‘Hitler and his Women’ looks at all the women who had any significant interaction with Hitler during his lifetime, as well as a few about which there is only limited evidence. There is little new here but it appears to be as complete a study as possible. The author does look at some of the more lurid speculation about Hitler’s sexuality and various relationships - but confines his main narrative to the known facts. From Klara, Hitler’s mother, 23 years younger than his father, through to Eva Braun, 23 years younger than Hitler, this is a survey that takes in many female characters.
In his youth there is Stephanie Isak, a middle class girl from Linz - way out his league at the time - who Hitler obsessed over for four years but never spoke to. There is Mitzi Reiter the sixteen year old he met when he was thirty-seven but never got beyond kissing.
Later there is Magda Goebbels, ‘first lady of the Reich’ about whom his chauffeur joked “ When Magda Goebbels was around Hitler one could hear her ovaries rattling”. There are the devoted secretaries who seem to have been sucked into the raw power surrounding the Fuhrer. What else can explain their patience with a flatulent old bore who subjected them to interminable monologues into the small hours.
And there is Geli Raubal. Daughter of his half sister, Angela, who became Hitler’s housekeeper in 1925. The seventeen year old Geli (19 years younger than Hitler) moved in with him with her mother. Over the next six years an intense relationship developed with Hitler, during which he became ever more possessive. She eventually became a virtual prisoner in his apartment - but seems to have been obedient to him. Finally after a series of violent rows she shot herself in the chest. Was it a cry for help or an intended suicide? We will never know. Was she pregnant and was it Hitler who actually shot her? That is much more a matter of speculation.
Hitler was undoubtedly distraught at Geli’s death. Her turned for solace to his photographer’s assistant, Eva Braun, whom he had first met when she was seventeen. The following excerpt looks at that relationship:
It was after the death of Geli Raubal in the autumn of 1931 that things took their most compelling turn. Whatever he felt for Geli, Hitler had continued to meet with Eva throughout the period of his attachment to his niece. It was not something that either Geli or Hitler himself ever worried about - after all, his relationship with Eva was purely platonic. Eva was a much-needed companion during his relationship with Geli.
It was obviously a time of emotional torment for him and Eva was a constant in his life, perhaps the only one, totally different from the mercurial Geli Raubal. After Geli s unexpected and violent death, he needed Eva and her constancy even more. It might be, perhaps, simplistic to say that he needed someone to console him in the wake of his niece’s death — in the way that his mother would have done. Simplistic but true - at various times in his life even Adolf Hitler needed consolation and a friendly face. Eva Braun could be guaranteed to provide both of them.
Quite when companionship morphed into intimacy, when sexualized encounters between the two became common, is not known. The line between friendship and loving in any relationship is at best blurred. With Hitler and Eva, it was doubly so. Part of the trouble in dating the advance in the relationship derives from Hitler’s motives. A friendly, welcoming face, a warm hand upon his arm, that was one thing but there was a lot more than that to his choice of Eva as a mistress. She was a girl who fitted perfectly with his credo that the more significant the man, the more insignificant his partner.
Hardly the most intellectual of women, Eva Braun was exactly what Hitler wanted in a companion. She was someone who would not challenge him, someone who looked good in the eyes of his closest comrades and, perhaps most important of all, someone who clearly admired, even adored, him - and was not afraid to let people see how she felt. She preened when in his company and although by the summer of 1932 she was still living at home it was not long before she was staying the odd night or two at his apartment - the same apartment where Geli had shot herself.
Eva coped rather well with the plethora of photographs, the drawings and busts of Geli Raubal, icons that were plastered all over the apartment in what was clearly a shrine to the dead girl. Many would have been disconcerted, demanding that the images be removed but Eva adopted a pragmatic approach. As far as she was concerned Geli was dead; her memory might remain but that was all and she could not stand between herself and her lover. Eva now had Adolf Hitler and nothing would change that. Or would it?
In the run-up to the elections of 1932 and with the Nazis now serious contenders for supreme power in Germany Hitler was inordinately busy He flew all over the country, the first mainstream political leader to use air transport, making speeches and attending rallies. He had little time for Eva Braun and weeks passed without contact between them.
Always emotional, Eva sat at home or in the apartment and fretted. At last she came to the decision that he was no longer interested in her. politics and, who knows, other women seemed to have taken him oven Life suddenly seemed worthless. Her response was to take her father’s pistol and shoot herself in the chest. Discovered by her sisters, Eva was rushed to hospital where she survived but only just.
Hitler flew to her side, appalled by what she had done but, faced by the prospect of losing her - as he had lost Geli Raubal - he was suddenly aware of just how much he wanted her. Eva’s suicide attempt might have been genuine. It might also have been a gesture, an attempt to pull him back to her side. She was to repeat the performance later in the relationship, that time with sleeping pills.
Now, however, near death but secure in the knowledge of his love, she basked in the attention that was thrown at her, from Hitler in particular. After all Eva had always wanted to be centre stage and, as she lay in her hospital bed swathed in bandages, pale, ghostly and more beautiful than ever, there was no way she could be more of an object of Hitler’s desire than this.
This excerpt from Hitler and His Women appears by kind permission of the publisher, Pen & Sword Books Ltd, copyright remains with author.