Sexuality of Adolf Hitler

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Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun with their dogs at the Berghof

The sexuality of Adolf Hitler has long been a matter of historical and scholarly debate. Historians such as Lothar Machtan have argued that Hitler was homosexual or bisexual, and that the Nazi Party's opposition to homosexuality and its persecution of homosexuals demonstrate a reaction-formation defense mechanism of his internalized homophobia. Most scholars dismiss these claims and believe he was heterosexual. He is believed to have had six female lovers; two of these women went on to commit suicide, another died as a consequence of her attempted suicide eight years after it, and one made a failed suicide attempt. There is also at least one claim that Hitler had an illegitimate child with one of his lovers, which has been held to be unlikely or impossible by mainstream historians.

He met Eva Braun in 1929, and they married on 29 April 1945, one day before their suicide. He was also engaged to two women earlier in his life.


Hitler and homosexuality in the Third Reich[edit]

While the sexual preferences of numerous members of Hitler's inner circle are known, evidence of Hitler's own sexuality is lacking. However, there is considerable evidence that he had infatuations with a number of women during his lifetime, as well as overwhelming evidence of his antipathy to homosexuality, and no evidence he engaged in homosexual behavior.[1][2][3]

During his disavowal of Ernst Röhm, Hitler cited his 'immoral sexual behavior'. However, Röhm had long been a confidant and close friend to Hitler, and Hitler had never objected in the past to Röhm's homosexuality. Hitler also sent a great number of homosexuals to concentration camps during the Holocaust. Jonathan Zimmerman, a historian at New York University, points out that "Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis arrested roughly 100,000 men as homosexuals. Most convicted gays were sent to prison; between 5,000 and 15,000 were interned in concentration camps, where they wore pink triangles to signify their supposed crime."[4] Gay men were singled out for cruel treatment in the concentration camps. Nazi doctors often used gay men for quasi-scientific experiments in an attempt to locate a biological basis for homosexuality, purportedly to cure any future Aryan children who were gay. A study by Rüdiger Lautmann found that 60% of gay men in concentration camps died, as compared to 41% of political prisoners and 35% of Jehovah's Witnesses. The study also shows that survival rates for gay men were slightly higher for internees from the middle and upper classes and for married bisexual men and those with children.[5]

Complicating the issue were efforts of political enemies before the war and the Allied powers during the war to demonize Hitler, which resulted in accusations of various sexual practices that were stigmatized at that time.[6] Thus, many claims of urolagnia, homosexuality, etc., stem from World War II-era propaganda, without evidence to support them. The evidence that exists about Hitler's private life is considerable from people in his inner circle, such as Albert Speer, several adjutants, his secretaries, and the Wagner family, among others. He had a few brief affairs when younger, and seems to have really been in love with his half-niece, Geli Raubal. Although the full extent of their relationship will never be known, it had the traits of latent "sexual dependence".[7]

He was monogamous with Eva Braun for years, hiding this relationship from the public and all but his inner circle.[8] Within that circle however, most of whom survived the war, he was open about Eva Braun and they lived together openly at Berchtesgaden as a couple. Hitler's valet, Heinz Linge, stated in his memoirs that Hitler and Braun had two bedrooms and two bathrooms with interconnecting doors at the Berghof, and Hitler would end most evenings alone with her in his study before they retired to bed. She would wear a "dressing gown or house-coat" and drink wine; Hitler would have tea.[9] Hitler's letters provide evidence that he was fond of her, and worried when she participated in sports or was late returning for tea.[10]

His secretary, Traudl Junge stated that during the war, Hitler telephoned Braun every day. He was also concerned for her safety when she was staying in her Munich home he bought for her.[11] Junge further asked Hitler once why he never married. Hitler replied, "...I wouldn't have been able to give enough time to my wife".[11] Hitler told her, he didn't want children anyway, as they would have had "...a very hard time, because they're expected to possess the same gifts as their famous parents and they can't be forgiven for being mediocre".[11]

Later in April 1945, Hitler and Braun married in the Berlin Führerbunker one day before committing suicide together.[12] Braun biographer Heike Görtemaker notes that Braun and Hitler enjoyed a normal sex life.[13] Braun's friends and relatives described Eva giggling over a 1938 photograph of Neville Chamberlain sitting on a sofa in Hitler's Munich flat with the remark: "If only he knew what goings-on that sofa has seen."[14]

Ernst Hanfstaengl, one of the members of Hitler's inner circle in the early years in Munich before he had gained any political power, wrote of Hitler's sexuality that "I felt Hitler was a case of a man who was neither fish, flesh nor fowl, neither fully homosexual nor fully heterosexual... I had formed the firm conviction that he was impotent, the repressed, masturbating type." [15] Nevertheless, Hanfstaengl was convinced enough of Hitler's heterosexuality that he tried to fix him up with the American ambassador's daughter, Martha Dodd (with no success).[16]

Most books putting forward alternative sexualities for Hitler, like The Pink Swastika, by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams, have been either not accepted by most historians, or amply criticized for their multiple inaccuracies and manipulations of facts.[17][18] Bob Moser, writing for the Southern Poverty Law Center, says about The Pink Swastika that the book was promoted by anti-gay groups and that historians agree its premise (that most of the top Nazis were homosexual and that that is evidence that homosexuals are violent and dangerous) is "utterly false".[19]

Langer's and Murray's two wartime OSS reports[edit]

In 1943, the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) received A Psychological Analysis of Adolf Hitler: His Life and Legend, written by Walter C. Langer (with assistance from other leading psychoanalysts) for the purpose of helping the Allies understand the dictator, related to strategic purposes (including post-war purposes).[20] It also appears as the mainstay of the fuller work that is available in book form as The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report, in which Langer's Wartime Report is accompanied by a foreword by his brother, historian William L. Langer, an introduction by Langer himself and an afterword by the Hitler psychoanalytic historian Robert G.L. Waite.[21] The researchers performed a "psychological analysis ... in which an attempt is made to understand Hitler as a person and the motivations underlying his actions." The OSS report states that Hitler was an impotent coprophile.[21] The report describes Hitler as having "possibly even a homosexual streak in him," although the researchers concluded that the evidence of Hitler's homosexuality was too thin to make any conclusions. One of Hitler's opponents in the Nazi Party, Otto Strasser, claimed that the Nazi dictator forced his niece Geli Raubal to urinate and defecate on him.[22] Langer also wrote that according to Ernst Hanfstaengl, Helena Bechstein, the wife of the famous Berlin piano manufacturer, had groomed Hitler in the expectation that he would marry her daughter, Lottie, who was far from attractive. Out of a sense of obligation, Hitler did ask Lottie, but was refused.[23] Historian Ian Kershaw contends that stories circulated by Otto Strasser as to alleged "sexual deviant practices ought to be viewed as...anti-Hitler propaganda".[24]

Hermann Rauschning claims that Hitler had once confided in him that he had seen Hitler's military record (World War I) and that it contained an item of a court martial that found him guilty of pederastic practices with an officer. Rauschning also claims that in Munich Hitler was found guilty of a violation of Paragraph 175, which deals with pederasty. No evidence of either of these two charges has been found.[25]

Psychologist Henry Murray wrote a separate psychoanalytical report for OSS also in 1943, entitled Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler: With Predictions of His Future Behavior and Suggestions for Dealing with Him Now and After Germany's Surrender,[26] in which he also dealt with Hitler's alleged coprophilia, but overall diagnosed Hitler a schizophrenic. Murray based his report on W. H. D. Vernon's 1942 essay Hitler, the man: Notes for a case history.[27]

Post-1945 research[edit]

In research following Hitler's death, a variety of claims have been made about his sexuality: that he was gay or bisexual, asexual, and the previously mentioned speculated sexual activity with his half-niece, Geli Raubal.[7]

Historian Lothar Machtan argues in The Hidden Hitler that Hitler was homosexual. He argues basically on speculation, including Hitler's experiences in Vienna with young friends, his adult relationships with (among others) Ernst Röhm, Hanfstaengl and Emil Maurice, and the (Hans)Mend Protocol, a series of allegations made to the Munich Police in the early 1920s by a soldier who served with Hitler during World War I. In 2004, HBO produced a documentary film based on Machtan's theory, titled Hidden Fuhrer: Debating the Enigma of Hitler's Sexuality. Hans Mend was a convicted fraudster, and historian Anton Joachimsthaler is among those who regard the protocol as unreliable. Ron Rosenbaum was highly critical of Machtan's work, saying his "evidence falls short of being conclusive and often falls far short of being evidence at all".[28]

The 1995 book The Pink Swastika, by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams, dealt with similar topics. The claims in The Pink Swastika have been the subject of heavy criticism by mainstream historians.[17][18]

Jack Nusan Porter, of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, wrote:

Did Hitler despise homosexuals? Was he ashamed of his own homosexual identity? These are areas of psychohistory that are beyond known knowledge. My own feelings are that Hitler was asexual in the traditional sense and had bizarre sexual fetishes.[29]

After the death of Winifred Wagner's husband, Siegfried, in 1930, Winifred's relations to Hitler grew so close that by 1933 there were rumors of impending marriage, but nothing happened.

Leni Riefenstahl was friends with Hitler for 12 years, and reports vary as to whether she ever had an intimate relationship with him.[30] According to Ernst Hanfstaengl, who was a close friend of Hitler throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, Riefenstahl tried to begin a relationship with Hitler early on, but he turned her down.[31] Riefenstahl categorically denied having had any romantic interest in Hitler.[citation needed]

Relationships with women[edit]

Adolf Hitler had relationships with a number of women other than Eva Braun.

Name Life Age at death Cause of death First contact with Hitler Relationship Reference(s)
Stefanie Rabatsch Unknown Unknown c. 1905 Teenage love interest [32]
Charlotte Lobjoie 1898–1951 53 Allegedly met in 1917 Alleged lovers, claims Hitler was the father of her son Jean-Marie Loret [33] However, the dominant view, as represented by historians such as Anton Joachimsthaler,[34] Timothy Ryback, and Sir Ian Kershaw,[35] is that Hitler's paternity of Loret is unlikely or impossible.
Eva Braun February 6, 1912 – April 30, 1945 33 Double suicide with Hitler (age 56) Met in autumn 1929 Wife [36]
Geli Raubal June 4, 1908 – September 18, 1931 23 Suicide Lived with Hitler in 1925 Niece, speculated lovers [37]
Erna Hanfstaengl 1885–1981 96 Natural causes Met in 1920s Rumoured lovers [38]
Renate Müller April 26, 1906 – October 7, 1937 31 Suicide Met in 1930s Alleged single sexual encounter [39]
Maria Reiter December 23, 1911 – 1992 81 Natural causes, suicide attempt in 1927 Met in 1927 Possibly lovers [40][41]
Unity Mitford August 8, 1914 – May 28, 1948 33 Died eight years after attempting suicide from complications related to her suicide attempt [42] Met in 1934 Friends, speculated lovers [43]



  1. ^ Nagorski, Andrew. Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power. New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 81.
  2. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 22-23, 219.
  3. ^ Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 264.
  4. ^ name="Zimmerman"
  5. ^ Lautmann, Rüdiger. "Gay Prisoners in Concentration Camps as Compared with Jehovah's Witnesses and Political Prisoners". 
  6. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 23-24, 219.
  7. ^ a b Kershaw 2008, pp. 218-219.
  8. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 219, 378, 947.
  9. ^ Linge 2009, p. 39.
  10. ^ Speer, Albert (1971). Inside the Third Reich. New York: Avon. ISBN 978-0-380-00071-5. 
  11. ^ a b c Galante & Silianoff 1989, p. 96.
  12. ^ Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin: The Downfall 1945. London: Viking-Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-670-03041-5. 
  13. ^ Görtemaker 2011, pp. 168–171.
  14. ^ Connolly 2010.
  15. ^ Hanfstaengl, Ernst. Hitler: The Missing Years. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1957, p. 123
  16. ^ Larson, Eric. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin. New York: Crown Publishers, 2011.
  17. ^ a b Erik N. Jensen (January–April 2002). "The Pink Triangle and Political Consciousness: Gays, Lesbians, and the Memory of Nazi Persecution". Journal of the History of Sexuality 11 (1/2): 319–349, pp. 322–323 and n. 19. doi:10.1353/sex.2002.0008. 
  18. ^ a b "The Other Side of the Pink Triangle: Still a Pink Triangle". October 24, 1994. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  19. ^ Bob Moser (Spring 2005). "Making Myths". Intelligence Report (Southern Poverty Law Center) (117). 
  20. ^ Walter C. Langer: A Psychological Profile of Adolph Hitler. His Life and Legend. The Wartime Report in original typewritten format is available online here via the Nizkor Project
  21. ^ a b Langer, Walter C. (1972). The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-04620-7. 
  22. ^ Oliver Cyriax. Crime: An Encyclopedia. Andre Deutsch: 1993, S. 135
  23. ^ Langer, Walter C. The Mind of Adolf Hitler, New York 1972, p. 96
  24. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 219.
  25. ^ Langer, Walter C. The Mind of Adolf Hitler, New York 1972, pp. 137-138
  26. ^ Entry for Dr. Henry A. Murray, Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler at Cornell University Law Library
  27. ^ W. H. D. Vernon (1942). "Hitler, the man – Notes for a case history", The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, July 1942, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 295–308; also see, Medicus: "A Psychiatrist Looks at Hitler", The New Republic, 26 April 1939, pp. 326–327.
  28. ^ Rosenbaum, Ron. "Queer as Volk". Slate. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ See Infield, Glenn B. Eva and Adolf New York:1974--Grosset and Dunlap (Interviews with former SS officers who had been close to Hitler and Eva Braun)
  31. ^ Mathews, Tom (2007-04-29). "Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl, by Steven Bach". The Independent. pp. XX. 
  32. ^ August Kubizek, tr. Geoffrey Brooks, The Young Hitler I Knew: The Memoirs of Hitler's Childhood Friend, Barnsley, West Yorkshire: Greenhill/Frontline, 2011, ISBN 9781848326071, p. 67.
  33. ^ Peter Allen, "Hitler had son with French teen" The Telegraph 17 February 2012
  34. ^ Joachimsthaller, Anton. Korrektur einer Biographie. Adolf Hitler, 1908–1920 [Emendation of a Biography. Adolf Hitler, 1908–1920], Munich, 1989, pp. 162–64. 
  35. ^ Kershaw, Ian. Hitler-Biography; Vol. 1, note 116 to Chapter 3. 
  36. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 219, 378, 947, 955.
  37. ^ Guido Knopp, Hitler's Women.
  38. ^ See Large, David Clay (1997). Where Ghosts Walked: Munich's Road to the Third Reich. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 191. ISBN 039303836X. 
  39. ^ "Masochistic One-Night Stand" 14 November 2011
  40. ^ Rosenbaum, Ron, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of his Evil, Macmillan, 1998, p.114-16.
  41. ^ "Foreign News: Uneven Romance" TIME 29 June 1959
  42. ^ "The truth about Hitler's British love child" Daily Mail 13 December 2007
  43. ^ "Unity Mitford and 'Hitler's Baby'" New Statesman 13 December 2007

Further reading

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