He married her just before their joint suicide in that Berlin bunker, but was Adolf Hitler’s wife actually of Jewish descent? A hairbrush of hers has been the subject of a new UK network Channel 4 documentary, Dead Famous DNA. Forensic scientists analyzed the hairs left trapped in the bristles. They came to the startling conclusion that Eva Braun had a sequence of mitochondrial DNA that came directly from the Ashkenazi Jews.
Jewish ancestry is passed through the matrilinear line and so is mitochondrial DNA. In Jewish tradition, to be born of a Jewish mother is to be Jewish. It could be one of history’s most crushing and hideous ironies that the man responsible for the cruel annihilation of millions of Jews married a Jewish woman as his final act on earth.
It was said that Hitler went to great pains to satisfy himself that Braun was not, and could not possibly be, Jewish, prior to beginning a relationship with her, yet is it likely she had no idea herself of the ancestry. A Channel 4 spokesman explained that many Ashkenazi Jews converted to Catholicism in the nineteenth century, especially those living in Germany.
The program, which attempts to solve old mysteries with modern science, cannot say with 100 percent certainty that their findings are correct. It has not been possible to prove that the particular hairbrush in question definitely belonged to Eva Braun. There would be a way to ascertain this, by taking DNA samples from her living female’s relatives, but of the two that remain alive, both have refused to co-operate.
The hairbrush was monogrammed and was taken from Braun’s apartment and these are strong indications that it was indeed her possession. The scientists searched into the hypervariable region of the mitochondrial DNA in the samples they took from it. The specific sequence they identified, passed from mother to daughter through the generations, was a genome belonging to haplogroup N1b1. Haplogroup N1b1 is associated with the Ashkenazi Jews.
That Hitler, the fascist dictator, may have unwittingly married a semitic woman is an extraordinary and chilling finding.
The hairbrush was discovered at Hitler’s Bavarian mountain-top retreat, the Berghof, by Paul Baer, a captain in the U.S. 7th Army in 1945. This was where Hitler tended to keep Eva hidden away from sight as he was fearful that she might damage his public image. She was twenty-three years his junior. She was 17-years-old and working as a photographer’s assistant when she fell madly in love with the Fuehrer and she was under strict orders never to show affection to him in public.
Hitler got Martin Bormann to run checks on her, to ensure she was of pure “Aryan” origins before going ahead with his courtship of her. Her parents had sent her to a Catholic school. When he was convinced she was suitable, he took her on as his lover. Gormann was one of the witnesses to the marriage, along with Josef Goebbels in the early hours of April 20, 1945. It was the following day, as the Third Reich crumbled and the Soviets marched on Berlin that Eva bit into a cyanide capsule, and Hitler took some poison before putting a gun to his head. After they were both dead, their bodies were aligned, and burnt.
Paul Baer’s son Alan had inherited the hairbrush and he sold it to a dealer in relics. He said it had been kept in an old army duffel bag, along with a monogrammed mirror, also initialed EB; some Nazi daggers and a human skull. Paul Baer himself was a German born Jew whose mother and sisters were lost in the camps. This dealer then separated out the hair, and sold it to John Reznikov, a hair dealer. It was from Reznikov that producer of Dead Famous DNA, Mark Evans, bought the eight strands he used for analysis for which he paid $2,000.
Mark Evans admits the results are not definitive but says they are thought-provoking and “potentially extraordinary and profound.” He went on to say that the two ideas central to Hitler’s philosophy, racism and fascism, culminating in the concept that one group in society was superior to another, were made a mockery of by the DNA study.
Other historical figures examined in the series will include Napoleon who is said to have had a remarkably small penis, around an inch and a half apparently. Whilst this is a curiosity, some might say it is hardly surprising given his short stature and certainly not an issue of much gravitas. However, the revelation that Hitler’s long-term love and eventual wife Eva Braun carried Jewish genes is far more sobering.
By Kate Henderson