Seventy-four years ago this spring, Eva Braun’s world, and life, were coming to their end as Germany succumbed to defeat and ruin.
From a bunker under Berlin, she wrote her final letters, to her younger sister, Gretl, and longtime friend Herta Ostermayr Schneider.
She writes to Herta of preparing to die, and bewilderment at how things are ending, for Germany:
“Greetings to all my friends.
I’m dying as I have lived. It’s not difficult for me. You know that.”
On this same day, she chose an action whose significance would only be revealed later, during the war crimes trials in Nuremberg. In testimony there during the Ministry Trials of 1948, a high-ranking German officer credited her with ensuring that one of Hitler’s last desperate orders had come to him, rather than to someone who would actually carry them out.
As a result, the lives of about 35,000 Allied prisoners of war were saved.
Among them were likely two relatives of mine, and a whole lot of those who were the loved ones of tens of thousands of people.
When writing fiction that includes elements of history, accuracy must always trump creative possibilities. It’s been suggested to me several times that Eva Braun’s “character” in the story might be conveyed through letters.
However, her very last letter, to her younger sister, Gretl, asked that most of her correspondence be destroyed, and the remaining small amount hidden. It has yet to surface, and those who’ve tried to track it down doubt it ever will.
So, any story true to Eva Braun’s consistently private personality must reference only the handful of pieces of her correspondence that are still in existence.
And seek, as so many stories do, to find the story of a life between the lines.
More about The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War at: