Fri, March 11, 2011
World > Europe

Photos of Hitler’s wife stir the web

2011-03-10 23:41:53 GMT2011-03-11 07:41:53(Beijing Time)

Recently released photographs from Eva Braun's personal picture albums reveal new dimensions of the woman who was Adolf Hitler's longtime girlfriend and, in their last, frantic hours together, his wife. Braun became the central woman in Hitler's life after the 1931 suicide of Geli Raubal, the future Führer's 23-year-old niece (and rumored lover). By all accounts, Eva was an unpretentious companion for the Nazi leader, but also a woman at once frivolous and vain -- unsurprising characteristics, perhaps, in a former teenage model, but striking in a figure long associated with the darkest chapters of the 20th century. This collection of rare and previously unseen photos comes from a cache of images confiscated by the U.S. Army in 1945 and brought to light by collector and curator Reinhard Schulz. Pictured: Eva Braun in a rowboat on Lake Worthsee near Munich in 1937. Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty

Eva, the second daughter of a respectable Bavarian Catholic family, became a photographer's model at age 17, working in the Munich studio of Heinrich Hoffman (above, left), the official photographer of the Reich. Through the job, Braun met 'Herr Wolff,' an older man with 'a funny moustache' whose real name was Hitler. By 1931 Braun and Hitler were, in effect, a couple, and Hitler was the undisputed star of Germany's fast-growing Nazi Party. (Eva's sister, Gretl, married Hermann Fegelein, a general in the Nazi SS. Gretl survived the war. Fegelein did not; he was executed -- some say by Hitler's own orders -- in 1945.) Pictured: Heinrich Hoffmann, Eva Braun, and Hitler at Hitler's residence, the Berghof near Berchtesgaden, Germany, 1942. Hitler and Braun are looking at photos Hoffmann has brought to the Berghof. Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images.

Eva Braun and friends in the Bavarian Alps, Germany, 1935.… Read more » Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images

Braun in blackface, dressed up apparently as American actor Al Jolson

Adolf Hitler is one of the darkest figures of the 20th century. But less is known about his girlfriend, Eva Braun, who he kept secret from Nazi Germany for years.

Pictures of the girlfriend and then wife have recently surfaced through Life Magazine, brought to light through collector and curator Reinhard Schulz.

The cache of photos from the young model's personal album was confiscated in 1945 by the American army. The newly released pictures have caused searches on the Web for "eva braun" to rise over 300% in one day.

So who was the woman by Hitler's side? Young Eva first met Hitler in 1929 when he was a rising star in the Nazi party. He was introduced to the 17-year-old as Herr Wolff, while she modeled for the official Nazi photographer Heinrich Hoffmann in Munich.

The Bavarian became Hitler's companion, despite being kept hidden from the public and often left alone. A depressive, she attempted suicide twice, but still remained loyal to Hitler to the end.

After learning about the failed plot to kill Hitler, Braun wrote him, "From our first meeting I swore to follow you anywhere even unto death. I live only for your love."

In the last days of the war, just before they ended their lives, she became his wife. Braun committed suicide with Hitler at the age of 33.

The unearthed photos show a woman frolicking in the Bavarian Alps with some of the most infamous characters of the Third Reich. One of the images from the Life slideshow that is making waves shows Braun in blackface, dressed up apparently as American actor Al Jolson, who starred in the 1927 movie "The Jazz Singer."

Maybe not surprisingly, the photos of Hitler's longtime companion do not cast her in the most positive light. As the Daily Telegraph put it, "Miss Braun appears as a rather vain and frivolous character."


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