Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Heike B. Görtemaker, "Life With Hitler" (2011)

This is a fascinating biography of Eva Braun, the woman who for over a decade was Hitler's closest female confidante, if not his mistress.

Görtemaker takes on an aspect of the Nazi regime that has rarely been investigated: given Hitler's (and the majority of the Nazi hierarchy's) stance on the proper comportment and role of women in the regime, how was it that Hitler (and his entourage) maintained his relationship with a single young woman who never bore children, who smoked and drank, and who seems in many respects, the exact opposite of the ideal Aryan woman?

Görtemaker is treading on territory where she has few peers. There have been only three biographies written about Braun. This one is exceptional. The author's investigations being vexed by the glaring holes in archival resources. Many letters and other documents produced by Braun and Hitler have disappeared or been intentionally destroyed. Nonetheless, she is careful to assess shortcomings in the existing evidence (primarily testimony provided by members of Hitler's entourage and Braun's family members), which usually leaves her pointing out that more questions than answers exist about Braun and Hitler's life together.

The book features an exceptional array of rarely seen photographs, both of Braun within her own circle, as well as within Hitler's. A quite different vision of the 'Fuhrer' emerges here, less iconographic and more casual: Hitler and friends at the opera, lounging over lunch, etc.

More to follow...

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