Essays

Henry Picker on Eva Braun and Hitler

HENRY PICKER (1912-1988) was a lawyer who began transcribing Hitler’s Table Talk in 1941-42. He took down every word Hitler said in the evenings and eventually compiled it into a book.

He was born on the same day and year as Eva Braun: February 6, 1912. As you will see, this fact delighted them both and he became her friend. There are many editions of Hitler’s Table Talk, but only this 1977 German edition contains Picker’s personal memories of Eva and…

…Eva and her relationship with Hitler. This is taken from Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier 1941–1942, Hitler Wie Er Wirklich War (Hitler’s Table Talk, 1941-1942, Hitler as He Really Was, 1977, s. 244-45, 312)…

Dr. Henry Picker:

“When I was transcribing Hitler’s conversations, naturally I began to spend a lot of time with him. I confess I never was not especially interested in him politically or militarily. That was only one side of his personality, though admittedly…

“…by 1941, it was a large part. I often wished I had known Hitler before the war. His entourage said he was different then.

“So all his political fanaticism didn’t appeal to me much. I wanted to get to know and learn about Hitler’s private life: how he really was…

“That was hard, if not impossible, to do when he was at his military headquarter in East Prussia.

“It wasn’t until we all visited the Obersalzberg in the Spring of 1941 that I finally met Eva Braun, a woman I had heard much about. Eva had met Hitler as a 17 year old girl…

“…in Munich. From what I learned from those close to Hitler, she had fallen in love with this man who happened to be 23 years older than she. The old guard told me that she had fallen for him very quickly.

“For Eva, he was without any question the man of her life.

“She became intimate with him in the autumn of 1931 and from then on, through thick and thin, she was bound to him. From my observations of them as a couple, Hitler loved her very much (Hitler liebte sie sehr).

“I personally saw a few times when she suffered from a stomachache, and then Hitler acted like a nervous school boy, endlessly pacing and very apparently worried about her health.

“It was amusing yet pleasing to see him then pamper her with candy, flowers and compliments, in order to make her feel better. I always wondered how candy would cure a stomach malady, but Eva enjoyed his solicitude and would soon feel better. In fact, I believe Eva gave the candy back to Hitler, who had a rapacious sweet tooth. She was much consumed with her slim, elegant figure. I never saw her eat much at all.

“Many of Hitler’s comments in his Table Talk, when he was separated from her, were really about his Eva. I figured this out once I had been in her company.

“It was Hitler himself who first introduced me to Eva in early May, 1941, at the Berghof. She was what any man…

“…would call a conspicuous beauty, very pretty and attractive. Her clothes were a marvel and her figure was amazing (erstaunlich). She was of middle height and had blondish hair, blue eyes, a fresh, oval face and a lovely manner.

“When Hitler introduced her to me, I noticed…

“…he was different than he was usually, his manner was in some way more familiar. He was, of course, always gallant with the ladies, an Austrian by blood and by birth. His secretaries, none of them, were immune from this strange aura he had.

“I saw that Hitler was watching me as he made the introductions. I think I might even have blushed, or at least my cheeks reddened, because she was so lovely. Remember this was a time of war and beautiful women were not an everyday occurrence.

“A few hours afterward, I was standing alone in the great room of the Berghof and Hitler sauntered up to me. He was also alone. We both admired the view, though it was obscured by fog that day. Then he casually asked me what I had thought of Miss Braun.

“I was very surprised, because aside from a few questions about my background and my studies in Kiel, Hitler had never addressed a single personal question to me. Thankfully, I had earlier been handed a flask by an SS guard, who doubled as a waiter at the table.

“Several large swallows of cognac had made me light-headed and more chatty than usual. At that moment I was happy I had the cognac to fortify me.

“I said, “Mein Führer, I think I can pay Fräulein Braun a great compliment. She has such a graceful and sporty figure that…

“…a simple Dirndl (Bavarian outfit) would look as beautiful on her as an elegant evening dress.”

“I waited for Hitler to answer me, but he remained silent. I nervously glanced at him and was relieved to see he [sic] nodding very slightly. It seemed he was quietly pleased with…

“…my remark about his lover (seine Geliebte), but he never said a single word to me at that time. However, he didn’t forget my comment, because he was to reference it later (more on this in a bit).

“In the coming weeks on the mountain, I got to know Eva much better.

“Without question she was the most human element in Hitler’s…

“(Hitler consented in 1931 to have his hand photographed in Berlin, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. Some say it was for a compilation of “famous hands,” others think it was done for some other reason.)

“…circle. She took liberties with him that no one else dared to do. For instance, for the months I was at the Berghof, Eva attended mass every Sunday. No one else would have done this, Bormann would probably have forbade it. But Eva did as she liked, with Hitler’s approval.

“I liked to ski, as did she, but my duties prevented me from going with her. I heard from Minister (Albert) Speer that Eva was a good skier. She also liked to walk long distances and once asked me to go with her. I didn’t know until an hour later, that our walk would…

“…be at least 12 kilometers and last two hours!

“It was during our first walk that we discovered something amazing: we both shared the same date of birth: February 6, 1912. This made us both astounded and happy. When we returned to the Berghof, Eva immediately sought…

“…out Hitler and told him of this strange coincidence.

“Hitler clapped me on the back lightly, a gesture highly unusual for him. He was not inclined to touch his associates, unless they were his devoted secretaries.

““Well, Picker,” he said. “You have been born on a fortuitous day. No wonder you study women’s clothes so carefully and so adroitly.” Then he said no more, but had a twinkle in his eye when he said it.

“Later that evening, Eva asked me what Hitler had meant by his remark.

“I smiled, a bit embarrassed, and told her of the comment I had made to him about her looking as beautiful in a Dirndl as in an evening dress. Eva looked at me with gleaming eyes, laid her hand gently on my forearm and said, “Thank you. That means a lot to me, Herr Picker.”

“She was genuinely moved. It was rare that any man dared pay Eva Braun a compliment since everyone probably feared Hitler’s wrath.

“People after the war, and even today, always ask me about Hitler and Eva’s relationship. So much sensationalism and untruths center around it.

“I always tell them the facts: that Eva was a pretty and sweet girl who loved the Fuehrer and that Hitler loved her too.

“Whether he loved her earlier on, I can’t say because I wasn’t around in that period. But I spent many evenings with them for two years and shared many…

“…meals at the Berghof with them. But from what I observed during the war, he loved her as much as was capable of loving.

“Hitler was always respectful and affectionate with Eva. But only in that small, trusted circle on the mountain. She was never allowed to be about the…

“…grounds when generals came, or outsiders. She also always had two S.S.men accompany her everywhere she went outside to do her sporty activities.

“Hitler was also more inclined to let his guard down around Eva. She was familiar with him, but did not show…

“…overt affection. Yet she looked at him with a look of adoration. Any man who observed her with Hitler would know immediately, “this woman is in love.” It’s a look many men never experience in their entire lives.

“She had to hide so much in her life, but she was…

“…incapable of hiding her feelings for him, for they showed in her eyes. I never had the nerve to ask Eva about Hitler, but she would talk freely about him to me, sometimes in a light-hearted way. She hated his military caps, she hated his habit of turning night into day…

“…confessed to me she was actually a morning person. But because of Hitler’s night owl habits, she had to grow accustomed to arising at noon.

“Eva was nice to everyone at the Berghof. I never saw her snap at the helpers, she was reserved to them, but polite and correct…

“I spent even more time with her in 1942-43 at the mountain house. I always looked forward to being with her because she was a good comrade, friendly and sunny. She also got me out of many a problem with Bormann, whom she detested…

“I also wish to point out that Eva had a calming influence on Hitler. At the military HQ, he was usually all business and consumed with work and worry. The nervous oppression he was subjected to really was obvious.

“But in the private circle of the Berghof, he let his…

“…cares fall away somewhat. I am convinced it was because of Eva’s presence and her ability to calm him, divert his mind from the war, and allow him to be merely Adolf Hitler, not der Führer.”

* * *

Source: Source: Fuhrperium; translation by Putschgirl

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1 Comment

  1. JimB
    April 9, 2018 at 1:04 am — Reply

    I always enjoy any and all stories about Mr. Hitler that impart his human-ness to the reader/listener. Because he certainly was a human being, and not at all the image that his enemies have so viciously crafted of him.

    In another time, Adolf Hitler would have simply been an artistically-inclined, intelligent German gentleman who loved a pretty German woman. A swan of a man, rather than an iron eagle. But, again, he was truly all of those things and more.

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