The Associated Press had a secret deal with Nazi Germany to receive thousands of propaganda photos that were later run in American newspapers, the AP confirmed Wednesday.
The arrangement also led the AP to provide Germany with photos of American war operations that had been cleared by U.S. censors.
AP officials defended the deal, claiming that these pictures had crucial news value and that the photos’ captions made clear that they were taken by Nazi propagandists.
“The Associated Press is committed to gathering the news even in the most heinous environments because so much of the world depends on the AP for objective information,” said Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Sally Buzbee. “It is essential to cover tyrannical regimes and other undemocratic movements, when possible from within the borders they control, in order to accurately relay what is happening inside. That is what we do, without compromising AP’s independence or standards.”
However, some scholars have contested this narrative. “It was extremely cynical of the AP to use these photos,” University of London professor Nicholas O’Shaughnessy told The Washington Post. “One tries to justify these things by saying the camera doesn’t lie. But Nazi cameras always lied. They were a colossal kind of fairy tale. None of these images are real. This is how Hitler wanted to be seen.”