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(Review of "Eva Braun: Leben mit Hitler") Did Hitler's Mistress Have A Clue?

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-21-10 03:42 PM
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(Review of "Eva Braun: Leben mit Hitler") Did Hitler's Mistress Have A Clue?
... The goal of Eva Braun does not appear to be rehabilitation so much as sifting fact from conjecture and determining whether Braun should be recast from victim to villain. Grtemaker recently told the Observer, "<Braun> was in the loop and knew what was going on. She was no mere bystander," and she lays out her case to prove this. But despite its lofty ambitions, Leben mit Hitler does little to transcend the earlier portrait. Grtemaker wants us to believe that Braun's bimbo image originated with Hitler's efforts to disguise their relationship. She reports that Joseph Goebbels thought Braun was "a clever girl" -- a dubious honor. But her story does not stray far from the previous narrative. No new information has come to light, no secret diary discovered, no cache of correspondence: When Hitler was purging personal documents in the end days, it is believed any private journal Braun may have kept was destroyed too. Grtemaker reveals that Braun was more active in the Nazi plans for their postwar domination, involved with re-creating Linz as their new capital of culture. She attended a few high-level meetings at Hitler's side, often posing as a secretary, so she was not completely oblivious.

But without any real record, Grtemaker can only speculate about what Braun knew, what she believed, and what she did about it. She still comes off as a silly girl, and nothing explains why she fell in love with this genocidal creep, or why her devotion grew so strong that she turned her back on her despairing family. When her sister's husband was arrested for desertion, for example, there's no evidence that Braun did anything to convince Hitler to stay his execution ...

In fact, there is nothing at all interesting about Eva Braun except for the fact that she dated Hitler. The facts of her life are so mundane as to be interchangeable with any other woman of the era, except for that one twist. She longed for marriage ... with Hitler. She was so dreamily in love that she could not bear her family's criticisms of her boyfriend ... who happened to be Adolf Hitler. She dabbled in photography, mostly filming the men in her life ... Adolf Hitler and his top advisors. In the films she shot at Berghof, Hitler's Bavarian retreat, Hitler is shown meeting with dignitaries, conversing with his generals, staring out into the Bavarian landscape. Cut to Eva Braun, picking flowers with her girlfriend.

Looking at the same scanty collection of diary fragments, interviews, and letters, most historians see a nonentity -- while Grtemaker sees an intelligent, engaged woman who bears some responsibility for history, if only for not opening her mouth in protest. Grtemaker, who earned praise with her previous biography of post-World War II journalist Margret Boveri, is rigorous about discounting unsubstantiated anecdotes, but in other places she draws conclusions about Braun's personal political beliefs that don't have any rationale, making the assumption, for example, that because she never argued with Hitler she did not disagree with his actions in the war. Because of this, Grtemaker has met with some resistance from Germany's critics, even as they praise her scholarship. Die Welt called her analysis of the material "too speculative," and a disappointed Sddeutsche Zeitung admonished Grtemaker, "You can't write what you don't know" ...
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