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Looks at the website of a friend.
regarding the parents and siblings of Eva Braun.
https://ww2gravestone.com/people/braun- ... rta-gretl/
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It's true that story ?
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There are a number of great interviews (assuming they are genuine). The extract below is part 1 of a two part interview with Gretl.
Gretl Braun on Hitler
Interview with Gretl Braun on January 6th 1974, Steingaden, West Germany by John Toland with a translator, Eugen Stammel. Gretl Braun (1915-1987), was the younger sister of Eva Braun. Info she gave relating details of her childhood and her life after World War II is not included below.
Eva and Gretl Braun
JT: Can you remember when you first met Adolf Hitler?
GB: I was very young, it must have been 1931.
JT: What were the circumstances of this meeting?
GB: I first saw him getting into his car on the Weinstraße, purely by chance. I noticed him, I knew who he was because he was very up-and-coming. People in Munich talked a lot about him. But I couldn’t have told you his politics, he could have been a Communist for all I knew.
JT: Was Eva Braun with you at this encounter?
GB: No she wasn’t, and it wasn’t an ‘encounter.’ I just saw him without speaking to him.
JT: Did you know at this time of his relationship with your sister?
GB: I don’t think it was a relationship at that point, not yet at least. I knew Eva was acquainted with him, I knew they went out together sometimes, but it was nothing serious at that time. I knew he was a client of Hoffmann, where Eva worked, that’s really all I knew.
JT: When did you first meet Adolf Hitler? Or when did you first speak to him?
GB: This I recall very definitely. It was in the alcove of the Osteria Italiana, but then it was called the Osteria Bavaria, it’s an Italian place for locals. It was Hoffmann that introduced us, Eva was not there.
JT: What were you doing in there by yourself?
GB: I was fetching some wine and rolls for some friends. I had been in there before, it was a quiet, nice Italian place. It was Hitler’s favorite place to go in Munich for many years.
JT: What impression did Hitler make on you?
GB: He was friendly and polite. He knew I was Eva’s sister, Hoffmann mentioned it. Hitler looked at me and said, 'I see the resemblance.’ That really was all. He smiled, bowed a little bit. He did not kiss my hand.
JT: Did he ask you to join him?
GB: Heavens no, he wouldn’t have done that, I was a silly girl, only 16 years old. He was proper and polite, he didn’t make this overwhelming impression on me. The men he was sitting with were all a little rough looking, it was intimidating.
Hitler at a restaurant in 1931
JT: During this time, what did your sister talk to you about concerning Hitler?
GB: You have to recall this was very early days. Hitler’s niece (Geli Raubal) was still living and he was very busy, travelling, away a lot. He lived in Munich but this was a tumultuous period, he was not around all the time.
JT: Eva never discussed him with you?
GB: Well yes, she did, but there was not a love affair between them yet. That developed very slowly, Hitler was very circumspect and private. He used to tell me in later years, “I am a private man in Munich, I want to be able to live as normally as I can.” He always regarded Munich as his home, even more so than the Berghof.
JT: What was the catalyst that propelled your sister into a relationship with him?
GB: The death of his niece. There was certainly never a romance between them until the niece shot and killed herself. That was an enormous scandal, all of Munich were talking about it. Even my father mentioned it, my friends at school, things like that.
JT: Was your sister already in love with Hitler when Geli died?
GB: That is hard to say, Eva was never effusive about her feelings. She was very much different than me in that respect. I could never could have kept my mouth closed about a romantic affair, but she could and she did. It was a big determining factor in Hitler settling down with her. She could keep his confidence and she wasn’t a blabbermouth. He valued that tremendously.
JT: When did you know she was in love with him?
GB: Again, it’s hard for me to answer that definitively. I started to know she was romantically involved with a man shortly after the niece’s death. I knew because she would be gone from our parents apartment at night. Sometimes she didn’t come home until long after midnight. She got her own private telephone line and would hide under her covers when she spoke to this mysterious man.
JT: And then what happened?
GB: Nothing, Eva was stealthy and quiet. She would blandly lie to our parents, saying she was working late or helping Herr Hoffmann. We shared a bedroom, so I knew of her comings and goings.
JT: So your sister would sneak away to see Hitler and you knew about it?
GB: I finally asked her if she was seeing Hitler. At first she was reluctant to answer, but then told me she was indeed seeing him. She was very attached to him and this happened from their first private meetings. She fell very hard for him from the get go.
Hitler in November, 1931 during his first romantic trip with Eva to Haus Wachenfeld.
JT: And she told you it had become an intimate relationship?
GB: She didn’t have to say that in so many words, I just knew. She started hiding things in our room.
JT: Such as?
GB: Personal garments, contraceptives, letters, things that a romantic young girl does during her first love affair. She was having an affair, even I knew that and I was only 16 or 17 myself.
JT: Did Hitler ever come to your parents house?
GB: [laughing] No! He did drop off Eva after their evenings together, or at least he did so usually. My parents suspected absolutely nothing. My sister was, as I said, very careful, very prudent, and very silent about her time with Hitler.
JT: Did she stay away all evening?
GB: At first, no. Shortly after the death of his niece, Eva went away for several days. I knew she was going to be with Hitler, but I didn’t know the details until her return. She developed some photos, she was a very passionate photographer, you know. They were of Hitler on the Berg.
JT: He took her to the Berghof this early on?
GB: It was the house he had up there before it was transformed into the Berghof. I thought he ruined the cozy old place when he added so much to it. But yes, she was up there with him and stayed days at a time. Hoffmann was dependent on Hitler, so whenever Eva was with him, she just didn’t bother to turn up for work then.
JT: Was Eva enthusiastic about Hitler? Did she come into your bedroom and say things like, “I am so in love with him!”
GB: No, she wouldn’t have done that. You have to bear in mind, this was a different time and place. She wasn’t married to him and most people then thought an affair with a much older man would have been scandalous. I knew she loved him, and she made this abundantly plain to me years later. She wasn’t demonstrative like that. She loved him deeply, but wasn’t the type to gush. That wasn’t her.
JT: How often would Eva meet Hitler?
GB: At that time, in the early days, it was only at his invitation. She would have been with him constantly, but he didn’t ask her. They didn’t travel together, then or later, very much. This is all before he gained power, he was away all the time. He was, I think, the first German politician who travelled by air, that was unheard of in those days. Eva also could talk to him on the telephone at the house of her friend, Herta Ostemeyer. Her parents had some money, they had a long-distance telephone line.
JT: How often did he take your sister to the mountains?
GB: That was more or less a constant thing, even early on. Hitler would send one of his cars and have one of his men drive her up to the Berg. My parents weren’t suspicious, they hadn’t the slightest inkling their middle daughter was having a torrid romance with a much older and very famous man. It amazes me even now how well she pulled all that off so that so few knew anything.
JT: Did Hitler take Eva on dates?
GB: Early on, definitely he did. Before he became Chancellor, he would take her to dinner, to the opera, to a movie, things like that. But they never went alone, there were always people around, Then he would take her back to his apartment where they could be alone.
JT: What other people were around?
GB: Hitler hated new faces around him, he absolutely hated it. He wanted an unvarying routine. The people always around him in Munich were Schaub, Brueckner, Schreck and later on, Erich Kempka, of whom I was very fond. Hitler wanted to sack him later on when rumors spread that he’d married a prostitute. But Maya was not a prostitute.
JT: Tell us about your sister’s first attempt at suicide.
GB: Well, our older sister, Ilse, was the one who found her. I was not in Munich, but attending a funeral of the father of one of my friends. Eva shot herself, or tried to, and missed the mark. She grazed her chest with the bullet, but apparently there was a lot of blood.
JT: Why would a young, pretty girl do this?
GB: Because of Hitler, of course. He had been neglecting her, his calls were getting infrequent. She was very attached to him and very in love and he wasn’t with her. Not at that point yet. Hitler came around and gave her flowers and a card and explained he was very, very busy.
JT: Did anything change after he became Chancellor?
GB: I would say it did change. Eva now didn’t sneak away from the house, she just told our parents that she was working with Hoffman and “on the road.” Now she absented herself from our apartment routinely. She would be gone all night and it just became an accepted thing. My parents were still not suspicious. Both of them took her at her word, that she was assisting Herr Hoffmann with this photography business. I never volunteered anything to them.
JT: Was she actually still working at Heinrich Hoffmann’s shop?
GB: Of course, she was there almost every day. She’d meet Hitler at the shop as well, but the vast majority of their time together was spent in his apartment or on the Berg.
JT: When did you start to get to know Hitler better?
GB: This was very gradual. I wouldn’t say I really knew him well until years later and in some respects, nobody knew him. Hitler was very guarded and very private. But gradually Eva brought me more and more together with him. In 1933, when I was 18, she got me a part time job in Hoffmann’s shop. I was there more often than Eva.
JT: Did she ever take you to Hitler’s apartment?
GB: Oh yes, many times, but only during the day. He was there whenever she was.
JT: Is there any way you can describe him for me? Give me a word portrait of him, this would help so much.
GB: I’m asked this all the time by everyone who ever gets to know to me. What can I say except he was a normal, nice, friendly man. He was very charming, very fatherly and also had a funny sense of humor. He could laugh and enjoy life in the confines of his private circle. I’m sorry if that sounds bad nowadays, but you asked me. He was not the monster shown today on TV or in magazines. Not in the slightest.
JT: When Eva and Hitler were together, were they affectionate or loving towards one another?
GB: It was a different time and place. I know I said that before, but I have to repeat it. Displays of affection between a German couple then were not common and Hitler was older, let’s not forget that. He was 26 years older than me, he was like a father, an older gentleman.
JT: So you never saw them touch one another?
GB: Well yes, naturally. Hitler liked women, he liked to be around pretty girls. He was much more demonstrative towards her than vice versa.
JT: In what way?
GB: He would always hold her hand. He was a great hand holder. I have seen him take his index finger and trace a circle around her face, things like that. As for kissing, embracing, carrying on together? Never.
JT: And Eva would not touch him?
GB: As a general rule, no. But she looked at him adoringly. She was happy, always, to be around him, except maybe during the war, when his repetitive stories annoyed her.
JT: Was Hitler affectionate towards you? Did he use “Du” with you?
GB: No, he would never have done that. He called me “Fräulein Braun” when others were around, usually it was just “Gretl” though. He never flirted with me. He would never have done that, he would have considered that rude and indelicate because I was Eva’s sister. He flirted with everyone else that was attractive. Any woman between the ages of 15-50 he would gladly flirt with.
JT: Tell us about Eva’s second suicide attempt, if you can.
GB: This was in 1935 and she was clearly becoming very unhappy and desperate. He was gone all the time and at that time, she wasn’t allowed to see him in Berlin. If Eva didn’t get to see Hitler as often as usual, she would be thrown always into a deep depression. The second time she took a lot of pills and had to have her stomach pumped out. I remember Hoffmann being very annoyed at this “playacting.”
JT: Did she really want to die or was it a plea for sympathy?
GB: I would say the latter. People who really want to die, do it. They’re dead. People who want to die don’t have failed suicide attempts, they do the deed and it’s over.
JT: Did Hitler change towards your sister after this?
GB: Yes, emphatically so. I think he realized he had come close to losing her. He was also thinking of the potential for scandal, but I really do think he thought to himself, “My God, she’s important to me.” It was after that when he got us an apartment and very quickly thereafter, our own house.
JT: Tell me about the house, please.
GB: You can walk or drive by it, it’s very unchanged, though the wall has been altered. It survived the war just fine. Eva had her own bedroom, I had mine, it was a very happy period for me, at least and for her too. We entertained, threw parties, all the things girls do.
JT: How often was Hitler there?
GB: Not that often, really. In the winter, when it would get dark earlier, he would come around 5:00 in the evening and stay a few hours. I always left when he came, I either went to our parents apartment or visited friends. I would always know if he was still there by whether the cars would be parked outside when I returned. If he still was there, I’d walk back down to town, hail a taxi and drive around to kill time.
JT: More than one car was required for these visits?
GB: He’d come with Kempka, then another car with SS men, or people to safeguard his privacy.
JT: Then the neighbors must have known who your sister was.
GB: They figured it out soon enough. Sometimes we would get anonymous letters or notes, asking for money or assistance. Eva would throw them away. She never showed them to Hitler, I am positive about that.
JT: Did Hitler spend the night?
GB: Never. Not once, I am sure of it. It would have been too risky to spend all night in a Munich house with his conspicuous cars waiting outside. His visits were pre-planned and arranged. He would stay a few hours and leave. He left once around 11:00 at night, most of the times he didn’t stay that late at all.
JT: You never stayed to chat to him?
GB: I think twice I did, but then immediately left. It was a little awkward for him, I think. You could always tell when Hitler was embarrassed or upset, he would not listen anymore and have a far-away look in his eyes.
JT: What about your life at the Berghof?
GB: It was 1935 or 1936 when it was renovated, it was after Eva’s second try at suicide. After this, I had my own room at my disposal there until the end of the war. Of course I never stayed there unless Eva was there.
JT: Did she spend all her time there then?
GB: Not at all, she only started doing that during the war. Prior to that, she really only was there when Hitler was in residence.
JT: Some of the other people in the entourage have told me Hitler was very boring at the Berghof.
GB: Who would have ever said that?
JT: Some of the intimates up there.
GB: Well, I disagree. He could get tedious with his monologues, but that was really only very late. Maybe 1942 or 1943. He didn’t bore me, I enjoyed being in his company and the locale up there is, as you have to know, quite impressive. More than just impressive.
JT: Can I ask you about Eva’s intimate life with Hitler?
GB: There’s nothing to say, it was a completely normal, average relationship. Hitler was not a pervert or a monster. Anyone who saw them together would tell you the same thing: they were a normal couple.
JT: Did Eva confirm this to you?
GB: She didn’t have to, no one who knew them would ever think anything else. They weren’t legally married, but they lived together when they could as husband and wife. When the subject was broached, Eva would tell me, “you know I can’t talk about him in that way.” I didn’t push her for details on her private life. I knew from her remarks and observations that it was an intimate relationship. She missed him very much when he was gone.
JT: So based on your observations, it is merely rumour or innuendo that Hitler was impaired sexually or abnormal?
GB: I don’t even know where all these stories come from. Honestly I have no idea. I can tell you this: I was Eva’s sister and I also spent a tremendously lot of time with Hitler. I saw them together in many different places over many different years. She loved him, he loved her, they were normal and happy when they were together. These stories of perversions had to be invented by people who hated him or never knew him in any way.
JT: Some of the other intimates suggest Hitler never loved Eva.
GB: I say he did. He told my sister that he loved her, he was not shy in expressing his feelings. He could appear awkward, but with Eva he was comfortable and expressive. He may not have been in love with her until the mid-30’s, she might have just been convenient for him before that time. But based on what I saw and heard, he loved her by the time of the middle 1930’s.
JT: Do you think he was capable of love?
GB: Yes. Why do I say that? I know because he loved his mother. I know he loved his niece, he would admit to that often enough. He loved his dogs. I know he loved Eva, or at least loved all these people to the extent he was capable.
JT: How did the war change their relationship?
GB: Markedly. It changed everyone. For one thing, Hitler would be away for longer periods, but then on the other hand, he would stay months on the Berg. Before the war, he would stay maybe 2 weeks up there. After the war, it wasn’t uncommon for him to spend 3 months there. I think their relationship deepened, became very conjugal. He was dependent on her. He trusted her, he relied upon her. The passion may have faded somewhat, but his feelings for Eva definitely intensified.
JT: How often did you see him after 1939?
GB: As much or more than ever. None of us ever went to his various headquarters, that was verboten. Eva begged to see him, he refused. He told her that because his soldiers were so deprived, he had to be deprived some of the time too.
JT: Based on what you know, were they still physically intimate?
GB: Yes, but he was very immersed in the war. Also I always thought the war prematurely aged Hitler. It was very noticeable in his face, hands, gait, everything. I don’t think 50 is very old for a man and that was how old he was when the Polish thing got started. He was telling Eva he was “too old” for her and he was failing. One could see it by 1942, maybe even before.
JT: Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer says Eva tearfully told him that Hitler offered to give her up because he was too old for her. This was during this time period.
GB: Yes, I have read that. She told me essentially the same thing. This was fairly late in their life though, maybe after Stalingrad, 1942? 1943? He said he couldn’t fulfill her anymore. Eva was very distraught, but I think it was his way of gaining reassurance. By then, the only two living things he could trust were my sister and Blondi, his dog.
JT: What was your relationship like with Eva?
GB: We were always close. We had our rows, like any siblings. Eva disapproved of some of my then-boyfriends, she could get moody. But we loved each other. There is not a day that passes where I still don’t think of her and with great fondness. I miss her laugh, I miss her smile, I miss her.
JT: How did Hitler treat your parents?
GB: He tried to avoid them as much as possible. He was always behaving very embarrassed in front of them. They were on the Berg a lot, but usually when Hitler wasn’t in residence. He just didn’t want to be around them.
JT: Did you know that Eva was going to Berlin to die with Hitler at the end?
GB: No, that would be hindsight. Bear in mind that in 1944 or 1945, we didn’t necessarily know we would lose the war. Hitler had performed miracles before. Many believed we would throw out the Russians from Berlin, mount an offensive and seize the day. Maybe that was delusional, I don’t know.
JT: How did you hear of your sister’s death?
GB: Can you believe I only learned about it on the radio? It was in the beginning of May, it wasn’t generally known they got married. I was happy for her when I learned Hitler had finally relented and married her. I know that would have made her happy, despite the tragic circumstances surrounding her then. I was preparing for her death, but I didn't assume when she went to be with him that she would perish there.
JT: Do you think Hitler would have married her under any other circumstances?
GB: As a matter of fact, I do. Beginning around 1940, he openly told Eva that when the war was won, they would build a beautiful house in Linz, overlooking the Pöstlingberg in Linz. I think he even had blueprints for the proposed house. He said they would be married. He even mentioned this to me, saying he hoped I would visit them and bring Basko, my dog.
JT: Is there anything else you would like to add before we conclude this?
GB: I don’t think so. I am hoping that my sister will not be misrepresented any longer. So many untruths have been circulated all these years. She was just a very nice and very lovely girl, I would say this even had we not been related. She loved Hitler, that was not a crime, she had no way of knowing how things would turn out.
JT: Any last word on Hitler?
GB: Yes, even more lies have been published about him. About his crimes, I can’t address that. But I can say as a man, as a human being, I defy anybody who knew him to say that he behaved poorly or like a gangster or sadist. He was always polite, kind and enjoyable to be around him.
JT: Thank you.
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Second interview with Gretl Braun, Eva's younger sister. Part 2
January 7th 1974 — Steingaden, West Germany.
“JT” refers to John Toland, and “GB” refers to Gretl Braun Berlinghoff.
Three sisters: Ilse, Gretl, Eva
JT: I would like to ask you more about the home Hitler bought for you and Eva in Munich.
GB: We had an apartment first, that was his first step, that came prior to the house that we later had until the end of the war.
JT: When was this occurring, what year?
GB: Shortly after Eva’s second attempt at suicide, Hitler moved quickly, as we discussed already. I can’t tell you how difficult it was for her living at the apartment of our parents. I wasn’t happy there, but Eva was miserable, I can tell you that. It was just a terribly stressful situation and dreary. A few months after her suicide attempt, Hitler moved us both to the apartment, it was in the summer.
JT: How long did you stay in the apartment? This was therefore 1935?
GB: Yes it was then. The apartment was on Widenmayerstraße, it was not destroyed in the war and is still there in the same condition. They’ve painted the building a different color, that’s all. It was about a 15 minute walk from Hitler’s apartment, we were on the other side of the Isar (river in Munich).
JT: Did he visit Eva there?
GB: Hardly at all, but we weren’t in that apartment very long. The logistics of where it was located didn’t please Hitler for some reason. He thought because the apartment was on a corner, it attracted more attention, or something like that. He was always intensely worried about security and people watching or being nosy, intruding on his private life. It was not a romantic place for them, he was not there often.
JT: Did this disappoint Eva?
GB: As I said, we were there maybe five months, it was a brief time. When Hitler was in Munich, their place to meet was always his apartment. Before that, it was at Hoffmann’s place. They had their routine there, Hitler had his security there, it was a place he was used to. He never got used to the apartment he got us on the Widenmayerstraße . For instance, he would never have spent the night at the Widenmayerstraße apartment. He visited it before we moved the furniture in, he visited maybe 4 times afterwards and he never spent the entire night.
JT: And what about your parents during this period?
GB: They never came, I can assure you neither one of them ever set foot in that place. My father would never have come to visit, he detested Eva’s choice in a man and the fact Hitler had set her up in an apartment. To him it was deeply humiliating that she was living with a man at his own whim at an apartment he was paying for.
JT: Whose idea was it that you be Eva’s roommate?
GB: Hitler and Eva jointly came to that decision, I think. Hitler wanted me there for security reasons and to keep Eva company, she wanted me there because we were both still very young. I was 20 years old, to live on my own would have been daunting. I wouldn’t have done it and neither would she.
JT: And then Hitler bought for you the home on the Wasserburgerstrasse?
GB: Yes, as we discussed. Hoffmann paid all bills on that house. He’d made a fortune from Hitler, so it was only proper he used his funds to make this purchase. Eva and I were never involved in the financial aspects of where Hitler put her up. But Hoffmann paid for it and paid for the furnishings.
Eva Braun's 'boyfriend' and future husband.
JT: Can I return to the relationship of your sister and Hitler? You’ve said they loved each other, but let’s talk about the other side of the coin. Did they argue? This is something that interests me.
GB: Definitely they argued, especially in the period we’ve just been talking about, the middle 1930’s. They were like any other couple. I wouldn’t trust a man and woman who never had their fights. They had their disagreements, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but it isn’t that way for any married couple.
JT: Did you ever see them argue?
GB: No, but I knew when they had been fighting because Eva always reacted the same way. She would lock herself in her bedroom and cry and cry, sometimes for a long time. She did not want me to interrupt her or try to lift her spirits. She told me she had to go through these periods by herself.
JT: This happened in Munich, or at the Berghof?
GB: It happened in both places. I’m quite sure it happened in Berlin too when Eva stayed there later on. I wouldn’t know about that because I was scarcely ever there myself. I don’t want to suggest she was crying all the time, but then they had their arguments, she was very downcast until she had cried it through. It happened on occasion. I have also seen Hitler upset when they had been having words. He was not immune from being bothered or upset by their relationship. He was an emotional man, he had tremendous highs and he could get low as well, I’ve seen it.
JT: And Hitler never bothered to make amends or apologise to your sister after their rows?
GB: I don’t know the details of that, she was careful, she was always careful about what she divulged to me or to anyone about Hitler. When we were in the Munich house, sometimes he would call the house line after one of their fights. They would talk and then Eva would emerge from her room and behave normally. Sometimes she would go back to his apartment to “make up.” At the Berghof, these arguments didn’t last as long, he would smooth her feathers and they’d be good together again. I doubt anybody else noticed this but me. It wasn’t obvious.
JT: How often did Hitler and Eva have arguments?
GB: It’s hard for me to say now. It seems it wasn’t that often and mostly in the earlier years. I don’t think they quarreled during the war, he was so completely absorbed in his duties that disagreements just didn’t crop up anymore, they were much settled down together by then. Eva also cried when he would leave her for long periods. She was inconsolable without him, that was a never-changing refrain.
JT: But in the colour home movies I’ve seen, she’s partying, gay, happy and carefree, she’s always swimming or with friends?
GB: She would much rather have been at Hitler’s side. All those excursions were to fill up her time while waiting for him to return. She lived life with Hitler, when he was away, she just filled up her time without Hitler. That was the sum total of it, really.
JT: Was Hitler capable of apologising to her?
GB: He was Austrian, so he knew how to play that role. In fact, it wasn’t playacting, it was just part of who he was. He hated to see women cry or women upset. At the Berghof, it was almost like a family atmosphere there. We all ate meals together, watched films together before the war, listened to records, all those things. The same faces were always around on the mountain. If Hitler and Eva had an argument there, it would have been obvious to me, because I knew Eva. If she was crying upstairs, it wouldn’t be long before Hitler would quietly excuse himself and then make things right. What he said to her, I don’t know. Whether he said the words “I’m sorry,” I don’t know. But he was a charmer, he knew how to stop a woman from crying.
JT: Did Eva ever call Hitler by his first name?
GB: When they were alone, but she always called him der Führer to us. It was ridiculous, but she never changed that. She would also refer to him as “the boss” (der Chef), but she never called him “Adolf” or “Adi” to anyone after the very early days. It was always der Führer.
JT: Hitler had many nicknames for her, as I’ve been told by the others in the old Hitler entourage.
GB: Yes, he hardly ever called her “Eva.” He had many Austrian diminutives for her. He called her “Evi” quite often as well as Schatzerl, Evchen, as well as other Austrian expressions. But in front of other people it was almost always “Fräulein Braun.” Just as she called him “der Führer,” he called her “Fräulein Braun.”
JT: You mentioned that your sister and Hitler would meet in the early days at Hoffman’s house. Tell me about that place. Was it a house or an apartment?
GB: It was a house, it was on the Schnorrstrasse. After Hitler took power, Hoffmann moved to a grander place on the Ebersbergerstrasse. I never saw the first house, I was never there. It was at the Schnorrstrasse that Eva and he first really got to know each other. Some of this was before Geli Raubal’s death, much of it was after that event.
JT: Did she talk about that to you?
GB: This was all very early on, there was no romance between them then, Hitler was living with Geli Raubal and made a very big display over her, that she was his great love and so forth. Hitler was flirting and courting Eva I would say, but he was not serious about her yet. That took awhile to develop.
JT: You said you thought it was a case of love at first sight for Hitler, but I can’t see this. He was with Geli this entire time, he ignored Eva, you said they argued, it doesn’t seem like love at first sight.
GB: I think you’re expecting too much from a man like Hitler. There’s different intensities with love and differences between people. He was very close-mouthed, he was the most private individual I have ever seen, very secretive. What he felt deep inside he wasn’t going to show to outsiders. I am convinced that he loved Eva and there is absolutely no question of her complete adoration of him. He was away all the time because his position demanded it. She couldn’t travel with him because their relationship was supposed to be secret.
JT: Did she ever travel with him?
GB: She did this seldom and then it was all extremely hush hush. That’s why Hitler didn’t want this, because the logistics of sneaking her into a hotel room to see him was like something out of a Buster Keaton movie. I never understood this and neither did Eva. She always said, “you’re the Führer, you can do whatever you want to do.”
GB: She went to the Nurnberg party rallies starting in 1935. She was there twice and stayed at the Hotel Deutscher Hof, the hotel Hitler had always stayed at while there. It was endless subterfuge in order to see him and then only for a few hours, then she had to sneak back to the banishment of her own room.
JT: Why did she put up with this?
GB: Why? Because she loved him. She would have done that had she been able to spend 10 minutes with him. She endured a lot on his behalf, there’s a great deal on that subject to be said. She also stayed with him at the Hotel Imperial in Vienna, the Hotel Dreesen in Bad Godesberg and a few other places. I was never with her in these places, though my mother was there in Vienna.
JT: Did Hitler invite her to Bayreuth, to the Wagner festival?
GB: No, that was his time with the Wagner family. She asked once to attend but he forbade it and that was that, she never asked again. In the years before the war, whenever Hitler would be holed up in Bayreuth, Eva, myself and our mother often went to Italy for a week.
Gretl and Adolf exchange a knowing look. Wilhelm Brückner in the background.
JT: Let me ask you about your own relationship with Hitler. How did he strike you?
GB: How do you mean that?
JT: I mean, what was he like as a man. I know you’ve said, ‘he was Austrian,’ but what negative things about him?
GB: I didn’t experience the negative side of Hitler. My sister did, that’s a big distinction. She was the one who was involved with him, who was close to him. I never had disagreements with him, I never saw him in an unpleasant frame of mind. Late in his life, that’s another matter, he was not the same man in 1944 and he was, say, in 1934.
JT: You never experienced anything negative with Hitler?
GB: I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to that. Was he rude to me? Never. He was always polite and well-mannered. He had a very definite charm which enthralled most people who got to know him. The negatives about Hitler were that he was away a lot and couldn’t behave towards Eva as he should. The negatives were his political philosophies, but neither Eva or I knew anything that was going on. Hitler didn’t discuss politics or military with Eva. Not once.
JT: How can you be sure of this?
GB: Because she told me. She was always complaining later on, “I know nothing that’s going on.” They talked about other things: dogs, movies, music, Munich gossip, who was going with who, who was cheating on their spouses, who was drinking too much or trying to quit. All sorts of local things like that. Hitler had a very strong adolescent side to him, emotionally he was like a boy in certain things, liking film stars and gossip.
JT: What about his supposedly interminable monologues?
GB: That became an issue only late in Hitler’s life. He became repetitive after the war started going badly in Russia. He wasn’t like this earlier on, he could be very funny in our small group, very relaxed, teasing and it was just a relaxed atmosphere. He tried to make people feel at ease, he made that effort.
JT: Did ever complain about Hitler? Was she critical of him behind his back?
GB: She complained when he was absent, she complained that she was deprived of his company. It would have been inconceivable that Eva would ever have criticized him to me. To his face? Yes, she would, but to me or anybody in our family? Never. And woe to anybody who dared criticize him to her.
JT: How would Eva criticize Hitler to his face?
GB: Mostly about his clothes, the cut and the fit of his clothes. This was an ongoing issue between them. Whatever anybody wants to say about my sister, she was always beautifully dressed with a great flair for fashion. Hitler was not this way. He had stubborn ideas about clothes and didn’t care how he looked and this drove her up the wall.
JT: What do you mean when you say his clothes were an ongoing issue with them?
GB: Eva wanted him to look his absolute best and he just didn’t care. He’d wear whatever what was put in front of him. He didn’t match his ties or his shoes with his clothes, it was as if he deliberately dressed in such a way as to get Eva to get upset. It was his form of teasing or perhaps of controlling her, manipulating her emotions.
JT: How often did he tease her?
GB: More or less constantly. He would tell her, “Oh Evi, you’re getting so fat I can’t dare be seen with you. You really need to reduce.” Eva would flew into a panic until he would laugh and reassure her. Or he would tease her and say, “I’m going away on a secret trip for 6 months, don’t forget me when I’m away.” Such things as that.
JT: Since Eva was so much younger than he, did she ever become attracted to another man? A younger suitor?
GB: No, I never saw such a thing. Eva loved Hitler and he was the only man in her life. She flirted and danced with other men but never would she have done more than that.
JT: Did Hitler and Eva maintain a correspondence?
GB: An active one. Eva liked to write cards and letters, she spent a great deal of time on this. She had lovely writing, lovely sets of stationary and she spent hours a day on her correspondence, at least later on. They never entrusted their letters to the mail. There was always a courier, someone to hand deliver their letters.
JT: Who would that courier have been?
GB: Various people over the years, people that Hitler implicitly trusted. In the early years, it was Hoffmann or even his daughter. The pilot Baur also, as well as Brückner, whom Eva deeply distrusted. I am sure many of their letters went astray deliberately because of that man. Bruckner was one of Hitler’s adjutants, very close to him and he’d been in the party probably since day one. Personally neither of us could stand him.
JT: Did Eva let you read these letters?
GB: Never, and love letters are supposed to be private. She was very secretive about all that. I knew she wrote to him, I would see her writing to him and I would see her reading his notes or letters. She kept all that in a safe at the Berghof and nobody got near that safe except Hitler or Eva. At the end, she begged me to spare these letters and bury them. She specifically wrote to me and told me over the phone not to read any of the letters, she made me promise.
JT: Did you read them?
GB: I didn’t. I saw a few lines from a few, there were hundreds of them, all his letters and her replies written on carbon paper. I just saw that her letters to him were lengthy, his were much shorter. I wouldn’t intrude on their privacy and I had given her my word.
JT: Of course you’ve not seen the letters since?
GB: I wish I had them, can you imagine their value, and I don’t mean merely financially. I am sure they were accidentally destroyed or that Schaub found them and destroyed them. Hitler didn’t want those letters read by anyone but Eva and had made that point clear in the course of the years.
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