The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

As His Associates Know Him

[Transcription note: Bracketed [Page] links provide access to the individual images from which these transcriptions were made]

Since he came to power things have not gone so smoothly. She seemed to find fault with everything he did and would scold him unmercifully, even in public. According to Friedelinde Wagner (939) she is the one person in Germany who can carry on a monologue in Hitler' s presence and who would actually tell him what she thought. During these violent'scoldings Hitler would stand there like an abashed schoolboy who had committed a misdemeanor. According to Hanfstaengl, Mrs. Bechstein had groomed Hitler in the expectation that he would marry her daughter, Lottie, who was far from attractive. Out of sense of obligation, Hitler did ask Lottie, but was refused, (904). Mrs. Bechstein was disconsolate over the failure of her plans and began to criticize Hitler's social reforms as well as his actions. Nevertheless, Hitler mde duty calls fairly regularly even though he postponed them as long as possible (939).

Then there was also Frau Victoria von Dirksen, who is [Page 78] alleged to have spent a fortune on him and his career (554), and a number of others. In more recent years, Mrs. Goebbels has taken over the role of foster-mother and looks after his comforts, supervises his household and bakes delicacies of which he is particularly fond. She, too, has been acting as a matchmaker in the hope that he might marry one of her friends and thereby draw the bond between them even tighter. To Ludecke, (177) she complained, "I am no good as a matchmaker. I would leave him alone with my most charming friesnds but he wouldn't respond." There was also his older half-sister, Angela, who kept house for him at Munich and Berchtesgaden and, for a time, seemed to play a mother's role.

Winifred Wagner, the daughter-in-law of Richard Wagner, has also caused a great deal of comment. She is English by birth, and, from all accounts, is very attractive and about Hitler's own age. She met Hitler in the early 1920's and since that time has been one of his staunch supporters. He became a frequent visitor at the Wagner home in Bayreuth and after his accession to power, built a house on the Wagner estate for himself and his staff. After the death. of Siegfried Wagner, reports all over the world had it that she would become Hitler's wife. But nothing happened in spite of the fact that it seemed like an ideal union from the point of view of both parties.

Nevertheless, Hitler continued to be a frequent guest at the Wagner's. It probably was the nearest thing to a home he has known since his own homebroke up in 1907. Mrs. Wagner un-[Page 79]doubtedly did everything in her power to make him comfortable and Hitler felt very much at home. There were three small children, a boy and two girls (one of them is our informant, Friedelinde) which added considerably to the home atmosphere. The entire family called him by his nickname "Wolf" and addressed him as "Du". He felt so secure in this house that he often came and stayed without his bodyguard. He sometimes spent his Christmas holidays with the family and became very much a part of it. But further than that he was unwilling to go, even though the marriage would have been exceedingly popular with the German people.

B. Then there were a long line of 'passing fancies'. For the most part these were screen and stage stars. Hitler likes to be surrounded with pretty women and usually requests the moving picture companies to send over a number of actresses whenever there is a party in the Chancellory. He seems to get an extraordinary delight in fascinating these girls with stories about what he is going to do in the future or the same old stories about his past life. He also likes to impress them with his power by ordering the studios to provide them with better roles, or promising that he will see to it that they are starred in some forthcoming picture. Most of his associations with women of this type, and their number, is legion, does not go beyond this point as far as we have been able to discover. On the whole he seems, to feel more comfortable in the company of stage people than with any other group and often came down to the studio restaurants for lunch.

[Page 80]

C. There have been several other women who have played a more or less important role in Hitler's life. The first of which we have any knowledge was Henny Hoffmann, the daughter of the official party photographer. Henny, according to reports, was little more than a prostitute and spent most of her time among the students in Munich, who alleged that she could be had for a few marks. Heinrich Hoffmann, her father, was a member of the Party and a closet friend of Hitler. By a queer twist of Fate, Hoffmann had taken a picture of the crowds in Munich at the outbreak of the last war. Later, when Hitler became prominent in Munich politics, Hoffmann discovered Hitler in the picture and called it to his attention. Hitler was delighted and a close relationship sprung up between them. Hoffmann' s wife was also very fond of Hitler and played a mother role towards him for a time.

With the death of Mrs. Hoffmann, the home went to pieces from a moral point of view and became a kind of meeting place for homosexuals of both sexes. There was a good deal of drinking and great freedom in sexual activities of all kinds. Hitler was frequently present at parties given in the Hoffmann home and became very friendly with Hermy. The relationship continued for some time until Henny, who was a very garrulous person by nature, got drunk one night and began to talk about her relationship to Hitler. Her father became enraged and for a time had little to do with Hitler.

Up to this time Hitler had steadfastly refused to have his photograph taken for publication on the grounds that it was [Page 81] better publicity to remain a mystery man and also because if his picture appeared it would be too easy to identify him when he crossed Communist territories. Shortly after the above described episode, Hitler named Hoffmann as the official Party photographer and gave him the exclusive right to his photographs. These privileges, so it is alleged, have, in the course of years netted Hoffmann millions of dollars. Among Hitler's associates, it was supposed that Hitler had committed some kind of sexual indiscretion with Henny and had bought Hoffmann's silence by granting him these exclusive rights.

In any event, Henny was soon married to Baldur von Schirach, the Leader of the Nazi Youth Movement who is reputed to be a homosexual. His family were violently opposed to the marriage but Hitler insisted. All differences between Hitler and Hoffmann seem to have disappeared and today he is one of Hitler's closest associates and exerts a great personal influence on the Fuehrer. We shall consider the nature of Hitler's indiscretion later in our study since it is not a matter of common knowledge and would lead us too far afield at the present time.

After the Henny Hoffmann episode, Hitler began to appear in public with his niece, Geli, the daughter of his half-sister, Angela, who had come to keep house for Hitler in 1924. At the time this relationship matured her mother had gone to Berchtesgaden and Hitler and Geli were living alone in his Munich flat. They became inseparable companions and became the subject of much comment in Party circles. Many of the members, [Page 82] particularly Gregor Strasser, felt that this was poor publicity and was creating a good deal of unfavorable talk. Other members had Hitler brought on the carpet to explain where he was getting the money to clothe Geli and sport her around if he was not using Party funds for this purpose.

Hitler became very jealous of Geli's attention and refused to let her go out with any other men. Some claim that he kept her locked in during the day when he could not take her with him. For several years the relationship continued over the opposition of the Party. Then one day Geli was found dead in Hitler's apartment - she had died from a bullet fired from Hitler's revolver. There was considerable commotion. The coroner's verdict was suicide but Geli was buried in hallowed ground by a Catholic clergy. There was much speculation whether she killed herself or was killed by Hitler. Whatever the facts my be, Hitler went into a profound depression which lasted for months. During the first days after the funeral, Gregor Strasser remained with him in order to prevent him from committing suicide. Ludecke (178) says: "The special quality of Hitler's affection (for Geli) is still a mystery to those closest to him."

For a few years after Geli's death, Hitler had little to do with women except in a very superficial way. Along about 1932, however, he became interested in Eva Braun, Hoffmann's photographic. assistant. This relationship did not develop very rapidly but it has contimed. In the course of time, Hitler has bought her many things including high-powered automobiles and a house between Munich and Berchtesgaden where, it is alleged, he [Page 83] frequently spends the night on the way to or from his country estate. Eva Braun is also frequently a guest at Berchtesgaden and in Berlin.

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