In the annals of history, Eva Braun is etched as an enigmatic character, known mostly as Adolf Hitler’s long-time companion and, in the last hours of her life, his wife. However, Eva was far more than just Hitler’s better half. She was a woman of complex nature, trapped in extraordinary circumstances, living a life that was at once deeply intimate and utterly public. Delving deeper into her story reveals a mosaic of facts that paint a more complete, if still enigmatic, picture of this woman who resided at the heart of one of the darkest periods in human history. In this blog post, we are going to journey into the life of Eva Braun, unearthing lesser-known facts about her life and exploring her existence beyond the shadow of Hitler. From her artistic inclinations to her role in shaping Hitler’s image, from her fraught relationship with Hitler’s inner circle to her love of luxury, we will delve into the complexities and contradictions of Eva Braun’s life.
Eva Braun, born on 6 February 1912 in Munich, Germany, was the middle child in her family. Her father, Friedrich "Fritz" Braun, was a schoolteacher, while her mother, Franziska "Fanny" Kronberger, had been a seamstress before marriage. They were traditional Bavarians and disciplined disciplinarians. Although her parents initially disapproved of her relationship with Hitler due to the large age difference and his political views, they later accepted it, partly due to Hitler's persistence and his rising power.
She was an excellent swimmer, a gymnast, and an avid skier, often photographed while engaging in these activities. She had a strong physicality that was part of her charm and appeal. These hobbies provided her a refreshing respite from her secretive and highly controlled life, also enabling her to maintain her health and fitness, attributes that Hitler appreciated in her.
Unaware of Adolf Hitler's true identity, Eva Braun encountered him for the first time in October 1929, when she was merely 17 years old and had recently joined the photography shop owned by Hitler's personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann. Introduced to him under the pseudonym "Mr. Wolf," Eva referred to him by this name in her diary entries. In a letter to her sister, she vividly described her initial encounter with her newfound crush, who was 23 years her senior. Despite eventually learning his real name and being informed about his involvement in politics, Eva remained completely oblivious and confessed that she had no interest in following political affairs. Unbeknownst to her, the flirtation between them continued to blossom, setting the stage for a relationship that would endure and have far-reaching consequences.
She often posed for fashion photographs and photos for Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's official photographer. It was through these modelling assignments that she first encountered Hitler. Her beauty and vivacious nature immediately caught Hitler's attention. This part-time modelling job not only marked the beginning of her relationship with Hitler but also, unbeknownst to her at the time, significantly influenced the course of her life.
Born in Munich in February 1912, Eva Braun's teenage years were marked by a fascination with clothes, makeup, and boys. Despite receiving lessons alongside her sisters, Eva's academic performance remained average, with her only standout being her skill in sports. Concerned about her infatuation with boys, her parents sent her to a convent school. However, Eva found the environment unsuitable and sought financial independence by applying for a job at a photography studio. This decision proved to be transformative, as it exposed her to the captivating world of visual arts and ignited her passion for photography. Through her work, she would eventually meet Adolf Hitler, a frequent visitor to the studio, setting the stage for a significant relationship that would impact the course of her life.
Despite her general lack of interest in politics, Eva tried to wield her influence in more personal aspects of Hitler's life, including his dietary habits. She was concerned about his heavy meat consumption and tried to persuade him to reduce it, although her efforts had little effect on his diet. This is an example of Eva's care and concern for Hitler's wellbeing, despite his controversial status and actions.
Despite Hitler's more reserved nature, Eva Braun loved to dance, socialize, and party. Her lively spirit and carefree personality provided a stark contrast to the solemn atmosphere that usually surrounded Hitler. Her spirited nature was one of the traits that attracted Hitler to her, as it brought an element of lightness and joy into his otherwise intense and serious life.
Eva had a deep admiration for cinema and was an ardent fan of Swedish-American actress Greta Garbo. She was known to frequently visit the cinema and took great interest in the film industry. It was rumored that her affection for films and the glamorous world of cinema had a significant influence on her lifestyle and clothing choices.
Eva was a great lover of animals. She had two Scottish Terrier dogs, Negus and Stasi, whom she loved dearly. The pets were another element of her life that provided a semblance of normalcy in the midst of the chaos and secrecy that surrounded her due to her relationship with Hitler.
Eva had a penchant for designer clothes and owned numerous outfits from top fashion houses of her time. Her taste for high-end fashion further enhanced her image as a glamorous woman who lived a luxurious lifestyle. Despite the war and restrictions, Eva managed to maintain her sense of style, possibly as a means to assert her identity and individuality.
Despite being deeply involved with Eva, Hitler refused to allow her parents to visit her at Berghof. This was part of Hitler's effort to keep Eva's existence hidden from the German public and to maintain the illusion of his complete dedication to the nation, devoid of personal relationships.
Hitler went to great lengths to keep Braun's existence a secret from the German public for as long as possible. Hitler believed that his image as the dedicated Führer would be tarnished if the public knew about his relationship with Eva. This secrecy often led to Braun feeling isolated and marginalized, contributing to her emotional struggles.
Hitler showed his affection for Eva through extravagant gifts, including a Mercedes car, a luxurious villa, and designer clothes. These gifts served not only as tokens of his love for her but also as a means of keeping her appeased and pacified in the midst of the secrecy and isolation that characterized their relationship.
Despite Hitler's evident affection for her, Eva lived with the constant fear of being replaced by a younger woman. Her insecurity about her place in Hitler's life can be traced back to the secrecy and isolation that surrounded their relationship. She was well aware of the power dynamics in play and feared being discarded by Hitler, a man she had grown deeply attached to.
Despite the secretive and controlled nature of her life, Braun often found an escape in vacations. She particularly loved Italy and made frequent trips to the country. These vacations offered her a brief respite from her life in Germany and gave her a chance to enjoy a semblance of normalcy and freedom.
Eva Braun was very conscious about her figure and looks. She followed a strict fitness regime to maintain her physical health and attractiveness. Her dedication to her physical wellbeing reflects her desire to look her best at all times, perhaps due to her awareness of the scrutiny she was under as Hitler's companion.
Braun lived a life of luxury, largely thanks to Hitler's gifts and financial support. Despite the austere and restrictive environment of the Third Reich, Eva managed to live a life filled with designer clothes, luxury cars, and vacations, demonstrating the power and privilege that came with being Hitler's partner.
Eva Braun's passion for photography allowed her to craft a meticulously curated image of Adolf Hitler, one that presented him as a calm and caring individual. With her skills as a shutterbug, Eva amassed a significant collection of photos and films capturing Hitler in various settings. These visual representations depicted him in a manner that concealed the true nature of his character.
Eva Braun, beyond her personal relationship with Adolf Hitler, played a significant artistic role in Nazi propaganda and reaped substantial financial benefits from it. She sold her photography capturing Hitler's intimate life to Heinrich Hoffmann, the official Nazi photographer. Surprisingly, many of Hoffmann's famous picture books showcasing Hitler's supposedly private moments were actually shot by Eva herself. Through these photographs, Eva contributed to the creation of a carefully crafted image of Hitler, designed to manipulate public perception. Not only did her involvement in propaganda serve the Nazi regime, but it also proved to be a lucrative venture for Eva. Her photographs earned her considerable sums of money, with a single home movie alone reportedly netting her 20,000 marks.
After the war, Braun's surviving family members were arrested by the Allies. They underwent interrogations and trials but were not found guilty of any war crimes. This highlights the fact that, despite their connection to Hitler through Eva, her family was not directly involved in the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime.
Braun kept a diary throughout her relationship with Hitler, providing an intimate glimpse into their private life. The diary entries reveal Braun's deep love and devotion for Hitler, her anxieties, her dreams, and her perspective on the events unfolding around her. This diary, although not fully public, serves as a crucial source for understanding Eva Braun as a person, separate from her identity as Hitler's partner.
In a desperate act near the end of 1932, Eva Braun attempted to take her own life. Armed with one of her father's pistols, she aimed for her chest and pulled the trigger. Fortunately, the bullet missed her heart, sparing her life. When discovered, she insisted on receiving medical treatment from Hitler's personal doctor, a choice that led many to believe her suicide attempt was driven by a desire for attention and sympathy from Hitler himself. Eva's calculated move proved successful, as Hitler swiftly responded to her distress. He rushed to her side with gifts, apologies, and promises, showing his concern and affection. This incident solidified the bond between Eva and Hitler, further cementing her place in his inner circle.
In May of 1935, overwhelmed by her longing for Hitler's attention, Eva Braun resorted to another suicide attempt. Consumed by despair, she took a significant amount of sleeping pills in the hope of escaping her emotional torment. A poignant entry was discovered in her diary, revealing her fear that Hitler would not reach out to her that day. She wrote, "God, I'm afraid he won't answer today. I've decided on 35 pills this time, and it's going to really be a 'dead certain' business. If only he would have somebody call."
Following Hitler’s instructions, Braun and Hitler's bodies were reportedly burned after their suicide in the bunker. This act signifies their desire to leave no trace of their physical existence after death, perhaps as a means to avoid their bodies being paraded or desecrated by their enemies.
Despite his global image as a brutal dictator, Braun always viewed Hitler as a charming, caring, and somewhat misunderstood figure. Her perception of Hitler is an interesting paradox that highlights her deep affection for him and her ability to separate the man she knew personally from the political figure he was to the world.
Eva had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge. While they shared a cordial professional relationship, there were instances of jealousy and disagreement between the two, revealing the complexities of interpersonal dynamics within Hitler's inner circle.
It is widely believed that Braun had little to no knowledge about the Holocaust and the scale of atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. This ignorance, whether deliberate or enforced, reflects the extent of secrecy and control in the Third Reich, even within Hitler's inner circle.
As the war drew to a close, Eva Braun found herself in the situation she had long desired, alongside the man she loved, Adolf Hitler. Despite the impending downfall of the Nazi regime, Eva remained steadfast in her belief in Hitler and had demonstrated her unwavering commitment to him multiple times. In a poignant culmination of their relationship, Hitler rewarded her loyalty, and the couple finally exchanged marital vows. During these last days of the war, Eva embraced a carefree existence, seemingly shielded from the harsh realities that surrounded them. With her newfound status as Hitler's wife, she enjoyed a sense of security and companionship.
Within Hitler's increasing paranoia, Eva Braun played a role in perpetuating his delusions. She wholeheartedly embraced his belief that he was encircled by traitors, further fueling his suspicions and insecurities. Eva became a staunch advocate of Hitler meeting a "hero's death" rather than facing capture and potential humiliation at the hands of his enemies. Her unwavering support for this notion deepened Hitler's conviction and solidified his resolve to meet his demise on his own terms. In those final days, Eva's unwavering dedication to staying by Hitler's side became a source of apprehension for even prominent figures like Albert Speer and Martin Bormann. The intensity of her commitment to die alongside Hitler in the bunker instilled fear and concern among those who witnessed her unwavering loyalty.
In the final days of April 1945, a series of unsettling events unfolded for Eva Braun. Hitler, her partner, ordered the execution of her brother-in-law, Hermann Fegelein. Fegelein was discovered intoxicated, attempting to flee Germany, and found in possession of stolen goods from Berlin. Complicating matters further, Fegelein was accompanied by a woman who managed to escape when the Nazis arrived to apprehend him. Hitler, suspecting the woman to be a spy, concluded that Fegelein must have been involved in treacherous activities. Consequently, Fegelein was forcefully taken from the scene and summarily shot. Just a few hours after this distressing incident, Hitler and Eva Braun decided to marry. However, their union was marred by the cloud of violence and tragedy that surrounded them.
Eva Braun's significance in history extends beyond what is often acknowledged by historians. While she may not have played a direct role in the decision-making processes of the Nazi party's criminal acts, she held a vital position within Hitler's inner circle. Despite her disinterest in politics, her unwavering loyalty to Hitler granted her a position of influence within the hierarchy. Notably, figures such as Albert Speer and Joseph Goebbels actively sought her favor and sought to establish closer connections with Hitler through her. Some even suggested that if Eva Braun did not approve of someone, they would not be granted an invitation to Berghof, Hitler's Alpine residence.
Eva Braun’s cousin Gertraud Weisker is reportedly Hitler’s last living relative. She spent summers at the Berghof during her youth. This connection to Braun gives Weisker a unique and personal perspective on Braun's life and her relationship with Hitler, making her an important source of personal anecdotes and insights about Braun.