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Rosa Bernile Nienau
Rosa Bernile Nienau
April 20, 1926
|Died||October 5, 1943 (aged 17)|
|Cause of death||Polio|
|Title||The Führer's child|
Bernhardine Nienau (20 April 1926, Dortmund — 5 October 1943, Munich), called Bernile, was a German girl who became known as "the Führer's child" because of her close friendship with Adolf Hitler that lasted from 1933 to 1938. One of her grandmothers was Jewish.
Nienau was born in Dortmund as the only child of Bernhard Nienau, a physician (June 23, 1887 - February 29, 1926). Her father died shortly before she was born. Her mother Karoline, née Helwig, a nurse (March 15, 1892 - July 26, 1962), moved to Munich and bought a house there, around 1928. Bernile's grandmother Ida Voit, a Roman Catholic teacher of Jewish descent, widow or divorcee of Karoline Helwig, née Morgenstern (18 July 1867 - 29 December 1942) also lived with them.
Interaction with Hitler
Probably at the instigation of her mother, Bernile pressed in the spring of 1933 in the forefront of the stream of visitors on Obersalzberg to grab Hitler's attention. From that contact she developed a "friendship" that lasted until 1938. In the Federal Archives in Berlin there are 17 letters which the girl wrote, probably with the help of her mother, between 18 January 1935 and 12 November 1939, to Hitler and his chief aide Wilhelm Brückner. An extract:
Munich, September 27, 36. Dear Uncle Brückner! Today I have a lot to tell you. During the holidays we were on the Obersalzberg and I was twice allowed to dear Uncle Hitler! Unfortunately, you have never been up. [...] I am already working on the Christmas work. [...] Uncle Hitler I knit some socks again because I asked him if they fit him last year. He said yes! This year I can knit with finer wool, mom only helps me with the heel. They are going to be very warm, and where he always travels so much, his feet will not feel cold. [...] Mommy also sends you greetings and many greetings and kisses from your Bernile!
The fact that Bernile's grandmother and mother were Jewish was already known to Hitler in 1933. On 19 April, 1938, Hitler's adjutant Fritz Wiedemann described Hitler's disregard for her Jewish ancestry to subordinate party offices as "a purely human attitude toward the child". However, when Martin Bormann got wind of the lack of "German-bloodiness", the girl and her mother were forbidden to appear in Berghof. Hitler learned about it because his personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann complained that Bormann had forbidden him to continue to publish photos showing the Führer as "his child". In his book Hitler as I Saw Him", Hoffmann writes that Hitler said about Bormann: "There are people who have a true talent to spoil my every joy." While Hoffmann's illustrated book Youth around Hitler which included the photographs of Hitler with Bernile continued to sell, around May 1938 the mother was officially asked to stop any contacts with party leaders.
- "'The Führer's child': How Hitler came to embrace a girl with Jewish roots". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
- Heinrich Hoffmann: Hitler wie ich ihn sah. Aufzeichnungen seines Leibfotografen. Herbig, München und Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-7766-0668-1, S. 166.
- Bayern - Land und Leute. Lieber guter Onkel Hitler. br.de, 27. Oktober 2013
- Volker Dahm, Albert A. Feiber, Hartmut Mehringer und Horst Möller (Hrsg.): Die tödliche Utopie, Bilder, Texte, Dokumente, Daten zum Dritten Reich. Verlag Dokumentation Obersalzberg im Institut für Zeitgeschichte, München und Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-9814052-0-0, S. 127.
- Justina Schreiber: Das blonde Mädel Bernile Nienau. Bayerischer Rundfunk, 27 October 2013
- Remarkable tale of Hitler's young Jewish friend, bbc.com, November 13, 2018.
- Up for auction: Photo of Hitler embracing young girl he knew was Jewish Rosa Bernile Nienau became known as the Fuhrer’s ‘sweetheart’; Nazi leader maintained contact with her until 1938, By Stuart Winer, November 11 2018.