Eva Anna Paula Braun Hitler (6 February 1912 – 30 April 1945) is one of the most notorious women in history.
|Eva at the Berghof, looking in the general direction of the Eagle's Nest.|
|Eva Braun relaxing in the mid-1930s. Who wears short shorts?|
|This is a nice portrait of Eva. The soft focus really isn't necessary, she was a very attractive young woman. This makes her look older than she was, which perhaps was intentional being that Hitler was much older.|
|Eva enjoyed prancing about in peasant costumes. Hitler did at times, too, at least for some publicity shots.|
|Eva Braun in a surprisingly modern-looking outfit. She loved to take pictures of herself and Adolf playing with local animals. I can't make out what she is holding in her left hand.|
|Eva Braun’s parents, Fritz and Franziska, Christmas 1940.|
Eva did secretarial work and eventually learned how to use a camera and develop the film. She was quite athletic and kept herself in great shape for the times. Eva was quite happy swimming or bicycling or working out on the parallel bars.
In 1929, at 17 years old, Eva was working at the studio as usual when she met a customer who introduced himself as 'Herr Wolff.' It was Adolf Hitler. Eva later told her sister Ilse:
“I’d stayed on after closing time to file some papers and I’d climbed up a ladder to fetch the files kept on the top shelves of the cupboard. At that moment the boss came in accompanied by a man of uncertain age with a funny moustache, a light-coloured, English-style overcoat and a big felt hat in his hand."
|Eva and her animals...|
“The elderly gentleman (Hitler) was paying me compliments. We talked about music and a play at the Staatstheater, as I remember, with him devouring me with his eyes all the time."Adolf was 23 years older than Eva. So, Hitler would have been about 40 when they met, not quite "elderly" but 40 may seem so to a teenager.
Apparently, Eva wrote Hitler a note at this first meeting. She stuffed it in his pocket. Whatever it said, it was something fresh. After looking at it, Hitler asked if she was joking. She said no, she really liked him. This was the start of their relationship.
Eva later recalled in a letter to Adolf Hitler:
"From our first meeting on, I have promised myself to follow you wherever you go, even to death. You know that I live only for your love."Hitler liked Eva from the start. It probably did not hurt that Eva was in the photography business, and he was one of the most photographed men of his time who used pictures to create mass appeal.
|Eva with actress Else von Möllendorff.|
|Hitler and Geli.|
At first, Hitler had several mistresses alongside Eva - that may have been one of his issues with Geli, too. During the early months of 1932, though, Eva became Hitler's permanent mistress, part of his permanent stable.
|Eva at the Konigsee lake.|
|Eva in 1935.|
|Eva's favorite exercise spot at a nearby lake today. She would bring guests to go swimming with her, such as her gynecologist.|
|Perhaps this is how Eva amused herself while waiting for Adolf to finish his boring speech before 100,000 people.|
Hitler’s pilot, Hans Baur, later told author John Toland that he routinely flew Eva to visit Hitler. He would bring Eva around to Hitler's rooms, and there they would all visit. All very prim and proper. At some point, Baur would tactfully leave. As he told Toland, “who it was who escorted Eva back to her room, I don’t know, nor do I know how long her visits lasted.” Three's a crowd in such situations.
|Eva Braun with Hitler in Berchtesgaden ca. 1944. Credit AP, photo from “Eva Braun: Life With Hitler” by Heike B. Görtemaker.|
|Hitler wishing his guests a happy new year on New Year's Eve 1936. Not exactly showing a lot of warmth without Eva around. He went back inside after this and called her.|
Hitler bought Eva jewelry from 1939-1944, though she is not usually shown wearing much. He did it in a clandestine manner. Martin Bormann would bring over some choices, and Hitler would grab something. Hitler simply could not go out and pick up fancy jewelry like “a normal and inconspicuous person,” as he put it. Word soon gets around if the Fuehrer of Greater Germany is seen buying diamond rings and necklaces and the like.
|Eva Braun in 1940, showing a little leg.|
"Mein Liebes Tschapperl ("My sweet little girl"),
Don't worry about me. I'm fine though perhaps a little tired. I hope to come home soon and then I can rest in your arms. I have a great longing for rest, but my duty to the German people comes before everything else. Don't forget that the dangers I encounter don't compare with those of our soldiers at the Front. I thank you for the proof of your affection and ask you also to thank your esteemed father and your most gracious mother for their greetings and good wishes. I am very proud of the honor - please tell them that - to possess the love of girl who comes from such a distinguished family. I have sent to you the uniform I was wearing during the unfortunate day. It is proof that Providence has protected me and that we have nothing more to fear from our enemies.
From my whole heart, your A.H."
"Tschapperl" is a word in an Austrian dialect that doesn't have a good translation. It is something along the lines of "My sweet little cupcake" or "Honeybunny." No matter how you translate it, someone will disagree and have a "better" translation. Let's just say that Hitler would not have used it with any of his generals.
|Part of Hitler's uniform from "the unfortunate day."|
|Eva took good care of Adolf's dogs.|
|This was likely taken at the Konigsee.|
|Eva and her sister Gretl (married to the infamous Fegelein) at the Berghof in 1943, along with a furry friend.|
|This picture of a youthful Eva with a cat looks as though it was taken ca. 1930. It likely was one of her earliest selfies. Meow!|
|Else von Möllendorff. Shot probably taken by Eva.|
|A lilac pair of Eva Braun's knickers sold at auction house Philip Serrell, for £2,900 in November 2016.|
On 15 April 1945, Eva left Berchtesgaden - against Hitler's orders - and flew to Berlin on one of the last Lufthansa flights of the war. She stayed in the bunker until the end.
Eva Braun and Albert Speer
|Eva Braun and Albert Speer.|
|Joseph Goebbels, Eva Braun, Johanna Wolf, Albert Speer and another man at the Berghof. Goebbels was quite a flirt with the ladies, but Speer had reservations about Eva Braun.|
|Speer and Hitler at the Wolfschanze during the war.|
|Hitler apparently giving Speer some kind of award, March/June 1943 (Heinrich Hoffmann, Federal Archives).|
For all writers of history she is going to be a disappointment.He goes on to say that she was very athletic (as can be seen in her self-made films). He does shade her slightly:
Outwardly she often appeared conceited and haughty. That, however, was due to her inferiority complex; for her social position at OBERSALZBERG was not clearly defined [emphasis in original].Then he quickly cleans that up with another quote that is widely bandied about:
Of all those who during the last weeks lived together in the BERLIN shelter, she was one of the bravest, and probably also the most intelligent. She wanted to stay in BERLIN and die with HITLER [emphasis in original].He emphasized that there were genuine feelings of love between the two. After noting that Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels had acted as a procurer of women for him during the 1930s, Speer notes:
He [Hitler] appears, however, to have always remained true to the woman he loved, Fraulein EVA BRAUN. Her love was very significant for him; he spoke of her with great respect and deep reverence. He knew that he could have had any number of women; this he rejected, for, as he jokingly said, he did not know whether they would prefer him as "Reich Chancellor" or as ADOLF HITLER [emphasis in original].
I noted above that characterizations by our first-hand witnesses reflect upon the speaker as much as the person spoken of. This is the case with Speer. He had 20 years in Spandau Prison to mull everything over and figure out what nuances in his characterizations would best match the current Zeitgeist. His books written during that stay and afterward - he famously smuggled out writings written on toilet paper and the like - such as "Inside the Third Reich" and "Spandau: The Secret Diaries" tells a much different tale. Here is a quote from a 12 April 1976 interview with Speer published in People Magazine, when his latest book was riding high on the sales charts. The question posed was, "Was Hitler’s marriage to Eva Braun just before his suicide merely for the record, related to his concern with his place in posterity?":
It could have been. On the other hand, it could also have been because he was really touched that she, against his wishes, came to join him in Berlin at the end. It would be wrong to assume that Hitler was a man without the ability to show and experience sentimental feelings. Nevertheless, his relationship to Eva Braun was abominable. He always treated her like a fifth-rate person. I pitied her.
|Speer was intelligent but also a calculating fellow. We always must remember that when discussing his later writings and interviews.|
Anyway, let's get back to Eva Braun.
The Final Days
|Happier times for Eva at the Berghof.|
|Herta Schneider and Eva Braun. An author who claims to have seen private documents asserts that Eva wrote at least two final letters from the bunker to Herta, who survived the war.|
We already hear the artillery fire from the eastern front and bombs fall from attack planes every day.... I'm very happy right now to be close to [Hitler].... I am convinced that everything will turn out alright in the end and [Hitler] is hopeful as he seldom is.The optimism did not last. It is generally accepted that the German front around Berlin finally caved in the very next day, Hitler's birthday, 20 April 1945. A couple of days later, Hitler had his famous breakdown in which he finally accepted that the war was lost. That day, 22 April 1945, Eva wrote another letter to Schneider (apparently her last):
We are fighting here until the last but I'm afraid the end is threatening closer and closer.... I cannot tell friends what I personally suffer from the Fuhrer.... I cannot understand how everything could be so, but one cannot believe in a God!... Greetings to my friends, I'm dying how I've lived. It's not difficult for me. You know that.It's interesting that Eva refers to her man in this final letter as "the Fuhrer," not by his name. Formalities were retained up to the last.
There were some final visits by various officials and the local military commanders as the Soviets approached, but the die was cast. The situation in the bunker deteriorated further after Albert Speer left on the 24th, with no military or diplomatic relief possible. Everyone understood the situation, apparently, Hitler most of all, which no doubt accounts for his sour mood to which Eva obliquely refers in her letters to Schneider. Speer noted that even by the 24th:
[S]he [Eva Braun] had detached herself from life. She was calm and determined and, at this time, one of the few who were faithful to ADOLF HITLER - perhaps the only one. Earlier, HITLER had already asserted with resignation that he had only one friend who would remain loyal to the end in his decisive hour, and that was EVA BRAUN [emphasis in original].As the days dwindled, Hitler had Eva's brother-in-law Hermann Fegelein shot for being a nuisance ("desertion," supposedly). It was the last gasp of tyranny. Test pilot Hanna Reitsch made an extremely risky flight into Berlin with Luftwaffe General Greim, but Hitler refused to leave and Reitsch flew back out again only with Greim. The end was inevitable, and Hitler better than anyone else in the world knew how little time remained. He decided on 28 April 1945 that there was no longer any need for pretense. He asked his people to find someone to marry them. Goebbels recalled that he himself had been married by one Walter Wagner, a Berlin Justice of the Peace, so someone was sent out to find him. Somewhat incredibly (during the final days in the bunker with the Soviets literally down the block!), Wagner was located in a Volkssturm detachment defending the vicinity. Wagner came in, married Hitler and Eva on the afternoon of the 29th, and then left to return to obscurity.
On 30 April 1945, Adolf Hitler held his final staff conference and was informed that the Russians now were only a few blocks away. He had lunch as usual at 2 o’clock in the afternoon with his two secretaries and his cook. He then made systematic preparations to commit suicide. Hitler perhaps could have waited another day, but that was May Day, and he did not wish to commit suicide on a day of celebration for the Soviet Union.
They bit into thin glass vials of cyanide - as he did so, Hitler also shot himself in the head with a 7.65 mm Walther pistol.
Heinz Linge, Hitler’s personal valet, recalled how he entered Hitler’s suite and saw Hitler almost upright in a sitting position on a blood-soaked sofa. Eva Braun lay on the sofa beside him, but she had made no use of the revolver at her side, preferring to rely on the poison instead. A small hole showed on his right temple and a trickle of blood ran slowly down over his cheek. The pistol lay on the floor where it had dropped from his right hand.
|Eva in blackface.|
The official story from Soviet records is that the bodies of Hitler and Eva were carried out into the yard outside the bunker and burned with gasoline. The Soviets found the charred remains and moved them to East Germany for examination. Ultimately, the remains were pulverized and thrown into a tributary of the Elbe on 4 April 1970. That is the Soviet account, and there is no hard evidence to either support it or undermine it. Not a trace remains.
|Adolf Hitler and Eva with Ursula “Uschi” Schneider.|
|Apparently Eva after a swim. Compare the pictures directly above, which apparently was taken before she got wet.|
Below is home movie footage shot by Eva Braun. It is in color, which is quite unusual for the time period. Color footage required many times the cost of black and white film, but no cost was too great for the Fuhrer's mistress. Because of that, we have exceptional footage of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, the cruise and other vacations that Eva went on, and Eva practicing on the parallel bars and going swimming and everything else that she liked to do. She rather ostentatiously creates title cards, but unfortunately, there is no sound to these films. Seriously, these films look like they were only shot ten or twenty years ago, not at a time when virtually all Hollywood films were shown in black and white. Some scenes are also in slow motion, which did not become a television network staple until the 1970s.
Incidentally, if you are looking for more pictures of Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler, you might like to visit Putschgirl's site on Tumblr. I have no connection to that site, but whoever runs it has an uncanny way of uncovering obscure photos of the Third Reich, and some photos here are duplicates of what is on there.