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Was Eva Braun Jewish?

A new documentary says Hitler’s wife may have had Jewish ancestry

Stephanie Butnick
April 07, 2014
:Undated and unlocated picture of German Chancellor Adolf Hitler with his mistress Eva Braun. (AFP/Getty Images)
:Undated and unlocated picture of German Chancellor Adolf Hitler with his mistress Eva Braun. (AFP/Getty Images)

The ultimate irony, as far as Hitler and Jews go, would probably be if his longtime companion Eva Braun was in fact Jewish. According to the season finale of a British documentary series, though, Braun—who met Hitler at 17 and married him when she was 33, just hours before the two killed themselves in a bunker in Berlin in 1945—might actually be.

Dead Famous DNA, which airs on Britain’s Channel 4, has apparently attempted to investigate everyone from Elvis Presley to John F. Kennedy and Napoleon, though it’s unclear how successful they are in these pursuits. They’re going all out with Wednesday’s finale episode, which they tease thusly: “The DNA of Adolf Hitler’s long-term mistress reveals an incredible secret…”

According to a press release, the secret is that the Fuhrer’s companion might have been—gasp—a Jew. Or, rather, someone in her family might have been a Jew, or somewhere along the genetic lines she had a Jewish relative. Maybe.

DNA analysis of hair samples from a hairbrush claimed to belong to Eva Braun, Hitler’s long-term lover who married the fascist dictator shortly before the couple killed themselves at the end of World War II, shows that it contained the hair of someone who could have had Jewish ancestry.

Still, as Jewcy points out, it all seems a bit too…tidy. “Basically, Evans goes about acquiring dubious DNA samples—which have often deteriorated as a result of sunlight or exposure—from equally dubious sources, and sensationalizing the findings on TV.”

They admit as much in the press release: “The provenance of the hair is strong, but to definitively prove that it came from Eva Braun’s head, Mark Evans attempted to get a DNA swab from one of Eva Braun’s two surviving female descendants, but both refused.”

The finale airs Wednesday–let us know if you’ll be watching, and what, if anything, happens.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.