In Oliver Hirschbiegel’s film Downfall Juliane Köhler plays Eva Braun as an irrepressibly vivacious blonde, grabbing a cigarette between bombardments in mischievous defiance of Hitler, but standing by her Führer until she courageously shares his end. Like the other women in the bunker, apart from the evil Magda Goebbels, she is portrayed as essentially innocent. But was Eva a victim of circumstances? Was her fate determined by Nazi ideas about gender or was she a willing collaborator?
In unravelling the enigma of Eva Braun, Heike Görtemaker goes beyond biography and has interesting things to say about women in Nazi ideology and Hitler’s personal rule. But first she has to disentangle what we know about Eva’s life from the self-serving accounts written, in the most part, by survivors