by Michael Haskew

When Eva Braun met Adolf Hitler for the first time, he was introduced to her as “Herr Wolff.” In October 1929, young Eva was only 17 years old, and after working for a while as the receptionist in a doctor’s office, she had taken a job as an assistant and model in the shop of photographer Heinrich Hoffmann at Isabellastrasse 45 in the Bavarian city of Munich. She was the second of three daughters born to Friedrich Braun, a schoolteacher known to friends and family as “Fritz,” and Franziska Kronberger, familiarly called “Fanny.”

Hitler was 40 years old when the two met, and it was said that Eva realized he was staring at her legs that day. Later, it was reported that he was fond of her brown eyes, their color reminding him of his dear deceased mother, whose death when he was a boy affected him for the rest of his life. Eva remembered that the man, 23 years her senior, had a funny moustache, carried a big felt hat, and wore an English overcoat.

Hitler & Geli Raubal

At the time, the future Führer of Nazi Germany was engaged in a love affair with his half-niece, Geli Raubal, and during the same year Geli moved into his apartment in Munich. The relationship between Hitler and Raubal was stormy, and he sought to control every aspect of Geli’s life, particularly after he discovered her clandestine romance with his close associate Emil Maurice. Subsequently, Maurice lost his trusted position as Hitler’s chauffeur and was ousted from the Nazi inner circle. On September 18, 1931, Hitler forbade Geli from moving to Vienna, where she might be free of her uncle’s daily influence. A heated argument ensued. Hitler stormed out of the apartment, and the 23-year-old girl apparently committed suicide, shooting herself in the chest with his Walther pistol. Although Hitler was in Nuremberg at the time, the actual circumstances of Geli’s death and his possible role in it remain something of a mystery.

Following Geli’s death, Hitler and Eva began to see more of one another, and as the two grew more intimate the Nazi Party was exerting greater political influence in Germany. Nevertheless, Fritz Braun penned a letter to Hitler expressing his disapproval of the relationship and plainly telling the Nazi leader that a young woman of Eva’s age belonged at home with her family. Eva became aware of the letter and intercepted it before it could be delivered to Hitler. Interestingly, the elder Braun later changed course. He realized the immediate advantages of a closer relationship with the Führer, became an officer in the German Army, and was a frequent guest at the Berghof, Hitler’s residence in the Bavarian Alps.

Although there is evidence that Hitler cared for Eva, he believed that his first duty was to the German people. A public relationship would, no doubt, detract from his appeal to women across Germany. Amid the Führer’s growing popularity and his planning to plunge Europe into another world war, there was often little time for Eva. She pined for him and as we know today, she took extreme measures to gain the attention that she so desperately wanted.