These Photos Found In His Mistress’ Bedroom Reveal A Side Of Adolf Hitler You’ve Never Seen
On 20th March 2017
In a bunker underneath the beleaguered city of Berlin, a Russian soldier breaks open a drawer with his bayonet. In amongst discarded underwear and pieces of a broken perfume bottle he discovers a photo album, embossed with a Swastika. Inside are pages of candid photographs, each featuring the recently-deceased Fuhrer and his cronies. They are fascinating and unique, but it will be another seven decades before they reach the public eye.
Eva Anna Paula Braun was born in Munich, Germany, on 6 February, 1912. When she was just 17 years old, she found work assisting the photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, whose task it was to officially document the increasingly powerful Nazi Party. Inevitably, this role soon brought her in contact with Adolf Hitler.
By 1932, Hitler and Braun had become lovers. And the following year Braun took a position as a photographer alongside Hoffman. In this capacity, Hitler’s mistress was able to travel alongside him in the years leading up to World War II.
Despite two suicide attempts by Braun, Hitler’s relationship with her survived against the odds. In April 1945, as the Allied forces closed in on Berlin, Braun joined Hitler in his bunker beneath the city. And on April 30 she was at her lover’s side as the pair took their own lives.
Less than a month after the deaths of Hitler and Braun, British photographer Edward Dean found himself in Berlin. With him were BBC war correspondent Richard Dimbleby and an unidentified Russian soldier. Together, the trio forced their way into Braun’s bedroom.
Armed with a bayonet, the Russian soldier managed to gain access to a locked drawer in Braun’s chambers. Inside, they found something so incredible it still fascinates the world decades later. It was a photograph album, filled with snapshots of Hitler and his closest allies.
The album, which features a Swastika design on its cover, is thought to have belonged to Braun herself. Inside are 73 black-and-white photographs, each revealing a side to Hitler and the Third Reich rarely seen anywhere else. But just who was responsible for taking these striking shots?
Clearly, these photographs are very far removed from the typical images of the Fuhrer that were presented at the time. “Photographs of Hitler were very carefully controlled,” explained Tim Harper of C&T Auctions in a March 2017 interview with The Telegraph, “to ensure they fitted in to the image the Nazis were trying to project of him.”
These photographs, however, were never meant for the public eye. Instead, it is believed that they were captured by one of Hitler’s close associates. Experts have speculated that the photographer may have been a bodyguard or even the Fuhrer’s lover herself.
“It is also likely that Eva Braun would have taken some of them, as she doesn’t appear in any,” observed Harper. To add weight to this theory, it’s known that Braun continued to photograph Hitler and his circle until 1943. Indeed, she often sold the images to Hoffmann for astronomical prices.
Whoever was responsible for these candid images of Hitler, their historical significance cannot be denied. “It is rare to come across easy-going photographs of him that wouldn’t have got through the censorship,” Harper explained. “Especially during the height of the Second World War.”
In fact, many of the images suggest a surprising level of trust between Hitler and the photographer. For example, one depicts the Fuhrer’s desk at Berlin’s Reich Chancellery. Others show several of the aircraft used by the Nazi Party during the war.
Interestingly, many of the photos were taken at the Berghof, Hitler’s retreat in the Bavarian Alps. Some look eerily like typical souvenir images, depicting the surprisingly serene scenery. Perhaps the most striking image, however, is one of Hitler on a rooftop overlooking the mountains. In it, he can be seen reclining in a chair as he studies some papers.
The photographs also depict the terrifying rise in the popularity of the Nazi Party. Groups of women and children are shown cheering Hitler, smiling as they give the Nazi salute. There are also snaps of torchlight rallies, which provide a better reflection of the party’s sinister nature.
In addition, the album offers a rare insight into the everyday lives of some of Hitler’s closest associates. One photograph shows the leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, grinning as he strolled through the countryside. Another depicts a crowd of small children cheering Joseph Goebbels, one of the main orchestrators of the Holocaust.
Most intriguing, however, are the photographs that show Hitler himself in moments when he was off guard. They include shots of him greeting crowds of supporters and giving a smiling salute as he walked down a garden path.
After making the amazing discovery in Hitler’s bunker, Dean claimed the album for himself. Then, in the 1980s, he sold it to a private collector. After changing hands once again, the album went up for auction on 15 March, 2017 – more than 70 years after it was first discovered.
C&T Auctions, which oversaw the sale, knew that it had an incredible piece of history on its hands. “Very few significant artifacts liberated from the Fuhrer Bunker in 1945 exist today in the open market,” Harper explained. “Especially with such concrete provenance dating all the way back to the time of liberation.”
Although he admitted that the album held a somewhat macabre appeal, Harper believed that it would be bought by someone who wanted to own an important piece of history. Before the auction, which was held in Royal Tunbridge Wells, England, experts estimated that the photographs could fetch around $23,000.
On the day, however, the album did far better. Eventually, it was sold to a mystery bidder for a staggering $41,000. While it is not yet known what the new owner will do with the photographs, their auction has allowed the public a rare glimpse into the everyday life of one of the world's most notorious butchers.