Eva Braun's photographic story: Life and Death with the Führer, 1912-1945

Decades after her death, Adolf Hitler's longtime mistress Eva Braun remains a mysterious and notorious figure. It is the photographic life story of a woman who met Hitler as a teenager and became the Führer's wife, just hours before he committed suicide, in the last days of the war.

Eva Brein was born into a lower-middle-class Bavarian family and educated at the Catholic Young Women's Institute in Simbach-am-Inn. In 1929 she was employed as a saleswoman and model in the shop of Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's photographer, and thus met Hitler.

Braun was a photographer, and took many surviving color photographs and films of Hitler. Many of the photographs featured in this article were taken by Eva or at least requested and arranged by her.

In 1929, at the age of 17, Eva was working as usual in the studio when she met a client who introduced himself as 'Herr Wolff'. It was Adolf Hitler.

Hoffmann sends her out to buy beer and sausage, and then invites Eva to join them. He recalled in his diary: “The old gentleman (Hitler) was praising me. We talked about music and a play at the Staattheater, which, as I remember, was eating me up with his eyes all the time.

Adolf Hitler was 23 years older than Eva. Eva apparently wrote a note to Hitler on this first meeting. He stuffed it in his pocket. Whatever he said was something new. After seeing this, Hitler asked if she was joking. She said no, she really liked him. This was the beginning of their relationship.

Eva later recalled in a letter to Adolf Hitler: "From our first meeting, I have promised myself to follow you wherever you go, even to death. You know that I only I live for your love. Hitler liked Eva from the start. It probably didn't hurt that Eva was in the photography business, and he was one of the most photographed men of his time, who enjoyed mass appeal Pictures were used to make.

During this time, Hitler lived with his half-niece, Geli Raubal, in an apartment at Prinzregentenplatz 16 in Munich. On 18 September 1931, Raubal was found dead in the apartment with gunshot wounds, an apparent suicide with Hitler's pistol. Hitler was at Nuremberg at that time.

Rumors immediately began in the media about physical abuse, a possible sexual relationship, Rubal's infatuation with his uncle, and even murder. Historian Ian Kershaw states that "whether actively sexual or not, Hitler's behavior towards Geli bears all the hallmarks of a strong, latent at least, sexual dependence."

Police denied foul play; The death was ruled a suicide. Hitler was devastated and went into a deep depression. After Raubal's suicide, Hitler began to look more closely at Braun.

Braun himself attempted suicide on 10 or 11 August 1932 by shooting himself in the chest with his father's pistol. Historians believe that this attempt was not serious but an attempt to attract Hitler's attention. After Braun's recovery, Hitler became more committed to her, and by late 1932, they had become lovers.

She often stayed overnight at his Munich apartment when he was in town. Beginning in 1933, Braun worked as a photographer for Hoffmann. This position enabled him to travel – accompanied by Hoffmann – with Hitler's entourage as a photographer for the Nazi Party. Later in his career, he worked for Hoffmann's Art Press.

According to an excerpt from his diary and an account by biographer Nerin Gunn, Braun's second suicide attempt occurred in May 1935. When Hitler failed to find time for her in his life, she took an overdose of sleeping pills. Apparently, she thought Hitler was seeing other women - which he apparently was.

In August Hitler provided Eva and her sister with a three-bedroom apartment in Munich, and the following year the sisters were provided with a villa in Bogenhausen at Wasserburgerstraße.

He also made her his 'private secretary' so that he could move about without any noise. She also traveled with him at times, at least to nearby events, and hid in nearby rooms.

Braun was a member of Hoffmann's staff when she first attended the Nuremberg Rally in 1935. Hitler's half-sister, Angela Raubal (mother of the deceased Geli), objected to his presence there, and he was later dismissed as housekeeper. His home is in Berchtesgaden.

Researchers have been unable to determine whether his dislike of Braun was the sole reason for his departure, but other members of Hitler's entourage saw Braun as a pariah from then on.

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