to be destroyed.'

    Reinhart Schwarz of the 'HIS' suspects otherwise. A project in Charkow on the history of the city received the pics. In connection with the history project, the frames might have gone into circulation.

    Further inquires to 'Bachelor' yielded nothing.

    Some puzzles remains."
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  3. #2


    Remarkable and sombre images. Thanks for the link...and translation
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  4. #3


    Thank you.
    Yes, remarkable and sombre indeed.
    Some of us might get callous over time with the pics and clinic documentation of yore.
    I dont think deep thoughts over each and every pic I see in regards to war.
    But seeing the pics and translating the text made me pause.
    Amongst other thoughts, I too wonder what moved the photog.
    Some evidence are still able to provoke a reaction.
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  5. #4


    Quote by Scout View Post
    Amongst other thoughts, I too wonder what moved the photog.
    Me too. In fact I alluded to this subject on the home page to a photo gallery I put online featuring part of my photo collection from occupied Poland:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The caption I wrote reads thus:

    "A Polish mother sleeps. A German son looks on with his camera but not with his humanity."

    Which pretty much sums up my feelings about men such as Hähle.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  6. #5


    Excellent work on this research !!
    The gates of hell were opened and we accepted the invitation to enter" 26/880 Lance Sgt, Edward Dyke. 26th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers , ( 3rd Tyneside Irish )

    1st July 1916

    Thought shall be the harder , heart the keener,
    Courage the greater as our strength faileth.
    Here lies our leader ,in the dust of his greatness.
    Who leaves him now , be damned forever.
    We who are old now shall not leave this Battle,
    But lie at his feet , in the dust with our leader

    House Carles at the Battle of Hastings

  7. #6


    Photos like these are important for the world to see.

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