Heinrich Hoffman and Adolf Hitler
JT: When did your father meet Adolf Hitler?
HH: That would have been very early in 1919 or 1920. This was long before Hitler was famous. Hitler was a nothing when my father met him, just some local political oddball.
JT: And your father liked him right away?
HH: I’ll put it this way: he was impressed by him. Everyone was impressed with Hitler when they first met him. Just about anyone was and my father wasn’t any different from others. I defy anyone who met Adolf Hitler to say he wasn’t impressive upon first acquaintance.
JT: How old were you when you first remember Hitler?
HH: Oh, I was a very little. I was a little boy, maybe 5 years old when I first remember Hitler. He was a wonderful play companion for me, he was a special visitor, always. When he would show up in our house, I smiled because he was such fun and not like any other adult I had ever known. He could put himself at the level of a child and that’s enchanting to a boy.
JT: Do you have strong memories of Hitler when you were a boy?
HH: Yes. I was 4 or 5 years old when father first started bringing him around, as I said. I remember him well. He would bring me Pralines, rubber bands, small toy cars. He was a wonderful visitor for me and not just because of the chocolates. One thing I can mention in passing is that Hitler also could play the piano. He wasn’t a very good pianist, but he could pick out tunes and play a little.
Hitler, Geli and child
JT: How close were you to Hitler as you got older?
HH: As close as a person probably could be. I was born in 1916, I was 16 years old when he came to power. We still used Du (German intimate form of “you”) with each other at that time, later he dropped that. My sister had been very close to Hitler, I feel my father was his best friend. Also my mother adored him.
JT: Your mother sadly passed away when you were a boy?
HH: I was only 11, Henny was 13, almost 14.
JT: Did your mother know or like Hitler?
HH: Both! She adored him, she always talked him up, she was his greatest supporter. He was very stricken when she died. He spent a great deal of time at our home after my mother left us. In fact I would admit to you that having Hitler around the house after my mother’s passing helped me. He said I was a “brave little comrade” for not crying at my mother’s funeral. He was really very saddened by her death, he had liked her very much.
JT: How would you describe Hitler then, when you were a boy?
HH: He was unlike anybody else I ever knew. Then or since. He was an extraordinary man, he had a photographic memory, he was a great imitator of people and he loved children. It was fun when he visited because he wasn’t run of the mill, he was just very, very different and more interesting than other people.
JT: How much time did you spend in your father’s photography shop?
HH: Actually this should be plural. Father had several photography shops in Munich at that time. His main shop was on the Schellingstrasse. The NSDAP party HQ was in the rear of our shop there. He also had additional shops by the train station, one on the Amalienstrasse and one by the Sendlingertor. I was in all of them, but most often the main one, on Schellingstrasse.
JT: This is the shop where Eva Braun first met Hitler?
HH: Yes, you’re right, that’s the shop.
Eva in the Schellingstrasse shop in 1930
JT: Did you know Eva Braun yourself?
HH: I knew her very well, in fact I knew her before Hitler ever laid eyes on her.
JT: But you would have been very young then?
HH: I didn’t think of myself as such, I was 13 when I first met her, I had been to boarding school, had experienced my first kiss, wore long pants and felt myself to be quite the man. I was at the age when a boy develops his first crush. I think I’d say Eva Braun was my first crush. Yes, definitely she was.
Below is a photo of Hoffmann’s two children, Henny and Heinie, beside Eva Braun in 1931 or 1932.
JT: What was she like then?
HH: This was all before the Hitler period. Eva was then 16 or 17 years old, just a young girl, but to me, she was a grown lady, a real prize. I thought she was the most special lady I’d ever met. I loved her as only an adolescent boy can do. I think I was in the shop so much mostly to talk to Eva or at least catch a glimpse of her.
JT: How was it that you found yourself in the shop in the first place?
HH: I was something of an orphan, you see. My mother had just recently passed on, my sister was in the shop frequently and I had no one at home except our Hungarian maid and the cook, who came only at night. After school I would spend some homes in my father’s shop so I wouldn’t be home alone. This was all after I had come back from boarding school. I was so lonely I begged to come home and father allowed it.
JT: And you met Eva in this way, in your father’s shop on the Schellingstrasse?
HH: Yes, I knew all the girls in the shop. Eva was the prettiest and nicest to me. She was really my first love, you never forget your first crush I don’t think.
JT: What memories do you have of Hitler meeting Eva?
HH: I have none. I was not there at that historic moment, or at least it became historic. But it was only historic when looking backwards. Nobody took any interest in that meeting, Hitler was in the shop a lot, he was nice to everyone. Women always fell for him, this was just his lot in life. I always envied that in him, but he just took all that for granted.
JT: Your sister wrote me that Eva fell in love with Hitler immediately.
HH: Eva was just a girl, I don’t think she fell in love with him at all upon first sight, she had to get to know him. Hitler was very much older than her, you know. She may have thought he was interesting, but he didn’t pay her a lot of mind in the early days, he really did not. He was travelling all the time in 1929 or 1930, those days were the height of constant elections and gaining/losing seats in the Reichstag.
JT: Do you remember the first time you saw the two of them together?
HH: I really don’t remember the exact occasion. Their relationship was just something that happened slowly and over the course of months or years. For instance, Eva started appearing at our house in the evenings. I noticed quickly that she was only there on evenings when Hitler was there. They didn’t arrive together and they didn’t depart together, but the time in our house was mostly spent together.
JT: You mean they would absent themselves from the party?
HH: I don’t mean that, I meant that Hitler was paired off with Eva when they’d be our house. If we sat down for a meal, she would be on his left. If we sat about and chatted, she would be on his left. He spent his time talking to her mostly. But they never left together, I never saw them in the same car. But it was apparent to most people that they were a couple. Of course Hitler chatted and circulated with everyone at first, but then he’d settle down on a sofa with Eva, or in fine weather, they would go outside and sit on the grass.
JT: Was this before Geli Raubal’s death or after?
HH: Both. Eva was Hitler’s friend before Geli died. I am sure of that, in fact I know it. Hitler knew Eva for almost two years before Geli’s death.
The photo below shows Heinie on the far left with Hitler’s half niece Geli Raubal. Hermann Esser also appears, these are all 1931).
JT: Did you know Geli?
HH: Yes I did and in some respects I knew her better than I ever knew Eva later on. Hitler was obsessed with Geli, there’s no two ways about it. With Geli, there was no secrecy involved with his relationship, he was very open and possessive of her. I liked Geli but she was very moody and could be temperamental. She was a carefree spirit and all that, but I always preferred Eva.
JT: Can you tell me why?
HH: For one thing, Eva was far prettier and had a much better shape. I was 14 or 15 years old then, after all. I had a one track mind. I never saw what Hitler saw in Geli. She was a nice girl and loved to laugh, but she was not what one would call a looker. Her moods were really quite something as well.
JT: How did Hitler behave towards Eva Braun in these early days?
HH: Hitler always behaved correctly with women, but also very carefully. He always attempted to act as if Eva Braun was just an ordinary girl that had come along for the evening because my father had invited her. But like I said, even I as a boy quickly noticed Eva never came to the house unless Hitler was there. And nearly every time Hitler was there, she was there. It didn’t matter if it was daytime or night time, they would be together in our home.
JT: Did they go out on dates?
HH: In this early period before Hitler seized power, yes they did go out. In fact I have a funny story about this. More than once, I myself went out on dates with them. We went to the opera twice, all three of us, and quite a number of times I was there when they went out to dinner or lunch.
Heinie Hoffmann is standing behind or between Hitler and Eva in in the following two photos, he accompanied them to the opera, these are both January, 1932 photos
JT: I don’t understand something. Why were you going on dates with two adults?
HH: Because this was very early on in the history of Hitler and Eva. I’m referring to the time before Geli was dead, and to the period shortly after her death. Hitler was not supposed to be dating anyone but Geli when she was alive and he was not supposed to be dating anyone when he was supposed to be in mourning. Hitler didn’t take Eva out alone for a long time, he would have a group of people that he trusted to come along, as something of a cover for his real intentions.
JT: And what were his ‘real intentions?’
HH: Well, you know. I mean we weren’t there at the opera or the movie theater as chaperones. We were there to conceal the fact that Hitler had a woman he liked and to whom he was courting. He was representing himself to the electorate as this celibate bachelor who loved Germany more than anything else. I got to go on some wonderful excursions and I got to be around Eva, the woman I found so wonderful.
JT: Did Hitler ever talk to you about Eva?
HH: Only in the early days, the period we’re discussing right now. He knew I had a crush on Eva and it amused him very much. One day at my parents home, Eva was there spending the evening with us all. She got up from the sofa and walked past us. Hitler nudged me in the side and said, “Heinie, you have excellent taste in women!” He said it in a deliberately exaggerated manner, as if to rib me. I didn’t know whether to smile, so I just awkwardly shuffled my feet.
JT: Was that Hitler’s way of telling you to leave Eva alone?
HH: I don’t think it was that at all, I was no rival to Adolf Hitler, let’s put it like that. He was on the brink of power and an experienced 40 or 41 year old man then. I was a callow fellow of 15 or 16. Eva never regarded me as anything but a pesky nuisance, I think. She liked me, but I was a little boy to her, she had eyes only for Hitler.
JT: How did Hitler behave towards Eva when you would go out with them; you mentioned the opera and eating places.
HH: He always acted in public as if Eva was a distant friend of his. He never paid her any more attention than anyone else at the table or in the opera seats. It was a role they both played. Now in private, at our home, you could see an informal closeness between them, they didn’t pretend as much, but they still arrived and left at different times, even when we knew they would be meeting up together later than night. There was still that element to their relationship, this forced distance in front of others.
JT: Did you know Eva was in love with Hitler, could you see that?
HH: She tried to hide it, but I could see it and I don’t think it’s just because I knew. She was very much in love with that man, there was no hiding it. Women had that look a lot when Hitler was about.
JT: How much time did you spend with Hitler after he became Chancellor?
HH: It depends on Hitler’s schedule and my schooling at that time. I saw him whenever he was in Munich, and that was remarkably often. He never liked Berlin and always was looking for an excuse to get out of there. I spent time also on the Obersalzberg, both before he was Führer and after.
JT: Can you tell me what you liked about Hitler?
HH: I always liked Hitler. And I make no excuse for that, I never have. He would have been impossible to dislike if you were a child, as I was. I knew him as a boy, and I knew him when I was a man and I never had occasion to not like him. He could be difficult sometimes, which I’m sure doesn’t surprise you. He was very stubborn, willful and things had to go his way. I suppose these are all traits a dictator would tend to have.
JT: Was he arrogant or conceited?
HH: Now those are two words I wouldn’t ever use to describe Hitler. He was personally very modest, that was not an act. He lived modestly, he didn’t put on airs. He lived well, of course, after he became Führer. But his apartment in Munich, for instance, have you ever been there? It was in a nice area but it was not the apartment you’d expect from a world leader. It was quite modest. He didn’t require a lot for himself, he purposefully tried to live a life of self-denial. Not in all things, but quite a few.
JT: When did you see Hitler the happiest?
HH: [He thinks for a long time before answering]
He liked to picnic, he was always happy then. He loved going on picnics and in the summer we would go most every day. I almost always went along since school was not in session and I came home from boarding every summer. I always thought Hitler seemed happiest with Geli. He really came out of his shell with her, he was not as inhibited as he usually was. Those picnics were the most fun I ever had with Hitler.
(The two photos below show Heinrich Hoffmann. Jr. in a dark suit behind Hitler, summer 1931 on a picnic. Geli Raubal in the white dress and necklace. Marlene Weinrich — Hitler's girlfriend at the time— is far left. ).
Hitler appears to have a black kitten in his arms
JT: Did you ever go on a picnic with Hitler and Eva Braun?
HH: Yes, not as often as with Geli, but definitely I was part of the group that went on picnics with Eva and Hitler. They didn’t go alone, we all went in one big group and we would go in two cars, Eva in one and Hitler in the other. The rest of the party would always include my father, Schaub, Brückner, my stepmother, sometimes Eva’s friend Herta Ostermeyer, Schreck and then me. My sister also was sometimes part of the group. The faces never changed, the same people always went. I would have been shocked had someone new appeared.
JT: Do you think Hitler loved Geli Raubal?
HH: Without any doubt he did. Now the particulars of their relationship, what went on behind closed doors, if anything, I don’t know. People write now that she was miserable with Hitler, but I didn’t see that. She chased him, he was happy around her, but she was the pursuer, as far as I could see. I’m sure I’m right about that, even after all these years.
JT: But you admit Hitler was two-timing Geli with Eva Braun, going to the opera and picnics with her?
HH: I didn’t say he was doing that, those are your words. I never said Hitler was cheating on Geli with Eva Braun. I said they casually dated, they went on excursions together and had lunches in restaurants. I don’t think they had the chance to be alone very often then. I think it was all innocent until Geli killed herself.
JT: Do you think Hitler and Geli were lovers?
HH: I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows, or if they did, they would be long dead. I just don’t know.
JT: Would you say Hitler loved Eva Braun?
HH: Not in the same way or with the same intensity as Geli. That’s my view, I could have been wrong, but I don’t think I am. Hitler was always quite tender with Eva, they were quiet together a lot of the time, happy just to be together, it seemed. He wasn’t as passionate I don’t think towards Eva as he was towards Geli. Maybe that was because he was older, or because he was a world leader by then. He depended on Eva, he trusted her, he adored her, but I don’t think he was madly in love with her.
JT: Did you ever see Hitler angry?
HH: Certainly I saw Hitler angry, I knew him for so many years. He could fly off the handle on any type of whim. I have seen him angry because the table wasn’t set properly, or because the cars were late picking him up. I’ve seen him angry at subordinates. He and Röhm had plenty of arguments, very loud ones. Hitler was even-tempered, but sure I saw him angry sometimes.
JT: On the other side of the spectrum, did you ever see Hitler cry?
HH: Cry? Yes, I have seen this. He cried after Geli died, my father was with him out at the Tegernsee for a few days. He heard him crying for hours behind a closed and locked door, he told me that story many times later on. Then several months later, Esser mentioned Geli at the table when we were eating on the Obersalzberg. I happened to glance at Hitler and he had tears streaming down his face. I also saw him cry after his driver Schreck died.
JT: So he was a man who could show emotion in front of others?
HH: He could be uninhibited in these things. Just look at him giving speeches, he throws his entire body and soul into orating, that’s being very exposed and open. He had that side to him, and never forget he was an Austrian!
JT: You know in almost every interview I have conducted for this book, the Hitler crowd always mentions that. What exactly do you mean when you say, “but he was Austrian?”
HH: I mean he had the Austrian charm. He bowed from the waist, he kissed ladies hands, he paid women all sorts of compliments, he noticed things about their hair or jewelry or something about them. He was altogether much, much more charming than your average German lout. Hitler was more refined, more schooled in manners. Austrians have all that down pat.
JT: That explains this better for me, thank you. When was the last time you saw Hitler?
HH: In 1944, at the Berghof. I went to Gretl Braun’s wedding. Actually I felt ill that day and didn’t attend the ceremony, but I was there with the intention of going. When I recovered, I saw Hitler and it was our last meeting. He had aged so dramatically that it stunned me. It literally stunned me.
JT: Explain how he looked?
HH: Like death itself. Whether we’d lost the war or not, Hitler was through by 1944, that much was self evident to me.
John Toland’s papers are now in the Library of Congress and this interview with Heinrich Hoffmann, Jr. is in box 49 of the manuscript division of the Toland Papers.
they either cease being mistaken
or they cease being honest"
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Reading the newspaper with Ernst Hanfstaengl glowering at the photographer
Reading the newspaper with the boxer Max Schmelling who was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932.
Rare photograph of Hitler with his reading glasses on.
2005 interview with Rochus Misch,translated from German
I'd like to talk a little bit about the new film portrayal of those last days in the bunker. Have you seen "Downfall"?
Oh, yeah, I've seen it. [Laughs heartily.] Dramatic operetta. It's all Americanised. All that yelling and screaming; it wasn't like that down there in the bunker. The reality: it was a death bunker. Everyone whispered down there. A crazy screaming scene never happened.
Hitler never yelled?
Well, at least when the generals were down there, discussing military things, they were very quiet. It's a film, with all the freedoms of a film. It's no documentary.
Are there factual discrepancies, so far as you know?
No, no, just everything exaggerated.
Do you have any particular impressions of Hitler that have stayed with you?
Hitler, to me, was always a completely normal person. He spoke completely normally to me. I lived together with him for five years. I only knew him as a wonderfully good boss, right? I could talk with him. He was always satisfied with us.
No, he was never authoritarian. And we were with him day and night; we knew him. He was never without us, day and night. If he wanted something in the night, his servant was asleep, so he called one of us. If he wanted to be awoken an hour later, or to call Eva -- anything. We just had a wonderful boss. We couldn't have wished for better. When I was married he had a case of champagne delivered to my house, this one we're sitting in [gestures to the surrounding rooms].
One of the most harrowing scenes in the film is the murder of the Goebbels children [six of them, ages 4 to 12]. What do you remember about the Goebbels family in the bunker?
[Minister of Propaganda Dr. Joseph] Goebbels and the kids arrived suddenly about 14 days before the end. Then Hitler's doctor, Dr. Morell, had to move out so that Goebbels could move in, and his wife lived one story higher, in the adjoining bunker, with the children. But the children came down to play all the time, you know? But when they were too loud we sent them back up. [Laughs.] Usually they were up in the New Chancellery; there were people around up there and they had freedom to move about.
I went up there too, shortly before the end, because the big kitchen was there. Goebbels sat down at a long table with the children. A young man played the harmonica. And Goebbels was saying goodbye to the civilians, with the children; there were so many people there in the New Chancellery, people looking to take shelter there. And it occurred to me for the first time that maybe I should say goodbye, too. That was the moment it became clear to me that Hitler and Goebbels would stay. And Eva Braun and Frau Goebbels had agreed they wouldn't abandon their men either, stay to the end, too. And then plans were made for the children. The other women in the bunker all offered — Frau Rindell for example, from the office, she said, "Frau Goebbels, if you want to stay here, that's your business, but the children can't possibly stay here..." and Frau Bruns said, "I'll take them to Arnbruck to my sister, as she can't have children — she would be happy. Please!" and she cried.
You know, we, the service people, we all knew that the children were meant to stay, and what would happen. They would stay and they would die.
Oh, and then of course the aviator, Hanna Reitsch, offered to fly them out as well. She said even if she had to fly back and forth 20 times, she would fly them out. Of course, that's not what happened.
Frau Goebbels, she had to come down to my room to get the children ready [administer the cyanide]. Up above there were so many people around, but down in our rooms there was no one. We ourselves weren't even down there. We only slept there. So she could take care of them on her own. I went out of the room and waited outside. Then Dr. Naumann came out of the room and said to me, he whispered in my ear, that if it had been up to him — he meant Dr. Goebbels — then the children wouldn't still be in the bunker, they would be evacuated. And I had seen Naumann with Goebbels up above, and he was probably right. I took him as a trustworthy representative. Goebbels didn't want it. It was Frau Goebbels who did. One must stick with the truth. That's how it was.
The film suggests both parents colluded to kill their children — misrepresented, in your opinion?
It's all Americanized. That's how the Americans want to see things...
But what about here in Germany? The film was made in Germany for Germans, by Germans, wasn't it?
Oh, the Germans have no idea about anything, either. If I had been in the New Chancellery instead of in the bunker, I wouldn't have any idea either, how that happened with the Goebbels children, how they killed the six children.
How do you think about the recent developments in Germany, the mainstream attempt to come to terms with the Holocaust and on the other hand the modest rise in neo-Nazism since the fall of the Wall?
Next to the site of the bunker they're putting up the big memorial. [The colossal central Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, designed by American architect Peter Eisenman and composed of 2,700 concrete slabs, opens in May 2005.] Two thousand seven hundred concrete blocks; they're allowed that. But I say, how would it be if over there around the corner by the bunker, we put in six blocks, just six? The children of Goebbels were murdered, killed, consciously murdered. Couldn't they be honoured, the children? It won't do them any good now, but at the very least we could honour them, put up a sign that says here died six murdered children. Two thousand seven hundred, but six children can't be honored?
Um, the murder of the children was terrible, but for every one of them, 1 million Jews were killed with less reason, to say nothing of the many, many others who died at the hands of the Nazis.
That may be. But I ask you, if Hitler really did all the terrible things people now say he did, how could he have been our Führer? How is it possible?
The million-dollar question. But I do think you'll admit that if there were a memorial to the Goebbels children, it would become a magnet for neo-Nazis.
Ach, "neo-Nazi." No such thing.
What does "neo-Nazi" mean? New Nazi, right? There aren't any. That's just a buzzword. What you have are nationally conscious people, people who say, "my fatherland, right or wrong." My fatherland, nothing more, am I right? You British say it, the Swiss say it, the Israelis say it — "My country," they say. And I'll fight for it. The Israelis are nationalistic people, they defend their region, they defend their people. They have as much right as anyone.
The whole Iraq war wasn't about Saddam Hussein, it was about Israel. Israel can't exist on avocados and oranges! A nation lives from business. They have to have money. And the Americans always pay in. This is just my opinion, but why did they occupy Iraq? Supposedly because of atomic bombs? [Laughs.] In my opinion, Iraq is a wealthy oil region, and with this money they can support Israel. They can't keep pumping their own money in forever.
What memories do you have of the death of Hitler:
I was standing in the hallway when Hitler took his own life. Because I wanted to go over to the Reichs Chancellery for lunch [the Reichs Chancellery was connected to the Führerbunker by a tunnel], and a colleague had already taken over for me in the telephone room. I was standing in the hallway, asking in the neighboring room if I should bring anything back with me. The other guy said, "No, no, I have everything already," and it was then someone called, someone ... [he searches for the name] ah, it was Linge, Linge, Hitler's butler. He said, "I think it's done." He had heard it.
But of course we were always making mistakes. Our ears played tricks. Down there in the bunker, any loud noise echoing through the concrete sounded like a gunshot. There was so much suspense. We had been waiting, expecting it any minute, for hours. And yet we weren't sure. Because of course, there was always the possibility of a miracle. The miracle would have been England. If England had said, it's not Hitler that's our biggest enemy, rather Bolshevism, they could have rolled right by Berlin all the way to Moscow. Churchill himself said later, "We slaughtered the wrong pig."
And after you realized Hitler was dead?
Well, there was perfect silence. We waited. We waited maybe 20 minutes. But Linge was curious. I was curious. I still don't remember whether it was Linge or Günsche who first opened the door to Hitler's rooms, but one of the two. I was really curious and came forward a few steps. Then somebody opened the second door -- I still don't know who it was, probably Linge. And it was then, as the second door opened, I saw Hitler, dead, lying on a chair. Eva [Braun] on the couch completely clothed. In a dark dress and white, white skin. She was lying back...
Do you find that over the years, your memories of the time in Hitler's employment weaken? Do you find your memories being hijacked by images and stories you've come across in the 60 years since?
So many of the pictures and so much of what's written about the time is the product of fertile imaginations. For example, Eichinger [the writer and producer of "Downfall"] should have come to me and talked to me like you're doing before he ever made the film. And what he would then make of it would be his business -- accept, reject, or whatever, right? But just talk to me. I always try not to slip into a fantasy as they do. I have to be careful; it can trip me up too. Trying to improve things, make it seem better or more heroic than it was. Of course there's a tendency in that direction.
How do you feel about the attention paid to you in recent times?
I did six [interviews] for the Holocaust Museum in Washington. But that stays in the museum archives; it's not for the public. And then I did two times, two hours [of interviews] for the Goethe Institute in Tel Aviv. They collect that kind of thing. Not to show, just for a rainy day, I guess. The BBC has filmed with me three times. They even went to Moscow and found the suicide request I wrote when I was a prisoner of the Soviets. They were really hardworking. And some young people are making a documentary film about me -- I had to arrange for the woman who does my housekeeping to make a special visit, because they wanted to get some shots of her working around the house. There's continual interest now. I can't believe it. Hitler just won't die. And I'm the only one left to tell.
Do you have regrets about your past?
Well, history is history -- whether it's bad or good or criminal, it doesn't make a difference. An act, a deed, remains part of history forever. You can't change a story, just by blathering on about it, and make it into something other than what it was.
they either cease being mistaken
or they cease being honest"
I don’t want to end this topic without making reference to the alleged diary by Eva Braun. However, let me preempt this by saying that, for me, the entire “diary” is a total lie. While there are some details that correspond to true facts, even those are embellished by wild fantasy.
I knew Eva Braun well. In fact, I knew her from the first day I went into service for Hitler. I don’t want to be judgmental in any way, as whatever I say would no doubt be biased. Eva Braun and I didn’t get on much better than, as the saying goes, cats and dogs. Once, during the winter of 1935/6, we really gave each other a what for and ever since we had nothing whatsoever to do with each other, except for both of us saying hello and goodbye if our paths crossed.
At the beginning of the war, Eva Braun came to stay in Berlin only twice or three times, and then for no longer than one or two days on each occasion. In the years 1934 –7 she and Hitler were never in Berlin together at the same time. Their relationship became closer only after the war had started. Her parents never came to Berlin, her sisters visited perhaps once or twice. She lived at the Berghof for quite some time and was good friends with Martin Bormann, the actual master of the house, who then hired her as the housekeeper so that she was officially registered at the office for employment.
Eva Braun never came to the headquarters, nor was she called upon for official receptions. At private functions, she came as Hitler’s wife, was greeted by him with a kiss of the hand, as with other women as well, and called Evchen, a diminutive of Eva. She herself always addressed Hitler by the familiar Du.
There is no doubt that Hitler considered her “his bride.” But he wasn’t the jealous type. After the conversion of the Berghof had been completed, the two bedrooms were linked to each other by a connecting door. Of course, Eva Braun’s living expenses were met by Hitler personally. May I add that it fell to Brückner to keep the books. Hitler himself never carried a wallet, but placed his money — up to some 200 Reichsmark — loose in his pocket. Private journeys were always paid for out of Hitler’s private funds.
Once, when the entire Hotel Imperial in Vienna was booked out by Party members, the manager of the hotel submitted a bill of 29,000 Reichsmark. This price seemed to be too high in Brückner’s eyes, but Hitler just told him: “Oh, go ahead and pay the bill; maybe the man has very large debts.” When Hitler expressed the wish to own the house in the Prinzregentenstrasse in Munich, he was short of funds. The subsequent release of his book Mein Kampf to countries outside Germany then enabled him to purchase the house.
…I have no reason to “whitewash” Hitler. I also believe that everything that happened under the rule of the National Socialists has burdened our people enough not to have to be saddled with untrue stories. But whatever the truth is, it has to remain just that. Towards our future generations and history we are obliged to convey an honest portrayal of who Hitler was and what happened during his time.
By KARL WILHELM KRAUSE* (TRANSLATED BY EVA BURKE)
*Karl Wilhelm Krause served as Adolf Hitler’s valet — his personal orderly — for five years, starting in 1934, and was thus a close witness to his lifestyle and personal preferences at the key period of Hitler’s rise to power.
Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler and Julius Schaub, watch Josef Thorak the Austrian-German sculptor demonstrate something held by Karl Wilhelm Krause in 1936.
Hitler with Krause to his right — greeting his people.
Hitler with Krause to his right.
Anni Winter photographed in April 1948, at the time of the following interview
Anni Winter was Hitler’s housekeeper in Munich from 1929-1945. She was captured by the Americans in 1945 and was kept in protective custody for nearly one year.
In 1948, she gave an extensive 60 page interview over many days with American interrogators. The interview was given on April 1st 1948 and is located in Duquesne University archives, microfiche box #34a, Musmanno collection.
Here is a section of the interview dealing with Eva Braun and mentioning Inge Ley.
. . . . . . .
Q: How often was Eva Braun present in Munich when Hitler was there?
A: All the time. She wouldn’t spend the entire day and it really depended on what Hitler had planned for that day. Generally they would have tea together, then she would leave and come back around 8:00 at night. They might have a snack at that time. I didn’t disturb them. She either stayed with Hitler all night or was escorted home.
Q: Eva Braun was said to have been very well dressed in expensive clothes. Can you confirm this?
A: Eva was very stylish, she had time on her hands and not much to do when Hitler was in Berlin. She had a great and established fashion sense. She really did dress marvelously well. Even those who didn’t like Eva would have to admit she was the essence of style.
Q: What do you mean by that phrase, please?
A: I mean that she knew what clothes and what fabrics would flatter her figure. She looked very well in clothes. She was one of the best dressed people I have ever been around in my life.
Q: Was Eva Braun the most pretty woman in Hitler’s circle?
A: Well, I would put Frau Inge Ley ahead of her, she was a world class beauty. Hitler was very taken with her. She was around him a lot. She only married Dr. Ley to get close to Hitler, of that there was no doubt.
Q: When you say ‘she was around a lot,’ you mean she visited Hitler alone?
A: No, they were never alone. Hitler always had a chaperone, he was strict about such things. Sometimes I had to sit in the room with them, sometimes an adjutant. Frau Ley tried hard to get closer to Hitler, but she did not succeed.
Q: You’re saying there was no intimate relationship between Hitler and this Mrs. Ley?
A: She pushed for that but Hitler already had Eva by that time and as he told me a hundred times, 'I have to be careful. Women can never keep their mouths shut.’ But Inge Ley was in love with Hitler, she made no secret of that fact.
Hitler and Inge Ley in 1939
Q: And this included Eva Braun? Hitler thought she couldn’t keep her mouth closed either?
A: It absolutely did not include Eva. This was one of Eva’s greatest strengths in Hitler’s eyes. He trusted her implicitly, especially during the war years. But even long before then, Hitler knew that Eva was 100% loyal and never was someone to talk out of turn. She kept his confidence. Eva had her faults, but discussing Hitler or revealing information about him? Never. At least not to me.
Q: Getting back to Eva Braun’s fashion sense, I have read she changed clothes 5 times daily. Can you confirm if this was the case?
A: No, she didn’t do this in Munich. Of course she would change into an evening dress at night if she was doing something that required it. Now at the Berghof, she changed her clothes a lot. In Munich she didn’t do this.
Q: Did Hitler compliment her dresses?
A: All the time, but I don’t think he noticed every detail. Oftentimes he would be very enthusiastic upon first seeing her and would say, 'Oh, you’re wearing a new dress, how lovely,’ and Eva would glower and say, “Come on. It’s not new, you’ve seen this often enough!” I think Hitler was teasing her, he was very observant and had an iron-clad memory. He said that to needle her, to tease her.
1942 Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun and Uschi (Ursula) Schneider, daughter of Herta Schneider, Eva's closest childhood friend.
Herta Schneider and EvaBraun.
Herta Schneider, EvaBraun and Hitler out for a walk at the Berghof.
Q: Did Eva talk to you about his clothes?
A: Frequently! You must remember that Eva herself was a clothes horse. She loved nothing more than clothes and accumulating shoes. For Hitler, clothes were nothing more than a chore. Maybe he selected loud ties with striped or orange polka dots because he just didn’t care. Maybe he did it because he knew it upset Eva, he was a very dreadful tease with her.
Q: Who bought Hitler’s ties?
A: Schaub (Hitler’s adjutant) would go out every few years and select fifty or so ties from a tailor Hitler had used in Berlin since the early 30’s. Schaub would bring the ties and Hitler would select them, Hitler never went to a tailor’s shop, they came to him. Some of the ties were quite nice. He had a blue tie with white spots which he wore for years. It matched everything, light and dark suits alike. Eva also bought him some ties and he would wear them as well. Eva never fussed about his ties, she liked loud ties, but wanted them to match the rest of his outfit.
Q: What did Eva Braun say about his uniforms, if anything?
A: Eva hated his uniform caps. She positively detested them. She called them his “postman’s caps.” She was always telling him how dreadful they looked, this was a never-ending refrain. She hated the long visor, but Hitler was very sensitive to the sun and to light. He told me many times that after he was gassed in the Great War, his eyes could not tolerate the sun. So he had an extra-long visor.
Q: Can you tell me how this dialogue would have sounded?
A: Well, Eva would be in the Munich apartment and Hitler would enter with his cap and she would start fussing. She started saying things like, “Why can’t you ditch that cap? You would look so much better with a different style.” Hitler usually would say nothing. He wasn’t irritated, he was bemused. Sometimes he would imitate her nagging him about the caps, but only when she wasn’t present. She wanted Hitler to dress like that silly Italian, Count Ciano.
Q: Did she hate his uniforms?
A: You must remember that Eva never went to Berlin much until 1938 or 1939. In Munich and on the Obersalzberg, Hitler was a private man and usually wore suits. Of course he also wore his brown coat or uniform in those places as well. But Eva was around Hitler more often in suits. Another thing that comes to mind are his shellacked shoes, she was always remonstrating to him about those.
Hitler wearing his shellacked black shoes.
Excerpts of the Anni Winter interview taken from Putschgirl's tumblr site
Yes, Hitler's disbelief and disapproval of Ley's philandering when he had such a gorgeously beautiful young wife was mentioned by Albert Speer, which I quoted previously here.rollo the ganger wrote: ↑Sun Aug 26, 2018 1:53 pmFrau Ley was quite a beauty and I understand her husband fooled around on her which Hitler couldn't believe why anyone would with a babe like her. I also understand Hitler had bad breath and severe flatulance. Nothing worse than being around pretty women and suddenly getting that urge. Especially if it's uncontrollable.
As for the flatulence. I suspect that has been exaggerated and over-emphasised in order to belittle and ridicule the memory of of someone who was actually a great man. I have read a great many autobiographies and memoires of those close to Hitler over many years and none of them related any incidence of an embarrassing uncontrolled release of wind. As any serious student of the man knows he attended many state functions, diplomatic and military conferences, parades, rallies and concerts. I have never heard or read of any 'uncontrolled' occurences. So I think the reports of "severe" etc., are not to be trusted.
“There was the wife of Labour Leader, Robert Ley. Hitler was crazy about her for years. He would say after she would leave, ‘what a gorgeous woman! Oh, she is such a beauty!’
She reciprocated as well, as her own husband was an abusive alcoholic who was not faithful to her.
Hitler couldn’t get over that any man would cheat on Inge Ley. He said, ‘what man couldn’t be in paradise living with such a woman? Why look anywhere else?’ And he distanced himself from Robert Ley because he thought he was a fool to cheat on a woman so apparently beautiful.”
Albert Speer interview: Südwestdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 6 Juni 1972
Similarly to how the accounts of Hitler's alleged rages, and uncontrollable furious rants are commonly believed by the vast majority of people, yet I believe they also are a false characterisation not to be trusted.
MM: You never saw Hitler have a rage?
AW: No and I doubt he ever had one. I saw him impatient sometimes, never angry. When he’d get impatient, he would snap his fingers in an increasingly rapid tempo. He was always calm and polite with me. I just can dismiss these raging stories out of hand.
August Wollenhaupt was the man who Hitler chose to cut his hair from 1932-1945. The above answer is taken from an interview with him conducted in 1948 by American judge, Michael Musmanno.
JT: Did you ever seen him angry?
HS: Not once. All these stories of Hitler frothing at the mouth are inventions, he was almost always in a nice mood.
Herta Ostermayr Schneider was Eva Braun’s closest friend. They were close friends from childhood until Eva’s death in 1945. Herta Schneider was known to have been interviewed extensively only three times in her life: in 1949, in 1974 and late in her life, when she spoke to David Irving.
This is from her interview with American author John Toland in 1974.
Q: What about Fräulein Schröder? I have heard there was tension between her and Hitler?
A: Well, speaking strictly from my own point of view, I cannot recall a single angry word from him to anyone. He did not have rages or fits of temper. Nobody could be in a better position to know this than I am. I was with Hitler more or less constantly for 16 years. I never saw him angry. The only occasion when he showed any annoyance was when somebody interrupted him.
Q: I am interested in the character of Adolf Hitler from a historical point of view. It seems generally understood that he was capable of flying into terrible rages, and you’re saying this didn’t happen?
A: Well, I never experienced such a thing and I was part of his most intimate circle. I never saw him angry, that is the simple truth. In fact, it was my impression that in our small circle, he wanted to relax rather than be bothered with other problems. Hitler in private was very pleasant and relaxing.
Taken from an interview John Toland had with Hitler’s first secretary, Johanna Wolf on 24th February 1948 . Johanna Wolf worked for Hitler from 1929 until 1945 as his private secretary.
Q: I'd like to talk a little bit about the new film portrayal of those last days in the bunker. Have you seen "Downfall"?
RM: Oh, yeah, I've seen it. [Laughs heartily.] Dramatic operetta. It's all Americanised. All that yelling and screaming; it wasn't like that down there in the bunker. The reality: it was a death bunker. Everyone whispered down there. A crazy screaming scene never happened.
Q: Hitler never yelled?
RM: Well, at least when the generals were down there, discussing military things, they were very quiet. It's a film, with all the freedoms of a film. It's no documentary.
2005 interview with Rochus Misch, translated from German
“I have read a good many newspaper reports purporting to describe these outbursts — the alleged carpet-biting an so on — but I can only say that although Hitler was certainly temperamental, I never witnessed anything of that sort in all the years I knew him.”
From the memoir of Hans Baur, 'I was Hitler's pilot', pg.168, Frontline books, 2013 edition.
We were in Munich and in a hurry one morning. Hitler was going to visit the studio of Frau Troost, whom he greatly esteemed. She was one of the few women whom Hitler really listened to and he respected her a great deal. Because he was in a hurry, he happened to put on one of the ties I had selected for him.
When Frau Troost saw him, her face lit up and she said, “a wonderful tie!! You have done well this morning!” Hitler was pleased, because nearly every other time, she would greet him with, “Mein Führer, an impossible tie!” She would say this when he would wear his yellow and orange tie with polka dots over a blue suit with stripes. He clashed all the time.
When Frau Troost would criticize his ties she usually would throw me a reproachful look. I refused to take her passive criticism and spoke up. I would say, “the appropriately colored tie I laid out last night. He refuses to wear it.” Hitler would never say anything during these exchanges and did not bring it up with me later on.
The one area where Hitler looked quite well was the white tie and tails. Even Eva Braun could find nothing with which to criticize. But he didn’t know how to tie his white ties and I had to do it for him. Hitler said that I had to do this “very quickly” and wanted them tied in 25 seconds or less. If it took longer than 25 seconds, he would get antsy and start stomping his foot down. Sometimes I deliberately went slowly, just to test his limits and this would make Hitler furious. But he almost never really lost his temper and never yelled. He was actually very mild mannered.
Then when I went slowly, he would sigh and say, “what are you thinking about?” I blandly said, “I’m thinking that my job is not so ordinary and boring when I can take more time to do things right.”
...One day at the Berghof, he said to his guests, “See here my man Krause. He deliberately ties my ties for my tuxedo in 2 minutes when I have instructed him to take 25 seconds, tops. Then he will just look and at me with a sly smile and give me an ironic laugh. Nothing disturbs him. I would dearly love to have just 5 minutes of such calm in my life.”
Taken from a translation of the memoir written by Karl Wilhelm Krause (1911-2001) who was Hitler’s valet from 1934 until 1939.
they either cease being mistaken
or they cease being honest"
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