Monday, February 25, 2008

Book Review: The Lost Life of Eva Braun

The Lost Life of Eva Braun
by Angela Lambert

Few biographies have been written about the mistress of Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler. Many students of World War II wonder how any woman could have loved Hitler or dismiss her as a shallow bimbo who was just as evil as he was.

This book explores these questions and portrays Braun as an average, unremarkable German woman of her times who was no more evil than the average person.

The author covers Braun's childhood experiences, focusing on the typical cultural attitudes of the time and her father's strict parenting style in particular. These experiences molded her into an impressionable 17 year old who was easily susceptible to the charisma of an older man who had the aura of power about him (his election as Chancellor was four years in the future when they met).

Several chapters deal with how their relationship grew and developed, including their sexual relationship, which was perfectly normal, despite urban legends claiming that Hitler was gay, impotent, or into odd fetishes.

One chapter speculates on what, if anything, Braun knew about the Holocaust, with a follow-up chapter asking what could she have done, even if she'd known. Related to these questions is coverage concerns Hitler's misogyny; how he generally disapproved of women being involved in politics and how political topics were never discussed in mixed gatherings; that most high-ranking Nazi women were deliberately left in the dark about the grisly details about the Holocaust and conduct of the war in general.

The book also explores how she willingly chose to share Hitler's fate, despite those around her, including Hitler, urging her to save herself.

In essence, the book shows her life as representing that of many Germans of the time -- of how millions of average, unremarkable, otherwise moral people could be taken in by someone like Hitler, and continue to do so, living in denial, even after it was obvious he was leading Germany down an evil path.

The author relies heavily on the accounts of those who knew her personally, including one still-living cousin who visited her at Hitler's private home, the Berghof.

Overall, I liked this book, with one quibble: The author includes several short segments comparing Braun's life with that of her mother, a German woman of roughly the same age and background. I understood that the author's purpose was to underline Braun's utter ordinariness of how evil is capable of seducing good people, but these digressions are distracting and the author would have been able to make this point sufficiently without these segments.

I give this book four out of five stars.

1 comment:

transfattyacid said...

was there any mention of coprophagia?

Apparently was a fan.