Jennifer (JC-S)'s Reviews > Eva Braun: Life with Hitler

Eva Braun by Heike B. Görtemaker
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Mar 11, 2012

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Read from March 11 to 12, 2012

‘Who was this woman, actually, and what perspective does she open up onto this “criminal of the century”?’

Eva Anna Paula Braun was born on the 6th of February 1912, married Adolf Hitler on the night of April 28th 1945, and died on the 30th of April 1945. Eva Braun was the second of three daughters of Fritz Braun, a Munich school teacher and Franziska, a former seamstress, and met Hitler in the autumn of 1929. Hitler was apparently so taken with her that he immediately had her investigated to make sure that she had no Jewish ancestry.

But what was her role in his life? What influence did she have over him? How much did she know about the Holocaust? She never joined the Nazi Party, but we probably can’t draw too many conclusions from that as apparently Hitler wouldn’t allow his sister to join the party either.
Ms Görtemaker’s book suggests that Braun was more important than has previously been considered. She was largely kept hidden from the German public in order to maintain the illusion that the Führer was married to his people. Twice, apparently, her relationship with Hitler drove her to attempt suicide. There are occasional glimpses of a woman who loved dogs, expensive clothes, photography and skiing. And at the end, instead of staying in Munich, she chose to return to Berlin where, 36 hours after marrying, she and Hitler committed suicide.

‘I want to be a beautiful corpse. I will take poison.’

The problem with writing a biography about a person like Eva Braun is that very little information can be verified, few sources exist and fewer can be relied on. We have some photographs, but little context although Eva Braun sought to have her private letters saved for posterity. On 23 April 1945 she wrote an urgent letter to her younger sister, Gretl, urging her to take ‘all the letters from the Führer’ and the ‘copies of her replies’ and put them in a ‘water-resistant packet’. Gretl was to bury them if necessary, but absolutely not to destroy them. Eva also insisted that ‘on no account must Heise’s bills be found,’ referring to the fashionable Berlin dress designer Annemarie Heise. She didn’t get her wish. We know about Eva’s profligacy at the dressmaker but her correspondence with Hitler has never been found.

I found this biography both interesting and dissatisfying. Interesting because I’ve never really thought much about the woman who married Hitler just before they both died, dissatisfying because I have no real sense of any substance to the woman herself. Instead, there’s a sense of frivolity which, while it might seem appropriate for many young women of her age seems inappropriate for a woman so closely associated to Hitler. What did Eva Braun stand for? She smoked, drank wine, listened to jazz, was obsessed with sport and movies, read Oscar Wilde and spent a lot of money on clothes. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this book is the light that it sheds on those who were part of Hitler’s most intimate circle and his curious lifestyle.

Was Eva Braun one of Hitler’s victims? If she was, it seems that she was a willing one.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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