Did Adolf Hitler Have a Love Life?

Eva Braun with Adolf Hitler

Could a man, hated as much as he is, have ever been a lover? Could he have been tender or passionate? Could there have been a time when he was just – shall we say, an ordinary man? How can someone, who was painting many beautiful pictures of flowers, landscapes, people, and architectural buildings, even caricatures, be such an evil person? Or is there an answer to the question how did he become one? I was curious, and so I started digging into his personal past.

He was born the son of the second wife of his father, a government employee in Austria. His mother was his idol and greatest love. To the end of his life, he never got over her passing. He never finished high school. For a time he was taught by nuns. He was absolutely fascinated by the topic of the Richard Wagner operas and the mystery of the Germanic sagas. He wished to be ‘Germanic’ when still a young teenager. There was a beautiful girl his age he admired, but she was not interested. He loved to paint and hoped to be admitted to the Art Academy in Vienna. When he applied, he was told that his paintings are not good enough. He lacked the necessary talent for art, but his architectural drawings were acceptable, and he should consider becoming an architect. He left Vienna, deeply disappointed. He also left Austria, moved to Munich and made a simple living by selling his art.

He joined the German army and fought in WWI. He was wounded, got decorated and came back to Munich as a Corporal after the war. A new party, the ‘Worker’s Party’ attracted many of the surviving soldiers, officers, and generals, who felt cheated by the loss of the war. They claimed the outcome had been ‘fixed’ by the socialists and communists and they declared the Treaty of Versailles as unfair, and would, in the long run, lead to another war. Ranting and raving in the beer halls they tried to find a way to fix the world problems. By chance, Hitler attended one of the meetings and knew that this was the platform for his ideas to make Germany great again.

It seems that up to this point women did not play a part in Hitler’s life. Within a year, he became the leader of the Workers Party, renamed it the NSDAP, the National Socialist Democratic Workers Party, attracting even more people, especially wealthier and aristocratic men. They started to invite him into their homes and the rumors of him having love affairs with older women, especially actresses, added to his allure. When he became daring and tried to overthrow the Bavarian Government, to put one of his new friends in charge, he was arrested and put in prison. He defended himself with speeches that became famous throughout Germany. He wrote his book “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle) while in custody, outlining his plan to rebuild Germany. Incredibly, that book is still in print and translated into several languages.

Years after his release, he moved into a place called “The Berghof” in the alpine mountains. He invited his half-sister to be his housekeeper. She had a daughter, Geli, a happy, outgoing teenage girl at seventeen years of age. Hitler was bewitched by his half-niece. He deeply loved her despite the fact that he was twenty years older. He spoiled her, he never left her side, even went window shopping in Munich with her or had bodyguards for her when he was not around. Geli liked the young chauffeur who was at her disposal and Hitler fired him. Geli felt imprisoned and begged to be allowed to go to Vienna to take up singing lessons. Hitler bought an apartment in Munich to spend more time with her and keep her under tight control. They had separate bedrooms with connecting doors. Hitler was obsessed with his niece. He later declared that she was the only woman he ever truly loved.

During this time at about age 40, he met the young assistant and model of the official photographer of his party. Eva Braun, who was 17, more worldly, wore makeup (which he hated) and smoked of which he did not approve. They went on walks together, and he was intrigued by their conversations. Eva started to frequent the small restaurants he went to, watched him and seems to have become a stalker without his knowledge.

One night Hitler had a terrible row with Geli. He went to a meeting in Nuremberg. Geli locked herself in her room and shot herself with his pistol, according to historians the same one he used in 1945 in the Führerbunker to shoot himself. Hitler was called back from Nuremberg and was devastated by Geli’s death. She was, by now, 23 years old. He fell into a deep depression; he was suicidal. Two party people stayed with him to prevent him from killing himself. He did not attend Geli’s funeral. But, after weeks, when he visited her grave, he had come back a changed man. He was brooding, dark, aggressive, and hateful. Meanwhile, his rise within the party continued. Many influential people supported him and his ideas.

When Hitler was 37 years old, he had met another young woman, Maria Reiter, who was only sixteen, and it was she who fell in love with him. When she realized it was a hopeless infatuation, she hanged herself but was cut down by a relative in time and lived. I think it was she who later married, and when her husband got killed in WWII, Hitler sent her 100 red roses.

There was another young woman, Unity Mitford, a member of the Fascist party of England. She came to Berlin, admired him greatly, tried to get close to him but also realized that he was only mildly interested in her because of her connections. She shot herself in the temple, survived but was brain damaged. Hitler paid her hospital bills and arranged her transport to Switzerland where she was picked up by her family and brought back to England where she later died of her injuries. Some historians claim that she had born him a son, but it has never been confirmed.

One of the most beautiful women in Germany, the actress Renate Müller caught his eye. She had a Jewish boyfriend and was asked to give him up. She refused. The boyfriend disappeared and she went into hiding in a mental care home. She jumped to her death from a window to escape SS men who came for her.

It seems to me, checking into his love life, that Hitler liked young women. He could mold them, control them, and keep them away from getting involved in his political life. He stated there were only two women he admired and respected: One was the pilot Hanna Reitsch, and the other was the Film Director Leni Riefenstahl. Women have no place in politics, he said. Loving this man proved fatal.

The German people had absolutely no idea that Hitler had a female companion living with him: Eva Braun. It was revealed after the war. Only the people in his inner circle knew her; she was hidden from any public appearances. Even she had tried twice to take her own life. Apparently, there are some heartwrenching letters in a museum somewhere, along with the pistol that Geli used to shoot herself, and Hitler used to end his own life after marrying Eva Braun when he realized that all was lost and the Russian army was closing in on the Bunker. Eva was his companion for thirteen years, she never left him, and as his wife took a cyanide capsule sitting next to him on a sofa.

Hitler had always claimed he could not enjoy the happiness of marriage since he was married to the German people and their welfare. He made sure he appeared to be a celibate man. He believed that all German women were in love with him and he could not disappoint any of them.

I discussed this side of Hitler’s life with Alison Donaghey of DominoThinking.com in a recent podcast which can be found here: https://dominothinking.com/radio/.

 

 

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That Lady Can Really Light Up A Room

Kurpromenade

Kurpromenade

The centre boulevard in the relatively small but world-renowned Bavarian Spa city of Bad Woerishofen was filled with people slowly walking to and fro. Everybody had time, nobody was hurrying. Occasionally a biker would wind his way through the throng, attracting annoyed looks because this was a walking street. Most bikers wore either lederhosen or a typical Bavarian dirndl dress, an indication they lived and worked here in one of the elegant houses or hotels. Little ice cream parlours, small cafés with lots of outdoor seating had clusters of people milling around waiting for a table. I loved sitting there, watching people. Everybody was dressed up like in the good old times. Jeans? Hardly. Elegant elderly couples were holding hands or had their arms around each other, smiling and talking, looking happy and relaxed. They had met here during their “Kur” and enjoyed a ‘fling’. They were each other’s “Kurschatten”, the ‘shadow’ who stayed with them as long as they were here. Married people just didn’t act like that…

Flowerbeds with seasonal plants were alongside a small but very fast flowing stream coming from the Alps on one side of the boulevard. Little bridges crossed for access to shopping at the elegant boutiques, offering the best of everything money can buy. Their sales people were chic and sophisticated, so much so that one didn’t even dare to enter. How do they get you to enter? There was always a sales rack next to the entrance. If you stopped to see if there was something affordable they were right there and lured you in…

Would you believe that this elegant boulevard with those enticing shopping venues used to be a mud path for the cows to come home to their barns on the left and the right? The first time I was here was in 1958 and I saw it with my own eyes. Some farmers didn’t sell out and still lived in their old, but now groomed, houses but the barns were turned into condos and townhouses or shops.

Today I was checking the sales rack of a men’s shop. I loved buying something for my grown son or the significant other in my life – if there was one at the time. For myself – I didn’t really need anything. It was more of I wanted something – if I couldn’t resist. Before I knew it I was inside this super elegant gentlemen’s shop, looking around, wanting to compare prices, but there weren’t any. If you had to ask – you can’t afford it anyway. A well dressed, above middle-age, lady stood at one of the glass counters and apparently had a hard time to choose from several beautiful ties. She held one after the other against a pale cream coloured shirt.  Fascinated I stopped and watched her. She must have felt my admiring looks at her incredible jewellery, complementing her elegant finely knitted dress. She glanced at me, gave me this tiny little smile and asked me,

“ Which of these ties would you buy?” I had already made up my mind, so I pointed to a buttercup yellow one with tiny specs of light gray in it. It looked great next to that shirt. The set would not look good on my young son, it was way too elegant. But for the husband of this lady? Or her ‘Kurshadow’? Perfect.

When I heard the price I almost choked on my own saliva but I behaved and slowly moved away. I didn’t even want to know the price of the shirt. I probably could have bought two or three suits for my son in a ‘normal’ shop. I left and was looking at a jewellery display window next door when I saw the reflection of the lady in the window. Now it was my turn to glance at her. Would I mind joining her for an ice cream? She was alone here and would enjoy my company. We spent at least two hours chatting and getting to know each other.

Kurkonzert

Kurkonzert

We parted at dinner time but made a date for the daily evening concert. Since I was in charge of my time as well we spent most of the next three days of her visit going on walks, sitting in one of the many cafés and I heard many of her life stories. Some were very shocking. I had never known anyone who had been sexually abused as a child by her father. Her mother had accused her of lying and was very cross with her, she never believed her. The abuse started when she was ten and went on until she finished grade school, ran away and then lived with her grandmother. The father had also abused her younger sister who was only eight.Their mother never believed either girl and made their life hell. “Helga” – my new friend – got married to a very nice man, they had a daughter but her husband died after twelve years. She worked as a waitress, she became an office girl, and she worked her way up and a few years ago became the secretary and then the mistress of a wealthy gemologist. His wife was begging her to keep the romance going since she does not want sex with her husband anymore. He never left his family and she was agreeable to the setup. She asked me to visit her in her hometown as soon as I had a chance.

When we first met I was in Bavaria with a group of Canadians to enjoy the health spa. Helga was intrigued and readily agreed to come to my hotel, share our dinner and meet them. I vividly remember her entrance to our cozy dining room. She stood in the door, looked over the different tables to our large one with this incredible one-thousand watt smile. All conversation stopped and everybody looked at her. She really was a sight to behold. She had this special radiance about her as if she was lit up from within. Three of my single Canadian men told me later,

“What a woman! My God, that lady can really light up a room.”

I can only think of one other who can do that: Julia Roberts. We exchanged telephone numbers but never had any correspondence. It was the late eighties. A year later I visited her after my annual group had left. By that time her lover had died of a heart attack and she was left in charge of his business with a generous salary. He had also appointed her to be the executor for his family. There were three grown children over twenty. She had tried to refuse but the wife begged her to accept since otherwise her children would pressure her for money-money-money and squander everything. The son was into betting on horse racing. One girl was into partying and drinking and the other child was still under age. The two women became quite close.

By this time, Helga’s own mother was now also in need of help and asked her estranged daughters for assistance. Her sister absolutely refused to even see her mother. Helga felt obligated to take on the deed. Her father had passed away a few years earlier. I heard more horror stories and the worst was that the mother still did not believe that her husband had abused his own daughters. Helga was totally stressed out because her mother failed to control her anger against her girls every time Helga was there. She refused to go into a care home. My common sense advice was of no use. Helga felt she needed to be there for her mom despite everything. The government could even order her to pay for the mother’s upkeep. She chose to do it out of her own free will and her sister never helped her. I invited her to visit me in Canada and we made plans. She had a cousin in New York and got excited about the prospect to visit her as well on the same trip.

It was the beginning of June the next year. I was already back in Canada from my annual trip to Bavaria and had an early appointment. I was on the way out of my door when my phone rang. I grabbed it on the run thinking it might be my secretary but it was Helga. She wanted to talk to me but I told her I had a meeting, was working all day and would get back to her the next morning because of the nine-hour time difference. She made small talk, seemed to want to hold on but I was already late. Somehow I felt guilty but really, I had no choice but to hang up. I couldn’t get her out of my mind all day. I stayed up late and phoned her at midnight, about nine in the morning her time. There was no answer. I tried several times during the day to no avail. I decided to write her a long letter. I never heard from her, no letter, no call. I tried every few weeks. Then, in September, I received my own letter to her back with a note next to her address: “Adressat verstorben” – meaning this person has died. I had to sit down. I never knew anyone who was so full of spirit and life, who was so sparkling and had lately tried to find another partner through an ad, went to dancing classes, exercise classes, had many lady friends; how could she be dead? Impossible! I had no way to get any other information since she had never given me the address of her daughter who lived with her boyfriend in another city.

Another year came around and I took my new Canadian group to the lovely spa city in Bavaria. By pure chance, I met a younger lady who came from the same city where Helga had lived and, to top it off, her mother was in the same exercise class. What I heard next shocked me and now, about thirty years later,  I am still not at peace with it. Apparently, Helga had planned to renovate her condo and had made an appointment for a representative from a construction company to come at 4.00 PM and give her an estimate on the day she had phoned me. To his surprise  the door was open, he called out and then went in looking for her. Beautiful flowers were on the table, Beethoven music was filling the room, lots of candles were lit, there was a festive mood, a wine bottle, and a half full glass was on a side table by the couch where she was resting. He couldn’t raise her and, shocked, he spotted an empty pill bottle next to the wine glass. He realized what must have happened, knocked on the  neighbour’s door, an ambulance and the police came. Too late. She was gone. Had she made the appointment with this man to make sure she was found? Alive – or dead?

Why did she do it? What had happened? Did her mother drive her to it, did the early childhood years catch up because of the constant fighting? Why did she phone me? What was it she needed to tell me? Why didn’t she scream it out to me that morning… Why? Nobody will ever know. She did not leave a note. She had not talked to any of her lady friends or her daughter. None of them knew her secret. Did she tell me because I was a stranger? I feel guilty to this very day because I had no time to listen. Listen to a friend in need, a friend desperate for my ear. Or did she just want to say goodbye, had planned her exit from this world and I couldn’t have done anything anyway?

God, I wish I knew.