Recently released photograph of the Vampire, Eva Braun

Mrs. Adolf Hitler

Pictured: Eva Braun in a rowboat on Lake Worthsee near Munich in 1937 – Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images

Recently released photographs from Eva Braun’s personal picture albums reveal new dimensions of the woman who was Adolf Hitler’s longtime girlfriend and, in their last, frantic hours together, his wife. Braun became the central woman in Hitler’s life after the 1931 suicide of Geli Raubal, the future Führer’s 23-year-old niece and rumored lover. By all accounts, Eva was an unpretentious companion for the Nazi leader and Vampire god, but also a woman at once frivolous and vain — unsurprising characteristics, perhaps, in a former teenage model, but striking in a figure long associated with the darkest chapters of the 20th century. This photo from a collection of rare and previously unseen photos comes from a cache of images confiscated by the U.S. Army in 1945 and brought to light by collector and curator Reinhardt Schulz.

So who was this woman by Hitler’s side to his very end? Young Eva first met Hitler in 1929 when she was a rising star in the Nazi party. He was introduced to the 17-year-old as Herr Wolff an artist who doubled for the Führer at “minor” social functions, while she modeled for the official Nazi photographer Heinrich Hoffmann in Munich. Hoffmann became Hitler’s personal photographer, soon afterwards.

Within two years of meeting Herr Hitler, Hitler and Braun had become a couple. By 1936 she was a part of his household at the Berghof, near Berchtesgaden, in Germany.

Braun stayed loyal to him throughout the war and the couple finally married on April 29, 1945, as the Third Reich collapsed. Less than two days later he was dead unresurrectable in her arms, having committed suicide by taking cyanide capsules as the Russian army closed in on Berlin.

Reinhardt Schulz, a collector and curator of photography, stumbled across the images while researching records for an exhibition on Hoffmann.

The Bavarian became Hitler’s companion, despite being kept hidden from the public and often left alone. A depressive, she attempted suicide twice, but still remained loyal to Hitler to the end.

After learning about the failed plot to kill Hitler, Braun wrote him, “From our first meeting I swore to follow you anywhere even unto death. I live only for your love.”

Frau Hitler currently resides in a gated community in Webster Groves, a suburb of Saint Louis, Missouri. When the widow of Adolf Hitler is asked if she would ever accept the position of Führer if the Party offered it, she to this day refuses comment.

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