A few inhabitants of Fromelles and Fournes hold childhood memories of Hitler's return in 1940. They recall a motorcade making its way down the Aubers road and stopping, while the leader alighted to inspect an old Great War blockhouse (known to this day as the blockhaus du fuehrer). At Fournes, Hitler led the way to what had once been Black Mary's and the nearby Art-Nouveau bandstand where, on Sunday afternoons, the List Regiment's band played excerpts from the 'Merry Widow' or Der Rosenkavalier. The party also visited the local German war-graves cemetery, where Hitler saluted the graves of Bavarians who fell in May 1915 and July 1916. 1
Hitler's 1940 battlefield excursion was part of a grand tour of defeated France, of which an early morning visit (in the company of Albert Speer and the official Nazi sculptor Arno Breker) to the architectural monuments of Paris was the highlight. Court photographer Heinrich Hoffmann turned Hitler's excursion into a profitable propaganda set piece. The cover of the first edition (600,000) of his Mit Hitler im Westen shows Hitler posing in front of the Eiffel Tower, while other more deceptive pictures suggest that the warlord was leading from the Front during the French campaign. Mit Hitler im Westen is not confined to images of Hitler. Other pictures (by anonymous war photographers) show a triumphant Wehrmacht putting the Allies to rout. On the back cover bedraggled Tommies and poilus trudge into captivity, as an evident counterpoint to images of Hitler addressing the Reichstag and greeting Göring after his return to Berlin. Hoffmann's book is part travelogue, part propaganda. Its subject is the resolution of unfinished business from 1918, as is made clear in a foreword by Field marshal Keitel.
On the day of the summer solstice in the wood of Compiègne, the Führer erased the disgrace of the Armistice of 9 November 1918. Again I was permitted to be at [his] side during this unique victory campaign of