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Eva Braun

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Life with Hitler

Written by Heike B. GortemakerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Heike B. Gortemaker
Translated by Damion SearlsAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Damion Searls

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On Sale: October 25, 2011
Pages: 336 | ISBN: 978-0-307-70139-8
Published by : Knopf Knopf
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

From one of Germany’s leading young historians, the first comprehensive biography of Eva Braun, Hitler’s devoted mistress, finally wife, and the hidden First Lady of the Third Reich.
 
In this groundbreaking biography of Eva Braun, German historian Heike Görtemaker reveals Hitler’s mistress as more than just a vapid blonde whose concerns never extended beyond her vanity table. Twenty-three years his junior, Braun first met Hitler when she took a position as an assistant to his personal photographer. Capricious, but uncompromising and fiercely loyal—she married Hitler two days before committing suicide with him in Berlin in 1945—her identity was kept secret by the Third Reich until the final days of the war. Through exhaustive research, newly discovered documentation, and anecdotal accounts, Görtemaker turns preconceptions about Eva Braun and Hitler on their head, and builds a portrait of the little-known Hitler far from the public eye.

Excerpt

1

Heinrich Hoffmann's Studio

Almost sixteen years earlier, in October 1929, Hitler and Eva Braun met for the first time in the studio of photographer Heinrich Hoffmann. Hoffmann was a press photographer and portrait photographer well known in Munich after World War I, as well as a publisher and a National Socialist from the beginning. He ran a studio, called Photohaus Hoffmann, at 25 Amalienstrasse, near Odeon Square in central Munich. From there he supplied the Munich Illustrierte Presse (Illustrated Press) and domestic and foreign agencies with his pictures. Hoffmann's father was a photographer as well, and he had apparently forced his son to follow in his footsteps; Hoffmann had owned a business of his own in Munich since 1909. Even before 1914, Heinrich Hoffmann had made a name for himself with the public and in artistic circles with his photography service-the "Hoffmann Photoreport"-as well as by taking portrait photographs. Still, he owed his flourishing business to the NSDAP. After World War I, which he spent on the French front as a reservist in a replacement detachment of the air force, he put his talents at the service of the far-right nationalist movement that was rising to power.

The Nazi Party's House Photographer

It is no longer possible to reconstruct exactly when and in what circumstances Hoffmann met Hitler for the first time. Hoffmann's daughter, Henriette von Schirach, later claimed that the Populist poet and writer Dietrich Eckart had put her father in contact with Hitler; Hoffmann himself said in his memoir that their first encounter was for purely business reasons, after an American photo agency offered him one hundred dollars for a photograph of Hitler, on October 30, 1922. As early as 1947, in an unpublished written statement in his own defense, Hoffmann claimed that the "American press" had offered him "a large sum for the first picture of Hitler" at the time. In order to get this money, "under any circumstances," he contrived a seemingly chance encounter by suggesting that Hermann Esser, a good friend of Hitler's, hold the reception for his upcoming wedding in Hoffmann's house, on July 5, 1923. In this way, he planned to meet Hitler, who was to be one of the witnesses at the ceremony.

In fact, Hoffmann had been a member of the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or DAP) since April 6, 1920-six months after Hitler had joined. Anton Drexler had founded the party in January of the previous year, in Munich, and it had recently changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or NSDAP). Hoffmann began to publish the weekly newspaper Auf gut deutsch (In Good German), edited by the radical nationalistic and anti-Semitic Dietrich Eckart, Hitler's friend, mentor, and father-figure. This failed poet used the paper to rail against the Weimar Republic, Bolshevism, and Judaism, under the motto "Germany, Awake!" There is much evidence to suggest that Hoffmann became friends with this circle of like-minded men, including Eckart, Hitler, and the journalist Hermann Esser, before he began to make himself useful to the NSDAP and especially to the man who became its leader starting on July 29, 1921: the aggressive "beer hall agitator" Adolf Hitler. Despite numerous requests, Hoffmann at first respected Hitler's wish not to be photographed. Hoffmann's first portrait of Hitler, in fact, appeared only after the failed Beer Hall Putsch of November 8-9, 1923, which made Hitler famous throughout Germany but also landed him in jail. (Hoffmann photographed him as a prisoner.) The following year, Hoffmann published a photo brochure titled (in German) "Germany's Awakening, in Words and Pictures." In 1926, the tireless Hoffmann, together with Hitler and Hermann Esser (their mutual friend and the first head of propaganda for the Party), founded a richly illustrated weekly Party newspaper, the Illustrierter Beobachter. That same year, at Hoffmann's suggestion, the Völkischer Beobachter (The People's Observer, the Nazi newspaper) included photographs for the first time-from Hoffmann's own studio, needless to say.

The NSDAP was thus on the cutting edge, technologically speaking. Only a few years earlier it had been common practice to illustrate newspaper stories with drawings or engravings. Even The New York Times started to print photographs regularly only in 1922. Photojournalism's true breakthrough, made possible by the development of the 35 mm camera in 1925, had only just begun. Unlike in America- and also England and France, where the British Daily Mirror and French Illustration had set up a daily photographic exchange service between London and Paris as early as 1907-in Germany the practice of printing photographs in newspapers only slowly gained popularity.

Among the pictures Hoffmann published in the Völkischer Beobachter was a series showing, for the first time, Hitler giving the Nazi salute with outstretched arm before a march of thousands of Party faithful on July 4, 1926, at the first NSDAP convention after it was reestablished in Weimar. Already, in the earliest phase of the Nazi Party's rise to power, Hoffmann was putting his initiative and photographic skill behind the power of images-and the power of the Party's not uncontroversial leader, who was controversial even within the Party at first. For Hitler and the propaganda campaign he was waging against both external opponents and opponents within the Party, Hoffmann soon made himself indispensable. He became Hitler's "personal photographer." From then on the leader of the Nazi Party almost never appeared without Hoffmann, whether on trips, on the campaign trail, or at lunch at Hitler's local Munich pub.

Hoffmann's decision to devote his career entirely to Hitler and the NSDAP paid off only in later years, however. In 1929, the Landtag (state parliament) campaigns and mass rallies provided Hoffmann's business with more and more assignments. These included the four-day NSDAP convention in Nuremburg on August 1-4, with the spectacular parade of sixty thousand SA and SS members, and Hitler's appearance on October 26 in the Zirkus Krone in Munich with Alfred Hugenberg, the press tycoon and head of the German National People's Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, or DNVP), in connection with the proposed German referendum against the Young Plan. That same year gave the Nazi Party its first electoral victories. In the Reichstag (national parliament) election the previous year, on May 20, 1928, it looked as though the National Socialists were sinking back into insignificance-they received only 2.6 percent of the vote-but in the Landtag and municipal elections of 1929 the trend was uniformly upward.With the world economic crisis unfolding in the background, and the rise in unemployment to 3.32 million people in Germany, the NSDAP achieved gains in Saxony, Baden, and Bavaria; in Thuringia, in fact, its vote tally rose from 4.6 to 11.3 percent.

In light of these results, it is no accident that Hoffmann, then forty-four years old, was able to expand his business even in fall 1929, at the onset of the worldwide economic crash. He profited both from the increasing number of assignments from the Party and from the greater use Hitler himself made of him. Photo agencies were booming in any case, since by that time more and more newspapers were illustrating their reports with photographs. The demand throughout the world for news photographs was constantly on the rise, and a flourishing business grew from Hoffmann's small workshop in a courtyard behind 50 Schellingstrasse. It moved to 25 Amalienstrasse in September 1929, and was renamed the NSDAP-Photohaus Hoffmann. Shortly before the reopening, Hoffmann hired new employees, and one of them was the seventeen-year-old Eva Braun.

"Herr Wolf"

Eva Braun's job at Photohaus Hoffmann seems to have been primarily behind the counter. In any case, the various statements about her actual duties are contradictory. For example, Henriette von Schirach-

Hoffmann's daughter and a friend of Eva Braun's the same age as she, who was thus in a position to know-says at one point in her memoir that Braun was an "apprentice in [Hoffmann's] photo lab," but mentions elsewhere that Braun sold "roll films" in her father's "photo store." In fact, both were true. Eva Braun, Heinrich Hoffmann later wrote, had been a "novice and shop assistant" and worked for him "in the office, as a salesgirl, and also in the laboratory." From 1933 on, after Braun was "more established" in the business, she worked exclusively "in photography."

To be a photographer was a very respected and enviable career for a woman at the time. The field was new and modern and the idea of becoming a fashion or portrait photographer attracted many women. Eva Braun was especially interested in fashion. Her first task at Hoffmann's, though, was to learn how to use a camera and develop pictures. From the beginning, her duties included running small errands for Hoffmann and his clients and working behind the counter. Along with press photography, the rise in amateur photography offered a steadily growing market, so Photohaus Hoffmann not only took photographs but also sold photographic equipment, which was now readily available to the public. In addition, it sold pictures and postcards of its own, and Eva Braun was also responsible for those sales, according to Baldur von Schirach, Hoffmann's son-in-law and the future Youth Leader of the Nazi Party. Hoffmann's preferred motifs and images included his fellow Party members and, especially, portraits of its leader, Adolf Hitler.

Eva Braun probably met Hitler for the first time in October 1929, a few weeks after starting her job. She was apparently working late, organizing papers, when Hoffmann introduced her to one "Herr Wolf" and asked her to fetch some beer and sausages for him and his friend, and for herself as well, from a nearby restaurant. During the meal together that followed, the stranger was "devouring" her "with his eyes the whole time," and he later offered her "a lift in his Mercedes." She refused. Finally, before she left the studio, Eva Braun's boss, Hoffmann, asked her: "Haven't you guessed who that gentleman is; don't you ever look at our photos?" After she said no, Hoffmann said: "It's Hitler! Adolf Hitler."

This account appears in the first published biography of Eva Braun, from 1968, by the Turkish-American journalist whose birth name was Nerin Emrullah Gün. According to Gün, Eva Braun told one of her sisters-presumably Ilse, the oldest of the three sisters-about this first meeting with Hitler, which occurred "on one of the first Fridays in October," either October 4 or October 11, 1929. But how reliable is Gün? His work is quoted extensively even today, and it tends to give the impression that Eva Braun dictated her story directly to him. From whom did he get his information, and how? And what are we to make of his own thoroughly enigmatic history?

Gün worked in the press department of the Turkish embassy in Budapest during World War II. Shortly before the end of the war, on April 12, 1945, the secret police ordered his arrest for allegedly being an enemy of the German state; he was sent to the Dachau concentration camp. Two weeks later, on April 29, 1945, he was liberated along with the other prisoners by the American Seventh Army. Gün moved to the United States, simplified his name to Gun, and later wrote a book about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. That was presumably why the CIA suspected him, as a member of the Communist Party, of being involved himself in the assassination of President Kennedy and charged him with having committed espionage and falsified documents in Europe.

In the mid-1960s, on the occasion of the anniversary celebration of the liberation of Dachau, Gun visited West Germany. That was apparently when he arranged to meet Eva Braun's family and other former members of Hitler's inner circle. He tracked down Franziska Braun, Eva's mother, in her house in Ruhpolding, Bavaria, and also questioned Eva's sisters, Ilse and Margarete (who was called Gretl), as well as Eva's best friend, Herta Schneider (née Ostermayr). Gun obtained access to Eva Braun's private photographs and letters, and these were published for the first time in his book. However, Gun does not give precise details about the sources of his information, and he switches freely back and forth between invented anecdotes and factual testimony from actual witnesses in a way that makes it impossible for the reader to determine which is which.

Ilse Hess, Rudolf Hess's wife, wrote in a letter to Albert Speer on June 25, 1968, that Gun, "the author of the book about Everl [her nickname for Eva Braun]," had stayed with her, Ilse Hess, "for weeks" in Hindelang, since he was now planning to write a biography of her husband; she wrote that she now called him only by the name "Mr. I pay all" (in English), since that was his "favorite expression." This remark shows the lack of respect she had for him; Gun apparently had little background knowledge and Ilse Hess did not take him seriously. Presumably, Gun likewise stayed with the Braun family the year before while he was researching his book on Eva Braun, although there is no concrete evidence either way.

Thus we cannot say that the sequence of events at the first meeting between Eva Braun and Hitler has been established with certainty, even if matters may well have played out the way Gun describes. It is certainly unclear why Hoffmann would have introduced his prominent friend and Party colleague under the fake name "Wolf." (Hitler did often use that name for himself, especially when traveling.) Possibly Hoffmann was trying to forestall a nervous, or even hysterical, reaction from the young woman. In any case, nothing could stop the attraction that apparently sprang up spontaneously on both sides. From then on, Hitler, already forty years old, remembered himself to the seventeen-year-old Eva Braun with compliments and little gifts every time he visited the studio.

Such visits were not at all difficult for Hitler to arrange. Photohaus Hoffmann, on the corner of Amalienstrasse and Theresienstrasse, was directly across the street from Café Stephanie, a favorite spot for the leading Nazi politicians. Before World War I, it had been a meeting point for the bohemians of the Schwabing district, including such figures as Heinrich Mann, Erich Mühsam, Eduard Graf von Keyserling, and Paul Klee. The Party's headquarters were just a side street away, at 50 Schellingstrasse, the same street where the editorial and printing offices of the Völkischer Beobachter were located a few houses farther on. At 50 Schellingstrasse itself was the building where Heinrich Hoffmann and his family used to live, and Hoffmann's "workshop" was located next door. That was where he photographed Hitler, Göring, and other Party leaders. Also on Schellingstrasse was the Osteria Bavaria, the oldest Italian restaurant in Munich, where Hitler and his fellow Party members often used to go; it is still there today, under the name Osteria Italiana. Henriette von Schirach described the restaurant as a "cool, small winery with a little courtyard painted in Pompeian red and a 'temple,' that is, an alcove with two columns in front of it," which was kept reserved for Hitler. However, Hitler's later secretary, Traudl Junge, said that the Nazi leader's regular table was the "least comfortable table all the way in the back, in the corner."


From the Hardcover edition.
Heike B. Gortemaker|Author Q&A

About Heike B. Gortemaker

Heike B. Gortemaker - Eva Braun

Photo © Foto Blumrich

Heike B. Görtemaker, born in 1964, is a German historian and author. She studied history, economics, and German literature in Berlin and Bloomington, Indiana. In 2005, she published a biography of Margret Boveri, a prominent German journalist from the 1930s to the 1970s. Görtemaker lives with her husband near Berlin. She is currently working on a project dealing with the legacy of Hitler’s inner circle in postwar Germany.

Author Q&A

Q: What is the most important difference between Eva Braun: Life with Hitler and the other accounts that have been written of her life?
 
A: Biographies dealing with Eva Braun so far portray her as a tragic or ridiculous figure who, mostly ignored by Hitler, spent (indeed wasted) her life by waiting for him. They mainly emphasize her “tragic fate” and assume an unfulfilled existence as she stayed childless and, until her last day in the Berlin bunker, unmarried. She was, so is said, absolutely un-political and knew hardly anything about the course of events around her. Therefore Eva Braun’s life and her way of living are usually treated as a theme disconnected from Hitler’s personal and, more important, political activities. While Hitler is viewed as a person with no human feelings or bonds, Eva Braun is described as either a dull and naive blonde, or as a decent girl who had “the misfortune to fall in love with a monster” (Angela Lambert). In my book I tried to look behind the still existing myths surrounding the private live of Hitler and Eva Braun. I asked who Eva Braun, the woman whose name is inseparable tied to that of Hitler and the inhuman regime of the Nazis, really was. What can be said about herself and her relationship with Hitler? What kind of role did she play within Hitler’s private circle? How much influence or power did she have? Did she know about the holocaust? My book analyzes all available primary and secondary sources with regard to Eva Braun and takes a fresh and more critical look at the memoir literature, asking who said what, when and why. In doing so, the role of Eva Braun within the circle of the most trusted followers of Hitler became a different one.
 
Q: It seems that any study of Eva Braun must first wade through a vast amount of misinformation and obfuscation. What types of primary documents did you use in your research?
 
A:  Because of the lack of primary sources, the common interpretations of Eva Braun were encouraged by the memoir literature written after the Second World War. In these accounts former members of the Nazi elite or members of Hitler’s staff mentioned wives, girlfriends or female relatives just as passive bystanders. Neither Hitler nor Eva Braun left any notes with information, illuminating the character of their relationship. There exist only a few postcards and letters written by Eva Braun and a diary fragment, dating from the 6th of February 1935 to the 28th of May 1935. But it is disputed whether these notes were actually written by Eva Braun, because the handwriting in old German is very different from other letters she wrote. But even if there are few personal documents by Eva Braun and none by Hitler, who had his most loyal adjutant destroy all private letters and documents at the end, there are a lot of statements and notes by others that shed light on the relationship between Braun and Hitler. Thus I used, among others, contemporary statements by Joseph Goebbels, Martin and Gerda Bormann, and interviews with the members of the “inner circle” conducted only a few weeks or months after the surrender of the German Wehrmacht. NS-functionaries as well as Hitler’s secretaries, adjutants and doctors were questioned by allied intelligence officers. Among them were Albert Speer, Karl Brandt, Theodor Morell, Christa Schroeder, Traudl Junge and Wilhelm Brückner. In addition I saw the interrogation files of the family and friends of Eva Braun (including her parents, her sisters, her friend Herta Schneider, Heinrich Hoffmann and other members of the “inner circle”) conducted by the German denazification-courts in Munich from 1947 to 1949. And last but not least I undertook an analysis and assessment of the memoir literature published since the 1950’s where Nicolaus von Below, Otto Dietrich, Albert Speer, Baldur von Schirach and many others expressed their views.
 
Q: Eva Braun was not the only woman who supported Hitler throughout his political career; Magda Goebbels and Ilse Hess remained by his side to the end. How does Eva Braun compare to these women who were particularly strong-willed and politically active? Were there rivalries between the three?
 
A: Actually women like Magda Goebbels, Emmy Göring or Ilse Hess had at least an official function since they represented the regime in the public. Ilse Hess had been an early campaigner for the Nazi Party throughout the 1920’s; Magda Goebbels took on the role as “First Lady” at Hitler’s side during official ceremonies after 1933. All these women became members of the NSDAP. Eva Braun in contrast never joined the NSDAP and – as a mistress – could play no public role. Therefore she never attended an official dinner at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. But despite the fact that she did not perform in public, Eva Braun was not merely a passive bystander. Together with her employer, Hitler’s friend and photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, she became part of the Nazi propaganda machinery and served not just as “decoration”. She produced pictures and film material portraying Hitler at his Berghof retreat as a likable, caring person, a family man, fond of children. She sold her so-called private pictures of Hitler to Hoffmann and, in doing so, earned a lot of money. It cannot be said for sure how many photographs published by Hoffmann in his famous picture books about the “private life” of the “Führer” were actually taken by Eva Braun. However, Eva Braun’s activities demonstrate once more that the officially denied private existence of Hitler cannot be separated from his political life. All members of the Berghof circle, including Eva Braun, were not just witnesses, but convinced of the Nazi ideology.
 
Q: Your book necessarily discusses the place of women in National Socialism. Could you say something about the extent to which women visibly participated in Nazi political activism?
 
A: It is important to know that the image of the lives of women and girls in Germany created by the Nazi propagandists had little to do with reality. The actual lives of women beyond the “cult of the mother” were significantly more multi-layered and complex than is generally assumed. Nevertheless, visibly political active women, like “Reich Womens’s Leader” Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, were exceptions. Since women held no high-ranking positions in politics, the economy or the military, the lives of women in general, and the activities of the wives of the Nazi elite in particular, were seen as meaningless with respect to their political development. After the war, the women who had been around Hitler themselves gave the impression as if they had had nothing to do with politics during the Nazi dictatorship and had spent their time only with private matters. Even Ilse Hess, an early campaigner and stern activist of the Nazi Party, declared after 1945 that she, as a woman, had been always “passive”. Therefore, the women themselves and the memoir literature after the war produced the legend of “female innocence” that became part of the “exonerating debate” during the 1950’s. This view changed slowly during the 1980’s, when a new and more complex perspective on the social history of the “Third Reich” also highlighted the role of women. Now they are increasingly perceived as actors on the historical stage.
 
Q: Eva Braun repeatedly attempted suicide throughout her relationship with Hitler. Is this an indication of the neglect she suffered or does it point to something more?
 
A: The exact circumstances of Eva Braun’s attempted suicide with a pistol belonging to her father at the end of 1932 remain unclear. The same is true for another alleged suicide attempt in 1935. There are differing accounts of exactly what happened and when. But did Eva Braun in 1932 act calculatedly to make the absent Hitler notice her? Did she actually blackmail him? We cannot answer these questions. We can only speculate. In any case, only a year after his niece Geli Raubal’s suicide and in the middle of his political battle for the chancellorship, whose success was closely bound up with the “Führer cult” around him, Hitler could not afford a new scandal. Therefore he had to bring under control a relationship he had apparently misjudged. We can assume that, with this extreme act, Eva Braun showed Hitler early on her readiness to die. And in his eyes, this act perhaps proved the kind of self-sacrifice which he expected from his followers.
 
Q: Why did Hitler vigilantly keep his relationship with Eva Braun a secret, going so far as refusing to marry her?
 
A: First of all, the existence of a mistress did not fit into the successfully cultivated “myth” of the lonesome “Führer” who sacrificed his personal life for the cause of the German people. But more important might have been that Hitler feared the influence and the power of a wife who had legal rights and possibilities – as he himself once said. As a mistress, Eva Braun had no legal means but remained in a dependent position.  
 
Q: You portray Hitler’s inner circle as confused and at times offended by Eva’s rapid ascension to the position of Hitler’s privileged mistress. What did this resentment stem from? Was it an issue of social class or a result of the mutual struggle for Hitler’s attentions?
 
A: Both. Eva Braun developed from a rather shy and insecure person in Hitler’s inner circle to a determined woman who played a more and more important role for the dictator. At latest in 1936, nobody could dare to challenge her position. Even Albert Speer and the powerful Joseph Goebbels, as well as others, sought her company in order to get a closer personal grip on Hitler. Within the hierarchy of Hitler’s closest circle, Eva Braun possessed a strong position. To get on well with Eva Braun was absolutely necessary for being invited to the Berghof, one female guest later claimed. Nevertheless, many members of Hitler’s staff and his private circle thought that she was not good enough for the “Führer.” They disliked and feared her.
 
Q: In your book Eva Braun is portrayed as deeply apolitical and yet you suggest that she died at Hitler’s side in order to assure her place in history. Is there a contradiction here?
 
A: In the fourteen years of her intimate relationship with Hitler, Eva Braun developed from an ordinary girl far from the center of power, who had grown up in a middle-class family and whose father believed “to the end” in the “Führer,” into a capricious, uncompromising champion of absolute loyalty to the dictator. It is true that she did not belong to the NSDAP, but this fact does not mean that she rejected the Nazi state or was opposed to it in any way. On the contrary: her life, at least as much as that of everyone else around Hitler, was shaped by his worldview, his charismatic attraction, and the extent of his power. The collaboration, within the scope of what was possible for her, is unmistakable. It cannot be verified that Eva Braun knew about the holocaust. But she certainly was informed about the persecution of the Jews, depriving them of any civil rights, and it is also clear that she supported this policy. At the end of the war, Eva Braun even encouraged Hitler’s self- deception. She supported his delusion that he was surrounded by traitors, and thus became his accomplice. She was Hitler’s last and most loyal disciple and certainly believed hers would be a hero’s death.


From the Hardcover edition.

Praise

Praise

“Easily the best biography of Eva Braun so far written.”
The Daily Beast 

“Hitler could not have wished for a better girlfriend. . . . A highly readable and consistent portrait of an ordinary woman who was, without a doubt, utterly devoted to the man history has seen as ‘evil incarnate.’”
The New York Times 

“Heike B. Görtemaker seeks answers from a close reading of memoirs and postwar interrogations of Germans who knew them, ranging from senior Nazi figures to Hitler’s military adjutants and secretaries. The result, Eva Braun: Life With Hitler, is less gossip than a serious study of personal relationships and power at Nazi Germany’s pinnacle. . . . The book deserves a broad readership, taking us as it does behind the scenes of history’s most criminal regime.”
San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Ms. Görtemaker finally gives Braun her place in the dark history of the Third Reich.”
Wall Street Journal
 
“[A] careful reading of Görtemaker’s riveting account of the characters surrounding Hitler reveals that he spent more time with Eva Braun—especially after 1935—than he did with even the highest ranking Nazis, such as Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels, and Heinrich Himmler. Braun may not have influenced Nazi policies, but thanks to Görtemaker’s groundbreaking work, it is now clear how Braun catered to Hitler, fostering his reliance on cronies and lackeys and reinforcing his tendency to shut himself off from the awful reality of what was happening to Germany and to the world.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
“Employing a detective’s skill and a journalist’s flair . . . Görtemaker reconstructs the life of Eva Braun from the petty bourgeois household of her schoolteacher father to the inner circle of the Nazi overlord.”
Chicago Sun-Times
 
“Solidly researched, sophisticated, and well-written biography.”
Library Journal
 
“Although it is difficult, if not impossible, to whip up any sympathy for or to empathize with one of history’s most notorious mistresses, Görtemaker does provide a more nuanced view of this marginalized woman by examining the pivotal role she played in Hitler’s life and within his inner circle . . . This breakout biography is a solid contribution to the ever-increasing body of Third Reich literature and scholarship.”
Booklist
 
“A perceptive account of a woman loyal and complaisant to the end.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
 
“An utterly compelling portrayal of the weird hidden life of the dictator . . . An instructively intimate peek at a man who, like some black star, destroyed all those he touched. Eva was only one of millions of his victims—but a willing one.”
The Telegraph (UK)
 
“A comprehensive biography . . . Görtemaker turns on their heads the preconceptions about Hitler and Eva.”
Daily Mail (UK)

“The first scientifically researched biography to correct the image of the dumb blonde at the side of the mass murderer.”
Der Spiegel (Germany)
 
“This meticulously-researched and documented biography is far more than the story of Eva Braun . . . Görtemaker has sifted through photographs, diaries, letters, interviews, and previous research to provide a wider perspective on not only Eva, but also many others in Hitler’s circle . . . Fascinating reading.”
Historical Novels Review
 
“Braun emerges as bright but vapid, energetic but soulless. As thorough and clear a look of a monster’s lover as we are likely to get.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Having painstakingly reviewed the archives for references to Eva Braun’s relationship with Hitler, Görtemaker presents a portrait of an engaged and engaging young woman, fervently supportive of National Socialism and one of the few members of Hitler’s inner circle to never lose his trust or fall out of affection. . . . This telling sheds more light on the central question of the narrative of Eva Braun: ‘Did she share the political positions and basic worldview of her lover or was she merely a tragic slave who nonetheless profited from Hitler’s power?’”
Publishers Weekly


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