There is so little information available in English about Robert and Inga Ley. Ronald Smelser’s book (in English) hardly mentions Inga. Ley’s daughter from his first marriage (Renate Wald) wrote a book in German called “Mein Vater: Robert Ley”. (She is shown in a picture in this thread at the Eagles Nest, seated on the low wall right behind standing Inga.)
Karl Schröder had input from the daughter when he wrote his book in 2008 called “Aufstieg und Fall des Robert Ley”, also in German. This book provides the most information about Inga and Robert Ley’s relationship.
The allies started calling Ley a drunk early in the war: The “Reich Drunk Leader”, probably due to the lisp he spoke with, which was a result of a head injury he sustained when his plane was shot down during WWI. He was a very accomplished and persuasive speaker; right up there with Hitler and Goebbels.
All the information I have read to include period & post war interrogations of him and his employee’s gives proof to the lie that he was not a drunk. Inga was not a drunk either, she had health issues and her addiction to pain medication was not a result of a carriage accident, as reported in this thread.
The following excerpts are from the Schröder book with some paraphrasing as needed (to make sense and shorten):
Even before the seizure of power there were hardly any marital relationship between Robert Ley and his first wife Elisabeth. It had become increasingly clear that they were too different in their worldview and way of life. What particularly disturbed the deeply religious Protestant, was the departure of her husband from their shared beliefs and his affairs, which he did not even try to hide.
Perhaps Robert Ley, who was gradually gaining influence and attraction, also believed that his stout wife could not impress his prominent party members and that she was no longer fit in.
We know from Goebbel's diary that he was disrespectful of Elisabeth.
According to his secretary Hildegard Brüninghoff, Ley's bad reputation as a womanizer must have really come about in the years 1933-1935. During this time, he had frequently changing girlfriends, and there had been so many of them that she could no longer remember all the names.
In 1934, Ley was so out of control that Hess, Bormann and Buch cited him before the Party Court. Ley sought refuge and support from Hitler, who sided with him. Ley said , "I had done weekends and danced a bit and loved and amused myself. I am not chaste and not abstinent. I'm too old to change. I'm from the Rhine, and people are happy there".
On November 27, 1933 Robert Ley founded the Nazi community "Kraft durch Freude" (KdF), a sub-organization of the DAF. This recreational organization also included those created by Ley ....
This is how the singer Inga Spilcker came into his life.
Inga Ursula Spilcker was born in Breslau on March 8, 1916. She was the daughter of the opera singer Max Spilcker (born Oct 6, 1891 in Hamburg) and the Lory Franziska (born Kotz).
Inga's mother Lory had appeared as an opera extra before her marriage. Inga and her younger sister Gitly grew up in this musical-artistic family, which included the two grandmothers after their husbands' deaths. Lory and Max Spilcker ran a house frequented by artists. The two girls attended the theater from childhood on every Sunday and received singing lessons from the father. Inga had a "subtle and touching mezzo-soprano". "Gitly was a "coloratura soprano". Both girls later appeared in theaters, but Inga was undoubtedly the more gifted. After completing a general education in Berlin, she received a commitment in 1933/34 at “Theater of the People”, at the old Friedrich State palace.
Robert Ley met her there in 1935.
The young woman, who had grown up to extraordinary beauty, was courted by him, presented with flowers after the performances, and finally invited by him to receptions and travels. At such a reception in 1936 Inga was introduced to Hitler, who was also impressed by the beautiful singer. In 1936 she took part in a trip to Italy with Robert Ley, in 1937 on a Baltic Sea voyage with one of the KdF ships, and " word spread around" about Inga and Robert Ley afterwards.
Inga, a rather restrained young woman, returned the love of this 26-year older and powerful man in the party hierarchy, and apparently both began planning for a common future at least since 1937.
But Robert Ley was not yet divorced: although the marriage relationship was broken. Mrs. Elisabeth Ley and daughter Renate continued to live in their rented homr in Munich.
Robert Ley knew that Hitler by no means approved divorces of his closest associates; so he urged his wife to file the divorce on her own. Finally, Elisabeth agreed.
On August 8, 1938, the divorce proceedings took place before the 15th Civil Division of the Regional Court of Cologne. Robert Ley was represented by his close friend and asset manager, Hugo Simon. Elisabeth Ley, in agreement with the witness Hugo Simon, stated that the marriage had been over for some years and that it was deeply and irreparably broken.
The divorce was granted and Robert Ley was ordered to bear the costs.
Since Inga was already pregnant, their marriage took place on August 20, 1938 in Berlin. On October 25, 1938, their first daughter Lore Ley was born (in Berlin).
Inga was probably the only woman in the life of Robert Ley, whom he truly and deeply loved.
At least since 1937 Inga had given up her career as a singer. After her marriage, she devoted herself entirely to her husband and daughter and tried to introduce her family into the social life of the Reich Capital Berlin. The couple moved into the villa at Herthastrasse 13/15 in Berlin-Grunewald. The staff was expanded to include a nanny and a nurse. Like her parents, Inga had a hospitable house; Artists and political celebrities came to visit. Adolf Hitler was one of the regular guests of the Leys, sometimes he came twice a week.
Between 1938 and 1942, we often found the Leys to be welcome guests at various receptions and events, and it was always Inga Ley who drew admiring glances from the participants.
Her husband enjoyed the brilliance that Inga spread, all the more as some rays fell back on him. The luck would have been perfect if Inga had not suffered from a health handicap.
Every since Inga graduated from the High School, she had been plagued with recurring bile colic (gallbladder attacks). Her condition was further affected by the fact that she had to undergo an appendectomy during her pregnancy with Lore. As Robert Ley reported in his Nuremberg Interviews: the bile colic, began then and continued from then on even more often. To combat the pain, the doctors used morphine, of which Inga became dependent over the years.
In October 1939, Dr. Ley’s chief secretary Hildegard Brüninghoff became the constant companion of his wife. Her job was to go shopping with Inga, buy clothes for her children, get ration cards, and accompany them to events that Robert Ley could not attend.
Hildegard provides detailed information on the length of her work for Ms. Ley in Nuremberg: Oct 39 to June 40, Jan 41 to Sept 41, April 42 to May 42. At that time, she was also a housekeeper at Gut Rottland. In June 1942, there was a dispute with Inga. Hildegard announced she quit. However, this dismissal was refused by Ley and he continued to employ her as chief secretary.
From July 40 to Dec 40 and from Oct 41 to March 42 Hildegard was on leave for illness. During this time and also afterwards, Leys second secretary Paula Müller took over the duties of housekeeper and constant companion of Inga and alternated these jobs with Anni Balette, the wife of Ley's chauffer.
Already in Oct. 39 Hildegard got the impression that Inga was dependent on narcotics-and if she did not get it, it was extremely difficult to get along with her. That was probably the reason why there was a rift between the two women in June 1942.
Robert Ley moved his family from Berlin to Rottland by 1942 because he felt they were safer there from the allied bombing, Inga missed her friends and their social life, and Ley was gone more often due to his work. She became more and more depressed. She was in a care home in the spring of 42 trying to cure her addiction. Her mother watched the children for her during this time.
Robert Ley, who had been on official duty until November 1942, came and stayed in Rottland until the holidays were over.
Both the dreary winter and heavy fighting in the Stalingrad depressed Inga's mood and made Robert Ley nervous and irritable. There were quarrels between him and his wife - basically irrelevant things, which, however, were of the utmost importance to Inga in her addicted state of mind.
Inga also had on ongoing feud with Robert Ley’s Estate manager whom she despised.
At the end of the year Robert Ley had been summoned to the Führer's headquarters, he wanted to go there on the 29th Dec 1942 with Otto Marrenbach and his staff.
On this day, around 6 pm, Inga asked the secretary Paula Müller. to drive a guest by car to Waldbröl. This was to be done quickly, since Ley needed the automobile for a ride to the main train station in Cologne. Robert and Inga Ley, Otto Marrenbach, Anni Balette, Hedwig Schöler had taken dinner together and waited now on the ground floor near the cloakroom for the return of the Müller. They only exchanged a few words as Inga and Dr. Ley seemed tense.
Years later, Schöler affirmed in the affidavit: "I was standing next to the gentlemen ... when Inga said to her husband that he should transfer the farm to her, so that she could better stand up to the estate manager (Heinen)", to which Robert Ley replied, "As long as I am there, I will remain the owner."
Inga Ley immediately went to the bedroom on the first floor and shot herself.
Of course, there is the question of how desperate, lonely and overburdened a woman must feel who demands such a serious decision ... at the last minute from her husband when he is ready to leave for work.
After the shot was fired, Robert Ley and Otto Marrenbach ran to the first floor to gain access to the locked bedroom.
When Paula Müller returned at about 6:30 pm, one of the housemaids excitedly told her to go upstairs to the first floor; something happened there. Upstairs she found Ley, who was trying in vain to get into the locked bedroom.
About how he finally got into the bedroom, the testimonies differ. While Paula claimed that Ley had entered the room through the door of another bedrooms side balcony, Inge Just (nanny) said the janitor had broken the bedroom door open.
Inga lay half-reclined and wrapped in her fur coat on the bed and had shot herself with a gun through the temple. The wall beside the bed was full of blood. It was probably Otto Marrenbach who took the gun.
At the same time, the nanny Inge Just sat with the children of the Leys at dinner in the common room on the 2nd floor. This room had no door, but was open to the stairwell, so that she could hear the shot and then Ley's loud shouting and knocking on the bedroom door. She stayed with the children and provided for them during the night.
Inga had left a farewell letter to her husband, which had certainly been written hours before, and began with the words: "For my Bobsy, please forgive me, I can not anymore."
The letter was a response to premeditated contentions and reflects Inga's deep desperation. At the heart of the marital conflict was their leadership of the estate and Inga’s inability to stand up against the Heinen. Deeply hurt, Inga writes, "I feel very well now that what I say has no value, I run the farm as best I can, I've given up everything for the farm, but when it matters, I'm nothing ".
In addition, there was a rather insignificant dispute over the children’s education in which Ley had loudly reproached her. But above all, the young woman suffered from what she believed was "disrespect" from her husband and her surroundings, a "disrespect" that, as she put it, had long since hurt and frustrated her. Her letter closed, she with the words:
“My mother will be better able to raise the children than I am. I.L. "
Robert Ley was outraged with pain and desperation. That same evening, he phoned the Wolfsschanze, canceled his visit and informed Hitler of the terrible event. He blamed himself for Inga's death. It had become clear to him how little he had cared for Inga and her hardships. Hitler tried to console him and implored him not to give up because the "Third Reich" needed him. This conversation could be overheard by others and also the telephone operator. Ley's self-incriminations was probably passed on, so that very early on came the rumor that he had murdered his wife.
At around 8:00 pm, nanny Inge Just and maid Mia were called into the bedroom to make Inga ready for the burial. They washed her blood off her head, straightened her hair, and covered her temples with the blue headband she had always worn on trips and outings with the children. Then she was laid out in the open coffin in the library, (according to other statements in the winter room).
The police were notified and a doctor had been called to confirm the death. On December 30, 1942, Inga's death was announced in writing at the registry office of Waldbröl.
On December 30, 1942, Ley's oldest daughter Renate, arrived at Ley-Hof from her place of study in Tübingen. She found her father standing at the top of the stairs and he summarized everything that moved him in the words: "A farmer marries a princess".
Also Inga's mother, Lore Spilcker, said after the death of her daughter: "This was never going to go well". Both probably meant the difference in origin, education and talent.
Inga's mother continued to stand by her son-in-law Robert Ley. To the grieving and weeping domestic workers, who took leave of Inga's open coffin and for whom she had always been the fairytale princess, she said:
“Do not moan; she did not want it otherwise. "
On New Year's Day 1943 Inga was buried in the grove above Rottland. Present was a mourning community of relatives, friends and Ley’s close National Socialists Leaders.