Reconsidering Eva: Braun with Adolf Hitler and canine companions in this photo from the early 1940s.
Eva Braun has been dismissed as an inconsequential figure (and, of course, a “dumb blonde”) in Adolf Hitler’s life, but a new biography of Braun by German historian Heike Görtemaker recasts Hitler’s lover as a more significant force who was relegated to the background out of necessity. —KA
Hitler first came across Braun in 1929, when he was 40 and she was 17. She worked in a Munich camera shop run by his official photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann. According to Hoffmann’s daughter, Hitler’s opening line was: “May I invite you to the opera with me, Fräulein Eva? You see, I’m surrounded by men and I know what a pleasure it is to enjoy female company.” Dates at the cinema and restaurants followed.
Braun was with him in his Berlin bunker as the city fell to the Russian forces in 1945 and shared his suicide on the afternoon of 30 April.
Görtemaker said recognising that Hitler had a “normal relationship” was a vital part of the process of seeing him as a recognisable product of German society in the first half of the 20th century. “He is mostly portrayed as incapable of having a private life,” she said. “He said he couldn’t marry because he was married to Germany.”
The German public was never meant to know of Braun’s existence and marriage was out of the question until the very end. He told Speer: “It’s just like an actor when he marries. For the women who have worshipped him, he is no longer their idol in the same way.”