Despite the many injustices he inflicted upon the world and the hardship he subjected the German people to, Adolf Hitler remained the subject of adoration for many in the German population. One such person was Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress whom he married on April 29th, 1945.
Eva Braun was the second child of a schoolteacher and a seamstress. She was educated in a lyceum and a business school and at the age of 17 was hired by Heinrich Hoffman, the photographer of the Nazi Party, to work as a clerk and assistant. She met Hitler, who at the time was living with his half niece Raubal, in 1929. Raubal shot herself with Hitler’s pistol in 1931. This saddened Hitler, and he began to see Eva Braun more. The two began a relationship in 1932 while Braun was still working as a photographer for the Nazi Party, a position which allowed her to travel with Hitler. Braun made two suicide attempts in the 1930s which most historians agree were meant to attract more attention from Hitler. Braun soon moved into accommodations he provided and he defended her from hostility within his inner circle. However, he was rarely seen in public with her as Hitler wanted to present the image of a single, chaste, leader. The one exception to this was when she sat near him during the Berlin Olympics. Braun continued to take photos and video of high level Nazis as part of her job for Hoffman. Further, she held the position of Hitler’s personal secretary. However, she had little interest in politics and did not make herself an influential person in the Reich. The one exception is when she became angry at Hitler after she heard of a proposed ban on cosmetic production that would be implemented in order to further shift Germany over to wartime production. Hitler ordered armaments minister Albert Speer to quietly halt production of cosmetics as opposed to outright ban them. On June 3rd, 1944, Braun’s sister married Hermann Fegelein, Heinrich Himmler’s liaison officer on Hitler’s staff, and Hitler used this as an excuse to have Eva come to official functions. Braun remained faithful to Hitler even as the war worsened for Germany, and refused to attempt to escape or go into hiding as the Soviets approached Berlin. Eva and Hitler married in the Fuerherbunker after midnight on April 29th. The next day, she would commit suicide using cyanide pills that Hitler first had tested on his dog.
Eva Braun provides an extreme example of how even the worst people can attract devoted and loyal followers. She was either ignorant of his deeds or overlooked them, and was so faithful that she was willing to die with him. On a less extreme level, supporters of a leader can easily look past their mistakes and flaws as long as that leader furthers their interests. This is made only easier if the leader can create a cult of personality around themselves and control the media and the education system. Such leaders can pose a great threat to the nation, and the citizens of all countries should make special effort to prevent such leaders from coming to power in the future.