Eva Braun

7142762_origEva Anna Paula Hitler nee Braun was born on February 6th 1912 in Munich. She was the middle daughter of three born to Friedrich Braun, a school teacher and Franziska Kronberger, a seamstress. She was educated at a Catholic School, and later attended a convent Business School for a year, where she showed herself to be an average student with a flair for sport. After leaving school in 1929, she began working as a sales assistant and junior clerk to Heinrich Hoffmann who was engaged as official photographer for the NDSAP. After a period of time, Eva learned how to process and develop film and started to accompany Hoffmann on official business for the Nazi Party. It was around this time that she first met Adolf Hitler, whilst in the shop. It has been stated that she was up a ladder when Hitler entered the shop, and remained out of sight until she was called down and introduced to Hitler as Herr Wolff. Anecdotal evidence suggests that from that time, Braun referred to Hitler as her ‘wulf’.

Little or no documentary evidence remains regarding Braun’s relationship with Hitler, although it has been claimed that there was a definite attraction, perhaps mutual, which led Eva to go against her parent’s wishes and begin a relationship with him that was to last 14 years. Fragments of Eva’s diary for this time seem to show that she was very fond of him, quite quickly, and he reciprocated after a period of months which led to their romance beginning sometime around 1931. During this period of two years or so, Hitler shared a residence with his half-sister Angela’s daughter, Geli Raubal which some claim was sexual in nature, and further that his budding friendship with Eva was the cause of Geli’s suicide in September 1931. Hitler was in Nuremberg when Geli’s body was found at the apartment they shared in Munich; she had apparently shot herself with his gun. Hitler was said to be devastated by her death as this relationship was perhaps the most intimate he had experienced to that point.

1768526_origEva Braun later made her own suicide bid less than a year later, again by shooting herself, in the chest. Historians argue, however that this attempt was nothing more than an attempt to gain attention from Hitler. If it was, it worked, she recovered and Hitler grew closer to her as he spent more time with her. By the end of 1932, their relationship had become intimate, as verified by comments In Eva’s diary regarding their sex life. Braun made a further suicide bid in 1935 with an overdose of pills, when she felt Hitler was not devoting enough of his time to her, and by 1936, she had her rooms adjacent to those of Hitler, at the Chancellery, designed by Nazi architect, Albert Speer, a suite at the Berghof. Eva and her younger sister Gretl, who had also taken a job with Hoffmann, had an apartment together in Munich, provided by Hitler and a villa.

It is said that Hitler deliberately kept his relationship with Eva a secret from everyone but a chosen few confidantes within his inner circle; however she acted as his official hostess both at the Chancellory for Nazi party meetings, and at the Berghof. She would however leave the room before official business was discussed, and wait for Hitler to retire. Eva is presented as a rather vacuous blonde who knew nothing of the policies of the party, and was unaware of the treatment and subsequent genocide of the Jews and others. It is hard to comprehend that she could have been as close to the man, and not known the monster inside. Hitler was known as a charismatic leader, and there must have been a quality about him that made Eva love him and yet, it has been stated that if one wanted to get an audience with the Fuhrer, one had to win the approval of Eva Braun first. Angela Raubal worked for a period as her half-brother’s Housekeeper. One day she took exception to Eva, and complained to her brother. Angela left his employ immediately. At this point it was given that Eva was the ears of the Fuhrer above all others. And yet Eva was still officially addressed as Hitler’s Private Secretary and Hostess.

Eva’s sister married SS Liaison Officer Hermann Fegelein in 1944, which added a legitimate personal angle to the relationship dynamic as not only was she covered by her official role as staff but now she could be seen to attend Hitler as a personal guest of his SS-Gruppenfuhrer’s wife. It has been suggested that the home movies and photographs Eva shot of Hitler, particularly when resting at the Berghof were carefully choreographed to show a human side to Hitler. It has also been suggested that these were nothing more than spontaneous home videos and photos. Either way, Braun demonstrated her financial acumen by selling them to her former employer, Hoffmann for substantial sums of money, enough to maintain her independence if necessary, therefore disproving the bimbo factor. Hoffmann in his turn, passed off much of this work as his own.

Speer wrote in his autobiography of Eva as a lonely neglected secret mistress, hidden away and treated shockingly by her lover, who humiliated her constantly by his statements that women had no place in politics, as they were too stupid, and that he would never marry as that would suggest children which he did not want, in case they were expected to be raised as party successors to their father. Eva certainly seemed happy enough with the dynamics of their relationship, choosing to appease her maternal instincts with her two beloved Scottish Highland Terriers, Negus and Stasi and by assuming the role of loving “aunt” to the children of Hitler’s inner circle. One would argue that had she been deeply unhappy or unwilling to maintain the relationship on the basis that it had been built, she would have left him. Instead her confidantes later affirmed Eva vowed she would follow him to the grave if that’s what she had to do to be near him always.

As the war rushed to its climax in April 1945, and the Red Army closed in, Eva rushed to Berlin to be with Hitler. As his senior Nazi members and officers fled, she remained by his side. On the 28th April, after Hitler discovered Fegelein’s plan to escape to Sweden, he had him shot in the chancellery garden. A few hours later, he wed Eva, in a room overlooking the place where her sister’s husband had died. A week later, Gretl gave birth to their only child, a daughter who she named Eva. The Hitlers’ wedding, a small civil ceremony was witnessed by Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann. Eva began to sign her name as Braun on the registration, but crossed it out and changed it to Hitler. It is thought that Hitler had offered Eva her freedom and the chance to make her escape as he realised Germany had lost the war, he perhaps always intended to take his own life rather than surrender but had written a will leaving Eva 12,000 marks a year for her life. She chose instead to remain with him, and the pair discussed and agreed to the wedding. That day, Hitler had his dog handler test the cyanide capsules on his beloved dog, Blondi. She died almost immediately.

On the afternoon of the 30th, at around 1.30 pm, a shot rang out in the bunker, and staff went to a small sitting room where they discovered the bodies of Eva and Adolf Hitler on a couch. Hitler had bitten the cyanide capsule and then immediately shot himself. Eva’s gun remained unfired by her side. She had chosen to rely solely on the cyanide. On further instructions, the staff removed their bodies to the garden, doused them in petrol and set them ablaze. Eva’s dogs and Blondi’s puppies were then shot.

When the Red Army arrived shortly afterwards, they found their charred remains. Nearby were the similarly treated bodies of Joseph and Magda Goebbels. Inside the bunker the bodies of their six children, who Magda had poisoned with cyanide capsules. It has been documented that the Russians took all ten bodies with them as they moved ahead, continuously burying them in temporary graves as they made camp, before disinterring them and continuing further East until eventually being interred in an unmarked grave behind the East German Headquarters of SMERSH, at Magdeburg.

The ground later formed part of the yard of a waste-disposal firm, until in 1970, when the remains, including those of the Goebbels children, were located in five wooden boxes, some sources state by the KGB with use of detailed maps drawn at the time of internment, exhumed and following further incineration and subsequent crushing until powdered, were either cast into the River Elbe or buried in a different unrecorded place.

Eva Braun’s family subsequently distanced themselves from her memory, perhaps in an effort to minimise investigation into their own Nazi involvement. Eva never became a member of the Nazi party, nor did she ever appear to take an interest, much less an active role in any of the political side of the party. Speer, amongst others, maintained throughout after-war questioning and his own published account that Eva was never aware of the atrocities committed on the orders of the man she loved, the man who the world continues to despise to this day.

Phoebe