Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler at the Berghof, 14 June 1942
|Born||Eva Anna Paula Braun|
6 February 1912
|Died||30 April 1945 (aged 33)|
|Cause of death||Suicide (cyanide poisoning)|
|Other names||Eva Hitler|
|Spouse(s)||Adolf Hitler (1945)|
Eva Anna Paula Braun, died Eva Anna Paula Hitler (6 February 1912 – 30 April 1945) was the longtime companion and, for a brief time, wife of Adolf Hitler. Braun met Hitler in Munich when she was 17 years old while working as an assistant and model for his personal photographer and began seeing him often about two years later. She attempted suicide twice during their early relationship. By 1936 she was a part of his household at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden and by all accounts lived a materially luxurious and sheltered life throughout World War II. Her political sway on Hitler is unknown, but the consensus among historians is that this was likely little to none. Braun kept up habits which met Hitler's disapproval, such as smoking, wearing make up and nude sunbathing. Braun enjoyed photography and many of the surviving colour photographs of Hitler were taken by her. She was a key figure within Hitler's inner social circle, but did not attend public events with him until the summer of 1944, when her sister married an officer on his personal staff.
As the Third Reich collapsed towards the end of the war, Braun swore her loyalty to Hitler and went to Berlin to be by his side in the heavily reinforced Führerbunker deep beneath the Reich Chancellery. As Red Army troops fought their way into the neighbourhood on 29 April 1945, she married Hitler during a brief civil ceremony: she was 33 and he 56. Less than 40 hours later they committed suicide together in a sitting room of the bunker, she by biting into a capsule of cyanide. The German public was wholly unaware of Braun until after her death.
Born in Munich, Eva Braun was the second daughter of school teacher Friedrich "Fritz" Braun and Franziska "Fanny" Kronberger, who both came from respectable Bavarian families. Her elder sister Ilse was born in 1908 and her younger sister Margarete "Gretl" was born in 1915. Braun was educated at a lyceum, then for one year at a business school in a convent where she had average grades and a talent for athletics. She worked for several months as a receptionist at a medical office, then at age 17 took a job as an office and lab assistant and photographer's model for Heinrich Hoffmann, the official photographer for the Nazi Party. She met Hitler, 23 years her senior, at Hoffmann's studio of Munich in 1929. He had been introduced to her as "Herr Wolff" (a childhood nickname he used during the 1920s for security purposes). She described him to friends as a "gentleman of a certain age with a funny moustache, a light-coloured English overcoat, and carrying a big felt hat." He appreciated her eye colour, which was said to be close to his mother's. Her family was strongly against the relationship and little is known about it during the first two years.
Relationship and turmoil Edit
Hitler saw more of Braun after the apparent 1931 suicide of his half sister Angela's daughter Geli Raubal with whom, it was rumoured, he had been intimate. The circumstances of Raubal's death in Munich have never been confirmed. Some historians suggest she killed herself because she was distraught over her relationship with Hitler or his relationship with Braun, while others have speculated Hitler played a more direct role in the death of his niece. Braun was unaware that Raubal was a rival for Hitler's affections until after Raubal's death. Meanwhile, Hitler was seeing other women, such as actress Renate Müller, whose early death may also have been suicide.
Eva Braun first attempted suicide in 1932 at the age of 20 by shooting herself in the neck. She attempted suicide a second time in 1935 by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. After Braun's recovery, Hitler became more committed to her and arranged for the substantial royalties from widely published and popular photographs of him taken by Hoffmann's photo studio to pay for a villa in Wasserburgerstrasse, a Munich suburb. This income also provided her with a Mercedes, a chauffeur and a maid. Braun's sister Gretl moved in with her. Hoffmann later asserted Braun became a fixture in Hitler's life by attempting suicide less than a year after Geli Raubal's death, as Hitler wished to avoid any further scandal.
When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Braun sat on the stage in the area reserved for VIPs as a secretary, to which Hitler's sister Angela strongly objected, along with the wives of other ministers. She was banned from living anywhere near Braun as a result. By 1936 Braun was at Hitler's household at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden whenever he was in residence there and her parents were also invited for dinner several times. In 1938 Hitler named Braun his primary heir, to receive about 600 pounds yearly after his death. Nonetheless, Braun's political influence on Hitler was apparently minimal. She was never allowed to stay in the room when business or political conversations took place. However, some historians have inferred she was aware of at least some sordid details concerning the Third Reich's inner workings. It is not certain whether Braun was a member of the Nazi party. According to biographer Angela Lambert Braun was neither a member nor ever pressured to join. By all accounts she led a sheltered and privileged existence and seemed uninterested in politics. The only known instance in which she took any interest in policy and politics was in 1943, shortly after Germany had fully transitioned to a total war economy. Among other things, the transition meant a potential ban on women's cosmetics and luxuries (as was already the case in the Allied countries). According to Albert Speer's memoir, Inside the Third Reich, Braun immediately approached Hitler in "high indignation", to which an "uncertain" Hitler instructed Speer to simply and quietly cease production of women's cosmetics and luxuries rather than an outright ban.
Hitler and Braun never appeared as a couple in public and there is some indication that this, along with their not having married early in their relationship, was due to Hitler's fear that he would lose popularity among female supporters. The German people were wholly unaware of Braun's relationship with Hitler until after the war. According to Speer's memoirs, Braun never slept in the same room as Hitler and had her own rooms at the Berghof, in Hitler's Berlin residence and in the Berlin bunker. Speer also wrote:
|“||Eva Braun was allowed to be present during visits from old party associates. She was banished as soon as other dignitaries of the Reich, such as cabinet ministers, appeared at the table ... Hitler obviously regarded her as socially acceptable only within strict limits. Sometimes I kept her company in her exile, a room next to Hitler's bedroom. She was so intimidated that she did not dare leave the house for a walk. Out of sympathy for her predicament I soon began to feel a liking for this unhappy woman, who was so deeply attached to Hitler.||”|
Speer later said, "Eva Braun will prove a great disappointment to historians."
Even during World War II Braun apparently lived a life of leisure, spending her time exercising, reading romance novels, watching films and early German television (at least until around 1943) along with later helping to host gatherings of Hitler's inner circle. She reportedly accepted gifts which were stolen property belonging to deposed European royal families.
|“||She was very well dressed and groomed, and I noticed her natural unaffected manner. She wasn't the kind of ideal German girl you saw on recruiting posters for the BDM or in woman's magazines. Her carefully done hair was bleached, and her pretty face was made up - quite heavily but in very good taste. Eva Braun wasn't tall but she had a very pretty figure and a distinguished appearance. She knew just how to dress in a style that suited her and never looked as if she had overdone it — she always seemed appropriately and tastefully dressed, although she wore valuable jewelry. ...Eva wasn't allowed to change her hair style. Once she appeared with her hair tinted slightly darker and on one occasion she piled it up on the top of her head. Hitler was horrified: 'you look totally strange, quite changed. You are an entirely different woman!' ...and Eva Braun made haste to revert to the way she looked before.||”|
Unlike most other Germans she was reportedly free to read European and American magazines and watch foreign films. Her affection for nude sunbathing (and being photographed at it) is known to have infuriated Hitler. Braun had a lifelong interest in photography and their closest friends called her the Rolleiflex Girl (after the well-known camera model). She did her own darkroom processing of silver (black and white) stills and most of the extant colour stills and movies of Hitler are her work.
Otto Günsche and Heinz Linge, during extensive debriefings by Soviet intelligence officials after the war, said Braun was at the centre of Hitler's life for most of his 12 years in power. It was said that in 1936,
|“||He was always accompanied by her. As soon as he heard the voice of his lover he became jollier. He would make jokes about her new hats. He would take her for hours on end into his study where there would be champagne cooling in ice, chocolates, cognac, and fruit.||”|
The interrogation report adds that when Hitler was too busy for her, "Eva would often be in tears." Speer remarked that she had told him, in the middle of 1943, that Hitler was often too busy, immersed, or tired to have sex with her.
Linge said that before the war, Hitler ordered an increase of the police guard at Braun's house in Munich after she reported to the Gestapo that a woman had said to her face she was the "Führer-whore". He also stated in his memoirs that Hitler and Eva had two bedrooms and two bathrooms with interconnecting doors at the Berghof and Hitler would end most evenings alone with her in his study drinking tea.
Hitler is known to have been opposed to women wearing cosmetics (in part because they were made from animal by-products and he was a vegetarian) and sometimes brought the subject up at mealtime. Linge (who was his valet) said Hitler once laughed at traces of Braun's lipstick on a napkin and to tease her, joked, "Soon we will have replacement lipstick made from dead bodies of soldiers".
In 1944, Braun invited her cousin Gertraud Weisker to visit her at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden. Decades later, Weisker recalled that although women in the Third Reich were expected not to wear make-up, drink, or smoke, Braun did all of these things. "She was the unhappiest woman I have ever met," said Weisker, who informed Braun about how poorly the war was going for Germany, having illegally listened to BBC news broadcasts in German.
On 3 June 1944 Eva Braun's younger sister Gretl married Hermann Fegelein, who served as Heinrich Himmler's liaison on Hitler's staff. Hitler used the marriage as an excuse to allow Braun to appear at official functions. When Fegelein was caught in the closing days of the war trying to escape to Sweden with another woman, Hitler personally ordered his execution. Gretl was nine months pregnant with a daughter at this time and after the war named the child Eva Barbara Fegelein in remembrance of her sister (Eva Fegelein committed suicide in 1975).
Marriage and suicide Edit
In early April 1945 Braun travelled by car from Munich to Berlin to be with Hitler at the Führerbunker. She refused to leave as the Red Army closed in, insisting she was one of the few people loyal to him left in the world. Hitler and Braun were married on 29 April 1945 around 00.30hrs during a brief civil ceremony which was witnessed by Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann. The bride wore a black (some accounts say dark blue) silk dress.
With Braun's marriage her legal name changed to Eva Hitler. When she signed her marriage certificate she wrote the letter B for her family name, then lined this out and replaced it with Hitler. Although bunker personnel were instructed to call her Frau Hitler, her new husband continued to call his wife Fräulein Braun.
There was gossip among the Führerbunker staff that she was carrying Hitler's child, but there is no evidence she was ever pregnant.
Braun and Hitler committed suicide together on 30 April 1945 at around 3:30 p.m. The occupants of the bunker heard a gunshot and the bodies were soon discovered. She had bitten onto a cyanide capsule (most historians have concluded that Hitler used a combination method, shooting himself in the right temple immediately after biting a cyanide capsule). Braun was 33 years old when she died. Their corpses were burned in the Reich Chancellery garden just outside the bunker's emergency exit.
The charred remains were found by the Russians and secretly buried at the SMERSH compound in Magdeburg, East Germany along with the bodies of Joseph and Magda Goebbels and their six children. All of these remains were exhumed in April 1970, completely cremated and dispersed in the Elbe river.
The rest of Braun's family survived the war, including her father, who worked in a hospital and to whom Braun sent several trunks of her belongings in April 1945. Her mother, Franziska, died at age 91 in January 1976, having lived out her days in an old farmhouse in Ruhpolding, Bavaria.
Film portrayals Edit
Eva Braun has been portrayed in many films about Hitler's life. She was portrayed by Zoe Telford in Hitler: The Rise of Evil, Juliane Köhler in Der Untergang and Denica Fairman in the controversial sitcom Heil Honey I'm Home! She also appears in the performance of "Springtime for Hitler" in the 2005 remake of The Producers, portrayed by Ulla (Uma Thurman). She was portrayed by Cheryl Hines in the 2009 short film, All in the Bunker.
See also Edit
- ↑ "Hitler's final witness". BBC News. 2002-02-04. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1800287.stm. Retrieved on 2008-08-10.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Robert George Leeson Waite, The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler. Consulted on August 14, 2007.
- ↑ spartacus.schoolnet, Geili Raubal, retrieved 12 May 2008
- ↑ theage.com.au, Hitler's lovers, and much more!, 31 July 2002. Retrieved 12 May 2008
- ↑ spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk, Geli Raubal consulted 14 August 2007
- ↑ news.sawf.org, Geli Raubal & Hitler consulted 14 August 2007
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Guido Knopp, Hitler's Women. Consulted on August 14, 2007.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. Consulted on 14 August 2007.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Out of the Jewish Virtual Library 
- ↑ "The Eva Braun story: Behind every evil man...". IOL. 2000-02-27. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-eva-braun-story-behind-every-evil-man-469532.html.
- ↑ Lambert, Angela (2006). The Lost Life of Eva Braun. St. Martin's Press.
- ↑ Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich. McMillan Company p.256
- ↑ Dulles, Allen W., "That Was Then: Allen W. Dulles on the Occupation of Germany", Foreign Affairs, November/December 2003, see 3rd page of web-based article, retrieved 7 February 2009
- ↑ Bachner, Elizabeth, "The Banality of Eva: Angela Lambert’s Biography of Hitler’s Mistress", bookslut.com, retrieved 7 February 2009
- ↑ George Duncan's Women of the Third Reich, retrieved 7 February 2009
- ↑ The Independent, The Eva Braun story: Behind every evil man..., 2 March 2006, retrieved 18 December 2007
- ↑ Junge, Traudl, Until the Final Hour, (English edition) London, 2002, ISBN 0-297-84720-1
- ↑ Heinz Linge, Roger Moorehouse (2009). With Hitler to the End: The Memoir of Hitler's Valet. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 1-602-39804-6.
- ↑ World History | Stalin\'s secret files on Hitler |
- ↑ Junge, Traudl, Until the Final Hour, 2002, ISBN 0-297-84720-1 Consulted on July 9, 2009.
- ↑ Johnson, Daniel, arlindo-correia.com, Review of The flirtatious Fraulein by Angela Lambert, retrieved 18 December 2007
- ↑ ::The Death of Adolf Hitler::
- ↑ hh.schule.de, Biographie: Eva Braun (in German), retrieved 18 December 2007
Further reading Edit
- Lambert, Angela The Lost Life Of Eva Braun: 2007--St. Martin's Press
- In de ban van Hitler: Maria Reiter, Geli Raubal, Unity Mitford, Eva Braun by Alex Alexander - 2005
- Eva Braun: Hitler's Mistress by Nerin E. Gun, 1969
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