Maria Reiter

Timofei Mikhailov

Maria Reiter, the daughter of an official of the Social Democratic Party, was born in Berchtesgaden on 23rd December 1911. The death of her mother meant that she had to leave school and work in the family clothes shop in Obersalzberg.

When she was sixteen Maria met Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party. Hitler appears to have been strongly attracted to teenagers. He later explained: "A girl of eighteen to twenty is as malleable as wax. It should be possible for a man, whoever the chosen woman may be, to stamp his own imprint on her. That's all the woman asks for."

Hitler, who was 37 years old at the time, asked Maria out. "We went out into the night.... Hitler was about to put his arm around my shoulders and pull me toward him when the two dogs suddenly attacked each other.... Hitler suddenly intervened, like a maniac he hit his dog with his riding whip... and shook him violently by the collar. He was very excited.... I did not expect that he could hit his dog so brutally and ruthlessly, the dog which he had said he could not live without. Yet he beat up his most loyal companion." Maria asked him "How can you be so brutal and beat your dog like that?" He replied "It was necessary."

Cate Haste, the author of Nazi Women (2001), has pointed out: "Hitler introduced himself to her when their paths crossed while walking their dogs. He pursued her, flirted with her, took her out on trips in his Mercedes and invited her to a meeting he was to address. She was impressed by his celebrity, and by his dress - by this time, breeches, light velour hat, riding whip and a coat held closed by a leather belt. In her later account, she recalls him taking her to dinner, feeding her cakes like a child, and touching her leg with his knee under the table. Hitler told her that she reminded him of his own mother, especially her eyes, and suggested they visit her mother's grave. There, she recalled, Hitler was overcome." Reiter later recalled: "he was moved by something he did not want to tell me... I am not ready yet."

Ian Kershaw has argued Hitler 1889-1936 (1998): "He (Hitler) was thirty-seven years of age; she was sixteen. Like his father, he preferred women much younger than himself - girls he could dominate, who would be obedient playthings but not get in the way. The two women with whom he would become most intimately associated, Geli Raubal (nineteen years younger than he was) and Eva Braun (twenty-three years younger), fitted the same model - until, that is, Geli became rebellious and wanted a level of freedom which Hitler was unwilling to permit." Ronald Hayman has pointed out that there was a regular patten to Hitler's relationships: "Though he found it easy during his twenties and early thirties to make friends with children and with women in their forties and fifties, he was nervous of being rebuffed or humiliated by women of his own age. But at thirty-seven he was old enough to treat a teenage girl as if she were a child. With Maria, once they were sufficiently relaxed in each other's company, there was nothing to stop them from making love."

They had several dates during which Hitler became increasingly passionate towards her. According to Reiter, Adolf Hitler "told her that he wanted her to be his wife, to found a family with her, to have blonde children, but at the moment he had not the time to think of such things. Repeatedly Hitler spoke of his duty, his mission." Hitler told her: "When I get my new apartment you have to stay with me... forever. We will choose everything together, the paintings, the chairs, I already can see it all: beautiful, big lounge chairs of the violet plush." After declaring his love to Maria, Hitler returned to Munich.

Adolf Hitler and his half-sister, Angela Raubal
Adolf Hitler and Maria Reiter

In February 1927 Hitler wrote to Maria: "My dear, good child, I was truly happy to receive this sign of your tender friendship to me... I am given a constant reminder of your cheeky head and your eyes... As regards what is causing you personal pain, you can believe me that I sympathize with you. But you should not let your little head droop in sadness and must only see and believe: even if fathers sometimes don't understand their children any longer because they have got older not only in years but in feelings, they mean only well for them. As happy as your love makes me, I ask you most ardently to listen to your father. And now, my dear treasure, receive warmest greetings from your Wolf, who is always thinking of you."

Adolf Hitler sent her a a leather-bound copy of Mein Kampf for Christmas. Reiter gave him two sofa-cushions that she had embroidered. However, he did not visit her: "My whole world started tumbling down. I did not know what had happened, nothing... All sorts of pictures appeared in my mind... faces of other women and Hitler smiling at them. I did not want to go on living." Günter Peis points out: "In this depressed mood, she went to find a clothesline. One end of it she slung around her neck, the other around a door handle. Slowly, she glided to the floor. Slowly, she lost consciousness." Luckily, her brother-in-law arrived and "saved her life at the last minute."

Hitler sent a message that he was unable to see her because he was being blackmailed. According to Maria: "Hitler told my brother-in-law, that anonymous letters had been mailed to the party office saying that Hitler was having a relationship with a girl who was underage." The letter said: "Hitler seduces young, inexperienced girls. He just found a sixteen-year-old girl in Berchtesgaden who obviously will be his next victim." Hitler explained that he could not allow his relationship to "jeopardize the success of his party".

Lothar Machtan has argued in The Hidden Hitler (2001) that the reason Hitler broke off his relationship with Maria was because he was being blackmailed by Emil Maurice. "As early as 1927, Party headquarters had received some anonymous letters accusing Hitler of seducing a minor. It later transpired that their author was a certain Ida Arnold, a girlfriend of Maurice, who had invited Mimi to coffee and skillfully pumped her for information. Feeling cornered, Hitler requested Maria Reiter to make a sworn deposition to the effect that she had had 'no relationship of any kind' with him. Although this amounted to flagrant perjury, it must have seemed Hitler's only possible recourse in the summer of 1928. He was clearly under extreme pressure, because nothing could have presented a greater threat to him, as party leader, than revelations about his private life - and who knew more about that subject than Emil Maurice?"

After she recovered she married a local hotelkeeper. The marriage was not a success, however, and in 1931 Reiter left her husband. Maria Reiter later claimed that she was visited by Rudolf Hess who suggested that Hitler was still interested in her. According to her own account, she travelled to Munich to see Hitler: "I let everything happen. I had never been so happy as I was that night". Hitler suggested that she remain in Munich as his lover, but Reiter wanted marriage. Some historians have questioned the truth of this account. They point out that in 1931 Hitler was romantically attached to Geli Raubal, the daughter of his half-sister, Angela Raubal.

However, Ronald Hayman, believed her story: "The account she later gave of their liaison is more reliable than most of the stories told by women who claimed him as their lover.... They probably became lovers when she visited him in Munich. He spoke of renting a flat and living with her, but nothing came of these plans, and by July 1927, when she was in Berchtesgaden again, he was no longer living in the hotel. What she had in common with Geli was that she was too young and inoffensive for him to feel threatened. If she laughed it would mean that she was either embarrassed or having a good time."

In 1936 Maria Reiter married George Kubisch, an SS officer, in 1936. Kubisch was killed in 1940 during the Battle of Dunkirk.

Maria Reiter, who told her story to the German periodical Stern in 1959, died in 1992.

Primary Sources

(1) Cate Haste, Nazi Women (2001)

Hitler, by now thirty-seven, introduced himself to her when their paths crossed while walking their dogs. He pursued her, flirted with her, took her out on trips in his Mercedes and invited her to a meeting he was to address. She was impressed by his celebrity, and by his dress - by this time, breeches, light velour hat, riding whip and a coat held closed by a leather belt. In her later account, she recalls him taking her to dinner, feeding her cakes like a child, and touching her leg with his knee under the table. Hitler told her that she reminded him of his own mother, especially her eyes, and suggested they visit her mother's grave....

On one occasion, Hitler shocked her when, in a show of harsh dominance, he beat his dog with his whip after it had attacked her dog: "It was necessary," he said, when she protested. On several of their excursions, he put his arms round her, and once took her to a remote forest glade, stood her up against a tree, kissed her passionately, calling her his "wood-nymph", and declared his wish to marry her - but not at the moment. He had no time to think of such things - he had his duty, his mission.' Mimi, at sixteen, was clearly infatuated by him. Soon afterwards he was off to Munich. She wrote him fond letters and sent him embroidered cushions; he sent her a leather-bound copy of Mein Kampf for Christmas.

(2) Adolf Hitler, letter to Maria Reiter (8th February 1927)

My dear, good child, I was truly happy to receive this sign of your tender friendship to me... I am given a constant reminder of your cheeky head and your eyes... As regards what is causing you personal pain, you can believe me that I sympathize with you. But you should not let your little head droop in sadness and must only see and believe: even if fathers sometimes don't understand their children any longer because they have got older not only in years but in feelings, they mean only well for them. As happy as your love makes me, I ask you most ardently to listen to your father. And now, my dear treasure, receive warmest greetings from your Wolf, who is always thinking of you.

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

It was after midnight now, and brutality was succeeded by tenderness. They return to Mimi's sister's apartment. "Hitler came up very close to me and looked at me for a very long time. I could feel his breath. Tenderly, he touched my shoulders, his mouth changed, his voice sounded sad. "Don't you want to kiss me" he asked.

She forces herself to say no, that they shouldn't see each other again. Hitler takes the rejection badly. he "turned cold... kindness disappeared from his face... abruptly he turned away ... said "Heil" and left.

But he had not given up. He sends a confidant around to Mimi's store the next morning. The surrogate tells Mimi, "I have never seen him like that. Herr Hitler poured his heart out to me. Believe me: The man is on fire."

Mimi agrees to another meeting. Hitler arrives in the store "radiant with joy." Mimi accedes to an excursion to the picturesque Starnbergersee, which is to be the scene of their first kiss, although Hitler begins the intimacy on the drive itself. With his chauffeur, Emil Maurice, up front at the wheel, Hitler sits very close to Mimi in the back. "He took my hand and put it into his lap, then he took my other hand as well and pressed it: "Now I have your hands, and I have you. and I will keep you now."

Next he does his mesmerist act: "He puts his right arm around me and tenderly placed his hand on my temple, pulled my head toward his shoulder and wanted to close my eyes with his fingers. He said I should dream." This combination of coarseness (the hand in the lap) and tenderness works its magic on Mimi. "I think that during those first minutes on our ride to Starnberg my reserve was broken."

Next date: the graveyard. Hitler takes Mimi to her mother's grave. Hitler is overcome, thinking of his own mother, "moved by something he did not want to tell me. What he said sounded very grave, in utmost distress: "I am not ready yet."

Hitler, holding on to his riding whip, comforts a sobbing Mimi and strangely chooses that moment to tell her. "I want you to call me Wolf" (a favorite pseudonym for him when he traveled incognito).

One wants to read in portents of abnormality here, a Hitler so mesmerized by his memory of his mother, he is incapable of a normal sexual relationship. which seemed to be in prospect then. But again, this is contradicted by Mimi's account, which becomes suddenly less courtly and more explicitly sexual.

(4) Ronald Hayman, Hitler and Geli (1998)

Though he found it easy during his twenties and early thirties to make friends with children and with women in their forties and fifties, he was nervous of being rebuffed or humiliated by women of his own age. But at thirty-seven he was old enough to treat a teenage girl as if she were a child. With Maria, once they were sufficiently relaxed in each other's company, there was nothing to stop them from making love. With Geli the age-gap was almost exactly the same.

Maria Reiter had attended a convent school and now worked in a dress shop opposite the hotel. It had belonged to her mother, who had recently died, and Maria's sister Anni was running it. The youngest of four sisters, Maria was walking their dog, Marko, in the Kurpark when Hitler was walking his Alsatian, Prinz. Like so many dog-owners who are introduced to each other by their pets, Hitler and Maria started chatting. He invited her to a concert, but she could not accept without asking her sister, and when they went into the shop, Anni said Maria was too young to go out with an older man.

A political meeting had been arranged at the hotel, which gave him a chance to impress both girls by inviting them to hear him speak. Maria felt uncomfortable when he kept looking at her during his speech, but she said she had enjoyed it. Immediately more relaxed, he started addressing her with affectionate Austrian diminutives - Mimi, Mitzi, Mitzerl.

The favourable reaction to his speech encouraged him to start flirting, but he did this gauchely, saying that her eyes were like his mother's. He too, he told her, had been orphaned when he was sixteen (in fact he was eighteen). He said it must be significant that the date of Mitzi's birthday was the date on which his mother had been buried. He offered to go with her to her mother's grave, and in the evening, while they were walking their dogs, he tried to impress her with his forceful masculinity - he beat Prinz for disobedience. At the end of the evening, when she would not give him a goodnight kiss, he stuck out his arm in a Nazi salute, gruffly shouting: "Hell Hitler!"

The account she later gave of their liaison is more reliable than most of the stories told by women who claimed him as their lover. She gave an interview to a journalist, Gunter Pets, who made a tape-recording, which he used as the basis for an article that appeared in both Stern and Time. The facts and the handwritten letters she received from Hitler were checked by Eugen Kogon, author of Der S.S. Staat.

When she went to the cemetery with Hitler, he stared down at her mother's grave and surprised her by saying he had not yet arrived at that state ("Ich bin noch nicht so welt"). Gripping his riding whip, he told her to call him "Wolf". Once, when they went for a walk in the woods, he made her romp with him like a child. Afterwards he wanted her to stand still in front of a tree. After arranging her as if she were an artist's model, he told her she was his woodland spirit, and when she laughed, she was told never to laugh at him. He then kissed her passionately and said he could squeeze her to bits.

They probably became lovers when she visited him in Munich. He spoke of renting a flat and living with her, but nothing came of these plans, and by July 1927, when she was in Berchtesgaden again, he was no longer living in the hotel. What she had in common with Geli was that she was too young and inoffensive for him to feel threatened. If she laughed it would mean that she was either embarrassed or having a good time.

(5) Lothar Machtan, The Hidden Hitler (2001)

Although Hitler led Fraulein Reiter to hope that they might become an item, at least for a while, his affection for "the dear child" waned in the course of 1927. A previous episode had already made it apparent that no genuine love affair could result. Having on one occasion chauffeured the couple into the woods, Maurice remained discreetly seated in the car while Hitler and his "Mizerl" set off. They eventually came to a clearing, where he stationed her in front of a tall fir tree. He "turned me to the left, to the right. He stepped back a few paces - gazed at me the way a painter poses his model... "A glorious picture," he blurted out." Finally, he clasped her to him and said: "`Mimilein, dear, sweet girl, now I simply can't help myself." He hugged me really tightly around the neck. He kissed me. He didn't know what to do." How could he have known, in default of any physical desire to guide him? It was only his quirky imitation of a painter that had lent him the courage to venture as far as he did....

As early as 1927, Party headquarters had received some anonymous letters accusing Hitler of seducing a minor. It later transpired that their author was a certain Ida Arnold, a girlfriend of Maurice, who had invited "Mimi" to coffee and skillfully pumped her for information. Feeling cornered, Hitler requested Maria Reiter to make a sworn deposition to the effect that she had had "no relationship of any kind" with him." Although this amounted to flagrant perjury, it must have seemed Hitler's only possible recourse in the summer of 1928. He was clearly under extreme pressure, because nothing could have presented a greater threat to him, as party leader, than revelations about his private life - and who knew more about that subject than Emil Maurice?

Hitler once paid court to Lotte Bechstein, the daughter of his patroness Helene Bechstein. In later years she told her husband the reason why she and Hitler had never gotten together: "He couldn't kiss." His fixation on his own sex was too strong and his self-imposed heterosexuality too dependent on an effort of the will. All his attempts to start a love affair with a woman had come to nothing.

(6) Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936 (1998)

During a further stay at the Deutsches Haus in Berchtesgaden in early autumn 1926, Hitler came into contact with Maria Reiter. Her friends called her Mimi. For Hitler she was Mimi, Mimilein, Mizzi, Mizzerl - whichever diminutive occurred to him. He also called her "my dear child". He was thirty-seven years of age; she was sixteen. Like his father, he preferred women much younger than himself - girls he could dominate, who would be obedient playthings but not get in the way. The two women with whom he would become most intimately associated, Geli Raubal (nineteen years younger than he was) and Eva Braun (twenty-three years younger), fitted the same model - until, that is, Geli became rebellious and wanted a level of freedom which Hitler was unwilling to permit. But these relationships were still to come when Hitler encountered Mimi Reiter.

A fortnight or so before she met Hitler, Mimi's mother had died of cancer. During her mother's illness, her father, a founder member of the Berchtesgaden branch of the SPD, had brought Mimi home from a boarding-school run by nuns in the Catholic pilgrimage centre, Altotting, to help run the family clothes shop on the ground-floor of the Deutsches Haus, where Hitler was staying. She had already heard that the famous Adolf Hitler had taken rooms in the hotel when he introduced himself one day when she was sitting on a bench in the nearby Kurpark, together with her sister Anni, playing with their alsatian dog, Marco. Soon, he was flirting with her. She and Anni were invited to a meeting he addressed in the hotel. "Wolf", as he asked her to call him, using his own favourite nickname, took her for trips in his Mercedes, driven by the discreet Maurice. Hitler was evidently taken with the attractive, blonde young girl, charming in her naive, youthful way, flirtatious, hanging on his every word. He flattered her, and played with her affections. She may have been emotionally disturbed, so soon after her mother's death. At any rate, a sense of being courted by one enveloped in such an aura of power and fame must also have played its part. She found him an imposing figure. His manner of dress - complete with knee-length boots and whip - impressed her. Hitler demonstrated his domination by thrashing his own dog, an Alsatian called Prinz, when it misbehaved by fighting Mimi's dog. She was in awe of him, and plainly became completely infatuated. According to her own account, long after the war, on one trip into the countryside near Berchtesgaden, Hitler took her to a remote forest glade, stood her against a tree, admired her from a distance, calling her his "woodland spirit", then kissed her passionately. He intimated his undying love. Soon afterwards, he was gone - back to real life: politics, meetings, speeches, the regular whirl of activities in Munich.

(7) Rodney Collin, The Spectator (19th January, 1934)

The enforced abstinence of World War I turned, after 1919... to promiscuity, a neurotic state.... Unemployment and the terror of it... made German males less willing to contemplate marriages.... Military fanaticism... the recognized enemy of full heterosexuality... led to the literary preoccupation with perversity, the notorious nightclubs for men only: these stories showed how deep went the underground currents....

After the 1931 depression... sex starvation turned guilty and flamed into fanaticism, cruelty and bitterness. Distorted sex showed itself in Jew-baiting, persecution and ultrapuritanism.... The psychohistorical situation in Germany threw up representative leaders - Hitler in whose life there has been no other woman but his mother.... Hitler, a sexual abnormal with a childhood fixation... unable to conceive the normal ideal of full and ideal heterosexual love and marriage.... The tragedy lies in the power wielded by such abnormals over ... average people.