Hitler: Was he complicit in the death of his half-niece Geli Raubal?

A Personal View – April 2014

Hitler was unable to form normal relationships with other people. During WW1 he rarely if ever fraternised with his fellow soldiers but studiously avoided them. Bravery he had in abundance which is attested by the fact that he was awarded the Iron Cross not once but twice; one was First Class while the other was Second Class.

Fellow soldiers describe him as a loner. He was considered for promotion but it was declined on the basis of his anti-social tendencies.

Main picture: Hitler with his niece Geli Raubal

As far as female relationships were concerned, Hitler was awkward with them and it is doubtful whether he really was able to bond with other people. This was a function of his narcissistic behaviour. Such temperament does not endow a person with the ability to empathise or show caring and concern for others.

I have read a number of books of Hitler’s relationships but none of the interviewees can attest that he ever showed open affection to any female friend even when amongst close associates. Even Hitler and Eva Braun never shared a bedroom. Instead they had separate bedrooms at the Berghof with an interlinking door.

This is a definitive list of Hitler’s known & suspected female companions: 

An interesting aspect is the fact that so many of these females ultimately committed suicide or at least made an attempt to do so.

The female that is discussed in this opinion piece, is Geli Raubal, Hitler’s half niece. I first encountered Miss Geli Raubal in a book some 10 years ago. This book also covered Hitler’s sexual inclinations and tended to view them as abnormal. What was meant by unusual was not spelt out but implied some deviant sexual behaviour by Hitler. How this author was able to establish these facts, I cannot recall but these accusations were made nonetheless. At the other extreme, one has Ian Kershaw, a renowned scholar and author on Hitler, who does not support such allegations mainly, I suspect, due to the lack of verifiable evidence.

This is the story of Hitler’s relationship with Geli.

Angela Maria “Geli” Raubal (4 June 1908 – 18 September 1931) was Adolf Hitler’s half-niece. Born in Linz, she was the second child of Leo Raubal Sr. and Hitler’s half-sister, Angela Hitler,

She and her sister Elfriede accompanied their mother when she became Hitler’s housekeeper in 1925 in this Munich apartment; Raubal was 17 at the time and spent the next six years with her uncle Adolph – who was 19 years older than her – from 1925 until her death in 1931. Her mother was given a position as housekeeper at the Berghof villa near Berchtesgaden in 1928. Geli Raubal moved into Hitler’s Munich apartment in 1929 when she enrolled in medicine at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. She did not complete her medical studies.

As he rose to power as leader of the Nazi Party, Hitler was domineering and possessive of Raubal, keeping a tight rein on her. When he discovered that she was having a relationship with his chauffeur, Emil Maurice, he forced an end to the affair and dismissed Maurice from his service. After that he did not allow her to freely associate with friends and attempted to have himself, or someone that he trusted, be near her at all times, accompanying her on shopping trips, to the movies, and to the opera.

Raubal was in effect a prisoner in Hitler’s flat in Munich, but planned to escape to Vienna in order to continue her singing lessons. Her mother told interrogators after the war that her daughter was hoping to marry a man from Linz, but that Hitler had forbidden the relationship. He and Raubal argued on 18 September 1931—he refused to allow her to go to Vienna. Thereafter he departed for a meeting in Nuremberg, but was recalled to Munich the next day: Raubal was dead from a gunshot wound to the lung; she had shot herself in the Munich apartment with Hitler’s Walther pistol. She was 23.

Rumours immediately began in the media about physical abuse, a possible sexual relationship, and even murder. Historian Ian Kershaw contends that stories circulated at the time which allege “sexual deviant practices ought to be viewed as … anti-Hitler propaganda“. The police ruled out foul play; the death was ruled a suicide. Hitler was devastated and went into an intense depression. He took refuge at a house on the shores of Tegernsee Lake and did not attend the funeral in Vienna on 24 September. He visited her grave at Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) two days later. Thereafter, he overcame his depression and refocused on politics.

Hitler later declared that Raubal was the only woman he had ever loved. Her room at the Berghof was kept as she had left it, and he hung portraits of her in his own room there and at the Chancellery in Berlin.

Apart from the fact that Hitler had declared that Geli was the only woman that he had ever loved, let us review some comments by associates regarding this relationship which can provide some insight into its nature:

Otto Wagener (29 April 1888 – 9 August 1971) was a major general and, for a period, Adolf Hitler’s economic advisor and confidant. In 1946, while being held by the British, Wagener wrote his memoirs about Hitler and the Nazi Party’s early history, entitled Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant.

Hitler told Otto Wagener

“I can sit next to young women who leave me completely cold. I feel nothing, or they actually irritate me. But a girl like the little Hoffmann or Geli (Raubal) – with them I become cheerful and bright, and if I have listened for an hour to their perhaps silly chatter – or I have only to sit next to them – then I am free of all weariness and listlessness I can go back to work refreshed.” Hitler once commented: “Nothing is more enjoyable than educating a young thing – a girl of eighteen or twenty, as pliable as wax.”

The little Hoffman that Otto Wagener is referring to here is none other than Henriette Hoffmann, the young daughter of Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s official photographer and a close friend of young Geli.

This vignette about the together swimming naked is quoted by Henriette:

“One day a cluster of butterflies settled on the naked Geli. We made ourselves garlands of strawberry leaves and put them on. For us the world was a garden, a forest glade, with fairies dancing in the moonlight and fauns with goat feet making music. We thought life was a party that was just beginning. We didn’t know the forest glade was a battlefield you couldn’t leave till you were defeated. We didn’t know the world was rough and mean and stupid.”

I cannot ascertain when this example of child-like pleasure occurred but it must have been early during her stay with Adolph when she was 17 or 18 years old. As others can attest, she was not a worldly wise woman but rather naïve.

Joachim Fest, the author of “Hitler” (1973), wrote:

“The affection Hitler felt for this pretty, superficial niece soon developed into a passionate relationship hopelessly burdened by his intolerance, his romantic ideal of womanhood and avuncular scruples.”

Patrick Hitler who was to write the book Why I Hate by Uncle met her during this period:

“Geli looks more like a child than a girl. You couldn’t call her pretty exactly, but she had great natural charm. She usually went without a hat and wore very plain clothes, pleated skirts and white blouses. No jewellery except a gold swastika given to her by Uncle Adolf, whom she called Uncle Alf.”

This was not a case of sour grapes subsequent to the war but due to numerous spats between himself and Adolph prior to WW2. Finally after being hounded by the Gestapo, he emigrated to the United States in February 1939.

Hitler, who had now turned forty, became infatuated with Geli and rumours soon spread that he was having an affair with his young niece.

Hitler told Heinrich Hoffman, his official photographer:

  “You know, Hoffmann, I’m so concerned about Geli’s future that I feel I have to watch over her. I love Geli and could marry her. Good! But you know what my viewpoint is. I want to remain single. So I retain the right to exert an influence on her circle of friends until such a time as she finds the right man. What Geli sees as compulsion is simply prudence. I want to stop her from falling into the hands of someone unsuitable.”

At first Hitler was very much in love with Geli. Emil Maurice, Hitler’s Driver stated:

“He liked to show her off everywhere; he was proud of being seen in the company of such an attractive girl. He was convinced that in this way he impressed his comrades in the party, whose wives or girlfriends nearly all looked like washerwomen.” Anni Winter, Hitler’s housekeeper, had a slightly different view of the relationship: “Geli loved Hitler. She was always running after him. Naturally, she wanted to be become Frau Hitler… He was highly eligible… but she flirted with everybody; she was not a serious girl.”

Geli lived with Hitler in his Munich apartment for over two years. The relationship with Geli was stormy and they began to accuse each other of being unfaithful. Geli was particularly concerned about a seventeen-year-old girl who Hitler took for rides in his Mercedes car. Henriette Hoffmann claims that Geli grew more and more indifferent to him while he grew more and more passionate about her. Geli began seeing other men.

Wilhelm Stocker an SA officer, was often on guard duty outside Hitler’s Munich flat, later told the author of “Eva and Adolf:

“Many times when Hitler was away for several days at a political rally or tending to party matters in Berlin or elsewhere, Geli would associate with other men. I liked the girl myself so I never told anyone what she did or where she went on these free nights. Hitler would have been furious if he had known that she was out with such men as a violin player from Augsburg or a ski instructor from Innsbruck.”

 Geli also began a relationship with Emil Maurice, Hitler’s chauffeur and bodyguard. Maurice later told Nerin E. Gun, the author of “Eva Braun: Hitler’s Mistress” (1969), about Geli. He testified that

 “Her big eyes were a poem and she had magnificent hair. People in the street would turn round to take another look at her, though people don’t do that in Munich.” Maurice was aware that Hitler was very interested in Geli: “He liked to show her off everywhere; he was proud of being seen in the company of such an attractive girl. He was convinced that in this way he impressed his comrades in the party, whose wives or girlfriends nearly all looked like washerwomen.”

Maurice admitted that he was “madly in love” with Geli and “I decided to become engaged to Geli… she gladly accepted my proposal”.

Ernst Hanfstaengel before falling out of favoür and defecting, believes that Geli had turned away from Hitler because of his perverted sexual desires. This idea is supported by Wilhelm Stocker, an SS Guard at Hitler’s Munich apartment claims the following:

 “She (Geli) admitted to me that at times Hitler made her do things in the privacy of her room that sickened her but when I asked her why she didn’t refuse to do them she just shrugged and said that she didn’t want to lose him to some woman that would do what he wanted. She was a girl that needed attention and needed it often. And she definitely wanted to remain Hitler’s favourite girlfriend. She was willing to do anything to retain that status. At the beginning of 1931 I think she was worried that there might be another woman in Hitler’s life because she mentioned to me several times that her uncle didn’t seem to be as interested in her as he once was.”  

Geli told “Otto Strasser”, a Nazi Party member who would eventually form an anti-Hitlerite faction within the party as follows:

 “He demanded things from her that were simply disgusting. She had never dreamed that such things could happen. When I asked her to tell me, she described things I had previously encountered in my reading of Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis when I was a student.”

So there we have it.

So apart from Geli finding Hitler’s controlling behaviour unpleasant, there also appears to have been some sexual activity of sorts. At the very least he was controlling for no other reason than the jealousy that he felt due to his feelings for her.

On the morning of Saturday, 19th September, 1931, Geli’s body was found on the floor of her room in the flat. Leading officials including Rudolf Hess, discussed what they should do before the police were brought to Hitler’s apartment. Eventually, the police were called and Detective Sauer arrived and interviewed the witnesses. Schwarz insisted that Hitler had not been in the apartment at the time of Geli’s death. However, he did discover that the Walther 6.35 pistol that killed Geli was owned by Hitler.

According to the police report, Geli Raubal had been bleeding from a wound near her heart and her clothes were soaked with blood. She was lying face downwards, with her nose against the floor. One arm was stretched out towards the pistol, a Walther 6.35, which was on the couch. The bullet, which had missed her heart, had pierced her lung. Still in her body, it had lodged on the left side of her back above the level of her hip.

On the table was an unfinished letter, which was not a suicide note. It was addressed to someone in Vienna. The police report said that it was to a girlfriend but Baldur von Schirach has claimed it was to her music teacher.

Heinrich Hoffmann claimed that Hitler’s housekeeper, Anni Winter, told him that a torn-up letter from Eva Braun was found in Geli’s room on the night of her suicide which read: “Dear Herr Hitler, Thank you again for the wonderful invitation to the theatre. It was a memorable evening. I am most grateful to you for your kindness. I am counting the hours until I may have the joy of another meeting. Yours, Eva.”

Whatever the truth of the matter, in my view, Hitler was complicit in her death whether this was due to the fact that the depraved nature of Hitler’s sexual lust together with the constraints in her life, forced her to commit suicide or whether it was solely the way of life imposed on a young innocent girl which was the trigger, I cannot comment.

At the very least by allowing her access to his Walther Pistol, he is complicit in her death. The fact that the Gestapo confiscated all the official police records in 1934 – 3 years after her death – is indicative of ulterior motive. These missing records have prevented a subsequent proper analysis of the events.

My final verdict is that, beyond reasonable doubt, he was complicit in allowing her access to the pistol and to her mental anguish.

Nothing more and nothing less.

However that still resulted in the death of a vibrant young life for which Hitler should be held culpable.

Other Articles on History:

This Day in History: 6th June 1944 – D-Day

The largest beach landing in history

Stalin: Abandoned on his Death Bed

The Narvik Landings Fiasco: In its wake why was its progenitor Churchill appointed as Prime Minister

Hitler: Was he complicit in the death of his half-niece Geli Raubal?

The Victoria Cross: What it takes to Acquire One

Nazi Germany: Was there Passive Resistance?

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