Goebbels Magda, born 11-11-1901 in Berlin, to 22-year-old Auguste Behrend, and was the acknowledged daughter of engineer Oskar Ritschel. Ritschel and Augusta Behrend married later that year and divorced in 1904. Some sources, including Hans-Otto Meissner, son of Otto Meissner he died age 73, on 27-05-1953, in Munich, suggest that the marriage took place before her birth, and that she was legitimate, but there is no particular evidence to support this. When Magda was five, her mother sent her to stay with Rietschel in Cologne. Ritschel took her to Brussels, where she was enrolled at the Ursuline Convent in Vilvoorde. At the convent, she was remembered as “an active and intelligent and nice little girl”. Magda’s mother Auguste married a Jewish manufacturer named Richard Friedländer and moved with him to Brussels in 1908. They remained in Brussels, on cordial terms, until the outbreak of World War I, when all Germans were forced to leave Belgium as refugees, to avoid repercussions from the Belgians after the German invasion. Friedlander was a decorated soldier. They moved to Berlin where Magda attended the high school Kolmorgen Lycée. Auguste Behrend divorced the now impoverished Friedländer in 1914. Richard Friedländer a waiter, later died on 18-05-1939 in Buchenwald concentration camp, tormented to death and Magda didn’t care. It was at this time that Magda met and became close to another refugee from Belgium, Lisa Arlosoroff. It is commonly claimed that she later dated Arlosoroff’s brother Haim Arlosoroff. He became a prominent Zionist and was assassinated, shot at the beach, in Palestine in 1933, orders of Goebbels ???.
Arlosoroff’s grave in Trumpeldor Cemetery, Tel Aviv.
The Quandts, Harold on the left.
In 1919, Magda was enrolled in the prestigious Holzhausen Ladies’ College near Goslar. At the age of 17, while returning to school on a train, Magda met Dr. Günther Quandt, a rich German industrialist twice her age, whose holdings later grew into VARTA batteries among other businesses. He also had large shareholdings in BMW and Daimler-Benz. It is claimed that although a physically unremarkable man, Quandt courted Magda at school by posing as a family friend and swept her off her feet with courtesy and grand gestures. He demanded that she change her name back to Rietschel, having borne the name of her mother and stepfather, Friedländer, at her own request, for many years, while converting from Rietschel’s nominal Catholicism to Protestantism. She and Quandt were married on 0 -01-01-1921, and her first child, Harald Quandt, was born on 01-11-1921. Harald was her only child to survive the war. Magda soon grew frustrated in her marriage, because Quandt spent little time with her, and at the age of 23 she became attracted to her 18-year-old stepson Helmut Quandt. However, he died of complications from appendicitis in 1927. She and Günther Quandt then went on a six-month automobile tour of America, where she captured the attention of a nephew of the U.S. President Herbert Hoover,
he died age 90, on 20-10-1964. Later, after her divorce from Quandt, he traveled back from America to visit her and ask her to marry him, an episode that ended in a car crash in which Magda was seriously injured, fractures of bones and fracture of the base of the skull. Their brief stay in the United States began when the RMS Berengaria entered the Port of New York on Friday morning, 28-10-1927. Gunther and Magda Quandt boarded the steamship at the Port of Cherbourg, France on Saturday morning, 22-10-1927. Whereupon, RMS Berengaria departed for half-day visit at the Port of Southampton, England, and then departed that Saturday evening for the United States. Gunther and Magda were listed with personal details on the steamship’s manifest list. According to this same ship’s manifest list it was documented that Gunther last visited the United States for three months in 1924 visiting in Chicago, Illinois. Quandt hired detectives and divorced Magda in 1929, but was ultimately generous with the divorce settlement. Young, attractive, independent, but rebellious of boredom, according to her mother, and with no need to work, she on the advice of a friend, attended a meeting of the Nazi Party, where she was impressed by one of the speakers, Joseph Goebbels (did you know), then the Gauleiter of Berlin. She joined the party on 01-09-1930, and did some volunteer work, although she has not been characterized as politically active. From the local branch, Magda moved to the party headquarters and for a brief period became secretary to Goebbels’ deputy, before being invited to take charge of Goebbels’ own private archives. Otto Wagener claims that Magda met and was attracted to Adolf Hitler (did you know), who was impressed by her, and that her marriage to Goebbels was somewhat arranged. Otto Wagener Hitler’s economic adviser died old age 81 on 09-08-1971 in Chieming. Since Hitler intended to remain unmarried, it was suggested that as the wife of a leading and highly visible Nazi official she might eventually act as “first lady of the Third Reich”. Magda’s social connections and upper class bearing may have influenced Goebbels’ own enthusiasm. Meissner, on the contrary, makes no suggestion of this, claiming rather that Hitler, though undoubtedly impressed by Magda was an exceptionally close friend of the couple in the earliest days, who would often arrive late at night and was as likely as Goebbels to sit with the baby Helga on his lap while they talked into the night. He also claims that after an abortive attempt to poison him at the Kaiserhof Hotel in Berlin in January 1933, Hitler asked Magda to prepare all his meals. Magda married Goebbels on 19-12-1931, at Günther Quandt’s farm in Mecklenburg, with Hitler as a witness.
Joseph and Magda Goebbels subsequently had six children, Helga Susanne, Hildegard “Hilde” Traudel, Helmut Christian, Holdine “Holde” Kathrin, Hedwig “Hedda” Johanna and Heidrun “Heide” Elisabeth. Joseph Goebbels had many affairs with other women during his marriage to Magda.
One of the most widely known was with the popular Czech actress Lida Baarová
. He was so smitten with Baarová that he even contemplated marrying her and to leave his position in Germany. He wanted to go with her to Japan as the German Ambassador. During the premiere of the film Die Reise nach Tilsit, showing a virtuous German wife watching helplessly as a foreign woman seduced her husband, Magda rose up and indignant left the showing, owing to the blatant though accidental analogy. Magda resorted to asking Hitler for permission to divorce Goebbels, and Baarová was eventually sent away, Magda was also rumored to have had affairs, including one with Goebbels’s deputy Karl Hanke
. Hanke sided with Magda, to whom he was attracted and who apparently seemed willing to leave Goebbels for him. Both affairs were finally stopped by an order from Hitler. Hanke was killed age 41, on 08-06-1045, a Czech guard spotted him fleeing from prison and shot him in the back, killing him instantly.
Baarova, husband and Goebbels. Hanke.
Both Magda and Goebbels derived personal benefits and social status from their close association with Hitler. Joseph, as propaganda minister and Magda remained loyal to Hitler, he gave her his original Party Badge and publicly supported him. Privately, Magda expressed doubts, especially after the war began to go badly on the eastern front. On 09-11-1942, during a gathering with friends listening to a speech by Hitler, she switched off the radio exclaiming, “My God, what a lot of rubbish”. In 1944, she reportedly said of Hitler, “He no longer listens to voices of reason. Those who tell him what he wants to hear are the only ones he believes”. There is no evidence that Magda intervened to save her Jewish stepfather from the Holocaust. Though his fate has not been established, it is widely assumed that he perished in the camps, perhaps misnamed as ‘Max Friedlander’, a man known to have died in Sachsenhausen. A plea from a Jewish school friend on behalf of her daughter seems to have also fallen on deaf ears. Asked about her husband’s anti-Semitism, she answered: “The Führer wants it thus, and Joseph must obey”. At the beginning of the war Magda threw herself enthusiastically into her husband’s propaganda machine. Her other official functions involved entertaining the wives of the foreign heads of state, supporting the troops and comforting war widows. Magda’s first son, Harald Quandt, became a Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe pilot and fought at the front, while, at home, Magda strove to live up to the image of a patriotic mother by training as a Red Cross nurse and working with the electronics company Telefunken. She insisted on traveling to work on a bus, like her co-workers. Towards the end of the war, Magda is known to have suddenly begun to suffer from trigeminal neuralgia. This condition affects a nerve in the face, and although usually harmless is considered to cause more intense pain than any other condition and can be notoriously hard to treat. This often left her bedridden and led to bouts of hospitalization as late as August 1944. In late April 1945, the Soviet Red Army entered Berlin, and the Goebbels family moved into the Vorbunker, that was connected to the lower Führerbunker under the Reich Chancellery gardens. One of the rooms they occupied had been recently vacated by Hitler’s personal physician Theodor Morell. Grossly obese and suffering from speech impairment, he died in Tegernsee on 26-05-1948, age 61, after a stroke.
Dr. Theodor Gilbert Morell.
The only bathroom with a bath was Adolf Hitler’s own and he gladly made it available to Magda and her children. Meanwhile, reports of Soviet troops looting and raping as they advanced were circulating in Berlin. Hitler and his bride Eva Braun
committed suicide on the afternoon of 30-04-1945. The bodies carried up the stairs to the garden by SS Obersturmbannführer, Erich Kempka
Hitler’s driver and Obergruppenführer, Otto Günsche
, Hitler’s adjutant and burnt. Adolf Hitler’s own Golden Party Badge had the number ‘1’. He awarded it to Magda Goebbels , who acccepted crying when Hitler and Eva said good bye to the other bunkers occupants on 21 April 1945. The ‘1’ badge was stolen from a display in Russia in 2005. The guards thought that a cat had set off the alarms and this allowed the burglar to escape. Two days earlier, Magda wrote a farewell letter to her son Harald, who was in a POW camp in North Africa. This letter is her only handwritten bequest. My beloved son! By now we have been in the Führerbunker for six days already — daddy, your six little siblings and I, for the sake of giving our national socialistic lives the only possible honorable end … You shall know that I stayed here against daddy’s will, and that even on last Sunday the Führer wanted to help me to get out. You know your mother — we have the same blood, for me there was no wavering. Our glorious idea is ruined and with it everything beautiful and marvelous that I have known in my life. The world that comes after the Führer and national socialism is not any longer worth living in and therefore I took the children with me, for they are too good for the life that would follow, and a merciful God will understand me when I will give them the salvation … The children are wonderful … there never is a word of complaint nor crying. The impacts are shaking the bunker. The elder kids cover the younger ones, their presence is a blessing and they are making the Führer smile once in a while. May God help that I have the strength to perform the last and hardest. We only have one goal left: loyalty to the Führer even in death. Harald, my dear son — I want to give you what I learned in life: be loyal! Loyal to yourself, loyal to the people and loyal to your country … Be proud of us and try to keep us in dear memory. Joseph Goebbels’ last will and testament, dictated to Hitler’s youngest secretary Traudl Junge
, stated that Magda and their children, for whom she got the golden Mother Medal
from Adolf Hitler, supported him in his refusal to leave Berlin and his resolution to die in the bunker. He later qualified this by stating that the children would support the decision to commit suicide if they were old enough to speak for themselves. The following day, on 01-05-1945, Magda and Joseph Goebbels drugged their six children with morphine and killed them by breaking cyanide capsules in their mouths. Accounts differ over how involved Magda Goebbels was in the killing of her children. Some accounts claimed that the SS Obersturmführer, doctor Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger
he died age 34, on 02-05-1045, suicide, crushed the cyanide capsules into the children’s mouths, but as no witnesses to the event survived it is impossible to know.
O’Donnell concluded that although Stumpfegger was probably involved in drugging the children, Magda Goebbels killed them herself. O’Donnell suggested that witnesses blamed the deaths on Stumpfegger because he was a convenient target, having disappeared the following day. Meissner claims that Stumpfegger refused to take any part in the deaths of the children, and that a mysterious “country doctor from the enemy-occupied eastern region” appeared and “carried out the fearful task” before disappearing again. Magda appears to have contemplated and talked about killing her children at least a month in advance. She refused several offers from others, such as Albert Speer
, to have the children smuggled out of Berlin. The children’s bodies were later discovered by the Soviet troops who stormed the bunker. They were dressed in their nightclothes, with ribbons tied in the girls’ hair. There was evidence in the form of bruises that the eldest child, 12-year-old Helga, had awakened and struggled before she was killed.
The last survivor of Hitler’s bunker, Rochus Misch
, he the only living Führerbunker survivor, died age 96, on 05-12-2013, gave this eyewitness account of the events to the BBC, “Straight after Hitler’s death, Mrs. Goebbels came down to the bunker with her children,” Mr Rochus Misch recalls. “She started preparing to kill them. She couldn’t have done that above ground — there were other people there who would have stopped her. That’s why she came downstairs — because no-one else was allowed in the bunker. She came down on purpose to kill them. “The kids were right next to me and behind me. We all knew what was going to happen. It was clear. I saw Hitler’s doctor, Dr Stumpfegger give the children something to drink. Some kind of sugary drink. Then Stumpfegger went and helped to kill them. All of us knew what was going on. An hour or two later, Mrs Goebbels came out crying. She sat down at a table and began playing patience. This is exactly how it was.”
Death and burial ground of Goebbels, Johanna Maria Magdalena “Magda”.
After their children were dead, Magda and Joseph Goebbels walked upstairs to the bombed-out garden, avoiding the need for anyone to carry their bodies. By some accounts, she was shaking uncontrollably. The details of their suicides are uncertain. One SS officer later said they each took cyanide and were shot by an SS trooper. An early report said they were machine-gunned to death at their own request. According to another account, Joseph Goebbels shot Magda and then himself.
Their bodies were doused in petrol, only partially burned and not buried. The charred corpses were found on the afternoon of 02-05-1945 by Russian troops and a photograph of Goebbels’ burned face was widely published. Vice Admiral, Kommandeur Luftwaffe Nord-Osten
, Hans-Erich Voss
was brought to identify the different corpses. Thereafter, the remains of the Goebbels family were repeatedly buried and exhumed, along with the remains of Hitler, Eva Braun, and General der Infanterie, Chief of the Army General Staff (OKH), Hans Krebs
, he committed suicide too, age 47, on 01-05-1945 and was also laying in the garden and Hitler’s dogs. The last burial had been at the SMERSH facility in Magdeburg on 21-02-1946, in the garden of the Westendstrasse 36, Hitler and Eva Braun on No 32, now Klausenerstrasse 27
witnessed by Major Vasily Orliovsky. In 1970, KGB director Yuri Andropov, he died age 70, on 09-02-1984, authorized an operation to destroy the remains. On 04-04-1970, a Soviet KGB team with detailed burial charts secretly exhumed five wooden boxes. General Vasily Khristoforov
said: “Hitler’s jaw is at the FSB archives, the fragment of skull at the state archives. These materials are the only documentary evidence of Hitler’s death.” The remains from the boxes were thoroughly burned and crushed, after which the ashes secretly were thrown into the nearby river Ehle, from the Schweinebrücke, or Pig Bridge, West of Biederitz.
Schweinebrücke, “Pig Bridge”, over the river Ehle, near Biederitz.