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Eva Braun: Life With Hitler

DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOKS OF THE YEAR and BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE BOOK CLUB title'I want to be a beautiful corpse, I will take poison' Eva Braun, 1945Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler were together for fourteen years, a relationship that ended only with their marriage and double suicide in Berlin. Braun was obsessed with sport, fashion, photography and films, and seems to have had no real interest in politics. She and Hitler were unmarried and they had no children. And so, at the heart of the Nazi regime there was an odd paradox: the leader of a ferocious dictatorship, himself obsessed with imposing an idea of the 'German family' on an entire nation, who chose to spend much of his adult life with a woman 23 years younger than himself in a way that was unideological and bohemian.So who was Eva Braun? Heike Goertemaker's highly praised new book is the first to take Braun's role in the Nazi hierarchy seriously. It uses her to throw fascinating light on a regime that prided itself on its harsh, coherent and unsentimental ideology, but which was in practice a chaos of competing individuals fighting for space around the overwhelmingly dominant figure of Hitler. Braun had a special place 'at court'. She was both marginal and exceptional: a more powerful figure than 'the First Ladies of the Third Reich' such as Magda Goebbels and Margarete Speer, but someone who almost never chose to use that power.Braun's life tells us a huge amount about a particular, catastrophic era in German history, both in her role as Hitler's companion and as the hostess at Nazi social events at the Berghof. Heike Goertemaker's book allows Braun to step out as much as possible from the shadows and fully inhabit her strange role at the heart of a terrible regime.
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About the Author

Heike Goertemaker is a German historian and author. She was born in 1964, and studied Economics and German literature. She is currently working on a project on the legacy of Hitler's inner circle in post-war Germany.


The first scientifically researched biography to correct the image of the dumb blonde at the side of the mass murderer * Der Spiegel * Having painstakingly reviewed the archives for references to Eva Braun's relationship with Hitler, Goertemaker presents a portrait of an engaged and engaging young woman, fervently supportive of National Socialism and one of the few members of Hitler's inner circle to never lose his trust or fall out of affection ... This telling sheds more light on the central question of the narrative of Eva Braun: 'Did she share the political positions and basic worldview of her lover or was she merely a tragic slave who nonetheless profited from Hitler's power?' * Publishers Weekly * Braun emerges as bright but vapid, energetic but soulless. As thorough and clear a look of a monster's lover as we are likely to get * Booklist *

Known today primarily from a handful of personal photos with the Fuhrer and the reminiscences of his closest aides, Eva Braun is often thought of as a stereotypically vapid dumb blond, in thrall to Hitler's magnetism, but ignorant of and uninterested in the political tumult he caused. Braun, 23 years Hitler's junior, was long thought to have been merely the leader's arm candy, never having a truly intimate or emotional bond with the man who said the only bride he would consent to marry was Germany itself. Gortemaker challenges these assumptions in the first scholarly biography of Hitler's mistress, originally published in German last year. Having painstakingly reviewed the archives for references to Braun's relationship with Hitler, Gortemaker presents a portrait of an engaged and engaging young woman, fervently supportive of National Socialism and one of the few members of Hitler's inner circle to never lose his trust or fall out of affection. Though a full account is hampered by the lack of revealing documents (a stash of hundreds of love letters that Braun ordered preserved just before her suicide has never been found and is presumed destroyed), this telling sheds more light on the central question in the narrative of Eva Braun: "Did she share the political positions and basic worldview of her lover or was she merely the 'tragic slave,' who nonetheless profited from Hitler's power by enjoying the luxurious life that he offered her?" Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Eva Braun is notorious as Hitler's longtime mistress who died with him on April 30, 1945, after a brief wedding ceremony in the fuhrer's Berlin bunker during the final Soviet assault of World War II. Braun was little known then, and her role as his lover and wife came to light only in the postwar period. Recently, two major biographical studies have appeared: Angela Lambert's The Lost Life of Eva Braun and now this English translation of Gortemaker's 2010 Eva Braun: Leben mit Hitler. Both works are serviceable, but Gortemaker, a German historian, has investigated more archives and probably has a better overall feel for the era's cultural milieu. She also provides useful context with her discussion of the Nazi view of women and their role in the Reich. She believes that Braun probably played a larger role in Hitler's daily life than has been previously assumed by historians; nevertheless, Braun never acted outside of the rigid social and personal boundaries established by Hitler. VERDICT While Lambert's book is an easier read, this solidly researched, sophisticated, and well-written biography has greater insight into Nazi culture and is highly recommended for libraries that do not currently have either book.-Ed -Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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