Nazi photographer mistaken as Jewish Holocaust victim for decades

Hollandsche Schouwburg, Plantage Middenlaan, Amsterdam
Hollandsche Schouwburg, Plantage Middenlaan, Amsterdam. (Photo: Andreas Praefcke / Wikimedia Commons)

Franz Anton Stapf is registered as a Jewish war victim in the official commemorative book, on the list of the Holocaust memorial center Yad Vashem in Israel and on the wall panels of the Hollandschse Schouwburg in Amsterdam. But new research shows that he was in fact a full-blooded Nazi who worked as a press photographer in Amsterdam from 1935 and fought on the Eastern Front from 1941, the Volkskrant reports. 

Stapf was not Jewish, he was German. He did not die in a gas chamber. He survived the war and died in Frankfurt in 1977. He was a Nazi that took photos in Amsterdam for newspapers and anti-Semitic pamphlets before going to fight on the Eastern Front at the end of 1941, according to the newspaper.

Historians René Kok and Erik Somers of the NIOD institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, discovered that Stapf's name, that of his wife, two children and a sister, were incorrectly listed as Jewish war victims while doing research for the book Stad in oorlog, which publishes today. The book is about Amsterdam in the period 1940 to 1945. 

They believe that the error was the result of incorrect interpretation of notes on a record card from te Amsterdam Council of Labor dating from 1950. The Council investigated financial matters affecting Jewish people murdered during the war. Stapf's card reads: "Afgevoerd" in Dutch. According to Somers, that can be interpreted as "transported" to a concentration camp, or that he was discharged from the administration. 

Stapf's fate was long unclear after the war. In late 1941 he responded to a call for volunteers to fight on the Eastern Front. The rest of his life wasn't tracked, which means that he was never prosecuted. His name fell under the "missing, don't know where" category. Along with the word "afgevoerd" that could certainly lead to the wrong assumption that Stapf ended up in a concentration camp, according to Somers. 

In 1981 NIOD received some 5 thousand negatives of photos taken by Stapf.