Francisca Moreira 10/10/2013

Who was Eva Braun and why was she disregarded as a historical figure?

I. Introduction Eva Braun has been seen as historically insignificant as “an extremely pale shadow of the Führer”. Historical figure: A person who has influenced, changed and impacted history. Historians don’t really try to analyze Eva Braun’s life. Perhaps it is because historians think that she didn’t play a role in the decisions that led to horrible events and crimes, or maybe because there is not much known about her. But was Eva Braun’s story really “disregarded” by historians or was her life kept a secret on purpose by Hitler himself? For this essay, I did have some trouble in my search for information (especially JSTOR), since there isn’t a lot of information about Eva Braun. The scope of this essay is: Eva Braun and Hitler’s relationship, Hitler’s private testament and a letter exchange between Eva and her friend Herta Schnieder. The time sequence this analysis will cover is between 1929 (year Braun and Hitler first met) and 1945 (year of their double suicide). Eva Braun was Hitler’s devoted mistress (known as “the hidden First Lady of the Third Reich”), who was disregarded as a historical figure because of the dominant image of her husband Adolf Hitler in history, leaving her “in the shadows”.

II. Summary of Evidence Eva Braun met Adolf Hitler at a photographer’s office in 1929. She was just seventeen years old at the time, and Hitler was more than twenty years older than her. They were believed to have been together since 1931/1932. Many people, not only historians, still wonder what Eva’s attraction to Hitler was. Eva Braun was young, blond, attractive and athletic, with many different passions, in contrast to stiff and elderly-looking Hitler. But Eva was fiercely loyal to him, and Hitler largely concealed her from the German public. Practically nobody knew of Eva’s existence, except for Hitler’s inner circle. There is still doubt as to the purpose of Hitler concealing Eva to such extremes. Either he loved her and wanted to protect her, or he believed that the myth that he was ‘married to the nation’ would serve him better. This concealment is the reason for the lack of existent information about Eva Braun, which leads to not considering Eva a historical figure. Eva and Hitler were together for fourteen years, and they got married just two days before both took cyanide so as to kill themselves. (Görtemaker, 4-10/41)

III. Evaluation of Sources Title: Eva Braun, Life with Hitler Origins: Heike B. Görtemaker, Verlag C. H. Beck, 2010, Munich Purpose: To enlighten about Eva Braun’s little known life. Value: Takes the reader “behind the scenes” of history’s most criminal period. Limitations: There is practically no information at all about Eva’s life, so we can’t be certain if the information given in this book is actually true. Title: Hitler's Private Testament of May 2, 1938 Origins: Gerhard Weinberg, The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Dec., 1955) Purpose: To explain Hitler’s death and his personal testament. Value: Goes into other details about Hitler’s personal life (such as Eva Braun) that no one knew of. Limitations: There is some doubt as to whether this is Hitler’s actual testament, due to comparison of handwriting and other factors, so some information might not be completely true. IV. Analysis Eva Braun had an enormous amount of love and loyalty towards Adolf Hitler. On March 7 th 1945, Eva had a diplomatic car drive her to Berlin, against Hitler’s will, in order to die with him. Eva and Hitler stayed sheltered in the bunker for a week as they waited for Hitler’s workers to gather all that was needed to burn both their bodies after they died. On the 29th of April, the morning of the double suicide, Hitler wrote and signed his private testament. In this one document, Hitler explained his marriage to Eva Braun, after she had been his mistress for almost fourteen years. He also explained that she had willingly joined him in committing suicide. This was the only time he ever admitted his relationship with Eva Braun. Hitler’s own and his wife’s body were to be burned on the spot, because Hitler was afraid to end up “on display in a Russian panopticon”. (Weinberg, 415)

V. Analysis Recently, in Germany, a book was published by Third Reich expert Anna Maria Sigmund. This book contained letters that Anna Maria believes were sent from Eva Braun herself to her friend Herta Schneider. Anna Maria went to talk to Herta Schneider’s heirs and they showed her these letters. They were sent from the bunker on the last days of Eva’s life. These letters revealed a growing sense of doom in Eva. In the first few ones, Eva seemed hopeful that everything would be alright and Eva explains that she was happy because she and Hitler were together. Gradually, you can sense that Eva’s mood changes to despair and regret. It was her own choice to come and die alongside Hitler (Hitler wanted to keep Eva hidden and protected) and she writes to her friend that she actually regretted her final decision.

VI. Conclusion

Eva Braun was Adolf Hitler’s loyal, hidden wife. She is not thought of as a historical figure because there is very little information about her and also because historians think she did not really impact history, unlike her husband. In future, I would like to read the book that includes the letters exchange between Eva Braun and her friend. I would also want to find out if she maybe kept a journal or diary, so that I can better understand Eva’s attraction and loyalty to Adolf Hitler.

Bibliography  Websites:  'We Are Fighting until the Last but I'm Afraid the End Is Threatening Closer and Closer': Despairing Words of Hitler's Bride Eva Braun in 'last Letters' from Beseiged Bunker."Mail Online. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct. 2013. Books:  Weinberg, Gerhard. Journal of Modern History. 4th ed. Vol. 27. Chicago: University of Chicago., 1955. 415. Print.  G rtemaker, Heike B. Introduction. Eva Braun: Life with Hitler. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. N. pag. Print.