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In the late 1930s, very few photographers were using color film. German photographer Hugo Jaeger was an early adopter, and when Adolf Hitler was introduced to Jaeger’s work, he liked what he saw.
“The future,” Hitler reportedly told Jaeger, “belongs to color photography.”
Between 1936 and 1945, Jaeger was granted unprecedented access to Hitler, traveling and chronicling, in color, the Fuhrer and his confidants at small gatherings, public events and, quite often, in private moments. Here, LIFE.com presents a small selection of photographs from Jaeger’s astonishing—and chilling—archive, featuring Hitler with his fellow Nazis, sycophants and assorted hangers-on.