AirTalk for November 1, 2011

Life with Hitler: the truth about history’s most notorious mistress

By Heike B. Görtemaker

Eva Braun: Life with Hitler

He was arguably the most hated man of the twentieth century – but even the Führer had someone to love him. And while his public persona demanded that his only bride be Germany, there was a woman behind the scenes, one whose life was intimately entwined with his, personally and politically. Eva Braun was the mistress, and in their final days, the wife of Adolf Hitler.

A new biography by German historian Heike Görtemaker seeks to unravel the woman behind the myth. Previously portrayed as a tragic, ridiculous, but ultimately insignificant historical figure, Görtemaker’s book reveals new truths about Braun, her relationship with Hitler and the part she played in the Nazi propaganda machine.

Previous depictions of Braun as a “vapid blonde,” says Görtemaker, were based on memoirs by former members of the Nazi elite, who as a rule dismissed and downplayed the role of wives and girlfriends. But in reality, Braun was a determined woman whose influence on the Fuhrer was undeniable and who rose to unrivaled power within his inner circle.

While she played no official role in his public life, Braun did support and promote Nazi ideology and produced photographs and films designed to enhance and soften his persona, portraying him as a likable, caring person, fond of children. And in the end, she chose to share his fate of suicide, in her mind a hero’s death, forever sealing her place as his most loyal disciple.

Who was this woman who came to wield such influence over Hitler? Why was she so disliked by Hitler’s confidants? What and how much did she know about the Holocaust? Why did she choose to bind her fate forever with a man who was so reviled by history? What does Eva Braun’s relationship with Hitler tell us about him that we didn’t already know?

Guest:

Heike B. Görtemaker, German historian and author of “Eva Braun: Life with Hitler”


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