Geli Raubal

Geli Raubal

Geli Raubal, the daughter of Leo Raubal and Angela Raubal, was born in Linz on 4th June, 1908. When Adolf Hitler rented a house in Obersalzberg he asked his half-sister, Angela Raubal, now a widow, to be his housekeeper. She agreed and in August 1928 brought Geli with her to stay with Hitler.

Geli became a close friend of Henriette Hoffmann, the young daughter of Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's official photographer. The two young women went to the local lake together. After swimming naked they let the sun dry their bodies: "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."

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."

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 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."

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: "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."

Adolf Hitler also took her with him to meetings. Baldur von Schirach commented: "The girl at Hitler's side was of medium size, well developed, had dark, rather wavy hair, and lively brown eyes. A flush of embarrassment reddened the round face as she entered the room with him, and sensed the surprise caused by his appearance. I too stared at her for a long time, not because she was pretty to look at but because it was simply astonishing to see a young girl at Hitler's side when he appeared at a large gathering of people. He chatted animatedly to her, patted her hand and scarcely paused long enough for her to say anything. Punctually at eleven o'clock he stood up to leave the party with Geli, who had gradually become more animated. I had the impression Geli would have liked to stay longer."

Geli Raubal
Geli Raubal and Adolf Hitler

At first Hitler was very much in love with Geli. Emil Maurice commented: "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." Baldur von Schirach commented: "He (Hitler) followed her into millinery shops and watched patiently while she tried on all the hats and then decided on a beret. He sniffed at the sophisticated French perfumes she enquired about in a shop on the Theatinerstrasse, and if she didn't find what she wanted in a shop, he trotted after her... like a patient lamb. She exercised the sweet tyranny of youth, and he liked it, he was more cheerful, happier."

Geli lived with Hitler 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 Eva Braun, 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 (1974): "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 Raubal
Geli Raubal

Geli also began a relationship with Emil Maurice, his 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". Henriette Hoffmann believes that Geli was in love with Maurice: "He was a sensitive man, not just someone who took pride in fighting, and there was a genuine tenderness behind his affability." Geli told Henriette that she no longer wanted to be loved by Hitler and preferred her relationship with Maurice: "Being loved is boring, but to love a man, you know, to love him - that's what life is about. And when you can love and be loved at the same time, it's paradise."

Ernst Hanfstaengel believes that Geli had turned away from Hitler because of his perverted sexual desires. This idea is supported by Wilhelm Stocker: "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: "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."

Geli Raubal
Geli Raubal

Heinrich Hoffmann claimed in his book, Hitler was my Friend (1955) that that Geli found Hitler's controlling behaviour unpleasant: "The pressure under which Geli lives is burdensome to her, and what makes matters worse is that she's prevented from saying how unhappy she feels.... The ball gave her no pleasure. It merely reminded her of how little freedom she has.... Certainly, it flattered her that her serious and unapproachable uncle, who was so good at hiding his feelings from everybody else, was fond of her. She wouldn't have been a woman if she hadn't been flattered by Hitler's gallantry and generosity. But it seemed simply intolerable to this child of nature that he should want to mother her every step and that she shouldn't be allowed to speak to anyone without his knowledge."

Ernst Hanfstaengel suggests that Geli disliked his violent behaviour. He tells of a visit to the Schwarzwälder Café: "Discussing politics as they politics as they walked through the streets after the meal, Hitler emphasised some threat against his opponents by cracking the heavy dog whip he still affected. I happened to catch a glimpse of Geli's face as he did it, and there was on it such a look of fear and contempt that I almost caught my breath. Whips as well, I thought, and really felt sorry for the girl. She had displayed no sign of affection for him in the restaurant and seemed bored, looking over her shoulder at the other tables, and I could not help feeling that her share in the relationship was under compulsion."

Ian Kershaw has argued in Hitler 1889-1936 (1998): "When Hitler found out about Geli's liaison with Emil Maurice, his bodyguard and chauffeur, there was such a scene that Maurice feared Hitler was going to shoot him." Geli wrote to Maurice: "The postman has already brought me three letters from you, but never have I been so happy as I was over the last. Perhaps that's the reason we've had such bad experiences over the last few days. Uncle Adolf is insisting that we should wait two years. Think of it, Emil, two whole years of only being able to kiss each other now and then and always having Uncle Adolf in charge. I can only give you my love and be unconditionally faithful to you. I love you so infinitely much. Uncle Adolf insists that I should go on with my studies."

According to Ronald Hayman, the author of Hitler & Geli (1997), there are three versions of what afterwards happened to Maurice. He points out that Ernst Hanfstaengel believes that, instead of sacking him, Hitler "gradually started to freeze him out, fell behind in paying his wages, and in the end Maurice himself made the break." Another story is that Otto Strasser overheard a conversation in which Hitler told Maurice he was never to set foot in the house again, and Maurice replied: "Sack me, and I'll take the whole story to the Frankfurter Zeitung!" Hitler gave in to the threat. "The third version is that Hitler threatened to sack Maurice unless he broke off the engagement, and implemented his threat when Maurice tried to defy him. It is possible that all three stories are untrue." Maurice was eventually sacked.

According to Ernst Hanfstaengel, the author of The Missing Years (1957), Franz Schwarz, the treasurer of the Nazi Party, was responsible for paying off blackmailers who had evidence of Hitler's sexual perversions. Hanfstaengel says that one day in 1930 Schwarz told him that he had to buy off someone who was trying to blackmail Hitler. "The man had somehow come into the possession of a folio of pornographic drawings. Hitler had made... They were depraved intimate sketches of Geli Raubal, with every anatomical detail."

Christa Schroeder, Hitler's private secretary, claims that Geli fell in love with another man who has never been named. Apparently, he wanted to marry Geli and wrote to her in 1931: "Now your uncle, who knows how much influence he has over your mother, is trying to exploit her weakness with boundless cynicism. Unfortunately we won't be in a position to fight back against this blackmail until after you're twenty-one. He's putting obstacles in the way of our mutual happiness although he knows that we're made for each other. The year of separation your mother is imposing on us will only bind us together more closely. Because I'm always very strict with myself about thinking and behaving in a direct way, I find it hard to accept when other people don't do that. But your uncle's behaviour towards you can only be interpreted as egoistic. He quite simply wants you to belong to him one day and never to anyone else.... Your uncle still sees you as the 'inexperienced child' and refuses to acknowledge that in the meantime you've grown up and want to take responsibility for your own happiness. Your uncle is a force of nature. In his party they all bow down to him like slaves. I don't understand how his keen intelligence can mislead him into thinking his obstinacy and his theories about marriage can destroy our love and our willpower. He's hoping to succeed this year in changing your mind, but how little he knows your soul."

Geli Raubal
Geli Raubal

Ernst Hanfstaengel claims that Karl Anton Reichel told him that Hitler had shown him a letter he had recently written to Geli: "It was couched in romantic, even anatomical terms and could only be read in the context of a farewell letter of some sort. Its most extraordinary aspect was a pornographic drawing which Reichel could only describe as a symbol of impotence. Why on earth he should have been shown this letter I cannot imagine, but he was not the man to make up such a story."

Hitler insisted that Geli and her friend, Henriette Hoffmann, received weapons training. They were both encouraged to carry loaded pistols around with them for protection. They also practiced shooting on a rifle range just outside Munich. The young women were taught how to use a safety catch and how to clean a Walther 6.35 pistol, taking it to pieces and putting it together again. Henriette said they enjoyed this as it made them feel like characters in a Western.

Geli also complained about the way Hitler controlled her life. Bridget Hitler claimed that her son told her a story that he had got from Anni Winter, Hitler's housekeeper. She had overheard an argument about Geli wanting to go and stay in Vienna. Geli was very upset because he had originally given his approval but then changed his mind. Bridget heard Hitler say: "You say you have to go to Vienna? Is it to see that filthy Jew, the one who claims to be a singing teacher? Is that it? Have you been seeing him secretly again? Have you forgotten I forbade you to have anything to do with him? Tell me the truth now. Why do you want to go to Vienna?" According to Bridget she replied: "I have to go to Vienna, Uncle Alf, because I'm going to have a baby."

Geli Raubal
Geli Raubal and Adolf Hitler

Ronald Hayman, the author of Hitler & Geli (1997) has suggested: "What seems to have happened shortly before Geli died is that Hitler, who often changed his mind at the last minute, reversed his decision about letting her go to Vienna. It is quite likely that the other Nazi leaders were putting pressure on him. Though they would all have been glad to get rid of her, they may have told him it was unsafe to set her free: she knew too much. They may have found out that she had confided in other men about Hitler's sexual habits, and Schwarz knew she had modelled for his pornographic drawings. If she talked indiscreetly in Vienna, stories might get picked up by the liberal press at the worst."

On the morning of Saturday, 19th September, 1931, Geli's body was found on the floor of her room in the flat. A meeting was held by leading officials, including Franz Schwarz, Gregor Strasser, Baldur von Schirach, Max Amann and Rudolf Hess. They 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. The tone was cheerful, and the letter broke off in the middle of the sentence: "When I come to Vienna - I hope very soon - we'll drive together to Semmering an..." (Semmering is an attractive health resort outside Vienna.)

The police doctor, Dr Müller, certified that the time of Geli's death was the evening of 18th September: "Rigor mortis had set in several hours previously. It was a fatal shot that penetrated through the dress to pass directly through the skin above the heart, which it in any case missed. It did not come out of the body but lodged in the left side of the back, rather above the level of the hip, where it could be felt beneath the skin."

There is some confusion about who found the body. George Winter, the husband of Anni Winter, claimed: "As the thing seemed to me rather suspicious, at ten o'clock I forced the double-door open with a screwdriver. As I broke the door open, my wife, Frau Reichert and Anna Kirmair were present. As I'd opened the door I stepped into the room and found Raubal lying on the floor as a corpse. She'd shot herself. I can't give any reason why she should have shot herself." Rudolf Hess claimed that he broke the door down, whereas one of the servants, Maria Reichert, said Max Amann sent for a locksmith to open the door. It has been suggested that the door was not locked at the time of the shooting and that someone locked it afterwards and the door was then broken down and the key placed on the inside to cover-up the murder.

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."

On 20th September, 1931, the socialist newspaper, The Münchener Post, reported the fact that Hitler had been involved in an argument about Geli wanting to be engaged to a man in Vienna: "In a flat on Prinzregentenplatz a 23-year-old music student, a niece of Hitler's, has shot herself. For two years the girl had been living in a furnished room in a flat on the same floor on which Hitler's flat was situated. What drove the student to kill herself is still unknown. She was Angela Raubal, the daughter of Hitler's half-sister. On Friday 18 September there was once again a violent quarrel between Herr Hitler and his niece. What was the reason? The vivacious 23-year-old music student, Geli, wanted to go to Vienna, she wanted to become engaged. Hitler was strongly opposed to this. The two of them had recurrent disagreements about it. After a violent scene, Hitler left his flat on the second floor of 16 Prinzregentenplatz."

The newspaper also reported that Geli's nose was broken and revealed the contents of the letter she was writing when she died: "On Saturday 19 September it was reported that Fraulein Geli had been found shot in the flat with Hitler's gun in her hand. The dead woman's nose was broken, and there were other serious injuries on the body. From a letter to a female friend living in Vienna, it is clear that Fraulein Geli had the firm intention of going to Vienna. The letter was never posted. The mother of the girl, a half-sister of Herr Hitler, lives in Berchtesgaden; she was summoned to Munich. Gentlemen from the Brown House then conferred on what should be published about the motive for the suicide. It was agreed that Geli's death should be explained in terms of frustrated artistic ambitions."

The same day The Münchener Neueste Nachrichten reported that the man in Vienna was a music teacher: "According to a police communique, a twenty-three-year-old student fired a pistol aimed at the heart in a room of her flat in the Bogenhausen district. The unfortunate young woman, Angela Raubal, was the daughter of Adolf Hitler's half-sister, and she and her uncle lived on the same floor of a block of flats on Prinzregentenplatz. On Friday afternoon the owners of the flat heard a cry but it did not occur to them that it came from their tenant's room. When there was no sign of life from this room in the course of the evening, the door was forced. Angela Raubal was found lying face down on the floor, dead. Near her on the sofa was a small-calibre Walther pistol. The motives for this action are not yet clear. Some say that Fraulein Raubal had met a singer in Vienna, but that her uncle would not allow her to leave Munich. Others affirm that the poor girl killed herself because she was supposed to make her debut as a singer but did not believe herself capable of facing the public."

Adolf Hitler responded to these reports with a statement on the death of Geli Raubal: "(1) It is untrue that I had either "recurrent disagreements" or "a violent quarrel" with my niece Angela Raubal on Friday 18 September or previously. (2) It is untrue that I was "strongly opposed" to my niece's travelling to Vienna. The truth is that I was never against the trip my niece had planned to Vienna. (3) It is untrue that my niece wanted to become engaged in Vienna or that I had some objection to my niece's engagement. The truth is that my niece, tortured by anxiety about whether she really had the talent necessary for a public appearance, wanted to go to Vienna in order to have a new assessment of her voice by a qualified voice specialist. (4) It is untrue that I left my flat on 18 September 1931 "after a violent scene". The truth is that there was no kind of scene and no agitation of any kind when I left my flat on that day."

Dr Müller issued another statement that helped to back-up Hitler's version of Geli's injuries: "On the face and especially on the nose were to be found no wounds connected with bleeding of any kind. Nothing was to be found on the face except dark greyish death marks which had proceeded from the fact that Raubal expired with her face to the floor and remained in this position for about 17-18 hours. That the tip of the nose was pressed slightly flat is due entirely to her lying with her face on the floor for several hours. The extreme discoloration of the death marks in the face is probably to be explained by the fact that death was primarily consequent on suffocation following the shot in the lung."

Hitler was interviewed by Detective Sauer on 28th September, 1931. Sauer's report stated: "His niece was a student of medicine, then she didn't like that anymore and she turned toward singing lessons. She should have been on the stage in a short time, but she didn't feel able enough, that's why she wanted further studies with a professor in Vienna. Hitler says that was okay with him but only under the condition that her mother from Berchtesgaden accompany her to Vienna. When she didn't want this. he said he told her, 'Then I'm against your Vienna plans.' She was angry about this, but she wasn't very nervous or excited and she very calmly said good-bye to him when he went off on Friday afternoon.... She had previously belonged to a society that had séances where tables moved, and she had said to Hitler that she had learned that one day she would die an unnatural death. Hitler went on to add that she could have taken the pistol very easily because she knew where it was, where he kept his things. Her dying touches his emotions very deeply because she was the only one of his relatives who was close to him. And now this must happen to him."

Unfortunately, there was no inquest, and only one doctor examined her body before it was released, taken out the country and buried in Vienna. One of the advantages of having the body taken across the frontier was that this would rule out any possibility of exhuming her for an inquest. Franz Gürtner, the Minister of Justice in Bavaria, was in a good position to cover up if she had been murdered. He held extreme right wing views and protected the Nazis during this period.

Gürtner later served as Minister of Justice under Hitler. In 1934 he played a role in legitimizing the Night of the Long Knives, when hundreds of critics of Hitler were executed. Gürtner demonstrated his loyalty to the Nazi regime by writing a law that legalized the murders committed during the purge. Gürtner even quashed some initial efforts by local prosecutors to take legal action against those who carried out the murders. Gürtner was also involved in writing the Nuremberg Laws. In 1937 he joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP).

Geli Raubal was given a Catholic funeral when she was buried at the Zentralfriedhof Cemetery on 23rd September, 1931. Of course, people who had committed suicide were not allowed to have a Catholic funeral. Father Johann Pant, who conducted the funeral, later said that he could not have done what he did if Geli had died by her own hand. Pant, who had known Hitler for over twenty years, was obviously convinced that Geli had been murdered. He later fled Nazi Germany and went to live in Paris. In 1939 he wrote to the Courier d'Autriche newspaper: "They pretended that she committed suicide; I should never have allowed a suicide to be buried in consecrated ground. From the fact that I gave her Christian burial you can draw conclusions which I cannot communicate to you."

Otto Wagener, who worked for Hitler, believes the death was an accident: "The bullet's trajectory showed that she had the pistol in her left hand with the barrel towards her body. Since she was sitting at her desk and writing a totally innocent letter which was unfinished, we must assume that it came into her head to fetch the pistol and check whether it was loaded, at which point it went off and hit her in the heart - an unfortunate accident." Her mother, Angela Raubal, took a similar view: "I can't understand why she did it. Perhaps it was an accident, and Geli killed herself while she was playing with the pistol which she got from him (Hitler)."

According to Ronald Hayman, the author of Hitler & Geli (1997), the whole process was deeply flawed: "It would have been easy to check whether there were powder burns on her skin or her dress, confirming that the pistol had been fired at close quarters. Questions should have been asked, too, about the trajectory of the bullet, which entered above the heart and ended up slightly above the level of the hip. This means that if she was standing or sitting when the shot was fired, the barrel of the pistol was pointing downwards, and the hand holding it was higher than her heart. Even if she was lying on the couch or the floor, it would not have been easy for her to shoot herself in this way. And why should she want to? Having been taught how to use a Walther, she could, if she wanted to kill herself, easily have avoided such a slow and painful death."

The anti-Nazi journalist, Konrad Heiden, believes that Geli was pregnant by a Jewish man and that just before her death she was visited by Heinrich Himmler. He told her that she had "betrayed the man who was her guardian, her lover and her Führer in one - according to National Socialist conceptions there was only one way of making good such a betrayal." However, Rudolf Hess came up with a different theory. He believed that she had been killed by a jealous woman who got into the flat during the night.

Six years after Geli's death Bridget Hitler visited Ernst Hanfstaengel, who was then living in London. Bridget told Hanfstaengel that she was convinced that it was suicide rather than murder. She claimed that "the immediate family knew very well that the cause of Gerli's suicide was the fact that she was pregnant by a young Jewish art teacher in Linz, whom she had met in 1928 and wanted to marry at the time of her death."

Henriette Hoffmann also believed that Geli had killed herself: "He (Hitler) fenced her life so tightly, confined her in such a narrow space that she saw no other way out. Finally she hated her uncle, she really wanted to kill him. She couldn't do that. So she killed herself, to hurt him deeply enough, to disturb him. She knew that nothing else would wound him so badly. And because he knew too, he was so desperate, he had to blame himself."

Rudolf Hess claimed that Hitler became suicidal because of the rumours that he had shot Geli. "He was so fearfully vilified by this new campaign of lies that he wanted to make an end of everything. He could no longer look at a newspaper because this frightful filth was killing him. He wanted to give up politics and never again appear in public." One consequence of Geli's suicide was that Hitler became a vegetarian. He claimed that meat now reminded him of Geli's corpse. Alan Bullock, the author of Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1962) has argued that Geli's death dealt him "a greater blow than any other event in his life. For days he was inconsolable and his friends feared he would take his own life... For the rest of his life he never spoke of Geli without tears coming to his eyes; according to his own statement to a number of witnesses, she was the only woman he ever loved."

Fritz Gerlich, the editor of the anti-Nazi, Der Gerade Weg, investigate Geli's death in great detail. According to the son of a man who worked for Gerlich, the newspaper got hold of a copy of "a state's attorney inquiry into the matter of Geli Raubal" that purportedly "showed that Geli was killed by order of Hitler." It is believed that Gerlich was working on the story when on 9th March, 1933, Max Amann and Emil Maurice led a gang of stormtroopers into the Gerlich's offices, smashed all the machines and destroyed the contents of desks, files, cupboards and drawers, including the copy for the next issue of the newspaper.

Konrad Heiden was another journalist who spent a lot of time on the case. Heiden was one of the first to suggest that Hitler was having a sexual relationship with Geli: "One day parental relations to his niece Geli ceased to be parental. Geli was a beauty on the majestic side ... simple in her thoughts and emotions, fascinating to many men, well aware of her electric effect and delighting in it.... Her uncle's affection, which in the end assumed the most serious form, seems like an echo of the many marriages among relatives in Hitler's ancestry in its borderline incestuousness." He also claimed that Hitler was a "sexual pervert" and obtained pleasure from undinism.

According to Ron Rosenbaum, the author of Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of his Evil (1998): "The nature of the expose he'd been about to publish - some said it concerned the circumstances of the death of Hitler's half-niece Geli Raubal in his apartment, others said it concerned the truth about the February 1933 Reichstag fire or foreign funding of the Nazis - has been effectively lost to history." Gerlich was murdered by the Nazis at Dachau on 30th June, 1934. To notify his wife, they sent her his blood-spattered spectacles.

It was an unwritten law that none of Hitler's inner-circle could mention Geli unless he did. On one occasion he told Eva Braun that Geli had killed herself out of love for him, and that "We are all responsible for the death of my dear Geli." He then went on to say that Geli had wrapped the pistol in a facecloth to muffle the explosion and then fired into her mouth."

Christa Schroeder claims that the only woman Hitler ever loved was Geli. "After the death of his niece Geli, Christmas was really a torture for him, and not pleasant for us either. It's true that he allowed a Christmas tree to be put in the corner of the hall, but Christmas carols were not sung." Geli's room was kept like it was at the time of her death and Anni Winter, the housekeeper, was the only one allowed into the room. Schroeder regarded Eva Braun as a schemer: "When he no longer had much time for her because of the electioneering, she pursued him cunningly with suicide attempts. And of course she succeeded, because as a politician Hitler couldn't have survived a second suicide from someone close to him. I say it again: the only woman he loved and would certainly have married later was his step-niece Geli Raubal."

Ernst Hanfstaengel wrote in The Missing Years (1957): "I am sure that the death of Geli Raubal marked a turning point in the development of Hitler's character. This relationship, whatever form it took in their intimacy, had provided him for the first time in his life with a release to his nervous energy which only too soon was to find its final expression in ruthlessness and savagery. His long connection with Eva Braun never produced the moon-calf interludes he had enjoyed with Geli and which might in due course, perhaps, have made a normal man out of him. With her death the way was clear for his final development into a demon, with his sex life deteriorating again into a sort of bisexual narcissus-like vanity, with Eva Braun little more than a vague domestic adjunct."

Primary Sources

(1) After the war Patrick Hitler, Adolf Hitler's nephew, talked about meeting Geli Raubal in Obersalzberg.

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.

(2) Baldur von Schirach wrote about Geli Raubal and Adolf Hitler in a book published after the Second World War.

Hitler was suddenly standing amongst us, and I have rarely seen him looking so happy. And in his tone of voice there was a mixture of pride and tenderness as he introduced 'My niece, Fraulein Raubal.'

The girl at Hitler's side was of medium size, well developed, had dark, rather wavy hair, and lively brown eyes. A flush of embarrassment reddened the round face as she entered the room with him, and sensed the surprise caused by his appearance. I too stared at her for a long time, not because she was pretty to look at but because it was simply astonishing to see a young girl at Hitler's side when he appeared at a large gathering of people.

We liked her. When she was there. Hitler almost never started on the dreadful and often really painful scenes with endless monologues and uninhibited recriminations he bestowed not only on political enemies but also on friends and fellow-fighters. Geli's presence relaxed and released him. In front of favoured guests he let her perform her specialty act with the mountain jackdaw - when she called, the bird flew in through the open window - and he enjoyed seeing her romp about with his Alsatians Blondi and Muck. Geli was allowed to laugh at her Uncle Alf and adjust his tie when it had slipped. She was never put under pressure to be specially clever or specially witty. She could be simply what she was - lively and uncomplicated.

(3) Ronald Hayman, Hitler & Geli (1997)

Geli seems to have been the only woman who could make him relax. Combining girlishness with womanliness, she was warm, gentle, affectionate, tactile, straightforward, direct, uninhibited, unpretentious, unprudish, kind, lively, playful, provocative and a member of the family. It was safe to reveal himself fully. No one else was ever allowed to tease him as much as she did, because no one else made him feel so secure. He hated nothing more than being laughed at, but when Geli laughed, she was laughing with him, not at him.

His sexual insecurity had several sources. One was fear of producing a child. Arguing that it would be irresponsible to start a family when he was so busy, he sometimes went on to explain why he would not want to have children. "I'm aware that the children of a genius usually have a hard time in the world. They're expected to achieve the same stature as their famous father, and they're never forgiven if their achievement is only mediocre. Besides, they're usually cretins." Though he was sincere in claiming to be a genius, the allusion to cretins is disingenuous. His family background was such a well-kept secret that he could afford to talk like this, but, having so many relations who were deformed or mentally unbalanced, he was naturally worried about the genes he was carrying. Though the danger would have been doubled had he and Geli produced a child, he may have found it reassuring that she came from the same tainted family. With another woman there was always the danger that she might find out the facts. Geli, even if she did not know them, was equally affected by them.

(4) Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler was my Friend (1955)

The pressure under which Geli lives is burdensome to her, and what makes matters worse is that she's prevented from saying how unhappy she feels.... The ball gave her no pleasure. It merely reminded her of how little freedom she has....
Certainly, it flattered her that her serious and unapproachable uncle, who was so good at hiding his feelings from everybody else, was fond of her. She wouldn't have been a woman if she hadn't been flattered by Hitler's gallantry and generosity. But it seemed simply intolerable to this child of nature that he should want to mother her every step and that she shouldn't be allowed to speak to anyone without his knowledge.

(5) Geli Raubal, letter to Emil Maurice, (24th December, 1928)

The postman has already brought me three letters from you, but never have I been so happy as I was over the last few days. Perhaps that's the reason we've had such bad experiences over the last few days. Uncle Adolf is insisting that we should wait two years. Think of it, Emil, two whole years of only being able to kiss each other now and then and always having Uncle Adolf in charge. I can only give you my love and be unconditionally faithful to you. I love you so infinitely much. Uncle Adolf insists that I should go on with my studies.

(6) Adolf Hitler, quoted by Heinrich Hoffman in his book Hitler Was My Friend (1955)

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.

(7) Ernst Hanfstaengel, Hitler: The Missing Years (1957)

What particular combination of arguments her uncle used to bend her to his will, presumably with the tacit acquiescence of his half-sister, we shall never know. Whether he assumed that a young woman who was already no saint might be brought fairly easily to submit to his peculiar tastes, or whether in fact she was the one woman in his life who went some way towards curing his impotence and half making a man out of him, again we shall never know with certainty. On the evidence available, I incline to the former view. What is certain is that the services she was prepared to render had the effect of making him behave like a man in love. She went round very well dressed at his expense, or, more probably, at the Party's, as a lot of resentment was expressed, and he hovered at her elbow with a moon-calf look in his eyes in a very plausible imitation of adolescent infatuation.

(8) Wilhelm Stocker, an SA officer, was often on guard duty outside Hitler's Munich flat. He was interviewed by Glenn Infield for his book, Eva and Adolf (1974)

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. After she was satisfied that I wouldn't tell her uncle - and I had a personal reason for not telling him - she often confided in me. She 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.

(9) Heinrich Hoffman, Hitler Was My Friend (1955)

Certainly, it flattered her (Geli Raubal) that her serious and unapproachable uncle, who was so good at hiding his feelings from everybody else, was fond of her. She wouldn't have been a woman if she hadn't been flattered by Hitler's gallantry and generosity. But it seemed simply intolerable to this child of nature that he should want to mother her every step and that she shouldn't be allowed to speak to anyone without his knowledge.

(10) Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1952)

Geli Raubal was simple and attractive, with a pleasant voice which she wanted to have trained for singing. During the next four years she became Hitler's constant companion, and when her uncle acquired his flat on the Prinzregentenplatz she spent much time with him in Munich as well as up at the Obersalzberg. This period in Munich Hitler later described as the happiest in his life; he idolized this girl, who was twenty years younger than himself, took her with him whenever he could - in short, he fell in love with her.

Whether Geli was ever in love with him is uncertain. She was flattered and impressed by her now famous uncle, she enjoyed going about with him, but she suffered from his hypersensitive jealousy. Hitler refused to let her have any life of her own; he refused to let her go to Vienna to have her voice trained; he was beside himself with fury when he discovered that she had allowed Emil Maurice, his chauffeur, to make love to her, and forbade her to have anything to do with any other man. Geli resented and was made unhappy by Hitler's possessiveness and domestic tyranny.

(11) Otto Strasser, interviewed by officials of the US Officer of Strategic Studies (May, 1943)

Hitler made her undress.... 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, he demanded that she urinate on him and this gave him sexual pleasure. Geli said the whole performance was extremely disgusting to her and... it gave her no gratification.

(12) Cate Haste, Nazi Women (2001)

In Obersalzberg, which he regularly visited, Hitler found a house to rent in 1927. In March, he brought in his half-sister, Angela, with whom he had made only intermittent contact since his departure from Linz, to act as housekeeper. Angela was joined shortly afterwards by her daughter, Geli, who had just left school. Hitler was enchanted by Geli. He was twice her age: she was nineteen when she arrived at Haus Wachenfeld, and he was thirty-eight. Any relationship between Hitler and Geli was possibly incestuous, since she was his half-sister's daughter or, loosely, his niece. She called him "Uncle Alf", and he called her his "princess".

Geli, according to her friend, Henriette Hoffmann (later von Schirach), was "big, cheerful, and self-confident... She had what Hitler valued in women: courage and understanding - and... cheerful determination."Julius Schaub, Hitler's adjutant, described her as a "brown-eyed brunette, five feet, six inches tall, well-built, with a blooming appearance, exceptionally full of animal spirits and a pleasing voice... By nature she was an open character, always ready for a joke... She was extraordinarily self-possessed. Sometimes inclining towards obstinacy." Ian Kershaw reports: "From the start, Hitler was evidently attracted by her. She wasn't, physically, a stunning beauty, but she exuded a strong sexuality and she had a number of short-lived affairs and flirtations. Very flighty type of flirtatious girl, full of life and full of fun, and Hitler was not exactly that type, but this contrast somehow had its appeal, and a very strong bond, certainly from Hitler to her, developed."

(13) The Münchener Post (21st September 1931)

In a flat on Prinzregentenplatz a 23-year-old music student, a niece of Hitler's, has shot herself. For two years the girl had been living in a furnished room in a flat on the same floor on which Hitler's flat was situated. What drove the student to kill herself is still unknown. She was Angela Raubal, the daughter of Hitler's half-sister. On Friday 18 September there was once again a violent quarrel between Herr Hitler and his niece. What was the reason? The vivacious 23-year-old music student, Geli, wanted to go to Vienna, she wanted to become engaged. Hitler was strongly opposed to this. The two of them had recurrent disagreements about it. After a violent scene, Hitler left his flat on the second floor of 16 Prinzregentenplatz....

Regarding this mysterious affair, informed sources tell us that on Friday, September 18. Herr Hitler and his niece had yet another fierce quarrel. What was the cause? Geli, a vivacious twenty-three-year-old music student, wanted to go to Vienna, where she intended to become engaged. Hitler was decidedly against this. That is why they were quarreling repeatedly. After a fierce row. Hitler left his apartment on Prinzregentenplatz....

On Saturday 19 September it was reported that Fraulein Geli had been found shot in the flat with Hitler's gun in her hand. The dead woman's nose was broken, and there were other serious injuries on the body. From a letter to a female friend living in Vienna, it is clear that Fraulein Geli had the firm intention of going to Vienna. The letter was never posted. The mother of the girl, a half-sister of Herr Hitler, lives in Berchtesgaden; she was summoned to Munich. Gentlemen from the Brown House then conferred on what should be published about the motive for the suicide. It was agreed that Geli's death should be explained in terms of frustrated artistic ambitions....

The men in the Brown House [Nazi Party headquarters] then deliberated over what should be announced as the cause of the suicide. They agreed to give the reason for Geli's death as "unsatisfied artistic achievement." They also discussed the question of who, if something were to happen, should be Hitler's successor. Gregor Strasser was named.

Perhaps the near future will bring light to this dark affair.

(14) The Münchener Neueste Nachrichten (20th September 1931)

According to a police communique, a twenty-three-year-old student fired a pistol aimed at the heart in a room of her flat in the Bogenhausen district. The unfortunate young woman, Angela Raubal, was the daughter of Adolf Hitler's half-sister, and she and her uncle lived on the same floor of a block of flats on Prinzregentenplatz. On Friday afternoon the owners of the flat heard a cry but it did not occur to them that it came from their tenant's room. When there was no sign of life from this room in the course of the evening, the door was forced. Angela Raubal was found lying face down on the floor, dead. Near her on the sofa was a small-calibre Walther pistol.

The motives for this action are not yet clear. Some say that Fraulein Raubal had met a singer in Vienna, but that her uncle would not allow her to leave Munich. Others affirm that the poor girl killed herself because she was supposed to make her debut as a singer but did not believe herself capable of facing the public.


(15) Adolf Hitler, statement published in The Münchener Post (21st September 1931)

(1) It is untrue that I had either "recurrent disagreements" or "a violent quarrel" with my niece Angela Raubal on Friday 18 September or previously.

(2) It is untrue that I was "strongly opposed" to my niece's travelling to Vienna. The truth is that I was never against the trip my niece had planned to Vienna.

(3) It is untrue that my niece wanted to become engaged in Vienna or that I had some objection to my niece's engagement. The truth is that my niece, tortured by anxiety about whether she really had the talent necessary for a public appearance, wanted to go to Vienna in order to have a new assessment of her voice by a qualified voice specialist.

(4) It is untrue that I left my flat on 18 September 1931 "after a violent scene". The truth is that there was no kind of scene and no agitation of any kind when I left my flat on that day.

(16) Detective Sauer, interview with Adolf Hitler (28th September, 1931)


His niece was a student of medicine, then she didn't like that anymore and she turned toward singing lessons. She should have been on the stage in a short time, but she didn't feel able enough, that's why she wanted further studies with a professor in Vienna. Hitler says that was okay with him but only under the condition that her mother from Berchtesgaden accompany her to Vienna. When she didn't want this. he said he told her, "Then I'm against your Vienna plans." She was angry about this, but she wasn't very nervous or excited and she very calmly said good-bye to him when he went off on Friday afternoon....

She had previously belonged to a society that had séances where tables moved, and she had said to Hitler that she had learned that one day she would die an unnatural death. Hitler went on to add that she could have taken the pistol very easily because she knew where it was, where he kept his things. Her dying touches his emotions very deeply because she was the only one of his relatives who was close to him. And now this must happen to him.

(17) Ron Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of his Evil (1998)

Setting aside for the moment the question of its truth, that strange séance story was a brilliant if somewhat desperate stroke on Hitler's part. Flourished at the last moment like a magician's cloak, it was clearly designed to obscure with a flash of fatalism what he must have known were the conspicuous inconsistencies and the overall inadequacy of the rest of his attempt to explain his half-niece's death.

Even the timid, closely supervised statements of the household staff seem to contradict Hitler's statement on a key point: They report Geli looking agitated and excited, rushing from Hitler's bedroom with a gun, scarcely a quarter hour after Hitler reportedly departed. Hitler, on the contrary, declares Geli was neither nervous nor excited but rather said good-bye to him "very calmly."

This appears, on the face of it, to be a feeble attempt to detach the quarrel he admits to having had with Geli-the dispute over whether she could travel to Vienna alone-from her decision to kill herself. As if, in the fewer than fifteen minutes between the time he left and the moment she raced into his room to steal his gun, something else had come up, something unrelated to Hitler, to cause Geli to decide to shoot herself.

He's trying unsuccessfully to have it both ways. He wants to minimize the importance of the quarrel between them, but in doing so he undercuts its potency as an explanation for her suicide, thus raising questions about what the real motive might be - or whether the death might not have been suicide at all.

And Hitler's account of the quarrel itself strains credibility, suggests darker possibilities. Perhaps a young woman of twenty-three would resent being told her mother had to accompany her on a trip to a voice-instruction lesson in Vienna. But would a young woman of twenty-three end her life over that issue; The disparity between the explanation and the act inevitably raised questions about whether there was something more to the Vienna trip than voice lessons. something that required close family supervision to forestall. The disparity gave rise to rumors that-as newspapers in Berlin. Munich. and Vienna would soon speculate-the trip to Vienna was for an elopement with a forbidden fiance or an attempt to escape an intolerable relationship with Hitler.

But Hitler was shrewd enough to realize that, on the face of it. his account of Geli's purported motive for killing herself fell short of being compellingly convincing. Thus, the séance story: a masterful touch which seems to be a spontaneous emotional coda to his statement but which. in fact, when the whole statement is examined carefully, seems more like a capstone of what is a carefully calculated subtext of character assassination...

The implication in context is murder or suicide as opposed to a "natural" death from old age or disease, But the phrase "unnatural" has been used to characterize not just Geli Raubal's death but her relationship to Hitler. And it evokes the truly troubling question raised by the whole Geli Raubal affair: how natural or unnatural, how normal or abnormal. Hitler himself was.

It's troubling because the temptation in sifting the evidence for what really went on between Hitler and Geli Raubal is to believe the darkest rumors - and some of them are extremely dark - because it is somehow more comforting to view Hitler as a monstrous pervert in his private life. Then his public crimes can be explained away as arising from private pathology, from his unnaturalness, from a psyche that isn't in any way "normal." that isn't in any way akin to ours, one whose darkness we don't have to acknowledge as in any way related to ours. Paradoxically, it may be far more disturbing to find Hitler "normal" capable of "normal" love, for instance - because it would in some way make it seem that there was something of us in him. Or worse: something of him in us. But a whole explanatory industry has arisen-and not just among Freudian "psychohistorians" - predicated on the assumption that with Geli Raubal, Hitler was most "himself" and most psychosexually "unnatural."

There are those who believe that with Geli Raubal, Hitler experienced the closest he came to real love, the closest he came to the emotional life of a normal person. But there are also those who believe that in his relationship with Geli Raubal, Hitler expressed the true, profound deformity of his moral nature in perverse sexual practices (we call them paraphilia these days) that either drove Geli to suicide or led to her murder to prevent her from talking about them.

(18) Dr Müller, report published in the press (22nd September 1931)

On the face and especially on the nose were to be found no wounds connected with bleeding of any kind. Nothing was to be found on the face except dark greyish death marks which had proceeded from the fact that Raubal expired with her face to the floor and remained in this position for about 17-18 hours. That the tip of the nose was pressed slightly flat is due entirely to her lying with her face on the floor for several hours. The extreme discoloration of the death marks in the face is probably to be explained by the fact that death was primarily consequent on suffocation following the shot
in the lung.


(19) Ronald Hayman, Hitler & Geli (1997)

It would have been easy to check whether there were powder burns on her skin or her dress, confirming that the pistol had been fired at close quarters. Questions should have been asked, too, about the trajectory of the bullet, which entered above the heart and ended up slightly above the level of the hip. This means that if she was standing or sitting when the shot was fired, the barrel of the pistol was pointing downwards, and the hand holding it was higher than her heart. Even if she was lying on the couch or the floor, it would not have been easy for her to shoot herself in this way. And why should she want to? Having been taught how to use a Walther, she could, if she wanted to kill herself, easily have avoided such a slow and painful death...

The other problem is that the trajectory of the bullet seems inconsistent with the suicide theory. For a cartridge that enters above the heart to lodge just above the level of the hip, the barrel has to be pointing downwards and the hand holding the pistol has to be higher than the heart. Though it is not impossible to shoot oneself in this way, it is hard to imagine why she would have adopted such an awkward position.

(20) Ernst Hanfstaengel, The Missing Years (1957)

I am sure that the death of Geli Raubal marked a turning point in the development of Hitler's character. This relationship, whatever form it took in their intimacy, had provided him for the first time in his life with a release to his nervous energy which only too soon was to find its final expression in ruthlessness and savagery. His long connection with Eva Braun never produced the moon-calf interludes he had enjoyed with Geli and which might in due course, perhaps, have made a normal man out of him. With her death the way was clear for his final development into a demon, with his sex life deteriorating again into a sort of bisexual narcissus-like vanity, with Eva Braun little more than a vague domestic adjunct.