Adolf Hitler and his women

Hitler was never truly comfortable in the company of women, but women found him strangely attractive. 

Hitler’s First Love

Adolf Hitler‘s first love, in Vienna, was a Jewish girl called Stefanie but, lacking the courage, he never spoke to her. Instead he wrote love poems about her which his youthful friend, the poor August Kubizek, had to endure.

Hitler extolled the virtues of men remaining celibate until the age of 25. He was both repulsed and fascinated by prostitutes and although he preached that only men of inferior races went to prostitutes he obliged Kubizek to accompany him on numerous trips into Vienna’s red light districts. Rumours persisted that Hitler caught syphilis from a Jewish prostitute. In the early 1920s Hitler’s driver spoke of them cruising the Munich nightclubs.

Once he had become a national figure, Hitler’s relations with women were always marred by his belief that he was wedded to his mission. A wife would not only be a distraction; it could damage his popularity in the eyes of his female fans. Evidence of Hitler’s popularity amongst women first surfaced during his trial following the failed Munich Putsch in which daily the courtroom was jammed with female admirers. On the day of sentencing it was festooned with flowers.

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The Munich Putsch – a brief outline

During the early 1920s Adolf Hitler became convinced that the way to power lay in revolution. Revolution had brought power to the Bolsheviks in Russia and had almost done the same for the Communists in Germany during the chaos of the immediate post-First World War period. Hitler watched, with fascination and admiration, as Mussolini took over power in Italy following his March on Rome in October 1922.

And so in Munich, Hitler planned his overthrow, or putsch, of the Bavarian government followed by a ‘March on Berlin’. The date set, Sunday 11 November 1923, was an auspicious anniversary – five years on from Germany’s defeat in the war, and, on a more practical level, being a Sunday, a day when the armed forces and police were on reserve strength. (Pictured is Hitler and his Munich entourage).

A Beer Hall in Munich

But when Hitler learnt about, and indeed was invited to, a public meeting in a Munich beer hall on the evening of 8 November, hosted by government figures such as Gustav Ritter von Kahr, leader of the Bavarian Government, and the Bavarian chiefs of police and army, the opportunity was too perfect to pass by. At his side were Hermann Goring and Rudolf Hess.

The National Revolution Has Begun

As the meeting progressed, Hitler’s armed corps of bodyguards, the SA, silently surrounded the building. With the bulk of his men in place, others noisily barged into the beer hall, interrupting proceedings and shouting ‘Heil Hitler’.

A machine gun was hauled in and the audience, fearing a massacre, cowered and hid beneath their chairs. Hitler took his cue and brandishing a revolver, charged to the front, leapt onto a chair and, firing two shots into the ceiling, declared that he was the new leader of the German government and that the ‘National revolution (had) begun’. He then forced the three men on the stage, Kahr and his chiefs, into a side room, apologised to them for the inconvenience, and promised them prestigious jobs in his new Germany.

Returning to the stage, Hitler delivered a rousing speech, winning over his audience who applauded ecstatically. They applauded with equal enthusiasm when Hitler’s famous co-conspirator, General Erich von Ludendorff, made his appearance. Ludendorff, as the joint head of Germany’s military during the First World War, was well-known and respected, and Hitler hoped that with Ludendorff as his mascot it would win him support. It seemed to be working.

Ludendorff’s task was to persuade Kahr and his chiefs to support the revolution and join the March on Berlin. After some reluctance the three men eventually acquiesced.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city, the SA, led by Hitler’s confidant, Ernst Rohm, was successfully securing vital strongpoints. Hitler, his speech done and his audience converted, left the beer hall to check on progress.

The Gullible Old General

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August Kubizek, Hitler’s only friend – a summary

August Kubizek provides the only substantial witness account of Adolf Hitler’s early years in Linz and Vienna between 1907 and 1912. Born within nine months of each other they met in their hometown of Linz where a shared love of art and music, especially the operas of Richard Wagner, brought them together. They became firm friends to the point Hitler became resentful if Kubizek paid too much attention to anyone else. While Hitler dreamt of being a great artist, Kubizek, or ‘Gustl’ to Hitler, dreamt of becoming a famous conductor.

In 1912, Hitler moved to Vienna while August Kubizek remained in Linz to work as an apprentice for his father’s upholstery business which was destined to become his trade. But Hitler somehow managed to persuade Kubizek’s father to allow Gustl to join him in Vienna and be allowed to pursue his musical ambitions.

Vienna

Thus the two friends were reunited and sharing a room in Vienna. But while Kubizek was successful in his application to the Vienna Music Conservatory, Hitler failed twice to get a place at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. So ashamed of his failure that for a while Hitler managed to keep it hidden from his friend.

In 1908, Kubizek returned to Vienna after a brief visit back to Linz to find Hitler had moved out and had left no forwarding address. He was not to see Hitler again until thirty years later, in 1938.

Kubizek embarked on what promised to be a successful musical career but cut short by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Following the war he became a council official.

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The 20 July Bomb Plot – an outline

The attempt on Hitler’s life on 20 July 1944 was the seventeenth known occasion that someone had tried to kill Hitler. Unlike other attempts however this, the 20 July Bomb Plot, was the most intricate, and involved plans for a new Germany following the successful accomplishment of the mission.

Count Stauffenberg loses faith

A fervent supporter of Hitler, 36-year-old Count Claus von Stauffenberg had fought bravely during the Second World War for the Fuhrer. Fighting in Tunisia in 1943, Stauffenberg was badly wounded, losing his left eye, his right hand and two fingers of his left. Once recovered, Stauffenberg was transferred to the Eastern Front where he witnessed the atrocities firsthand which made him question his loyalty. As it became increasingly apparent that Germany would not win the war, Stauffenberg lost faith in Hitler and the Nazi cause.

At some point in early 1944, Stauffenberg joined a group of German officers intent on bringing the war to a quick end and negotiating a peace with the Allies. Their biggest obstacle was of course Hitler.

But the plotters received a bit of luck when Stauffenberg was appointed onto the staff of the Reserve Army, reporting directly to General Friedrich Fromm, another officer who had lost faith in the Nazi cause. When Stauffenberg was invited to a meeting in Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair in Rastenburg, East Prussia, for 20 July, the opportunity seemed perfect.

The conspirators hatched their plan, codenamed Valkyrie, and crucial to its success was Stauffenberg’s proximity to Hitler.

‘I Am Alive, I Am Alive’ Continue reading

Hitler’s Mein Kampf – a summary

Originally published on 18 July 1925, Adolf Hitler’s semi-autobiographical rant, Mein Kampf, sold moderately at first. A second book, a follow-up written in 1928, was never published. However, by the end of 1933, Hitler’s first year in power, Mein Kampf, the ‘Bible of National Socialism’, had sold over a million copies. By 1939, at the outbreak of war, it was outselling all other titles in Germany with the exception of the Bible. Honeymooning couples were given a copy of Mein Kampf to savour, and no patriotic German home could be seen without a copy taking pride of place on the bookshelves. Although Hitler later claimed he regretted writing it, Mein Kampf made the German dictator a very rich man.

The earlier chapters concerns Hitler’s upbringing, his formative years in Linz, Vienna and Munich, his desire to be an artist and his service during the First World War. Then begins the sledgehammer prose – some 600 pages of it. The book has not seen the light of day in Germany since the end of the Second World War but, contrary to popular belief, it is not banned there. Using the Swastika and the Nazi salute for non-educational purposes are forbidden in Germany but not the purchase or reading of the central ideological tenet of Hitler’s thinking. However the state of Bavaria, which seized the copyright to Mein Kampf after the war, has steadfastly refused to re-publish the book fearing it could fuel racial tensions and be exploited by neo-Nazi groups.

‘My 4½ Year Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice’

Hitler was serving a jail term following his failed attempt to seize power in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. He was tried for high treason and could have faced the death penalty but got away with a lenient sentence of five years. In the event, he served less than nine months, being released in December 1924. Although frequently depressed and talked of suicide, Hitler used his time in prison constructively, dictating to his deputy, Rudolph Hess, his autobiographical, ideological tirade. Published in two volumes, the first on 18 July 1925, and the second in 1926, Mein Kampf was originally entitled ‘My 4½ Year Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice‘; the new title being suggested by his publisher.

Much of Mein Kampf is devoted to race; the need for a pure race of German Aryans untainted by the blood of different ethnic groups. The Aryan race was of the highest order, the ‘bearers of culture’; the Jewish race of the lowest. ‘The whole existence (of the Jews) is based on one great single lie… that they are a religious community while actually they are a race – and what a race!’

Hitler’s stated aim was to eliminate the ‘hydra of World Jewry’ from society. Jews are referred to throughout the book by various unpleasant metaphors: parasites, germs, vermin. He expounded at length on the need for Lebensraum, the provision of extra living space for the growth of the German population at the expense of the Slavic races of Eastern Europe. Hitler took Darwin’s concept of the ‘survival of the fittest’, nature’s continual struggle for life or death, and applied it to race. For the Aryan race to survive, not only had it to prove the strongest, but it was necessary to stamp out weaker, inferior races. And of course no ‘race’ was an inferior or as weak as the Jew.

Rupert Colley.

Women on the TrainRupert Colley’s novella, set during World War Two and Paris in 1968, The Woman on the Train, is now available.

Also, gathered together in one collection, 60 of Rupert Colley’s history articles, The Savage Years: Tales From the 20th Century.

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Geli Raubal – Hitler’s niece: a summary

On 18 September 1931, a 23-year-old woman was found dead in a sumptuous nine-room Munich apartment, a single shot wound into her heart. Her name was Geli Raubal, the apartment was rented to Adolf Hitler, and the young woman happened to be Hitler’s niece. Cause of death – suicide. Naturally.

Geli Raubal was the daughter of Hitler’s half sister, Angela. Angela and Adolf grew up together; both products of the same father, Alois Hitler, and his second and third wives respectively.

Uncle Alf

Geli RaubalIn 1928, Hitler offered his sister the position of housekeeper in his Bavarian mountain retreat. Angela arrived with her two daughters, Elfriede and nineteen-year-old Angela, known as Geli. Hitler immediately took a shine to the carefree Geli and, in order to remove her from her mother’s watchful eye, installed her into his Munich apartment. Nineteen years Hitler’s junior, she was, according to one of Hitler’s aides, ‘of medium size, well developed, had dark, rather wavy hair, and lively brown eyes… it was simply astonishing to see a young girl at Hitler’s side.’

Geli, who called Hitler ‘Uncle Alf’, had been born in Linz; the town Hitler always considered his hometown, on 4 June 1908.

Hitler liked to be seen with his attractive niece, taking her to meetings, and to restaurants and theatres, but their relationship was a stormy one. Both were consumed by jealousy – Geli of Hitler’s relationship with a seventeen-year-old Eva Braun, a model for Hitler’s photographer, Heinrich Hoffman; and Hitler by Geli’s flirtatious conduct and numerous admirers. Indeed, Hitler once told Hoffman, ‘I love Geli and could marry her.’

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The Death of Hitler – a summary

The death of Hitler: In January 1945, with the Soviet Red Army bearing down on Germany, Hitler left his HQ in East Prussia and moved back to Berlin and into the Reich Chancellery. A month later, he went underground into the Chancellery’s air-raid shelter, a cavern of dimly-lit rooms made of solid, high-quality concrete.

Hitler’s Health

Adolf HitlerDuring his last few months, Hitler’s health deteriorated rapidly. In February 1945, after so many years of shouting and screaming, he had to have an operation on his vocal chords which, following the operation, obliged him to stay silent for a whole week.

Despite the implorations of his staff, Hitler refused to leave Berlin, and finally, realising the war was truly lost, he decided to end his life. Shuffling around with a stoop, Hitler looked much older than his fifty-six years. A new pain in his eye required daily doses of cocaine drops, and, perhaps from the onset of Parkinson’s disease, his left hand shook constantly. His eyesight had become so poor he had to have his documents written in extra-large print on specially-made ‘Fuhrer’ typewriters.

He ate poorly – devouring large portions of cake. He’d fallen out with many of his senior colleagues – in particular Hermann Goring and Heinrich Himmler, both of whom he accused of treachery and ordered to be arrested on sight and court-martialled. Joseph Goebbels, however, remained loyal to the last, broadcasting to the nation, demanding greater effort and sacrifice against the enemy.

Hitler the General

In his final days Hitler ordered a scorched-earth policy throughout eastern Germany and the destruction of anything that could be of use to the Soviets. What happened to the German citizen was not of Hitler’s concern – as far as Hitler was concerned, they had proved themselves unworthy of him.

From within the bunker, Hitler continued to dictate operations but his grip on reality had deserted him. He refused to listen to the glum reports from the front and ordered a constant stream of counterattacks deploying non-existent troops and refusing the troops that did exist room to retreat and re-group.

On his 56th (and last) birthday on 20 April 1945, a group of nineteen Hitler Youth boys lined-up in the Chancellery garden for Hitler to inspect and decorate with Iron Crosses. Lined-up from the eldest to the youngest, Hitler, with his shaking left hand behind his back, shook hands with each child, pinching the cheek of the last, the youngest child, a 12-year-old boy called Alfred Czech.  ‘The Führer shook my hand,’ said Mr Czech decades later, ‘then he pinched my left cheek. He told me, “Keep it up!” I certainly had the feeling that I had done something remarkable.’ Hitler delivered a short speech and thanked them for their bravery before shuffling back into the bunker. It was to be Hitler’s last appearance in public.

Hitler and Eva

Adolf Hitler und Eva Braun auf dem BerghofOn April 20, Hitler celebrated (of sorts) his 56th birthday. A week later, just past midnight on April 29 in a ten-minute ceremony, Hitler married his long-term partner, Eva Braun (pictured). Twenty-three years his junior, the German people knew nothing of her. Her presence, although not a secret amongst the Nazi hierarchy, was not something Hitler wished publicized lest it should diminish the adoration of Germany’s women. Goebbels and Martin Bormann stood as witnesses as a hastily-found registrar nervously asked the couple whether they were of pure Aryan descent and free of hereditary diseases.

That night, following the subdued and rather surreal marital celebrations, Hitler dictated his last political testament and private will to his secretary, where, in the former, he drew-up the make up of the government following his death. The admiral, Karl Donitz, was named as his successor, not as ‘Fuhrer’ but as president, and Goebbels as Chancellor.

Death of Hitler

On April 29 Hitler made preparations for his death. 200 litres of benzene were delivered into the bunker. Hitler insisted that his body be burnt, not wanting his corpse to finish up in Soviet hands like an “exhibit in a cabinet of curiosities”. He also ordered the testing of the newly-arrived batch of cyanide capsules. The chosen victim was Hitler’s much loved Alsatian dog, Blondi.

On April 30, with the Soviets only 300 metres away, Goebbels tried one last time to convince the Fuhrer to leave Berlin but Hitler had already made it plain a week earlier, bellowing at his generals, “If you gentlemen think I’m going to leave Berlin you are very much mistaken. I’d rather blow my brains out”.

Near four o’clock, after a round of farewells, Hitler and his wife of forty hours retired to his study. Hitler wore upon his tunic, his Iron Cross (First Class) and his Wounded Badge of the First World War. His entourage waited nervously outside. A shot was heard. Hitler had shot himself through the right temple. Braun was also dead. She had swallowed the cyanide. The pistol Hitler had used was the same one that his niece, Geli Raubal, had used when she committed suicide almost 14 years before.

The bodies, covered in blankets, were carried out into the Chancellery garden. There, with artillery exploding around them and neighbouring buildings ablaze, Hitler’s wishes were honoured – the benzene was poured on the corpses and set alight. With the bodies blazing, the entourage gave one final Hitler salute before scampering back into the bunker.

The official announcement, the following day, stated that “Hitler had fallen at his command post fighting to his last breath against Bolshevism and for Germany”.

He had come to power as German Chancellor, aged 43, in January 1933. But with the death of Hitler, the Third Reich, which was meant to last a thousand years, had come to an end after just twelve.

Women on the TrainRupert Colley.

Rupert Colley’s novella, set during World War Two and Paris in 1968, The Woman on the Train, is now available.

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The Enabling Act – a brief outline

On 23 March 1933, the German Reichstag voted in the Enabling Act, allowing Hitler to rip up the constitution. He’d been in power less than two months.

On 30 January 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor within a coalition government, achieving what he had striven for since 1923 – power through legitimate means.

The Reichstag Fire

Barely a month after Hitler’s appointment came the Reichstag Fire, started by 24-year-old Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch arsonist who may or may not have been a communist. Rumours persisted that it was the Nazis themselves that set the parliament building ablaze.

Either way, Hitler, who saw it as a “God-given signal”, made political capital of it, blaming the communists, having all political opponents rounded up and beaten, and put into ‘protective custody’. President Paul von Hindenburg (pictured with Hitler), increasingly senile, accepted Hitler’s request following the fire for a decree suspending all political and civil liberties as a ‘temporary’ measure for the ‘protection of the people and state’. These temporary measures were never revoked.

In March the last parliamentary elections took place. Only Hitler, it was claimed, could save Germany from the communists, and the SA, using violence and intimidation, silenced all other parties. The Nazis polled 44% of the vote, not enough for a majority but enough to squash any future political resistance.

The Enabling Act

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Eva Braun – a brief biography

Born 6 February 1912, Eva Braun first met her future husband, Adolf Hitler, while working as an assistant and model to Hitler’s official photographer, Heinrich Hoffman. It was 1929 and she was 17, Hitler 40.

Adolf Hitler und Eva Braun auf dem BerghofAt the time Hitler had taken upon himself the responsibility of looking after his 21-year-old niece, Geli Raubal. The exact relationship between uncle and niece has never been properly ascertained except that Hitler was overly-possessive and jealous of the company she kept. On 18 September 1931, Raubal committed suicide by shooting herself with Hitler’s pistol.

Hitler’s relationship with Eva Braun began soon after Raubal’s death and possibly before. Raubal’s jealousy of Braun has been mooted as a possible cause of her suicide.

The Invisible Woman

Germany, as a nation, never knew of Braun’s existence as Hitler went to great lengths to keep her hidden from view. He was, as he often remarked, primarily wedded to the German people and wanted to maintain his popularity amongst German women, whose adoration for Hitler sometimes contained a sexual dimension.

Thus the relationship proved difficult for Braun who was devoted to the Fuhrer. Twice she tried to commit suicide, once by shooting herself, the second time by poison. Neither occasion could be regarded as a serious attempt at ending her life but a desperate cry for attention. Concerned, Hitler amply provided for her so that materially at least Braun was very comfortable. But still she remained marginalised. She spent much of her time with Hitler in his mountain retreat, the Berchtesgaden, but was only reluctantly accepted by the wives of other senior Nazis. When visitors and dignities arrived Braun had to make herself scarce.

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Hitler appointed Chancellor

On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. The supposed one thousand year Reich had started. But it would be another nineteen months before Hitler achieved absolute power.

1932 Germany saw the rise of the Nazi party into a prominent political force. The Weimar government had failed its people and, following the worldwide depression, Germany was in economic ruin, people’s livelihoods shattered and the nation still burdened with the humiliation of the post-First World War Treaty of Versailles. Germans, fearful of Communists and Jews, looked for an alternative and that alternative lay in Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Elections

In the July 1932 Reichstag elections, the Nazi party gained almost 40% of the vote making it the most powerful party in Germany. There was a slight dip in the elections four months later but the party still had enough electoral clout that Hitler, as dictated by the Weimar constitution, should have been appointed chancellor.

But the Weimar president, the 85-year-old Paul von Hindenburg (pictured with Hitler), was reluctant to appoint the former corporal: “That man a chancellor?” he exclaimed, “I’ll make him a postmaster and he can lick stamps with my head on them.”

Franz von Papen, Hindenburg’s former chancellor, who believed the Nazis were already a spent force after the dip in the Nazi vote in November 1932, decided to work with Hitler (or rather his objective was to manipulate the Nazi leader). Hitler would become chancellor and Papen would serve as his vice chancellor.

Justice to everyone

But the real power, Papen persuaded the aging president, would be himself. Hitler, Papen argued, needed to be contained and this would be far easier with Hitler working inside the government than agitating from outside. “In two months,” said Papen, “we’ll have pushed Hitler into a corner where he can squeal to his heart’s content.”

Reluctantly, Hindenburg agreed.

Adolf HitlerAnd so on 30 January 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor within a coalition government. At around noon, Hitler took his oath: “I will employ my strength for the welfare of the German people, protect the Constitution and laws of the German people, conscientiously discharge the duties imposed on me, and conduct my affairs of office impartially and with justice to everyone.” Yes, Hitler promised to respect the German constitution with justice for all.

He had done it – Hitler had achieved what he had striven for since 1923 following the failed attempt to seize power by force, the Munich Putsch – power through legitimate means.

‘The New Reich has been born’

That evening Hitler looked out from his balcony at the Chancellery. Below him filed passed thousands of torch-bearing Nazis, singing the Nazi anthem, the Horst Wessel song (so named after a martyr of the Nazi cause). This was their moment of triumph, the day of national exultation; the Nazi era had begun and their mood was jubilant. That evening, an ecstatic Joseph Goebbels wrote his in diary“It is almost like a dream – a fairytale. The new Reich has been born. Fourteen years of work have been crowned with victory. The German revolution has begun!”

Not everyone however was delighted by the turn of events. Hindenburg’s old wartime partner, Erich Ludendorff, who had been at Hitler’s side during the Munich Putsch, wrote to the president: “By appointing Hitler Chancellor of the Reich you have handed over our sacred German Fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I prophesy to you this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe on our nation. Future generations will curse you in your grave for this action.”

Franz von PapenPapen (pictured) was to soon realise the folly of his intrigue – it was he, not Hitler, who was pushed into a corner and became an inconsequential figure. He was fortunate to survive Hitler’s murderous purge, the Night of the Long Knives, in which close associates of Papen’s were shot, and was shunted off to serve as German ambassador first in Vienna then later, during the war, in Turkey. He lived to the age of 89, dying in Germany on 2 May 1969.

The Road to Ruin

But for Hitler in January 1933, the road to absolute power had only just begun. The fortuitous (or not) Reichstag Fire, a month later, followed by the Enabling Act in March 1933 which, despite his oath, allowed Hitler to dispense with the German constitution, augmented his power. But it was the death of President Hindenburg, in August 1934, that allowed Hitler to establish his dictatorial rule. The road to ruin lay ahead.

The White Venus

Rupert Colley

Rupert Colley’s enthralling novel, set in Nazi-occupied France, The White Venus, is now available.

Also, gathered together in one collection, 60 of Rupert Colley’s history articles, The Savage Years: Tales From the 20th Century.

Claim your free copy of Rupert’s novel, My Brother the Enemy.