What happened after Beauty fell in love with Beast? Certainly the fairytale could not be further from the truth for Eva Braun, who loved Adolf Hitler for more than twelve years and in the end met her happily ever after in a suicide pact with her new husband. For a woman who was the partner of such a well-known man, Eva Braun, for most of her life, was unknown. It was only after her death that the woman who dared to marry a monster became truly known to the public. So who was Eva Braun? And why was she so unknown? The woman who practically lived in a gilded cage was the force behind the most villainous man history has ever known and according to those who knew her, the unhappiest woman in Germany.
“The worst feature of marriage is this creating of rights. It is wiser to have a mistress. Then there is no burden to carry and everything is simply a beautiful gift. This, of course, only holds good in the case of exceptional men.”- Adolf Hitler
A Convent Girl
After almost four days of labor Franziska Braun, wife of Friedrich Braun, gave birth to a daughter on February 6, 1912. It was their second daughter, and they were slightly disappointed by the birth of another girl. Friedrich chose the name Eva Anna Paula Braun for his new daughter. Eva would be joined later by a younger sister, Gretl.
Eva grew up rather comfortably. Eva’s father was in the military and was often away from home due to work. Eva’s mother raised her daughters with love and lavished toys on them. The girls enjoyed entertainment such as the theater and operetta. Eva was educated in elementary school from 1918 to 1922 then at a lyceum. Eva’ s schools reported her as a terror, but intelligent and capable of independent thought. She got very high marks in school. In 1928 Eva was sent to a convent in Simbach on the banks of the Inn River to complete her education. Eva spent one year here, miserable, and studies home economics,, bookkeeping and typing in preparation for office work. Eva would leave the convent in July of 1929 and returned to Munich to stay with her parents. She first went to work for a doctor, like her older sister Ilse, but Eva could not bear it and quickly quit. In September she answered an ad in the Munich newspaper. A photographer, Heinrich Hoffman, was hiring, and employed the pretty seventeen year old.
The Beginning of the End
Eva’s official position was bookkeeper. In reality she sold films, copied out the accounts, dealt with the bills, and worked in the darkroom. Though many political figures came in and out of the studio Eva paid very little attention to them, not having developed an interest in politics. After working for Hoffman for over three weeks though Eva would meet a politician who would change her life. Eva descried her first meeting with the man that would become her husband to her sister Gretl. On a Friday in October Eva had stayed at the shop late. Hoffman entered the shop with a man who sat opposite of Eva. Hoffman introduce the man as ‘Herr Wolf’. Eva was sent to fetch beer and sausages and returned to sit, eat, and chat with her boss and the interesting stranger. After she went home after refusing a ride from ‘Herr Wolf’, who Hoffman informed her, was actually Adolf Hitler, Eva began making inquiries into the man who had caught her interest.
A Quiet Affair
In the beginning there was very little between Eva and Hitler. Hitler would return to Hoffmann’s studio on rare occasions, but when he did he would ask for “Frӓulein Eva Braun”. Hitler was showed chivalry and drama in his actions towards Eva, kissing her hand and bowing down to her. He would bring her flowers and sometimes even sweets. Despite all these actions no one thought much of it, knowing that Hitler had shown these same actions with other girls before. In 1930 it seemed that Eva was pursuing her own interest, but in late 1930 the romance seemed to resume. Hitler invited Eva out, taking her to the opera sometimes or dinner.
The two avoided being seen in public together. Hitler would invite Eva to picnics, the cinema, or often a secluded Café, but the two never rode in the same car. The two were in mutual agreement to keep the romance quiet; Hitler because of his growing position and Eva for fear of reprimand from her father.
Eva Braun’s relationship with Hitler did not become serious until another woman met an unfortunate fate; a fate that in the future Eva Braun would share. Angela “Geli” Maria Raubal, born June 4, 1908 was Hitler’s step niece. She lived with Hitler in Prinzregentenplatz for two year after moving to Munich in 1929. Hitler was very affectionate towards Geli. Speculation has been made as to the nature of their relationships, hinting at a physical romance. Hitler admitted to his friend Hoffman “I love her but I don’t believe in marriage. I make it my business to watch over her until such time as she finds a husband to her taste.” Hitler had Geli closely watched and she was never able to venture out alone. As long as she was in his life he kept his relationship with Eva chaste and shallow. The relationship changed though in 1931. On September 18, 1931 “Geli” shot herself in the lung in her own room. Her suicide devastated Hitler. Only after Geli’s suicide and Hitler’s grieving did Hitler begin a more serious relationship with Eva. It was speculated that Geli killed herself because of Hitler.
A Private Affair
To help his friend in his grieving state Hoffman arranged a number of intimate dinners for Hitler, to which he invited Eva. Eva listened to Hitler grieve about his niece while slowly she began to replace her. Their intimate relationship truly began in 1932. Eva began to visit Hitler in his apartment at 19 Prinzregentenplatz. It was then, in the beginning of 1932, that Eva Braun became Hitler’s mistress. Overall however there was not much time for the affair; Hitler was far too concerned with politics and elections. Hitler was fickle, seeing Eva sporadically and sending her brief and infrequent messages. Eva became very unhappy, especially upon seeing photographs of Hitler with pretty women, and decided on a course of action. On the first of November in 1932 Eva waited until she was alone in the house, aimed a pistol at her heart, and fired. Her sister, Ilse, returned home to find her sister lying on the bed covered in blood. Eva had aimed for her heart but missed very badly and hit near her neck artery instead. The doctors had no difficulty removing the bullet. The doctor who removed the bullet was Hoffman’s brother-in-law and it is assumed he was chosen in the hopes that he would relay the events to Hitler.
Upon hearing the news Hitler, who had been in Munich, rushed to the clinic in the morning with a bunch of flowers for his wounded lover. Hitler stressed the event be kept a secret. In the political eye he was already under scrutiny, another scandal only a year after Geli’s suicide could ruin Hitler’s career. Upon hearing that Eva had aimed for her heart Hitler said “Now I must look after her; it mustn’t happen again.” This event solidified the relationship between Hitler and Eva. Though it may have begun as an affair, after the attempt Hitler was as bound to Eva as she was to him. The relationship was to be permanent.
For the next sixteen years Eva would spend her life as the secret mistress of Adolf Hitler, who rose to power through the years. On January 30, 1933, Eva would learn some exciting and frightening news. She was told that her lover had become Bismarck’s successor and would now be in power. Eva’s first reaction was to acknowledge she had won her bet against her sister Ilse. Eva’s second thought was worrying that now she would see Hitler even less.
Eva still had to work, extra hours in fact, to cover the recent events. Eva took charge of Hitler’s photographic file at Hoffman’s and waited to see her lover again. When able to Hitler returned to Munich and went out with Eva again. Eva pretended to be working when her family asked and waited to be picked up on the corner of the Turkenstrasse nearby. Hitler and Eva took every precaution to avoid their relationship being known.
A week after Hitler’s accession to power Eva’s twenty-first birthday occurred. Hitler gave her jewels, the first set he would give her, consisting of a matching ring, earrings, and bracelet. For Eva this reassured her of Hitler’s growing affection. Hitler travelled to Munich often after his election, continuing his affair with Eva Braun, who was often at Hitler’s residence. But her parents were less than pleased with her nocturnal affairs. The Braun’s were unaware of who their daughter was seeing, but they did not like the hours she was keeping. Eva’s father would often make a scene when his daughter returned. Growing irritated, Eva declared that she would be moving out.
On Her Own
Eva moved into an apartment in Wiedermeyestrasse on August 9, 1935. Hitler indirectly paid the rent, using Hoffman as his middle man. Despite her own apartment Hitler visited very rarely, not wanting to be seen by neighbors or servants. Eva began playing the waiting game, as she had before; waiting by the telephone day and night for a word from her lover.
Eva, for the most part, was isolated. She attended one political event, the 1935 Party Convention in Nuremberg. Eva did not attend with Hitler but rather with Hoffman and his family. Eva’s presence at the convention was met with resistance from other political leader’s wives. Even had there not been resistance, Hitler was still attempting to keep his relationship with Eva a secret. Eva moved in Hoffman’s circle during this time, but for her it still marked yet another change in her relationship with Hitler.
A year after being given her apartment Eva and her sister moved to a Villa in Bogenhausen. When Hitler built his refuge on the Obersalzberg he made Eva mistress of the house, though she did very little managing it. Still, the sentiment was another testimony to the relationship.
Life in Waiting
Though Eva had achieved what she believed she wanted her reward was no as fulfilling. Hitler wanted to maintain his image, leaving Eva alone often. When they were together in public she was often with Hoffman, never next to Hitler. Eva spent much of her time waiting for Hitler. She did little for enjoyment for she was forbidden the smoke, dance, or be in the company of other men.
Eva spent her time watching films, especially American films, exercising, and reading. She remained loyal to Hitler, despite her irritation and humiliation.
In 1939 when war broke out in Germany Eva stood faithfully by Hitler, afraid for his wellbeing. Now Eva was forced to wait even more, spending hours in the hotel room waiting for Hitler’s appearance. During the time Eva documented the war, taking pictures of the events she saw. Eva, along with her sister Ilse, witnessed when Hitler declared war on Poland. Life was changing.
Hitler was rarely in one place for long during this time. Eva stayed between her house in Munich and Obersalzberg. When Hitler was in Berline Eva would sometimes stay in her small apartment in the Old Chancellery.
Eva threw parties and brought in entertainment when Hitler was away, choosing to ignore the war going on in her country. Eva was no doubt aware of the rounding up on the Jews and probably shared Hitler’s sentiments, like much of Germany. None of it affected her, other than to take her lover away. In the end of 1941 Eva would only see Hitler twice in five months. In 1942, while Hitler left for several months to command an offensive against the Soviet Union Eva Braun took her last trip to Italy to take her mind off of it. She did anything she could to occupy herself.
The Assassination Attempt
Tensions in Germany were building up in 1943 and 1944. The tension came to a head on July 20, 1944 when an assassination attempt was launched against the Führer. Lieutenant Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg left a briefcase with explosives in the headquarters with the intent to kill Hitler. Hitler survived and was only slightly wounded. Stauffenberg and three other conspirators were shot that day. Others involved, around a hundred, were rounded up and hanged after a trial.
Eva Braun was informed of the events by her chauffeur that day. Hysterical, she tried to reach Hitler at his headquarters and she had a nervous crisis when she could not reach him. When she finally got through she cried tears of joy. Hitler had already attempted to prepare Eva for the case of his death, though Eva felt that if he were to die there would be only one thing left for her to do: die.
Hitler sent Eva his uniform from the explosion. Upon receiving the gift Eva nearly fainted. Hitler was showing the sacrifice he was making. The attempt did not leave its mark though. Hitler seemed to have aged with the war and even more with the attack. He complained of stomach pain and had high blood pressure. Two months after the attack Hitler suffered a physical collapse. Hitler stayed in bed a whole day, news that shocked many.
Foreshadowing the End
Around the time Hitler became very sick Eva Braun created her will. On October 26, 1944 drew up her will, dividing up her property among her family and friends. The will was just one hint to Eva’s impending end. Eva had planned to end her life when Hitler’s ended, and with his proximity to the front and his increasing illnesses Eva did not hope for the best.
In November Hitler had surgery on his vocal cords. Eva stayed by his side. Eva was proving her loyalty, and after the assassination attempt and the growing number of traitors in Hitler’s mist he came to appreciate this gesture more and more.
The war raged on and Germany was losing. Eva and Hitler had moved to spending their time in an air-raid bunker. Berlin was being attacked by America and the couple was hiding from the aerial attacks. Fires raged everywhere and Berlin fell into ruins. Eva would leave the city after three weeks only to return a month later to stay with Hitler. She had already said goodbye to her friends in family. Eva seemed to sense that the end was near.
Wife of Death
Hitler and Eva lived out of the bunker, attempting to remain cheerful in the face of defeat. Eva Braun, to all those around, seemed rather joyous, and why shouldn’t she have been? After years she had accomplished what she wanted, to be by Hitler’s side.
On April 22 Hitler had a psychological breakdown and claimed that the war was lost. He ordered everyone to leave, claiming he would stay, but Eva refused to leave. Hitler ordered those around him to burn everything, while he seemed to contemplate the end. It seems Hitler had decided to end his life and Eva, understanding his will, penned a quick note to her friend describing how the end was “drawing dangerously near”. Eva seemed resigned to their shared fate, but her words would be inconsequential for Hitler postponed his death. Instead, he placed his hopes, once again, on his military efforts. Nonetheless, Eva knew what was occurring and instructed her sister in putting some last minute affairs in order.
Trapped in the bunker, Hitler and Eva made one more try at life before death. On the night of April 28-29 Eva and Hitler were married after years of bondage. Only the Goebbels, Bormann, and the registrar Walter Wagner were at the wedding. There was a brief champagne reception after the ceremony. It was a night of celebration before a morning of despair.
On April 29th Hitler had his favorite German shepherd poisoned to test the poison Eva planned to use. The dog collapsed immediately and was dead. The next day, on April 30th, while the Soviet’s moved to take the bunker Hitler and Eva prepared for the end. Between three and four o’clock Hitler and Eva committed their double suicide; she by her cyanide capsule and Hitler, just after, taking a poison capsule and then shooting himself in the right temple.
The wedding guests, who were still at the bunker, discovered the bodies after the shot. They carried the two outside and placed them beside a concrete mixer. They poured gasoline over the two bodies and Kempa threw a flaming torch onto the gasoline. The flames consumed them violently and slowly, burning for hours.
Eva Braun was a woman of her own making. She resigned herself to be mistress of Hitler and played her part of loyalty up until the bitter end where she made good on her promise to stay by his side always.
Görtemaker, Heike B. Eva Braun Life with Hitler. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2011.
Gun, Nerin E. Eva Braun Hitler’s Mistress. United State: Meredith Press, 1968.