In my ever-expanding series “Luftwaffe bombers that have met an ignominious end”, the turn has come to the Heinkel He 111. This is an He 111 P-2, as far as I can tell. This photo is from June 1940, somewhere in northern France. On the back, someone wrote “Abgeschossenes Französischer Bomber” – “downed French bomber” – which it definitely isn’t. The only explanation I can think of is that the person who wrote that remembered wrong when going through a bunch of photos with destroyed military hardware. The photographer was a member of Propagandakompanie 612, which was one of several such units tasked with producing propaganda in the form of leaflets, posters, etc.
Propagandakompanie 612 mobilized in 1939 in Wiesbaden, and was attached to 1st Army. It spent late 1939 and early 1940 during the “Phony War” at the Westwall. It followed the advance during the Battle of France in 1940, ending up in Le Havre. In 1941, it was transferred to the 9th Army and the Eastern Front, where it remained for the rest of the war. It recorded the battles in central Russia, like Vitebsk, Rzhev, and Kaluga. In 1944, it relocated to Warsaw, then Frankfurt and der Oder in 1945, and finally Berlin.
Normally a PK Propagandatrupp or Kriegsberichtertrupp at divisional or regimental level consisted of a war reporter (Kriegsberichter), cameraman (Bildberichter) and a driver. Several Truppen formed a propaganda platoon (Propagandazug or Kriegsberichterzug) at corps level, while several propaganda platoons constituted a propaganda company (Propagandakompanie) at Army level.
The cameramen, translators, reporters, censors, sound operators and other technical staff of a Propagandakompanie were often specialists, some being civilians recruited by the army in this role due to their individual skills and therefore often holding the special rank of Sonderführer (special director).
And what about the poor Heinkel? It was one of a total of 6,508 built, the first prototype flying in 1935. The project masqueraded as civilian at first, as Germany was prohibited to develop bombers by the Versailles Treaty. The “passenger planes” were eminently suited to serve as medium bombers, though… It first saw action in the Spanish Civil War, and went on to become the main bomber of the Luftwaffe, dropping bombs over Warszaw, Rotterdam, London, Belgrade… During the battle for Stalingrad, it was used as a transport, but the Luftwaffe managed to deliver only 10 % of what the encircled 6th Army needed. Weak defensive armament made it vulnerable to enemy fighters, though, and by 1943 it was edged out by the Junkers Ju 88 and Dornier Do 217. Still, it served to the last days of the war.