He didn't exactly have the image of a romantic, but Adolf Hitler was rumored to have been involved with several women throughout his lifetime. The most famous was his long suffering mistress and wife of barely a day, Eva Braun. But she was only the last, not the first.
Recently released photographs from Eva Braun's personal picture albums reveal new dimensions of the woman who was Adolf Hitler's longtime girlfriend and finally, 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. Life.com offers a collection of rare photos from a cache of images confiscated by the U.S. Army in 1945. Taken from Braun’s private albums, they were placed in the U.S. National Archives, where they were ignored for decades.
Recently unearthed by Reinhard Schulz, collector and curator of photography, the images include an intimate shot of Braun as a small child, posing with her sister Ilse and their family cat.
According to Mail Online, there’s an extraordinary photo of Braun in blackface and dressed as American jazz singer Al Jolson, and one of her standing alongside her lover and his aides as they celebrate on New Year’s Eve 1939.
Eva first met Hitler in 1929 when he was a rising star in the Nazi party. Yahoo.com reports Hitler was introduced to the 17-year-old as Herr Wolff, while she modeled for the official Nazi photographer Heinrich Hoffmann in Munich.
Meanwhile, according to Life, Maria Reiter was 16 when the 37-year-old Hitler struck up a relationship with her in 1926. Hitler allegedly promised her marriage and "blonde children," but kept putting her off. Depressed by his constant rejection, Reiter hanged herself but survived and married an SS officer.
But Braun’s blind loyalty to the Führer exceeded that of even his most hardened SS aides — and lasted right up until their joint suicides in his Berlin bunker in the dying days of the war.
In early April 1945, she joined Hitler in his bunker and declared she would never leave his side. While Hitler’s Third Reich was collapsing, Braun’s stature seemed to grow.
It was only in the early hours of April 29, 1945, that Braun’s ambitions were finally realized and she was married to Hitler. But at around 1 p.m. the following afternoon, Eva and her new husband said farewell to those still with them.
Then, just after 3:30 p.m., Hitler shot himself, and new bride Eva bit into a cyanide capsule. In death Eva Braun was far closer to her husband than she had been in life. She was 33.