It was and is a place of rural and alpine idyll, a place of rest, a place of power in nature – and it was the place that Adolf Hitler had expanded into the second Reich Chancellery:on the Obersalzberg, the Bergof is a place that was ideally suited to Hitler to portray it as a child-loving person, to market it perfectly. But much of it was mere staging Gerhard Bartels, now 83, was chosen to be the Nazi poster boy aged four. His face appeared on postcards, books and campaigns for the regime. He has spoken with of the day he met Hitler and described him as a “gangster”. His uncle was Isodor Weiss and was Hitler;s sergeant during the First World War.
With his blue eyes, fair hair and Aryan features Gerhard Bartels was the perfect Nazi poster child.and, because his uncle was a friend of Adolf Hitler, being pictured with the dictator became an annual event for the youngster. In the years before the outbreak of World War II his face appeared on postcards, books and campaigns for the regime. Eight decades later, Mr Bartels, 83, has spoken for the first time about being used by the Nazi propaganda machine. He said that in 1936, aged four, his parents told him to put on his best clothes because he was ‘going to meet the Fuhrer’.’I was not allowed to play with the other children that day in case I might get my clothes dirty,’ Mr Bartels recalled. ‘I didn’t like that, I just wanted to be out with the other children.’ Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s personal photographer, captured the images that were used to promote Nazi campaigns for the adoption of Aryan children.
Mr Bartels was chosen because his uncle, Isidor Weiss, was Hitler’s sergeant during the First World War. Hitler was a regular visitor to Weiss’s Bavarian hotel, which was next to the Alpenhof guesthouse owned by Mr Bartels’ parents. Mr Bartels, who still works in the Alpine hotel, said: ‘Hitler was just a gangster. The Nazis used me for propaganda purposes. I was used to show Hitler loved children. ‘But every dictator did the same, from Mussolini to Stalin. I was also chosen because I obviously fitted what Hitler thought a good Aryan child should look like.’ Mr Bartels said that he defied instructions to greet Hitler with the customary words ‘Heil Mein Fuhrer’. He added: ‘Even at such a young age, deep down I knew I was being manipulated.’
He said he especially remembered the photograph from 1936 – the year that Germany illegally reoccupied the Rhineland. ‘I was happy to be photographed because I thought I would get a big slice of apple cake. ‘His photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, got all the photos – but 80 years on I’m still waiting for the cake. ‘Like so many of Hitler’s promises it was said to sound good at the time, but he didn’t mean it.’
Bernhardine Nienau (20 April 1926, Dortmund — 5 October 1943, Munich), called Bernile, was a German girl who became known as “the Führer’s child” because of her close friendship with Adolf Hitler that lasted from 1933 to 1938. One of her grandmothers was Jewish.