Lost Life of Eva Braun

( 3 )

Overview

Eva Braun is one of history's most famous non-entities. She has been dismissed as a racist, feather-headed shop girl, and yet sixty-two years after her death her name is still instantly recognizable.

She left her convent school at the age of seventeen and met Hitler a few months later. She became his mistress before she was twenty. How did unsophisticated little Fraulien Braun, twenty-three years his junior, hold the most powerful man in Europe in an exclusive sexual ...

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The Lost Life of Eva Braun

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Overview

Eva Braun is one of history's most famous non-entities. She has been dismissed as a racist, feather-headed shop girl, and yet sixty-two years after her death her name is still instantly recognizable.

She left her convent school at the age of seventeen and met Hitler a few months later. She became his mistress before she was twenty. How did unsophisticated little Fraulien Braun, twenty-three years his junior, hold the most powerful man in Europe in an exclusive sexual relationship that lasted from 1932 until their joint suicide? Were they really lovers, and what were the background influences and psychological tensions of the middle-class Catholic girl from Munich who shared his intimate life? How can her ordinariness and apparent decency be reconciled with an unshakeable loyalty to the monster she loved?

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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
Dismissed by members of Hitler’s inner circle as a “blöde Kuh”—a silly cow—Eva Braun struck an incongruously middle-class note in the feverish atmosphere of the Berghof compound. Braun was not a fanatical believer, like Magda Goebbels, or even interested in politics, and in this biography Lambert attempts a rehabilitation of the nice seventeen-year-old Catholic girl who met Hitler in 1929. However, the reader recoils when empathy extends to claiming Braun as a kind of victim of Hitler. This misses the creepiness of her position, which is encapsulated in a story told by Albert Speer (and not included by Lambert) about perhaps the only time Braun stood up to Hitler politically: in 1943, she protested the newly imposed restrictions on beauty products. While Lambert may well be right about Braun’s personal demeanor, she never quite grasps her astonishing moral frivolity.
Publishers Weekly
Lambert (whose novel, A Rather English Marriage was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize) cites the remarkable fact that while Hitler has over 700 biographies, his long-time mistress and wife (for 36 hours), Eva Braun, enjoys just two in English-the first long out of print and now this one. Since her death at age 33 in the bunker alongside her beloved Adolf, Braun has been dismissed as a vivacious but flighty and not overly intelligent companion with a perverse adoration of the fuehrer. In her magnificent, sensitive and finely written bio, Lambert does not wholly undermine this perception, but for the first time Braun emerges as a fully rounded, complex individual both liberated and imprisoned by her relationship with Hitler, a relationship assiduously dissected here and that exemplifies the meaning of "opposites attract." She was, for instance, the only person allowed to smoke in the abstemious fuehrer's presence, and she was as Catholic as Hitler was militantly self-worshiping. No one in Hitler's retinue ever understood their mutual attraction, though perhaps Albert Speer was closest when he said that for Hitler Braun was "incredibly undemanding"; as for Braun's infatuation, Lambert herself remains bemused, but her behind-the-scenes tale of an extraordinary man in love with a most ordinary woman is a revelation. 32 pages of b&w photos. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
While hundreds of books have explored Hitler's life, only one in the English language-Nerin E. Gun's Eva Braun: Hitler's Mistress-has heretofore studied Eva Braun. Lambert (Unquiet Souls: The Indian Summer of the British Aristocracy, 1880-1918) attempts to delve into Braun's world, feeling that her own gender and background (her mother was German and a contemporary of Eva's) give her a unique perspective. Unfortunately, she relies heavily on Gun's work and doesn't give enough of her own mother's point of view to make a very meaningful comparative study. Eva is sympathetically portrayed as a typical German woman: loyal and kind, unconcerned with politics, and often suicidal because of her "secret life" with Hitler. While some parts attempt to dispel the myth of Eva's shallowness, other parts reinforce her vanity and lack of compassion for her countrypeople (e.g., excessive luxuries at the Berghof, Hitler's Bavarian home, during the lean years of the war). Lambert does utilize personal interviews with Braun's cousin, Gertraud Weisker, who spent time with Braun at the Berghof toward the end of the war. For this reason alone, libraries with Gun's work should purchase Lambert's as well. Recommended for academic libraries.-Maria C. Bagshaw, Lake Erie Coll. Lib., Painesville, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“[A] magnificent, sensitive, and finely written bio . . . Braun emerges as a fully rounded, complex individual both liberated and imprisoned by her relationship with Hitler.” —-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Lively and readable biography.” —-The Times (London)

“Exhaustively researched . . . for Lambert, Braun is not some exotic creature, but an ordinary woman of a specific German type, not unlike Lambert’s mother . . . a terrible reminder of . . . ‘the banality of evil.’” —-The Independent on Sunday (UK)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312378653
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 1,377,001
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Angela Lambert was born to a German mother and an English father and grew up bilingual. From 1947–50 she lived in Germany and met her surviving German relatives for the first time, though they never talked about their experiences in wartime Hamburg. She read philosophy, politics, and economics at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford and worked as a civil servant, journalist, and TV reporter until 1998. Her first book, Unquiet Souls: The Indian Summer of the British Aristocracy, 1880–1918, was one of three shortlisted for the 1986 Whitbread Prize. This is her tenth book and first biography.

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Table of Contents

Introduction     ix
Never Such Innocence Again
The First Strange and Fatal Interview     3
Eva's Family     16
Eva, Goethe, Schubert and Bambi     26
Tedious Lessons and Rebellious Games     35
Hitler's Childhood     55
Adolf to Fuhrer, Schoolgirl to Mistress
Eva Becomes Fraulein Braun, Hitler Becomes Fuhrer     71
Bavaria, the German Idyll     91
Geli and Hitler and Eva     100
Dying to Be with Hitler     125
Diary of a Desperate Woman     148
The Photograph Albums and Home Movies     161
Mistress-in-Waiting
Eva Leaves Home     177
Mistress     191
1936 - Germany on Display: The Olympics     211
The Best Years: Idling at the Berghof
The Women on the Berg     225
Three, Three, the Rivals ...     235
1937-9 - Eva at the Berghof: 'A Golden Cage'     253
1938-9 - The Last Summers of Peace     271
The War Years
1939 - War Approaches     281
Waiting for Hitler to Win the War     298
Eva, Gretl and Fegelein     311
1941-3 - What Could Eva Have Known?     323
... What Could Eva Have Done?     340
What Hitler Did     358
Culmination
February 1944-January 1945 - Eva at the Berghof with Gertraud     371
The Stauffenberg Plot and its Consequences     390
In the Bunker     401
Hitler's Last Stand     433
Frau Hitler for Thirty-six Hours     451
Aftermath     460
Acknowledgements     467
Select Bibliography     470
Appendix A     476
Index     477

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2007

    Eva's Life: Lost and Found Again

    Angela Lambert¿s ¿The Lost Life of Eva Braun¿ is not your typical biography. This 466 page book is not about Adolf Hitler, the Nazi Party (she was never a member), or does it offer an explanation for the Second World War, although one can not discuss Eva Braun¿s life and subsequent death in that dank and dark tomb beneath the Reich Chancellery without understanding how these factors congealed to bring to Berlin in 1945 and her death beside the man she so loved and the world so despised. Eva Braun was born into an average middle class family in Munich Germany in February of 1912. Her childhood and youth has been wonderfully detailed by the author. Eva always envisioned a life outside the ordinary¿perhaps as an actress, but never as a simple ¿hausfrau¿. She was often rebellious and had a craving to be the center of attention. It was perhaps this desire for something out of the ordinary that led her to Heinrich Hoffman¿s photography studio, where she modeled and clerked. It was here that she meets the mysterious ¿Herr Wolf¿, client and friend of her employer in October of 1929 at the age of 18. This strange patron would later be revealed to her as a raising politician by the name of Adolf Hitler. Ms. Lambert provides a vivid description of how Eva¿s early infatuation blossomed into a secretive romance, and her idyllic and yet terrible seclusion among the Southern Bavarian Alps at the Berghof (she was hidden away wherever there dignitaries were present). Here too Ms Lambert details how Eva interacted among the Nazi chieftains (her chief ally being Albert Speer), their wives, and mistresses, along with the others living on ¿the berg¿. Often alone (with occasionally her sister or a childhood friend), she would pass the days by swimming, exercising (aerobics, bicycling, skating), and lounging in the Bavarian sun. However, make no mistake it soon became clear that she was the (albeit unofficial) ¿Mistress of the Mountain¿ retreat as the author recounts through interviews and thoroughly researched documents. Finally, in minute detail, Ms. Lambert describes Eva¿s decision to join Hitler in Berlin in January of 1945 with the full knowledge that doing so would only bring her death. While many of the Nazi leadership ran like roaches in the light, only Eva and a small handful of others remained loyal. For her devotion, she achieved her single ambition---to become Hitler¿s wife, which she did for 36 hours. Her death came as she expected. She remained cheerful, compassionate, and loyal to the end. If this was where it ended, the book would still be well worth the $29.95 (USD). However, Ms. Lambert goes further by interlacing the story with that of her mother, another Bavarian girl very much like Eva and born at about the same time. By doing so, the book becomes in many way a story of her own past, and by extension, those whose parents, grandparents, or great grandparents lived through this horrific chapter of history. ¿The Lost Life of Eva Braun¿ is a solid read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2010

    Unconvinced

    Try as she might, Angela Lambert could not make Eva Braun a sympathetic character for me. The author continually tried to brush off previous historical descriptions of Hitler's mistress that painted her as dim and present her as both thoughtful and deep. I can't help but feeling however, that it would serve her memory better to be seen as oblivious and unaware of the brutal carnage her lover inflicted on so many, than to have been aware and not at least have left him. After all, it seems as time passed it became somewhat of a chore for him to keep her placated. And the dual story line that tied in the author's mother's life growing up in Germany around the same time served only as a distraction. I was not interested. One thing I did find interesting was that Lambert noted in her biography that often the biographer will superimpose his or her own opinions about their subject matter into the story, and this seemed very much the case with her biography of Braun. She seemed to want us to like her or to at least sympathize with her plight. At the end while I might not outright condemn Eva Braun, neither could I feel any empathy for her, and I think that is the best Lambert should hope for.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2010

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