Die Große Liebe ? – Eva Braun and Hitler

Die Große Liebe ?
Eva Anna Paula Hitler (née Braun – 6 February 1912 – 30 April 1945) (see left) was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler and, for less than 40 hours, his wife.

Eva Braun – Nackt Portät
(Eva Braun – Nude Study)

Eva met Hitler in Munich, when she was 17 years old, while working as an assistant and model for his personal photographer and began seeing him often about two years later.
She attempted suicide twice during their early relationship.
By 1936, she was a part of his household at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden and by all accounts lived a materially luxurious and sheltered life throughout World War II.
Eva kept up habits which met Hitler’s disapproval, such as smoking, wearing make-up and nude sunbathing.
Eva enjoyed photography and many of the surviving colour photographs and film of Hitler were taken by her.

She was a key figure within Hitler’s inner social circle, but did not attend public events with him until mid-1944, when her sister Gretl married Hermann Fegelein, the SS liaison officer on his staff.

As the Third Reich collapsed towards the end of the war, Eva swore her loyalty to Hitler and went to Berlin to be by his side in the heavily reinforced Führerbunker beneath the Reich Chancellery.
As Red Army troops fought their way into the neighbourhood on 29 April 1945, she married Hitler during a brief civil ceremony: she was 33 and he 56.
Less than 40 hours later, they committed suicide together in a sitting room of the bunker.
The German public was wholly unaware of Braun until after her death.

Evas’ Biography

Born in Munich (see left), Eva Braun was the second daughter of school teacher Friedrich “Fritz” Braun, a non-practicing Lutheran, and Franziska “Fanny” Kronberger, who came from a respectable Bavarian Catholic family.

Her elder sister, Ilse, was born in 1909 and her younger sister, Margarete “Gretl”, was born in 1915.
Eva was educated at a lyceum, then for one year at a business school in a convent where she had average grades and a talent for athletics.

She worked for several months as a receptionist at a medical office.
Then at age 17, took a job as an office and lab assistant and photographer’s model for Heinrich Hoffmann, the official photographer for the Nazi Party – and it was through Hoffman that Eva Braun met Adolf Hitler.


Eva Braun met Hitler, 23 years her senior, at Hoffmann’s studio (see right below) of Munich in October 1929.

Heinrich Hoffmann (see left) was born 12 – 9 – 1885 in Fürth, Germany, four years before Adolf Hitler (see Adolf Hitler).
After leaving school he worked in his father’s photography shop.
He joined the German Army where he worked as an official photographer during the First World War. His first book of photographs were published in 1919.
He joined the NSDAP in 1920 and was chosen by its new leader, Hitler,  as his official photographer. The two became close friends.
Hoffmann’s photographs were published as postage stamps, postcards, posters and picture books.        
Following Hoffmann’s suggestion, both he and Hitler received royalties from all uses of Hitler’s image, even on postage stamps, which made the photographer wealthy.
In 1933 he was elected to the Reichstag and in 1938 Hitler appointed him a ‘Professor’.
Eva was girlfriend with Hoffmann’s daughter Henriette (see Henriette Hoffmann), who married the Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach (see Schirach).
Heinrich was arrested at the end of the World War II and was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment as a Nazi profiteer.
Upon release from prison on 31-05-1950 he settled in the small village Epfach in the Munich area where he died 7 years later at age 72, on 11-12-1957.
Hoffmann is buried on the Westfriedhof of Munich, together with his daughter Henriette.
Only steps away is the grave of the secretary of Hitler Traudl Junge. 

Hitler (see left) had been introduced to Eva as “Herr Wolff” (a childhood nickname he used among his close friends).

She described him to friends as a “gentleman of a certain age with a moustache, a light-coloured English overcoat, and carrying a big felt hat.
He appreciated her limpid blue eye colour, which was said to be close to his mother’s (see right Klara Hitler).

click here for more information about Adolf Hitler

Her family was strongly against the relationship and little is known about it during the first two years.

Hitler saw more of Eva after the apparent 1931 suicide of his half sister (see right), Angela’s daughter Geli Raubal (see left), with whom he had an affair.

The circumstances of Geli’s death in Munich have never been confirmed.
Some historians suggest she killed herself because she was distraught over her relationship with Hitler or his relationship with Braun, while others have speculated Hitler played a more direct role in the death of his niece.

Eva was unaware that Raubal was a rival for Hitler’s affections until after Raubal’s death.
Meanwhile, Hitler was seeing other women, such as actress Renate Müller (see right), whose early death may also have been suicide.
Eva’s first attempted suicide on 1 November 1932 at the age of 20 by shooting herself in the chest with her father’s pistol.
She attempted suicide a second time on 28 May 1935 by taking an overdose of Phanodorm (sleeping pills).

After Eva’s recovery, Hitler became more committed to her and arranged for the substantial royalties from widely published and popular photographs of him taken by Hoffmann’s photo studio to pay for a villa in Munich (see left).

This income also provided her with a Mercedes, a chauffeur and a maid.
Eva’s sister Gretl moved in with her.
Hoffmann later asserted Frauline Braun  became a fixture in Hitler’s life by attempting suicide less than a year after Geli Raubal’s death, as Hitler wished to avoid any further scandal.

When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Eva sat on the stage in the area reserved for VIPs as a secretary, to which Hitler’s sister Angela strongly objected, along with the wives of other ministers.
She was banned from living anywhere near Eva as a result.

By 1936, Eva was at Hitler’s household at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden, whenever he was in residence there and her parents were also invited for dinner several times.

click here for more information about Berchtesgaden and the Berghof

In 1938, Hitler named Eva his primary heir, to receive about 600 pounds yearly after his death.
Nonetheless, Eva’s political influence on Hitler was apparently minimal.
She was never allowed to stay in the room when business or political conversations took place.
It is not certain whether Eva was a member of the Nazi party.
According to biographer Angela Lambert, Eva was neither a member nor ever pressured to join.
By all accounts, she led a sheltered and privileged existence and seemed uninterested in politics.
The only known instance in which she took any interest in policy and politics was in 1943, shortly after Germany had fully transitioned to a total war economy.
Among other things, the transition meant a potential ban on women’s cosmetics and luxuries (as was already the case in the Allied countries).

According to Albert Speer’s (see left) memoir, ‘Inside the Third Reich’, Eva immediately approached Hitler in “high indignation”, to which an “uncertain” Hitler instructed Speer to simply and quietly cease production of women’s cosmetics and luxuries rather than an outright ban.
Hitler and Eva never appeared as a couple in public and there is some indication that this, along with their not having married early in their relationship, was due to Hitler’s belief that he would lose popularity among female supporters.
The German people were wholly unaware of Eva Braun’s relationship with Hitler until after the war.
According to Speer’s memoirs, Eva never slept in the same room as Hitler and had her own rooms at the Berghof, in Hitler’s Berlin residence and in the Berlin bunker.

Speer also wrote:

Eva Braun was allowed to be present during visits from old party associates.

She was banished as soon as other dignitaries of the Reich, such as cabinet ministers, appeared at the table … Hitler obviously regarded her as socially acceptable only within strict limits.
Sometimes I kept her company in her exile, a room next to Hitler’s bedroom.
She was so intimidated that she did not dare leave the house for a walk.
Out of sympathy for her predicament I soon began to feel a liking for this unhappy woman, who was so deeply attached to Hitler.
Speer later said, “Eva Braun will prove a great disappointment to historians.”
Even during World War II, Eva apparently lived a life of leisure, spending her time exercising, reading romance novels, watching films and early German television (at least until around 1943), along with later helping to host gatherings of Hitler’s inner circle.
She reportedly accepted gifts which were stolen property belonging to deposed European royal families.

Traudl Junge (see right), Hitler’s youngest secretary, wrote in her memoirs ‘Until the Final Hour’ –

She was very well dressed and groomed, and I noticed her natural unaffected manner.
She wasn’t the kind of ideal German girl you saw on recruiting posters for the BDM (see left) or in woman’s magazines.
Her carefully done hair was bleached, and her pretty face was made up — quite heavily but in very good taste.
Eva Braun wasn’t tall but she had a very pretty figure and a distinguished appearance.

She knew just how to dress in a style that suited her and never looked as if she had overdone it — she always seemed appropriately and tastefully dressed, although she wore valuable jewellery. …Eva wasn’t allowed to change her hair style.

Once she appeared with her hair tinted slightly darker and on one occasion she piled it up on the top of her head.
Hitler was horrified: ‘you look totally strange, quite changed. You are an entirely different woman !’ …and Eva Braun made haste to revert to the way she looked before.’
Traudl Junge (born Gertraud Humps; 16 March 1920 – 10 February 2002) was Adolf Hitler’s youngest personal private secretary, from December 1942 to April 1945.
Gertraud “Traudl” Humps was born in Munich, the daughter of a master brewer and lieutenant in the Reserve Army, Max Humps and his wife Hildegard (née Zottmann).
She had a sister, Inge, born in 1923.
As a teenager she thought of becoming a ballerina.
Traudl Junge began working for Hitler in December 1942.
She was the youngest of his private secretaries.
“I was 22 and I didn’t know anything about politics, it didn’t interest me”,
Junge said decades later, also saying that she felt great guilt for “…liking the greatest criminal ever to have lived.”
She said, “I admit, I was fascinated by Adolf Hitler.
He was a pleasant boss and a fatherly friend.
I deliberately ignored all the warning voices inside me and enjoyed the time by his side almost until the bitter end. It wasn’t what he said, but the way he said things and how he did things.”
At Hitler’s encouragement, in June 1943 Junge married Waffen-SS officer Hans Hermann Junge (1914 – 1944), who died in combat in France in August 1944. 
She worked at Hitler’s side in Berlin, the Berghof in Berchtesgaden, at Wolfsschanze in East Prussia, and lastly back in Berlin in the Führerbunker.

Unlike most other Germans, Eva was reportedly free to read European and American magazines and watch foreign films.
Her affection for nude sunbathing (and being photographed at it) is known to have infuriated Hitler.

Braun had a lifelong interest in photography and their closest friends called her the Rolleiflex Girl (after the well-known camera model).

She did her own darkroom processing of silver (black and white) stills and most of the extant colour stills and movies of Hitler are her work.
Otto Günsche and Heinz Linge, during extensive debriefings by Soviet intelligence officials after the war, said Eva was at the centre of Hitler’s life for most of his 12 years in power.

It was said that in 1936, he was always accompanied by her.

As soon as he heard the voice of his lover he became jollier.
He would make jokes about her new hats.
He would take her for hours on end into his study where there would be champagne cooling in ice, chocolates, cognac, and fruit.
The interrogation report adds that when Hitler was too busy for her, “Eva would often be in tears.”

Speer remarked that she had told him, in the middle of 1943, that Hitler was often too busy, immersed, or tired to spend time with her.

Linge stated in his memoirs that Hitler and Eva had two bedrooms and two bathrooms with interconnecting doors at the Berghof and Hitler would end most evenings alone with her in his study before they retired to bed.
She would be wearing a “dressing gown or house-coat“, drinking wine while Hitler would have tea.

Eva was very fond of her two Scottish Terrier dogs named Negus and Stasi (see left)
(this dog is labelled “Katuschka” in Eva Braun’s photo albums)
and they feature in her home movies.

She usually kept them away from Hitler’s German Shepherd “Blondi” (see right).

In 1944, Eva invited her cousin Gertraud Weisker to visit her at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden.
Decades later, Weisker recalled that although women in the Third Reich were expected not to wear make-up, drink, or smoke, Eva did all of these things.
She was the unhappiest woman I have ever met,” said Weisker, who informed Eva about how poorly the war was going for Germany, having illegally listened to BBC news broadcasts in German.

On 3 June 1944, Eva Braun’s younger sister Gretl married SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein, who served as Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler’s liaison officer on Hitler’s staff.
Hitler used the marriage as an excuse to allow Eva to appear at official functions.

When Fegelein (see right) was caught in the closing days of the war trying to escape to Sweden with another woman, Hitler ordered his execution.

Gretl was nine months pregnant with a daughter at this time and after the war named the child Eva Barbara Fegelein in remembrance of her sister (Eva Fegelein (see left) committed suicide 25 April 1975).
After learning about the failed 20 July plot to kill Hitler, Eva wrote to him, “From our first meeting I swore to follow you anywhere even unto death. I live only for your love.”

In early April 1945, Eva travelled by car from Munich to Berlin to be with Hitler at the Führerbunker (see left).

She refused to leave as the Red Army closed in, insisting she was one of the few people loyal to him left in the world.
After midnight on 29 April, Hitler and Braun were married in a small civil ceremony within the Führerbunker.
The event was witnessed by Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann.
The bride wore a dark blue silk dress.
Thereafter, Hitler hosted a modest wedding breakfast with his new wife.
With Eva’s marriage, her legal name changed to Eva Hitler. 
After 13:00 on the afternoon of 30 April 1945, Eva and Hitler said their farewells to staff, and members of the “inner circle”.
Later that afternoon at approximately 3:30 pm, several witnesses reported hearing a loud gunshot.
After waiting a few minutes, Hitler’s valet, Heinz Linge, and Hitler’s SS adjutant, Otto Günsche, entered the small study and found the lifeless bodies seated on a small sofa.
The two corpses were carried up the stairs and through the bunker’s emergency exit to the garden behind the Reich Chancellery where they were burned.
Eva was 33 years old when she died.

The rest of Eva’s family (see right) survived the war, including her father, who worked in a hospital and to whom Eva sent several trunks of her belongings in April 1945.

Her mother, Franziska, died at age 91 in January 1976, having lived out her days in an old farmhouse in Ruhpolding (see left), Bavaria –
and thereby hangs a tale –
in August 1959 the author of this blog met Eva’s uncle in Ruhpolding – but not Franziska, although at the time she was very old, but still living in Ruhpolding.

click here for more information and photos about Ruhpolding

Haus Wackenfeld
Hitler at Haus Wackenfeld
Haus Wackenfeld
Haus Wackenfeld
Haus Wackenfeld

The Terrace
Haus Wackenfeld
Haus Wackenfeld
The Berghof
The Berghof
The Berghof
The Main Salon – The Berghof
The Main Salon – The Berghof
The Main Salon – The Berghof
The Main Salon – The Berghof
The Large Dining Room – The Berghof
The Main Salon – The Berghof
The Main Salon – The Berghof
The Main Salon – The Berghof
The Berghof
The Berghof
The Berghof
The Berghof
The Berghof
The Berghof
Hitler on the Terrace with Telescope
Hitler on the Terrace with Telescope



‘Die große Liebe’ (The Great Love) is a German drama film of the National Socialist period, made by Rolf Hansen, starring Zarah Leander and Viktor Staal.
It premièred in Berlin in 1942 and went on to become the most commercially successful film in the history of the Third Reich.

The attractive Oberleutnant Paul Wendlandt is stationed in North Africa as a fighter pilot.
While in Berlin to deliver a report he is given a day’s leave, and on the stage of the cabaret theatre “Skala” sees the popular Danish singer Hanna Holberg.
For Paul it is love at first sight.
When Hanna visits friends after the end of the performance, he follows her, and speaks to her in the U-Bahn. After the party in her friends’ flat he accompanies her home, and chance throws them further together when an air raid warning forces them to take cover in the air raid shelter. Hanna reciprocates Paul’s feelings, but after a night spent together Paul has to return immediately to the front.
There now follows a whole series of misunderstandings, and one missed opportunity after another.
While Hanna waits in vain for some sign of life from Paul, he is flying on missions in North Africa.
When he tries to visit her in her Berlin flat, she is giving a Christmas concert in Paris. Nevertheless their bond grows in strength and arouses the jealousy of the composer Rudnitzky, who is also in love with the singer.
Paul asks Hanna in a letter to marry him, however, when he is finally able to visit her, he is called away again on the night before the wedding.
Hanna, disappointed, leaves for Rome, where she has to make a guest appearance.
Even when Paul manages to get three weeks’ leave and follows Hanna to Rome, the wedding has still to be postponed: Paul feels so strongly that he is needed at the front that he goes back even though he has not been ordered to do so.
Hanna does not understand this, and there is an argument, after which Paul thinks he has lost her for ever.
The war against the Soviet Union breaks out (1941) and Paul and his friend Etzdorf are sent to the Eastern Front. When Etzdorf is killed, Paul writes a farewell letter to Hanna, to make the dangers of his missions easier to bear.
Only when he himself has been shot down and wounded and is sent to a military hospital in the mountains does he see Hanna again, who is still prepared to marry him.
The last shots of the film show the happy couple, confident in the future, looking skywards where squadrons of German bombers fly past.

Musical Numbers

Davon geht die Welt nicht unter (“It’s Not the End of the World”)
Blaue Husaren (Heut’ kommen die blauen Husaren) (“Today the Blue Hussars Are Coming”)
Ich weiß, es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh’n (“I Know a Miracle Will Happen”)
Mein Leben für die Liebe – Jawohl! (“My Life for Love – Jawohl!”)

All the songs were composed by Michael Jary, with lyrics by Bruno Balz and sung by Zarah Leander.
“Davon geht die Welt nicht unter” and “Ich weiß, es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh’n” were two of the biggest hits of the National Socialist period, and because of their political subtexts were much approved of and promoted by the authorities.
After 1942, as the military situation became more and more unfavourable to Germany, they became a staple element of the prevalent informal propaganda geared to “seeing it through”. 


The starring roles were played by Zarah Leander as Hanna Holberg and Viktor Staal as Paul Wendlandt.

In its blend of entertainment and propaganda elements the film is paradigmatic for National Socialist cinema in much the same way as ‘Wunschkonzert’, after ‘Die große Liebe’ the next most popular film of the National Socialist period.
While on the one hand the suspense-fully presented love story, with its images of the North African desert, Paris and Rome, as well as the extravagant show numbers, constitutes an invitation to dream, yet on the other hand “Die große Liebe” urges adjustment to the realities of war at all levels.
The film does not just contain original material from the “Die Deutsche Wochenschau” with pictures of German attacks on the English channel coast: the war determines the whole action of the film.
The lesson that Hanna Holberg, and with her the entire public, has to absorb, is the insignificance of individual striving for happiness in times in which higher values – here, the military victory of Germany in World War II – come to the fore.
The film does not gain its political impact by simply urging renunciation or “going without” in difficult times, but by setting off individual happiness against duties which go far beyond the requirements of ordinary military duties.
Paul is not concerned about behaving with military correctness, but about his desire to make his contribution to Germany’s military victory.
He renounces Hanna, not because of military orders recalling him to the front but in order to serve the national cause and if necessary to sacrifice his life for Germany. In the process Hanna learns that waiting and renunciation in war have not only to be accepted as fate, but constitute the really “great love“.
She learns to bravely send him back to his squadron, singing, “The World’s Not Going To End Because of This“.
The film owes by far the greatest part of its attractiveness to Zarah Leander’s performance. When she was selected for the role she had already established a strong profile as an expressive portrayer of self-aware, mature, emotionally stable women, whose plans and lives were thrown into disarray by unexpected blows of fate.
In order to impress also by its modernity, the film took the risk of making – for the time – an unprecedented, realistic representation of day-to-day wartime life, and shows rationing of food, air raid warnings and hours spent waiting in air raid shelters.
All levels of society are depicted as pitching in together, with the heroine coming to know those of much lower social level in the course of the film.
Hanna learns thereby to overcome her snobbishness, manifested in her singing for wounded soldiers.
The depiction of Zarah Leander was also unusual, in that in this film she wore ordinary day clothes, lived in a normal Berlin rented flat and even travelled on the U-Bahn.

Production and Reception

The interior scenes for “Die große Liebe” were filmed from 23 September 1941 to early October 1941 in the Tobis-Sascha-Studio in Vienna – better known as the Rosenhügel Film Studios – and in the Carl Froelich sound studio in Berlin-Tempelhof.

The exterior scenes had been filmed in Berlin and Rome by the middle of March 1942.
The film was submitted to the Film Censor’s Office on 10 June 1942 (Prüf-Nr. B. 57295) when it had a length of 2,738 metres or 100 minutes and was classified as suitable for minors and for public holiday viewing.

It was distributed by the UFA-owned Deutsche Filmvertriebs GmbH (DFV).

On 18 April 1944 it was re-submitted, now with a length of 2,732 metres (B. 60163), and was re-classified as before.
The premier took place on 12 June 1942 in Berlin, in the Germania-Palast cinema on the Frankfurter Allee and the UFA-Palast am Zoo cinema.
‘Die große Liebe’ became the greatest commercial film success of the Third Reich.
It was seen by 27 million spectators and took 8 million Reichsmarks, having cost 3 million to produce.
The Film Censor’s Office pronounced it “politically valuable”, ‘”artistically valuable” and “valuable for the people” – a combination of accolades also granted, for example, to Gerhard Lamprecht’s nationalist hero biography “Diesel” (also 1942).
The film was enormously popular with German audiences during the II World War.
After the end of World War II the Allied Control Commission forbade the film to be screened.