Life with Hitler
Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780307595829, 324pp.
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
In this groundbreaking biography of Eva Braun, German historian Heike B. Görtemaker delves into the startlingly neglected historical truth about Adolf Hitler’s mistress. More than just the vapid blonde of popular cliché, Eva Braun was a capricious but uncompromising, fiercely loyal companion to Hitler; theirs was a relationship that flew in the face of the Führer’s proclamations that Germany was his only bride. Görtemaker paints a portrait of Hitler and Braun’s life together with unnerving quotidian detail—Braun chose the movies screened at their mountaintop retreat (propaganda, of course); he dreamed of retiring with her to Linz one day after relinquishing his leadership to a younger man—while weaving their personal relationship throughout the fabric of one of history’s most devastating regimes. Though Braun gradually gained an unrivaled power within Hitler’s inner circle, her identity was kept a secret during the Third Reich, until the final days of the war. Faithful to the end, Braun committed suicide with Hitler in 1945, two days after their marriage.
Through exhaustive research, newly discovered documentation, and anecdotal accounts, Görtemaker has meticulously built a surprising portrait of Hitler’s bourgeois existence outside of the public eye. Though Eva Braun had no role in Hitler’s policies, she was never as banal as she was previously painted; she was privy to his thoughts, ruled life within his entourage, and held his trust. As horrifying as it is astonishing, Eva Braun will undoubtedly be referenced in all future accounts of this period.
"Easily the best biography of Eva Braun so far written." —The Daily Beast
"[A] riveting account...Braun may not have influenced Nazi policies, but thanks to Gortemaker's groundbreaking work, it is now clear how Braun catered to Hitler, fostering his reliance on cronies and lackeys and reinforcing his tendency to shut himself off from the awful reality of what was happening to Germany and to the world." —Minneapolis Star Tribune
"While most historians view Braun as an apolitical appendage of Hitler's paltry private life, Ms. Gortemaker shows how she played the politics of personal loyalty and inspired others, like Albert Speer, to do the same. . . . Ms. Gortemaker finally gives Braun her place in the dark history of the Third Reich." —Wall Street Journal
"Employing a detective’s skill and a journalist’s flair…[Görtemaker] reconstructs the life of Eva Braun from the petty bourgeois household of her schoolteacher father to the inner circle of the Nazi overlord." —Chicago Sun-Times
"A serious study of personal relationships and power at Nazi Germany's pinnacle. [Eva Braun] deserves a broad readership, taking us as it does behind the scenes of history's most criminal regime." —San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] solidly researched, sophisticated, and well-written biography." —Library Journal
"This meticulously-researched and documented biography is far more than the story of Eva Braun . . . Gortemaker has sifted through photographs, diaries, letters, interviews, and previous research to provide a wider perspective on not only Eva, but also many others in Hitler's circle . . . Fascinating reading." —Historical Novels Review
"A perceptive account of a woman loyal and complaisant to the end." —Richmond Times-Dispatch
"An utterly compelling portrayal of the weird hidden life of the dictator...An instructively intimate peek at a man who, like some black star, destroyed all those he touched. Eva was only one of millions of his victims—but a willing one." —The Telegraph (UK)
"A comprehensive biography…Görtemaker turns on their heads the preconceptions about Hitler and Eva." —Daily Mail (UK)
"The first scientifically researched biography to correct the image of the dumb blonde at the side of the mass murderer." —Der Spiegel (Germany)
"Although it is difficult, if not impossible, to whip up any sympathy for or to empathize with one of history’s most notorious mistresses, Görtemaker does provide a more nuanced view of this marginalized woman by examining the pivotal role she played in Hitler’s life and within his inner circle…This breakout biography is a solid contribution to the ever-increasing body of Third Reich literature and scholarship." —Booklist
"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." —Kirkus (starred review)
"Having painstakingly reviewed the archives for references to Eva Braun’s relationship with Hitler, Görtemaker 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