Geoff Walden

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Who Was Who at Hitler's Berghof

 

     Hitler's Berghof was the scene of many visits, both formal and informal, and hundreds of photos were taken there. Heinrich Hoffmann made many photos to publish in his books and as postcards, and Eva Braun and her sister Gretl were avid amateur photographers. Walter Frentz, on the staff of the Nazi Press Organization, made many color photos. All of these photo sets have many shots showing visitors to the Berghof, along with the regulars of Hitler's inner circle. Unfortunately, most of these photos were not labeled, or their identifications were lost at the end of the war, and the identities of many of the people seen around the Berghof have been lost over time. In addition, several of these people have been misidentified as these photos have been published in numerous books since 1945, and these misidentifications tend to be perpetuated as more photo books are published.

   This page corrects some of these misidentifications, based on photos in Eva and Gretl Braun's photo albums in the U.S. National Archives, and also the Heinrich Hoffmann photo archive copies in the same collection (National Archives, Record Groups 242-EB and 242-H, College Park, MD; 242-EB also contains copies of several photo albums belonging to Eva's friend Herta Schneider). Some other photos are presented here with identifications of some of the people who are regularly seen in these photos, but rarely identified in books. Some of my identifications are admittedly tentative, and I would be happy to receive documented corrections or any further info.

Click here to read a guide to Eva Braun's movies in the National Archives.

 

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Most of the post-war misidentifications found in these photo groups involve Eva Braun and her sisters and friends. Eva and her younger sister Gretl (Margarethe) looked very much alike, and their older sister Ilse resembled both (although Ilse rarely visited the Berghof). Eva herself tended to change her appearance regularly (her hair, especially), and Eva can look quite different in photos taken at different times (so can Gretl). In fact, it can sometimes be very hard to tell Eva and Gretl apart. One misidentification that is quite common in modern books is the photo on the left above. This studio portrait is invariably labeled as showing Gretl and Eva, with Eva on the right (note Eva's brooch showing her personal monogram - see below). This photo is sometimes printed reversed, but I show it here as it appears in Eva's photo albums (Album 26, No. 7, NA RG 242-EB).

In fact, this is not Gretl at all, but Eva's best friend Herta Schneider. Eva and Herta had been friends from childhood, and even after Herta married (her maiden name was Ostermeyer), she and her children spent a great deal of time with Eva, living with her at the Berghof, because Herta's husband was away in military service. The photo on the right above shows Eva and Herta at the Königssee lake in July 1941, with one of Eva's Scottish terriers. Eva herself labeled the album page on which this photo appears, removing any doubt that this woman is Herta Schneider, not Gretl (NA RG 242-EB-27-39D; in addition, many photos in the albums that originally belonged to Frau Schneider confirm her identity in Eva's photos).

Eva Braun's personal monogram showed her initials forming a four-leaf clover (Kleeblatt), and was designed for her by Dr. Karl Brandt (this symbol is sometimes incorrectly identified as a butterfly). On the right are two examples of the EB Kleeblatt monogram, from some of her silver pieces. (See Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, p. 574; Christa Schroeder, Er war mein Chef, p. 216; and Pierre Galante and Eugène Silianoff, Voices from the Bunker, p. 21)

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Herta is often misidentified as Gretl in these photos as well. Herta is seated beside Eva in both photos. The photo on the left is often grouped with photos of Eva and Gretl taken at the Kehlsteinhaus (see below), but this photo was actually taken on the Berghof terrace. The photo on the right was taken at the side of the Berghof "wintergarten" sunroom. At the right side of the photo is an actress friend of Eva's named Else von Möllendorff (see more below).   (NA RG 242-EB, Album 14)

 

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The photo on the left above shows Herta and Eva on the side steps of the Berghof. On the right above, Eva plays with Herta's daughter "Uschi" (Ursula), who was one of Adolf Hitler's most welcomed guests. So many photos were taken of Eva and Hitler with Uschi, that many people in the post-war years thought this was their child. Two of the most common of these photos are shown below, when Uschi was a couple years older.  (NA RG 242-EB)

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These photos of Eva and Gretl were taken at the Kehlsteinhaus. Also seen is one of Eva's omnipresent dogs. She had two Scottish terriers, named Negus and Stasi (in her photo albums, the dogs are labeled Negus and Katuschka - perhaps "Stasi" was a nickname, or there were, in fact, three dogs (although no more than two are ever seen together). Although they looked very much alike, it seems clear that Eva is on the left, and Gretl on the right  ...  but compare to the two photos below.  (NA RG 242-EB, Album 14, Nos. 17A and 17B)

 

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These photos (and others taken at the same time) are almost always labeled in books as showing Eva Braun, but the details of the dress and hair show that this is really Gretl, taken on the same day as the photos above.  (NA RG 242-EB, Album 14, Page 17)

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The photo on the left is invariably labeled as Gretl and Eva on the Berghof terrace, but the woman on the right was an actress friend of Eva's named Else von Möllendorff (see more below). The photo on the right is invariably labeled as Eva, but this photo appears in her albums on a page with two photos showing Gretl, and the page is labeled "Gretl - Greta."  (NA RG 242-EB, Album 2, Page 43 - the Finding Aid in the National Archives says Album 2 actually belonged to Gretl)

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The woman in the photo on the left (part of a larger photo) is sometimes labeled as Eva, but this is Gretl on her wedding day. On 3 June 1944, Gretl Braun married Hermann Fegelein, an SS-Obergruppenführer on the staff of SS chief Heinrich Himmler. The reception took place in the Berghof (see photo on right above - the group is in front of the fireplace in the Great Room), and a party followed at the Kehlsteinhaus. Gretl is dancing with SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lt. Col.) Waldemar Fegelein, her new brother-in-law (see note below). On the right can be seen - 1st row, left-right - Fegelein, Gretl, Hitler, Eva, Fransiska "Fanny" Braun (Eva and Gretl's mother); 2nd-3rd rows - Georg Alexander, rest unknown to me (although the woman just behind Hitler's right shoulder may be Ilse Braun); 4th row - Himmler, unknown, Anni Brandt (?), Hanni Morell, Dr. Theo Morell (Hitler's personal physician, and a regular of the inner circle, along with his wife); Otto Dietrich (Press Chief - another Berghof regular); standing in the rear - Nicolaus von Below (Hitler's Luftwaffe adjutant), unknown. There are several other photos in this series, showing Fegelein, Gretl, and Eva in the Berghof and Kehlsteinhaus, celebrating the wedding.  (NA RG 242-HL)

NOTE - When I first put this page up, I did not know the identity of the man with whom Gretl was dancing. My thanks to E. Reid for identifying him as Fegelein's brother Waldemar - see the Axis History Factbook Gallery, http://www.skalman.nu/third-reich/gallery-wss-persons.htm .

 

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These photos and the following two were taken in the Berghof on the occasion of Hitler's 55th birthday, 20 April 1944. The woman in the center is often labeled as Eva, but Eva is third from the left. The woman in the center appears in many photos taken at the Berghof, but I have been unable to identify her (on her album page, Eva gave only the men's names). Left-right - Herta Schneider, Martin Bormann, Eva Braun, Otto Dietrich, unknown, Dr. Hans von Hasselbach, Gretl Braun, Dr. Karl Brandt (Hitler's traveling surgeon, a regular in Berghof group photos), Anni Brandt. On the far right in the second photo is Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's official photographer and resident Berghof "clown."  (NA RG 242-EB)

 

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The inner circle examines Hitler's birthday presents in the Berghof dining hall. On the left, Heinrich Hoffmann shows off a newly acquired painting for Hitler's art collection, as many of the same people in the photos above look on. The tall officer is Walter Frentz, a staff photographer (Frentz took most of the color photos now seen in Hitler photo collections). On the right, AH and EB look over the presents, with Herta Schneider in the background.  (NA RG 242-EB)

 

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The inner circle celebrates in the Berghof. This photo is usually labeled as showing Hitler's birthday in 1943 or even '44, but several details show it to have been taken much earlier than that, probably 1939 or 1940. Eva's appearance shows this to be an earlier photo; in addition, both Wilhelm Brückner and Max Wünsche had left the Führer's immediate service by the end of 1940. Front row, left-right - Wilhelm Brückner (Hitler's chief personal adjutant), Christa Schroeder (one of Hitler's secretaries), Eva, Hitler, Gretl, Adolf Wagner (Gauleiter of Munich), Otto Dietrich (Press Chief); 2nd Row, left-right - Gerda Daranowski (later Frau Christian, another of Hitler's secretaries), Margarete Speer, Martin Bormann (partially hidden), Dr. Karl Brandt, Heinrich Hoffmann; Remainder, left-right - Dr. Theo Morell (Hitler's personal physician), Hannelore (or Johanna) "Hanni" Morell, Karl-Jesko von Puttkamer (Hitler's naval adjutant), Gerda Bormann, Max Wünsche (one of Hitler's SS aides), Heinrich Heim (from Bormann's staff).  (NA RG 242-EB, Album 8, No. 3A)  NOTE: Warren Thompson's research indicates that the style of uniform Hitler is wearing is the one he assumed after the beginning of World War II. Therefore, and considering that uniforms were rare among Hitler's inner circle at the Berghof prior to WWII, I would suggest this photo was probably taken during New Years 1939/40. Other possible dates were Christmas 1939 and Hitler's birthday in 1940, but he was apparently not at the Berghof on either of those occasions. However, Dr. Karl Brandt's rank in this photo is SS-Sturmbannführer (Major), and he was promoted to SS-Obersturmbannführer in April 1939 ... so the 1940 date may be incorrect. (Thanks to Max History for the info on Dr. Brandt's dates of rank.) Then again ... Christa Schroeder's book "Er war mein Chef" says this photo was taken on New Year's Eve 1940.

 

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Another of the well-known Berghof group photos, this one taken on New Years Eve 1938/39. Front row, left-right - Heinrich Hoffmann, Gretl Braun, Dr. Theo Morell, Helene Bouhler, Phillip Bouhler, Gerda Bormann, Hitler, Eva Braun, Martin Bormann,  Anni Brandt; 2nd row - Christa Schroeder, Freda Kannenberg, Albert Speer, Margarete Speer, Hanni Morell, Frau Schmundt, Ilse Braun, Heinz Lorenz; 3rd row - Ludwig Bahls (SS Aide), Gerda Daranowski, Albert Bormann, Jacob Werlin (managing director of Daimler-Benz), Sofie Stork, Fritz Schönmann, Gen. Rudolf Schmundt (Hitler's Wehrmacht adjutant), Marianne Schönmann, Dr. Karl Brandt, Arthur ("Willi")  Kannenberg.  (NA RG 242-EB-6-7)

 

Marianne (Marion) Petzl (friend of Hitler, Eva, and the Hoffmanns) marries Fritz Schönmann, 7 August 1937, with the reception held afterwards in Munich (the photo above is sometimes identified as having been taken in the Berghof). Seated, left-right - Sofie Stork, Marianne and Fritz Schönmann, Gretl Braun. Standing - Heinrich Hoffmann, Hanni Morell, Erna Hoffmann, Eva Braun, Frau Diesbach, Dr. Morell, Herta Schneider, unknown, Dr. Helmut Scheiber, Hitler, unknown, Maria Almas-Dietrich.   (NA RG 242-EB, Album 10, No. 93C)

 

This group was gathered at the Berghof on 20 April 1943, for Hitler's birthday celebration. Front row, left-right - Heinrich Hoffmann, Eva Braun, Hitler, Marianne Schönmann (?), Martin Bormann; 2nd row - Dr. Karl Brandt, Gerda Bormann, Anni Brandt, Herta Schneider; 3rd row - Albert and Margarete Speer, unknown, Hanni Morell, Gretl Braun, Gerhard Engel; top row - Walter Frentz, Dr. Theo Morell, Nicolaus von Below.  (NA RG 242)

 

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Albert Speer and his wife Margarete were frequent visitors at the Berghof ... they had their own house a short distance down the road to Berchtesgaden. On the left, the Speers and Gretl and Eva Braun (with Frau Engel between - wife of Hitler's Heer (Army) adjutant Gerhard Engel) relax on the lounge chairs outside the old Haus Wachenfeld part of the Berghof. On the right, Margarete Speer with four of her children, in the same location (the Berghof Adjutancy appears in the background). The Speer and Bormann children are frequently seen visiting "Uncle Führer" at the Berghof, in Eva Braun's photo albums and movies.  (NA RG 242-EB-11-10B)

 

On the left, Josef "Sepp" Dietrich, the commander of Hitler's bodyguard unit the Leibstandarte-SS, visits the Berghof with Margarete Speer and Anni Brandt. On the right, Anni Brandt sits with Hitler's secretaries Johanna Wolf (center) and Traudl (Humps) Junge (right). Since Traudl Junge's first visit to the Berghof was in March 1943, these are wartime photos.  (NA RG 242-EB, Album 13, Nos. 33b, 33a)

 

Although closely associated with Hitler's inner circle, Reichs Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach and his wife Henriette were infrequent visitors to the Berghof. Henriette was the daughter of photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, so she had known both Hitler and Eva Braun for years. However, in April 1943 the von Schirachs were forbidden to visit the Berghof again, after Henriette enraged Hitler by relating that she had witnessed Jewish women being deported from Amsterdam.

The photo on the left, taken at the side of Haus Wachenfeld, shows Hitler, Erna Hoffmann, Henriette von Schirach, Angela Raubal (Hitler's half-sister and housekeeper), and Baldur von Schirach. The photo on the right, taken on the Berghof terrace, shows Henriette and Baldur von Schirach, photographer Walter Frentz, and Heinrich Hoffmann.  Left - U.S. National Archives, RG242HB; right - courtesy Harry von Gebhardt)

 

The couple on the left, seen in several of the photos above, are Dr. Theo Morell, Hitler's personal physician, and his wife Hannelore (or Johanna), called "Hanni." On the right, seen with Hitler on the Berghof steps, are Nazi Party Treasurer Franz Xaver Schwarz and his wife - long time friends of Hitler and Eva Braun.  (U.S. National Archives, RG242EB)

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Berghof women seated on the lounge chairs on the side terrace. Left-right: actress Else von Möllendorff (sometimes misidentified in modern photo books as Ilse Braun), Gerda Bormann in the middle (wearing the hobnailed Bavarian country shoes), and Herta Schneider. The laughing lady in the photo on the right, seen in several photos with Hitler in the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus, is sometimes labeled as Herta Schneider, sometimes as Maria "Mitzi" Reiter, and sometimes even as Eva Braun, but she was actually Gertrud Deetz, wife of Albert Forster, Gauleiter of Danzig.  (NA RG 242-EB and 242-2512; thanks to Jason Bulkeley and Harry von Gebhardt for info.)

 

After much speculation, the Berghof "mystery woman" has been identified. She was an actress friend of Eva Braun's named Else von Möllendorff. Here she poses on the Berghof terrace, as seen in Eva Braun's 16mm films. This film was taken on the same day as the photo shown just above, and others shown earlier on this page.  (NA RG 242.2, Reel 1)
Many thanks to Pierre Commault and the team of the documentary collection "Mysteries in the Archives" for providing this actress' name.

In the labels for Eva's films, hand drawn by her friend Sofie Stork, this film sequence is labeled 'Pünktchen' am Berg ("Pünktchen/Dottie" on the Obersalzberg), and indeed, in 1938 Else von Möllendorff played a chorus girl named "Pünktchen" in the film Napoleon ist an allem schuld.

 

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Another member of the Berghof "inner circle," but not usually identified in post-war photo books, was an artist friend of Hitler's named Sofie Stork (she also appears in some of the group photos above). She was a friend of Hitler's adjutant Wilhelm Brückner, and since Hitler was a friend to artists she was introduced into his circle. Sofie Stork painted the scenes on the elaborate porcelain Kachelofen heater in the living room of the Haus Wachenfeld part of the Berghof. In the photo on the left, she is seen sitting by the Kachelofen. Others not usually identified in photos were the house managers Wilhelm and Margarete "Gretl" Mitlstrasser. On the right, Frau Mitlstrasser appears with Hitler at the Great Room window.  (NA RG 242-EB-3-14B)

 


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Some members of the general public even became special visitors to Hitler's house. Hitler loved being photographed with children, and it seems that he genuinely enjoyed their company. One of his favorites among those who visited the Obersalzberg with their parents, hoping to see or even meet their Führer, was a young girl named Rosa Berneli (or Bernile) Nienau, from Munich. She visited on her birthday in the summer of 1933, and Hitler invited her out of the crowd and up to Haus Wachenfeld for strawberries and whipped cream. Hoffmann made maximum use of propaganda photos taken of the two together during this and other visits - the one seen here on the right below was published as a postcard with the caption "Thanks for the Birthday Invitation."

Unfortunately, some meddling member of Hitler's staff investigated Berneli's background and discovered that her ancestry was not 100 percent Aryan (her maternal grandmother was Jewish), and Martin Bormann eventually forbade her to visit again.  (This story is related in Heinrich Hoffmann's books "Hitler Was My Friend" (London, 1955, pages 193-194) and "Jugend um Hitler," (Berlin, 1934, in the introduction by Reich Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach), also information from the Dokumentation Obersalzberg; photos from "Jugend um Hitler;" bottom right from a 1937-dated colorized postcard.)

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These photos also appear to show Berneli/Bernile, but as a younger child (at least six different photos were taken on this day, as compared to at least seven taken of Berneli on the occasion shown above - this number of photos may also indicate this is Berneli). If this identification is correct, these photos were taken at an earlier date, and may show her first visit to Haus Wachenfeld. Records indicate that even though Hitler was aware of her ancestry, she was still allowed to visit until late 1938.  ("Illustrierter Beobachter," Special Edition, "Adolf Hitler - Ein Mann und sein Volk," 1936; lower left - Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seinen Bergen," 1938)

 

 

These photos may also show Berneli - they certainly appear to show the same girl as those just above. At least seven photos of this girl, taken on two different occasions, are known. (Note: The Bavarian State Library guide to their Heinrich Hoffmann photo collection identifies this girl as Helga Goebbels, but I believe that identification is an error.)  (above - from period postcards; below left - Hoffmann, "Jugend um Hitler;" below right and bottom - NA RG 242-EB)

 

Two more photos of the same girl, taken on two different occasions (but the same occasions as the four photos in the group above). On the left, the girl (Berneli?) visits with a group of BDM girls, as Hitler's adjutant Wilhelm Brückner looks on. The image on the left was taken at Haus Wachenfeld, while that on the right was taken at the Berghof. Does this mean that this girl is not Berneli, since the images of an obviously older Berneli, at the beginning of this section, were taken at Haus Wachenfeld?  (period postcards)

 


 

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Regularly seen in Berghof photos, but not always identified, is Hitler's SS aide Otto Günsche. On the left, Hitler shakes hands with SS-Leibstandarte commander Sepp Dietrich on the Berghof terrace, with SS-Untersturmführer (2nd Lt.) Günsche behind. On the right, Günsche has been promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer (Capt.); he ended the war as an SS-Sturmbannführer (Major), and was one of the key personnel present during the last days in Hitler's Berlin bunker. Günsche and his comrades Max Wünsche, Hansgeorg Schultze ("Frettchen"), and Richard Schultze are often called Hitler's "Ordnance Officers," but this is a mistranslation of their title "Ordonnanzoffizier" - the term actually means orderly officer or aide-de-camp. All were later promoted to Adjutant, in which position they still functioned as aides. (autographed photos courtesy Herr Otto Günsche, author's collection)
(Click here to read a short biography of Otto Günsche, by someone who knew him.)

RIP Herr Otto Günsche - died 2 October 2003.

 

Some more of the many Berghof visitors ... on the left, officers of the 1st SS Panzer Corps visit the Berghof ca. April 1944. From left-right: SS-Brigadeführer Theodor "Teddy" Wisch (commander, 1st SS Panzer Division LSSAH), SS-Obersturmbannführer Max Wünsche (commander, SS-Panzerregiment 12), SS-Obergruppenführer Josef "Sepp" Dietrich (Corps commander), SS-Oberführer Fritz Witt (commander, 12th SS Panzer Division HJ) - all holders of the Ritterkreuz - Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.  (NA RG 242-EB, 16-20A)

On the right, Eva clowns around with a man who looks like Gauleiter Adolf Wagner, and who appears to be holding something representing a mock "Hitler" mustache in front of Eva (Robert Payne's The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler (1973) says this is Dr. Wilhelm Frick).  (NA RG 242-EB, 30-10B)

 

The final photo shown here could serve as a commentary on Eva Braun's life as Hitler's mistress. 

The man looking up to the left is Count Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini's son-in-law and Italian Foreign Minister. Ciano is standing with Hitler's interpreter Paul Schmidt.

Eva admired Ciano's looks and dashing style, but she was forbidden to meet him. So she sometimes secretly photographed his visits from the upper windows of the Berghof. In this photo, apparently taken by Heinrich Hoffmann (many of the photos in Eva's albums were actually taken by others), Ciano appears to be glancing up at a window of one of the guest rooms above the Berghof dining hall. 

Eva labeled this album page "Da oben gibt es Verbotenes zu sehen - mich!" (up there is something forbidden to see - me). 

(NA RG 242-EB, Album 6, No. 30A)

 

 

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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