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Machtan book cover

"Hitler and His Lovers"

Book Essay on:
Lothar Machtan, The Hidden Hitler
(New York: Basic Books, 2001), 434 pages
UCSB: DD247.H5 M235 2001

by Sheyla Molho
March 19, 2007

for Prof. Marcuse's lecture course
Germany, 1900-1945
UC Santa Barbara, Winter 2007

About the Author
& Abstract
and Links
Plagiarism Warning
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About Sheyla Molho

I am a senior in the Global Studies department who was born abroad in Sofia, Bulgaria and has had the opportunity of traveling extensively around the world. I have been to many cities in Germany, and have found that Berlin is my favorite city in Europe. I am familiar with German history because of my religious affiliation as a Jew. My family is among the rare Jewish families in Bulgaria, and it was of interest to me to find out more about the politics that involved one of the most gruesome acts in history to have ever occurred in the modern world. I chose to write about Hitler and the possibility of him being a homosexual because it is not a very commonly discussed topic, and it was of interest to me to find out the personal relationships and private life that Adolf Hitler had led.

Abstract (back to top)

In this book, Lothar Machtan elaborates on Hitler’s close relationships with men throughout his childhood into his adulthood to confirm that Hitler was a closet homosexual. Additionally, my book essay demonstrates that Hitler’s public relationships with Eva Braun and Geli Raubal confirm Machtan’s thesis that Hitler was a homosexual on the grounds that he publicly flaunted his relationships to cover up his closer ties with the men around him. Machtan goes over several relationships and clues as well as detailed arguments that support his thesis. These documents range from missing letters from Hitler’s first relationship with August Kubizek to interviews with people who were close to Hitler, such as his drivers and friends who were witnesses to his private life behind closed doors. Members of his entourage note that they did not think that Hitler had any sexual relations with either Raubal or Braun, and that he seemed to be closer to the men around him; the women simply served as a precious device to deceive the public on his sexual orientation.

Essay (back to top)

Hitler and His Lovers

The lives of most dictators are bizarre and secretive, and it is hard for scholars to come to consensus about the lives these historical figures led. Some rulers are highly motivated to have the love of their public, that the importance not to lose face when in the public eye was of great importance to them politically and personally. Due to the circumstances that led to the power of the German Reich and its position in the world stage, Adolf Hitler was prone to be a more private individual with the need to maintain the right appearances when he was visible to the public eye. The destruction of many records during his reign has scholars debating some issues surrounding his life; however, to be able to psychoanalyze what makes such a man powerful, loved by his people, and successful in what he did takes a deeper exploration into his close social relationships. Historian Lothar Machtan takes on positions in his book The Hidden Hitler that shed new light on who Hitler actually was. Machtan attempts to prove that Hitler was in fact a homosexual. Through numerous records and published interviews especially with August Kubizek, and several accounts of Hitler’s political platforms, Machtan gives important evidence in getting to know the true identity of Hitler. More to that, I will also use relationships that Hitler had with the two most important women in his life, Geli Raubal and Eva Braun, to bring further evidence to Machtan’s position on Hitler’s possible homosexuality and the way in which Hitler used these relationships to hide his relations with the men in his private life.

One of Hitler’s first homosexual relationships proposed by Machtan is with August Kubizek. Although the two were childhood friends from the town of Linz, it wasn’t until 1908 that Hitler moved to Vienna and began his supposed homosexual relationship. Kubizek moved to Vienna soon after Hitler left Linz, and moved in with him. He himself was trying to pursue a career in music, while at the same time Hitler was trying to get a coveted spot in the Academy of Fine Arts. Although the two lived in a single bedroom apartment, while sharing a bed, they only actually lived together for 4 months. Machtan subjects their friendship to closer review. Although it is not uncommon for two people of the same sex to be as close as they were, Machtan does however try to show some patterns of homosexuality which are supported by sexologists in his book. The fact that Hitler and Kubizek liked to take strolls down the streets together, as well as take trips to the countryside together are not unequivocal evidence of homosexual tendencies. Machtan does point out, however, that upon closer examination it is evident that the two young men were closer than two normal heterosexuals.

Kubizek was later commissioned by the Nazis to write a memoir on his relationship with Hitler titled The Young Hitler I Knew. Machtan analyzes the word choice Kubizek used to recount his time spent with Hitler, phrases such as the “absolute exclusivity” (38) that Hitler wanted in their friendship, which indicate something more than just a platonic relationship. Machtan uses sexologist Magnus Hirschfield to support his argument. It was widely known that Hitler was very fond of the opera, which was in fact something that brought him and Kubizek closer together. The two frequently visited the opera to listen to the music of Richard Wagner, which was later reviewed in contemporary literature as a composer adored by many homosexuals of the time. Kubizek also describes Hitler’s repulsion towards other people. Machtan notes that Hitler never shook hands with people, only on occasion. When Hitler “felt completely affectionate”, he would seize Kubizek’s hand” (39) which Kubizek recounts in his own book. Machtan uses Hitler and Kubizek’s love for their mothers as another sign of their love affair. It seems that the only women who were close to the young men at this time were their mothers, observed by Magnus Hirschfeld as something common among homosexual men. Although the two men separated after Kubizek went back to Linz, and Hitler was denied admission to the Academy of Fine Arts for a second time, the two did not meet again until 1938. When Kubizek was later questioned on their friendship, he most definitely denied the accusation and said that he could “fully and completely confirm that Adolf was absolutely normal, both physically and sexually” (42). Kubizek went as far to prove the point that they were not in any way involved, by claiming that Hitler was in love in those years with a girl named Stefanie. Although it is recognized among scholars that this woman existed, it is not however evident that Hitler made any effort to get together with her. Machtan writes that Kubizek was trying to “heterosexualize” their close relationship (43).

Machtan also implies that throughout their years of separation, while Kubizek got married and had three children, Hitler kept himself aware of Kubizek’s life. In 1938, when Hitler reunited with his friend, most likely to help him out of some criminal charges posed against him, Hitler’s SS men from Berlin came to Kubizek’s door and got rid of documents that incriminated Kubizek of the charges made against him. Machtan notes that Kubizek was relieved of the charges because Hitler stepped in. This act of generosity from Hitler cannot attest to their romantic love for each other, but Machtan also notes that various party officials later tried to take Kubizek’s childhood mementos of Hitler, to no avail. There was no concrete evidence, since Hitler was never caught in the arms of another man, so Machtan’s claims are mostly speculation. Machtan does not demonstrate conclusively that Hitler was in fact homosexual. It is important however to further look at his strange relationships with Eva Braun and Geli Raubal as possible explanations to Machtan’s position.

Angela Raubal, nicknamed “Geli”, was the daughter of Hitler’s half sister. Although Geli was Hitler’s niece, he kept a close eye on her, Machtan notes. While Geli was in love with Hitler’s personal friend Emil Maurice, it seemed that Hitler was not fond of her affection for him, and fired Emil to keep the two apart. When Geli moved in with Hitler in 1929, she had her own separate bedroom. Hitler was known to be a very old fashioned man, which can be found in his later political endeavors to bring the image of the German family together. Machtan makes it evident that Hitler kept Geli around for certain reasons. First, she was a pleasant person to have around, something which Hitler’s entourage agreed with, playing on this by showing her off; Hitler took Geli everywhere in public with him. Second, it was in Hitler’s selfish interests, perhaps to fool the public with his “marital” appearance that he and Geli were together. It is reported that Hitler once said: “I love Geli, and I could marry her; but you know my views and you know that I am determined to remain a bachelor.” (162) Machtan even states that it was unlikely that Hitler and Geli had any sexual relations together, on the other hand, the German public was completely assured that Hitler was a family man, who constantly had the companionship of women in his presence. In 1931 Geli committed suicide at the age of twenty-three. It is not clear why Geli did what she did; but there was earlier evidence that she had made attempts to escape Hitler’s watchful eyes and that she was highly depressed after living with Hitler for quite some time as his woman on display.

At the same time, Hitler was beginning to gain a lot of momentum in his career. He did not want to leave the public with questions as to why he was yet unmarried. Hitler’s secretary and admirer, and later wife of Joseph Goebbels, Magda Quandt, later recounted that it was evident to her that he would never get over the loss of his niece Geli, and that Hitler could not love any woman, but only as he always says, “his Germany.” (166) Machtan claims that Hitler used his inability to get over his niece’s death as a way to camouflage the fact that he simply did not like women and that “he had overcome the urge to possess a woman physically.”(166) It was not until 1932 that Hitler became close with Eva Braun. Although they had met in 1929 through Heinrich Hoffman, a photographer Hitler adored, it seemed clear that from the start, Eva understood her role as Hitler’s girlfriend. As with Geli, there are no accounts that Eva and Hitler ever had any sexual relations. In an interview Herbert Doring, the man who ran Hitler’s house, said: “there was never anything like that,” (170) referring to Hitler and Eva consummating their relationship sexually. Machtan makes it clear that Hitler pampered Eva with gifts, jewelry and the like, and then in return, she was content with their relationship since she was able to do as she pleased, with the exception of being seen with other men, which would disgrace Hitler and their relationship. Although there are no children who came out of any of his relationships, it is not necessarily clear whether or not he had any sexual relations with any women. In one supposed remark, Eva Braun makes comments and possibly makes clear her relationship with Hitler: “Always the mission, self-sacrifice, and renunciation….we have happily created the authentic masculine Reich.” (169) Although this masculine Reich is indeed what Hitler sought to create in the years that he was Fuhrer; Machtan also tries to demonstrate and link Hitler’s lifestyle to his hatred and annihilation of homosexuals in the years to come.

It is ironic that with the possibility of Hitler’s homosexuality, as well as the fact that Hitler did not produce any children, that the Nazi party was especially cruel to homosexuals because they didn’t produce children to continue the “master race.”

Hitler believed that homosexuals posed a threat to the “masculine state of Germany” and therefore ordered Himmler and the Nazi Youth to attack anything deemed overtly sexual, such as the Institute of Sex, and to burn the institute’s books and archives. It is also interesting to note that Hitler was very close with Ernst Rohm, the leader of the SA, who was known to be a homosexual. Machtan is quick to point out that everyone that Hitler ordered murdered during the “Rohm putsch” was perhaps aware of Hitler’s homosexuality. Although the press in Germany at the time was highly censored, there were many journalists living in exile who were writing articles on Hitler’s homosexuality. Some German people were angry at what had happened during the “Rohm putsch” so Hitler therefore dismissed signs of protest against him as something natural. Although Machtan later notes that “above all, though, they made him feel uneasy. He could never be sure what his own “people” were saying about his homosexuality.” (223) Machtan also observes that shortly after Rohm’s murder, the Malicious Practices Act was passed, which penalized anyone who made remarks that were against the welfare of the Reich as well as remarks about the leading members of the government. Machtan states that: “to the best of our knowledge, most of the remarks the courts had to deal with related to Hitler himself and his homosexuality.” (223)

The debate still continues as to Hitler’s sexual orientation; however, it is also important to note that most historical documents on Hitler’s private life were destroyed. Many scholars discredit Machtan’s findings because they seem to go against everything that Hitler seemed to be, and all the concrete evidence which goes along with scholarly discourse. However, for a reader, this is a fascinating account of the life of one of the most degenerate people who has ever lived on this earth, and shows Hitler as a person who may have in fact been battling himself from within mainly because he himself was a homosexual who lived his whole life as a lie. Although Machtan makes very compelling arguments, and as far as his opponents are concerned, Machtan states the fact he does not want to claim that Hitler committed the crimes he did because of the hidden sexuality inside of him, Machtan states: “understanding Hitler’s sexual orientation does not supply the key to his career, but a knowledge of it gives scope for new interpretations.” (321) Hitler’s odd relationships with the people close in his life indicate a severely insecure human. His platonic relationships with both of the women in his life were filled with jealousy as well as his inability to let them go. He wanted them all close to him, even if that meant leading Geli to a possible suicide and an attempted suicide by Eva. Machtan gives especially relevant arguments to his book; however, it is unclear if scholars would agree with him since the evidence comes from speculation by people close to Hitler, and the analysis of his relationships with his women. However, a point which I believe may point to Hitler’s homosexuality is the fact that for a person who wanted to perpetuate the German race, it is interesting that he did not have any children, and if he had any fertility problems, wouldn’t that in fact make him an undesirable German like he claimed the homosexuals to be? These are some questions that arise out of the mysterious life that Hitler led, along with the inability to reach a consensus mainly due to the fact that any concrete indication of Hitler’s homosexuality was probably destroyed.

Statistically, “statements about National Socialist leaders” were sanctioned almost only with regard to Hitler, but these comprised by far the largest percentage of all the legal proceedings tried under the Malicious Practices Act.

Bibliography and Links (back to top)(links last checked 3/x/07)


  • Kate Connolly, The Observer: Hitler was gay and killed to hide it. October 7, 2001.
    Journalist Kate Connolly gives a positive review on The Hidden Hitler. Connolly calls it a sensational biography while giving a brief breakdown of the book from Hitler’s relationship with Rohm, who blackmailed Hitler, later resulting in his murder, to his lover Ernst Schmidt and Hitler’s closeness to him. The review ends with a decisive theme in the book that Hitler allowed the persecution of homosexuals to disguise his own true colors.
  • Allen Barra, Salon.com: The Hidden Hitler by Lothar Machtan. January 14, 2002.
    Journalist Allen Barra gives a negative review on Machtan’s book claiming that he used the shock tactic to lure his audiences and says that Machtan takes whatever evidences he can to support his argument. Barra claims that any criticism directed at Machtan is well deserved and that he never actually succeeds at showing Hitler’s “true colors”. He finalizes his review by saying that Machtan cannot link the horrors of the holocaust to Hitler’s homosexuality, he even quotes Voltaire in saying “History does not change, but what we want from it does”, claiming that Machtan clearly used whatever evidences he could to prove his point.
  • Samantha Murrell, "Hitler Revealed: A Review of Lothar Machtan's The Hidden Hitler"
    another book essay for this course, focusing more on the question of sources & relevance.

Related Books and Articles:

  • Ron Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler (New York: Random House,1998), 444 pages. UCSB: DD247.H5 R67.
    This book surveys the many biographies that have been written about Hitler. Rosenbaum starts by examining Hitler’s youth as possible explanations as to who Hitler became. He speaks of Hitler’s Jewish grandfather which Hitler may have disliked causing a grudge against Jews. He also investigates the journalists “The Poison Kitchen” who try to expose Hitler’s involvements before he came to power as Führer.
  • Robert Waite, The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler (New York: Basic Books, 1977), 482 pages. UCSB: DD247.H5 W23.
    This book acknowledges Hitler’s personal history in contributing to making him unstable, especially by examining his sexual shortcomings. Waite paints Hitler through a psychological portrait where he documents his beliefs, fears, tastes, behavior and tries to truly examine every aspect of who Hitler really was. The ultimate aim in the book is to show how Hitler forever changed Germany and history by coming to power.

Related Links:

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Any student tempted to use this paper for an assignment in another course or school should be aware of the serious consequences for plagiarism. Here is what I write in my syllabi:

Plagiarism—presenting someone else's work as your own, or deliberately failing to credit or attribute the work of others on whom you draw (including materials found on the web)—is a serious academic offense, punishable by dismissal from the university. It hurts the one who commits it most of all, by cheating them out of an education. I report offenses to the Office of the Dean of Students for disciplinary action.

prepared for web by Harold Marcuse on 3/20/07; last updated:
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