Eva Braun

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Eva Braun
BraunEva.jpg
Eva Braun 1936
Born Eva Anna Paula Braun
February 6, 1912
Flag of the German Empire.svg Munich, Germany
Died April 30, 1945 (aged 33)
Flag of Germany 1933.svg Berlin, Germany
Cause of death Suicide
Other names Eva Hitler
Spouse(s) Adolf Hitler


Eva Anna Paula Braun, died Eva Hitler (February 6, 1912 – April 30, 1945) was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler and briefly his wife.[1] Hitler's sexuality has attracted considerable discussion. He has been described as heterosexual, homosexual, and even as asexual. He appears to have cultivated a persona that did not exude sexuality, possibly to convey the impression that he belonged to the German nation itself, conceived in terms of an abstract entity. In this view, he sublimated his sexuality and practiced self-denial. Yet, for much of his career, Eva Braun was close to him, if not at his side, and he did—when the end was near and he knew that the Third Reich was doomed—marry her. Her devotion to him is unquestionable and her determination to break through his emotional reserves was so indomitable that she finally succeeded in becoming his wife. She may, though, never have had sexual relations with him.

Contents

To what degree she shared his ideology is unknown. Her total commitment to him is indicated by their joint suicide. Hitler himself would have faced trial and almost certain execution, which he escaped by killing himself. Braun had no such fate to fear—she would not have stood trial for the crime of loving Hitler, however absurd many people find the notion. Yet, many Germans did find Hitler's personality inspiring and charismatic, and thought of him as almost super-human. Some of those who were close to him were not always impressed by his intellect or by the decisions he made but almost all of them bordered on worshiping his persona. Many aspects of the Hitler-Braun relationship remain enigmatic; but that Braun loved Hitler, and loved him profoundly, is incontestable.

Background

Born in Munich, Germany, 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 1909, and her younger sister, Margarete (called "Gretl"), was born in 1915.[2] Braun was educated at a lyceum, then for one year at a business school in a convent where she had average grades, a talent for athletics, and is said to have had the "dreamy beauty of a farmer's daughter." 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.[3] She met Hitler, 23 years her senior, at Hoffmann's studio 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 mustache, a light-colored English overcoat, and carrying a big felt hat." He appreciated her eye color which was said to be close to his mother's. Both of their families were strongly against the relationship and little is known about its first two years. Her father had both political and moral objections, while Hitler's half-sister, Angela Raubal, refused to address Braun other than as a social inferior.

Relationship and turmoil

Hitler saw more of Braun after the alleged suicide of Angela's daughter and Hitler's alleged mistress Geli Raubal in 1931. Some historians suggest Raubal killed herself because she was distraught over Hitler's relationship with Braun, while others speculate Hitler killed her or had her murdered. Braun was unaware that Raubal was a rival for Hitler's affections until after Raubal committed suicide.[4] Braun was seen by some as a replacement for Raubal.

Meanwhile, Hitler was seeing other women, such as actress Renate Müller, whose early death was also termed a suicide. Braun first attempted suicide in 1932, at the age of 20, by shooting herself in the neck,[5] and attempted suicide a second time in 1935, by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.[6] 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 Hoffman'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.[7] Hoffman asserted that Braun became a fixture in Hitler's life by first attempting to commit suicide less than a year after Geli Raubal's own suicide (and accompanying rumors of murder); Hitler wished to avoid any further scandal. Hoffmann said, "It was in this way that Eva Braun got her way and became Hitler's chere amie."[8]

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. Angela, a housekeeper for Hitler, 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. 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. By all accounts, she led a sheltered and privileged existence and seemed uninterested in politics.[9]

Hitler and Eva 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. Hitler's sexuality has attracted interest. At times, he appeared almost lacking in sexual interest, perhaps to cultivate the impression that he was one with the whole German people, not "united" with a single individual only. The German people were entirely unaware of Eva Braun and her relationship with Hitler until after the war. According to the memoirs of Albert Speer, Braun never slept in the same room as Hitler and had her own bedrooms at the Berghof, in Hitler's Berlin residence, and in the Berlin bunker. Speer 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.[10]

Lifestyle

Even during World War II, Braun apparently lived a life of leisure, spending her time exercising,[11] 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. 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. She reportedly accepted gifts which were stolen property belonging to deposed European royal families. 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 and most of the extant color stills and movies of Hitler are her work.[12]

Otto Günsche and Heinz Linge, during extensive debriefings by Soviet intelligence officials after the war, said Braun was at the center of Hitler's life for most of his twelve 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 added that when Hitler was too busy for her, "Eva would often be in tears."

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."

Hitler is known to have been opposed to women wearing cosmetics (in part because they were made from animal by-products) 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."[13]

In 1944, Eva 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, Eva 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. Weisker also claimed neither of them knew anything about the concentration camps, although both were keenly aware that Jews in Germany were severely persecuted.

On June 3, 1944, Eva Braun's sister, Gretl, married a member of Hitler's entourage, Hermann Fegelein, who served as Heinrich Himmler's liaison. Hitler used the marriage as an excuse to allow Eva 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 eight months pregnant with a daughter at this time and after the war, named the child Eva Fegelein in remembrance of her beloved sister).

Marriage and suicide

In early April 1945, Braun traveled by car from Munich to Berlin to be with Hitler at the Führerbunker. Eva 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 April 29, 1945, 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 Eva 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 Eva was carrying Hitler's child, but there is no evidence she was ever pregnant (or that the couple ever wanted children or tried to conceive).[14]

Braun and Hitler committed suicide together on April 30, 1945, around 3:30 p.m. The occupants of the bunker heard a gunshot and the bodies were soon discovered. She had bit onto a cyanide capsule (most historians have concluded Hitler used a combination method, shooting himself in the right temple immediately after biting into 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.[15]

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.[16]

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 aged 96, in January 1976, having lived out her days in an old farmhouse in Ruhpolding, Bavaria.

Legacy

Eva Braun was a woman who was entirely dedicated to her lover. She waited for Hitler and endured heartbreaking separations from her lover with frequency. Braun lived a melancholy life, as she longed to be closer to her often distant and cold lover. Still, she could not bring herself to leave him. She would stick by Hitler to the very end. This would ultimately cost her own young life. Eva was said to have had little interest in the war. She is rumored to have been oblivious to many actions carried out by Hitler. She had a short attention span and was more interested in leisure and love than in worldly affairs.

Notes

  1. BBC News, Eva Hitler. Retrieved October 30, 2007.
  2. Angela Lambert, The Lost Life Of Eva Braun (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2007). ISBN 9780312366544
  3. Robert George Leeson Waite, The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1993). ISBN 9780306805141
  4. Guido Knopp, Hitler's Women, trans. Angus McGeoch (London, Routledge, 2003). ISBN 9780415947305
  5. Lambert, 134.
  6. Lambert, 142-43.
  7. Lambert, 144.
  8. Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (New York: Harper Collins, 1991). ISBN 9780060802165
  9. Lambert, 299.
  10. Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997). ISBN 9780020375005
  11. Lambert, 211-12.
  12. Lambert, 165-69.
  13. Stuff You Can Use, Stalin's Secret Files On Hitler. Retrieved October 30, 2007.
  14. Lambert, 213.
  15. Lambert, 458-60.
  16. History Learning Site, The Death of Adolph Hitler. Retrieved October 30, 2007.

References

  • BBC News. Hitler's Final Witness. Eva Hitler Retrieved October 30, 2007.
  • Bullock, Alan. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. New York: Harper Collins, 1991. ISBN 0060920203
  • History Learning Site. The Death of Adolph Hitler. The Death of Adolph Hitler Retrieved October 30, 2007.
  • Knopp, Guido. Hitler's Women. Translated by Angus McGeoch. London, Routledge, 2003. ISBN 0415947308
  • Lambert, Angela. The Lost Life Of Eva Braun. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2007. ISBN 9780312366544
  • Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. ISBN 9780684829494
  • Stuff You Can Use. Stalin's Secret Files On Hitler. Stalin's Secret Files On Hitler Retrieved October 30, 2007.
  • Waite, Robert George Leeson. The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1993. ISBN 0306805146

Further Reading

  • Alexander, Alex. In de ban van Hitler: Maria Reiter, Geli Raubal, Unity Mitford, Eva Braun. Rijswijk: Elmar, 2005.
  • Gun, Nerin E. Eva Braun: Hitler's Mistress. New York: Bantam, 1969.

External links

All links retrieved October 10, 2013.


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