Hitler’s Niece (2009), by Ron Hansen, and Eva (1984), by Ib Melchior
Monsters fascinate us, I think, because their very perverse twisted natures provide an insight into our own elusive normalcy. The twisted, the freakish, bizarre, the aberrant are often the result of a snippet of DNA, an unfortunate parentage, or even something as simple as “a bad day.” Quasimodo, Vlad, The Impaler, the Elephant Man, the carnival Fat Lady, the “vampire” and “werewolf,” whether monstrous in body, or mind and soul, strike terror (sometimes sympathy) in our hearts because, if we are honest about it, we fear being or becoming them, as much as we are fearful of them.
Monsterwise, like most kids of my generation I grew up on Frankenstein and Adolf Hitler, each monsters in their own right that were “created” in some village on the dark side of a Bavarian or Austrian alp. Curiously, one of them was feared and hunted by the townspeople firebrands and pitchforks; the other given triumphal parades and sieg heil salutes by adoring mobs in Nuremburg. Go figure.
A lot of people, among them Ron Hansen and Ib Melchior, the authors reviewed here [Hitler’s Niece (2009) and Eva (1984), respectively) have an enduring fascination with perhaps the greatest monster of modern times, Adolph Hitler, the author of perhaps the greatest conflict in modern times and responsible for the deaths of over forty million people. A large number of profiles, biographies and psychological studies have been produced about Hitler, but there are gaps enough in his life that allow for some creative speculation, not the least of these being “the Fuhrer’s” love life and his sexual disposition. Hitler was publicly emotional, but not about his personal feelings for women. Speculation abounds about the Furher’s sexuality, that he was bi-sexual, homosexual, asexual, that he was Oedipal, that he was most outwardly affectionate to his dog.
Angelika “Geli” Raubal was Hitler’s niece by his half-sister Angela Raubal. She was nineteen years younger than her uncle who was a WWI war veteran struggling artist when she first met him as a child. For the record, the Hitlers were Austrians (and Beethoven was a German; not the other way around). Hitler later gave up his Austrian citizenship when he became politically active in Munich.* By Hansen’s account Geli was an endearing child and her uncle’s intermittent contact with her was at first distant and appropriately avuncular despite the fact that he had a quick temper and all you had to do is say “blintz” or “bagel” to him and he would go ballistic about “the Jews.”
When Hitler headed off to Munich to be an artist/cum mass murderer and began to get some funding from fellow national socialists he sent for Angela to be his housekeeper and bring Geli along. So she was around, liking the money he gave her to dress up, going to hear Wagner with him and such. An attraction formed that many regarded as mutual, if perhaps different for each. Geli, by various accounts, was fetching and had a sunny personality. She had a nice, sturdy figure and pretty, open face. She dressed up well, and by accounts she turned the heads of several of those in Hitler’s Nazi entourage. Her “affection for her “uncle” probably owed much to girlish infatuation with the top “reich star.” There could well have been sexual desire as well, given that her uncle kept her too close for her to satisfy it elsewhere.
But Hitler himself was probably seriously fucked-up sexually. He had hang-ups about cleanliness and, well, sex can get kinda gooey; he was neurotic about food and had a castration phobia (which led to some speculation that the H-Man had some problems with the functioning of his . . . ah, “thingy.” This leading, in turn, to speculation that maybe it only fired blanks. If true, one must wonder how much impotence and/or impotency factored into the twisted, quixotic, monster he became. Megalomaniacs have been known to turn quickly when things start to go bad, from the loving paternalism to the punishing father. By the time he was stuck in the Reich’s Bunker Hitler was raging about betrayals by everyone from his closest cronies, to the school kids he was recruiting for the home guard. By then the German people had become his own Frankenstein creation and he openly exclaimed that he didn’t give a scheisse about them and they deserved the punishment the Allies—especially the Russians—were giving them.
If sex, by some accounts, is better in the imagination than in the execution, imagination is what we are left with as regards Hitler’s sex life. Hansen fills in the blanks obliquely; that Uncle Adolph got Geli to strip down to satisfy some artistic impulses that led to some un-defined kinky stuff** that led to her taking her own life at age 23. That she was shot in the chest from an angle that could have come from above, an awkward self-infliction, has led to the possibility that Hitler might have murdered her in one of his rages, perhaps because she found his sexual quirks “disgusting.” In any event her corpse was whisked away (friendly local police ruled out foul play and called it a suicide) after the Furher allegedly lingered mournfully over it, and supposedly was in a funk for a while. Her grave in a Vienna cemetery is unmarked.
However, sometime before Geli’s death Hitler had also set lustful eyes on the sturdy figure of Eva Braun, an assistant in studio of the Furher’s official photographer, Heinrich Hoffman. Geli, who had been photographed many times by Hoffman most likely knew of her competition. Sexually, Eva appears, by accounts, to have had even less . . . ah, Adolph “action.” As the Reich was turning into a Reck and Hitler was as well, he was, it has been suggested in the more credible sources, suffering from something like limpendorkenkrankheit.***
But Melchior speculates—with a good deal more invention than Hanson’s—that at least their hasty nuptial (Adolph and Eva, who spent their honeymoon after their hasty marriage in the Reich’s Bunker prior to their joint suicide followed by an equally hasty cremation) was consummated, and with procreative result!
Melchior’s story involves not only filling in some blanks, but adding a reasonably plausible plot that that does not end with Eva’s suicide (rather an unfortunate look-alike is substituted) because she is pregnant with a little Furher foetus. This allows for a chase to arrest her through the elaborate escape routs to South America set up by the Nazis, but ends with an equally plausible “could have been.” Thus, while Hansen’s story might be classified as “creative non-fiction,” Melchior allows himself much greater license with the facts.
Neither account adds much to the speculation about Hitler’s sex life, beyond wondering what these women saw appealing in the appearance or anything else about this mad clown with halitosis that allegedly could melt the medals of Goering’s chest. But he remains an enduring curiosity nearly seventy years after his death; weirdness has always been a greater curiosity than normalcy. [You read this far, didn’t you]. I’m working on a plot with Hitler, Michele Bachmann and Ann Coulter in a ménage a trios in Berchtesgaden . . . or maybe Marcus Bachmann . . .and Hitler’s dog! I mustn’t forget the dog.
© 2012, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 7.16.2012)
*That hardly matters when you plan to take over your old country in the Anschluss of 1938.
**There is no direct evidence, but one of Hitler’s confidants, Otto Strasser, supposedly told Allied interviewers that Hitler made Geli strip and “… He would lie down on the floor. Then she would have to squat over his face where he could examine her at close range and this made him very excited. When the excitement reached its peak, Hitler demanded that Geli urinate on him and that gave him his sexual pleasure. Geli said the whole performance was extremely disgusting to her and … it gave her no gratification.”
***Translation: when the time is right, he isn’t.