Eva Braun: Hitler’s Photographer and Wife of One Day

Little was known about Eva Braun when she was alive except that she was a photographer who followed the infamous German dictator, Adolf Hitler, around. But behind closed doors, they were in a relationship. 

The Nazi leader did a great job of hiding his relationship with Braun. To the public, Hitler projected a celibate and ascetic life. He eventually married Braun before committing suicide together on April 30, 1945, just a day after their marriage.

It was only when their bodies were discovered that the public learned of their bond. Her ties with Hitler had always overshadowed Braun’s achievements in life. So, let’s take a moment to review the life of Eva Braun. 

Eva Braun with her dogs. Office of the National Archives

Early Life

Eva Anna Paula Braun was the second daughter of Friedrich, a school teacher, and Franziska, a seamstress. She was born on February 6, 1912, in Munich where the family lived. Braun had an elder sister, Ilse, and a younger one, Margarete.

Braun went to a Catholic school where she excelled in athletics. At 17, she became an assistant to Heinrich Hoffman, Hitler’s official photographer. Braun worked as Hoffman’s shop assistant and sales clerk while advancing her career as a photographer. 

Shortly after working for Hoffman, Braun met Hitler when he dropped by the studio in October 1929. She was 17 and he was 40—a 23-year age difference.

Hoffman introduced Hitler as “Herr Wolff,” which was a common moniker for the tyrant. The wolf had become a symbol for the Nazi Party as the animal symbolizes strength and purity.

How Eva Braun Developed Ties With Nazi Leaders

Braun was often accompanied by her younger sister Margarete, better known as Gretl, in all the Nazi functions she attended. Braun and Gretl lived together at that time. 

They spent so much time together that Gretl became part of Hitler’s inner circle. During one function, Gretl met Hermann Fegelein, one of the most sought-after Nazi bachelors.

He was a high-ranking Nazi official who was instrumental in the invasion of Poland in 1939. He was also described as a clever and honest man with a dry wit. Women found him attractive and Braun was no exception. 

Despite her attraction, Braun was already romantically linked to Hitler by this time. Braun reportedly told a friend: “A few years ago, the boss (Hitler) said that if I fell in love one day with another man, then I should let him know and he would release me. If I had known Fegelein 10 years ago, I would have asked the boss to let me go.”

Instead of going after Fegelein, Braun made sure he became family. Braun arranged for Gretl to marry Fegelein on June 3, 1944. Fegelein found Gretl sexy but also saw her as an opportunity to be closer to Hitler. 

While referring to Fegelein, the same historical account stated, “Gretl Braun was, as one would say today, sexy, and Fegelein might have been thinking of the advantages of one day being Hitler’s brother-in-law.”

Office of the National Archives

Eva Braun Gets Closer To Hitler

Before Braun came into Hitler’s life, there were plenty of rumors surrounding Hitler and his half-niece, Geli Raubal. Raubal was the child of Leo Raubal Sr. and Angela Raubal, Hitler’s half-sister.

Raubal and Hitler forged closer ties in 1925. She moved into Hitler’s Munich apartment in 1929 which became the subject of many speculations. 

Just as the uncle and his half-niece started living together, Hitler and Braun became acquainted. In 1931, Raubal was found dead after she allegedly shot herself with Hitler’s pistol. The incident was easily ruled as a suicide back then, but some continue to speculate that it was murder

Using Hitler’s gun was supposed to make a statement because Raubal reportedly wanted to be free from the tyrant’s control. She had fallen in love with a man from Linz, Austria, but Hitler wouldn’t let go of her. Raubal was only 23. 

Following Raubal’s death, Hitler became closer to Braun. The photographer was no stranger to suicide as she, too, attempted to kill herself.

In August 1932, Braun shot herself in the chest. Many believe it was a ploy to get Hitler’s attention. It must have worked because, by the end of 1932, Braun had fully recovered and the two reportedly became lovers. 

From that moment on, Braun started tailing Hitler as an official photographer for the Nazi Party along with Hoffman. She was never introduced as Hitler’s girlfriend or lover in official events but as part of Hoffman’s team. Braun also worked for Hoffman’s art press. 

During their relationship, Braun started spending the night in Hitler’s lair. 

Eva Braun and Hitler with their dogs

Eva Braun’s Many Homes 

In May 1935, Braun made a second attempt on her life by taking sleeping pills. She was reportedly upset that Hitler was not making time for her. 

To appease Braun, Hitler provided her and Gretl with a three-bedroom apartment in Munich, the same city where the Nazi leader lived. A year later, the Braun sisters had an even better home—a villa in Bogenhausen, Wasserburger Strasse. 

Braun also had her own space, an apartment in the new Reich Chancellery in Berlin. It was designed by the famous German architect Albert Speer who was Hitler’s main architect.

Speer also served as Minister of Armaments and War Production in Nazi Germany during most of World War II. The gesture showed the luxury that Hitler afforded Braun and what Nazi money could provide. 

Braun also often accompanied Hitler in his holiday home, Berghof, which was located in the mountains of Bavaria. By 1936, she had become a mainstay in Hitler’s vacation home. The castle was a marvel and became a tourist attraction. Of course, at that time, entry was restricted and security was tight. 

It was at the Berghof that Hitler met with many high-level dignitaries:

  • Italian Prime Minister and dictator Benito Mussolini
  • Duke Edward VIII and Duchess Wallis of Windsor
  • Former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George 
  • British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain 

However, Braun never met any of them. She may have been Hitler’s lover but she was never his official partner in public. 

Braun’s presence in the Berghof was never explained. However, the household staff immediately realized that she was untouchable. 

In 1935, Braun attended the Nuremberg Rally as part of Hoffman’s media team. The event was a Nazi party that was held every few years since 1923 and annually starting in 1933.

Angela Raubal, the mother of Geli Raubal and a housekeeper at Hitler’s vacation home, objected to Braun’s presence at the rally, even in an official capacity. The opposition didn’t sit well with Hitler and Angela was immediately dismissed from her duties. 

Why Didn’t Hitler Marry Eva Braun Sooner?

There are a handful of reasons why Hitler didn’t marry Braun right away. For one, the Nazi Party had a diminished view of women’s roles.

They believed that women belonged at home as mothers and child-bearers although there were a few who worked alongside them. Women were also important in keeping the German bloodlines pure. 

Hence, Braun mostly stayed at home unless she had an official photography assignment. 

Another reason Hitler never introduced Braun as his significant other was his reputation. He wanted to seem chaste in the eyes of the people. Hitler also wanted to be single as he believed it made him more attractive to women. This made it easier for them to do his bidding. 

Braun embraced her role fairly well. She never became a member of the Nazi Party and politics were of no interest to her.

The Lifestyle of a Nazi Leader’s Lover

Like most powerful men with kept women, Hitler showered Braun with luxury. She had multiple homes, plenty of clothes, a cellar filled with Möet et Chandon, and a freezer filled with imported Ukrainian bacon.

Her home had monogrammed linen and she had a housekeeper to keep everything in order. Braun also had two Scottish terrier dogs. 

She had everything a woman could want except public recognition by her significant other. However, there were a few exceptions. Sometimes, Hitler would entertain his inner circle at the Berghof and Braun openly hosted the events as the woman of the house. 

There was evidence that Hitler truly loved Braun despite never acknowledging her in public. Hitler included Braun in his will, declaring that she should receive 12,000 reichsmarks every year in the event of his death. 

Braun also loved Hitler. She was offered a chance to escape the country when the war ended but she wouldn’t hear of it. She was quoted as saying, “Do you think I would let him die alone? I will stay with him up until the last moment.”

And she did. 

Like Romeo and Juliet

In early 1945, the Allied forces entered Germany. The Nazi Party had no chance of defeating the combined might of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and France. 

On April 29, 1945, shortly after midnight, Hitler and Braun got married in a civil ceremony inside the Nazi dictator’s Führerbunker. Braun started writing Eva B in her marriage certificate but quickly crossed out the B and wrote Hitler instead. She would only carry her new last name for around 36 hours. 

By 3:00 p.m. on April 30, 1945, the household staff of the Führerbunker heard a gunshot. They discovered the lifeless bodies of Hitler and Braun in the tyrant’s study. Hitler had shot himself in the right temple using his sidearm while Braun had bitten a cyanide capsule to poison herself. 

Their corpses were burned so the Allies would not get a hold of them. Braun was 33 and Hitler was 56. 

All of Braun’s family members survived the war. Fritz died in 1964 while Franziska died at the ripe old age of 91 in 1976. Gretl also survived and eventually gave birth to a daughter named Eva. Ilse, who had no part in the Nazi Party nor had a relationship with Hitler, died in 1979. 

Braun will always be known as Hitler’s lover and wife for a brief period. But it will always be interesting to consider who she might have been and what she might have accomplished if she hadn’t met Hitler and become involved with the Nazis.

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