cover image Eva Braun: Life with Hitler

Eva Braun: Life with Hitler

Heike B. Görtemaker, trans. from the German by Damion Searls. Knopf, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-307-59582-9

Known today primarily from a handful of personal photos with the Führer and the reminiscences of his closest aides, Eva Braun is often thought of as a stereotypically vapid dumb blond, in thrall to Hitler’s magnetism, but ignorant of and uninterested in the political tumult he caused. Braun, 23 years Hitler’s junior, was long thought to have been merely the leader’s arm candy, never having a truly intimate or emotional bond with the man who said the only bride he would consent to marry was Germany itself. Görtemaker challenges these assumptions in the first scholarly biography of Hitler’s mistress, originally published in German last year. Having painstakingly reviewed the archives for references to Braun’s relationship with Hitler, Görtemaker presents a portrait of an engaged and engaging young woman, fervently supportive of National Socialism and one of the few members of Hitler’s inner circle to never lose his trust or fall out of affection. Though a full account is hampered by the lack of revealing documents (a stash of hundreds of love letters that Braun ordered preserved just before her suicide has never been found and is presumed destroyed), this telling sheds more light on the central question in the narrative of Eva Braun: “Did she share the political positions and basic worldview of her lover or was she merely the ‘tragic slave,’ who nonetheless profited from Hitler’s power by enjoying the luxurious life that he offered her?” Photos. (Oct.)