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MHQ Reader Comments: Paratrooper Propaganda for Hitler’s Assault on Crete, 1941

2/24/2010 • MHQ Letters

Some readers suggest that our Winter 2010 cover subject, a German paratrooper, was the famous boxer Max Schmeling.
Some readers suggest that our Winter 2010 cover subject, a German paratrooper, was the famous boxer Max Schmeling.
The photograph on the cover of MHQ’s Winter 2010 issue—of a German paratrooper leaping from a Junkers Ju-52 transport purportedly during Hitler’s 1941 assault on Crete—is packed with drama. So much drama, in fact, that some readers believe it was staged. “First, no sane photographer would get that close for an air-to-air photo,” Army Maj. Kenneth S. Brooks wrote to us. “Second, the Fallschirmjäger’s facial skin is not being distorted by the prop blast/slipstream as happens whenever a jumper stands in the door of an aircraft in flight.” Several readers believe the photo was a German propaganda shot featuring none other than Max Schmeling, the German heavyweight boxer famous for his prewar matches with American Joe Louis. Indeed we’ve confirmed that Schmeling, a Fallschirmjäger, was at the battle and was previously photographed for propaganda purposes. Major Brooks also noted similar physical features between Schmeling and the paratrooper on the cover, particularly “the malalignment of the left cuspid and lateral incisor.” We can’t confirm that the cover photo was snapped from the ground; our photo source’s scant information suggested it was over Crete. But is it Schmeling? Our analysis of photos of the boxer suggests it is not. Judge for yourself: above right [FIX] is the photo from our cover, next to a 1941 image of Schmeling. Send us a note with your thoughts at mhq@weiderhistory.com. And for a vigorous debate on the role of Colonel Andrew at Hill 107 at Crete’s Maleme airfield, see Robert Citino’s blog for our sister publication, World War II, at www.historynet.com/judge-not-colonel-andrews-mistake-at-maleme.htm.
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