Adolf Hitler, chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, was one of the most blood-soaked dictators in human history. His sexual activities have also been the subject of intense speculation, both before and after his suicide in a Berlin bunker.
On January 15 a widely shared thread, alleging Hitler was a pedophile, was posted on Twitter, racking up more than 21.5 million views.
The Swedish Twitter user wrote: “Hitler being a pedo is not discussed enough imo [in my opinion].
“Virtually everyone he dated was a teenager. Eva Braun was 17 years old. Geli Raubal was also around 17. Maria Reiter was around 16 as well.
“All known sexual relationships Hitler had started with teenagers whilst he was in his 30s & even 40s. It shows a particular type of masculinity expressing itself. Everyone has met a Hitler. That weird dude who is 35 yet hits on 17 year olds.”
Newsweek has combed through claims about Hitler’s sexual activities, including claims he enjoyed being beaten and forced his half-niece to urinate on him, in a bid to sort fact from fiction.
Hitler began a close relationship with Geli Raubal, his 17-year-old half niece, after her mother began working for him as a housekeeper in 1925.
The future dictator became obsessed with Raubal, seeking to control her movements, though it’s unclear if they ever had a sexual relationship.
In his 2008 work Hitler: A Biography, British historian Ian Kershaw wrote: “Whether actively sexual or not, Hitler’s behavior towards Geli has all the traits of a strong, latent at least, sexual dependence.”
Raubal was found shot dead in Hitler’s Munich apartment, where she had been living, in September 1931, having apparently killed herself with his gun, However, some suspect she was murdered.
In 1926 Hitler, then aged 37, developed an infatuation with 16-year-old shopgirl Maria Reiter, after they met in the Bavarian resort town of Obersalzberg. In a 1959 interview with German magazine Stern, Reiter claimed Hitler “told her that he wanted her to be his wife, to found a family with her, to have blonde children, but at the moment he had not the time to think of such things.”
Reiter and Hitler developed a friendship. Hitler later broke this off, after which Reiter attempted suicide in 1928. Following an unsuccessful marriage, Reiter traveled to Munich to see Hitler in 1931, during which she claimed: “I let everything happen. I had never been so happy as I was that night.”
However this reunion didn’t lead to anything long-term, and Reiter later married an officer in the Munich SS.
Hitler met Eva Braun, who was later briefly his wife, in Munich when she was just 17. At the time Braun was an assistant to Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s photographer, who made the introduction.
After Raubal shot herself in 1931 Hitler became significantly more invested in his relationship with Braun, who would herself attempt suicide in 1932. According to Braun’s biographer Angela Lambert, the couple had become lovers by the end of that year.
As Soviet troops advanced across Berlin in April 1945, Braun and Hitler were married in the dictator’s final bunker, shortly after which they both died by suicide—Hitler using his gun and Braun by poison.
It should be noted there is no evidence Hitler had sex with any of Raubal, Reiter or Braun when they were still children.
Furthermore, pedophilia is typically used to describe sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children, which none of the three girls would have been when they first met Hitler.
According to the Marriam-Webster dictionary, pedophilia “specifically” is “a psychiatric disorder in which an adult has sexual fantasies about or engages in sexual acts with a prepubescent child.”
Speaking to Newsweek Professor Paul Lerner, who teaches German history at the University of Southern California, argued Hitler’s infatuation with young women is not key to understanding his politics.
He said: “It bears emphasis that Hitler’s alleged sexual interest in young women (although supported by some evidence) does not tell us a whole lot about the history of Nazism or fascism which, I believe is where we should put our energies as historians.”
There is some evidence Hitler may have been a masochist, who derived sexual pleasure out of being hurt or humiliated by women.
In the 1930s Hitler began a friendship with Renate Müller, a German film actress, after being introduced by director Alfred Ziesler.
According to the 2021 documentary series Hitler’s Secret Sex Life, Müller later confided in Ziesler that Hitler had ordered her to kick him as he lay on the ground, causing the future dictator to become visibly aroused.
In October 1937 Müller fell from her death while being visited by Nazi officials, though it’s unclear if this was an accident, suicide or murder.
The claim originated from Otto Strasser, an early Nazi and political opponent of Hitler, who claimed Hitler forced Raubal to perform these acts on him, though this has never been proven.
In an interview with Newsweek Helga Thorson, an associate history professor at the University of Victoria, Canada, said: “Nazi party ideology and propaganda attempted to project and deflect their own behaviors (sexual or otherwise) onto others, usually onto one of their political enemies such as Communists or Social Democrats and, more often than not, onto the Jewish population at large.
“In addition, Nazi propaganda sought to portray Hitler as a deity, on the one hand, as well as a committed and selfless servant of the people, on the other—and therefore notably downplayed any references to Hitler’s sexual life, his compulsions, impulses or desires.”
The Hitler’s Secret Sex Life documentary alleges Hitler became “a full-blown porn addict” from 1933 onward, with material provided by official Nazi photographer Heinrich Hoffmann and films played at his own home theater. These claims remain unverified.
On December 1 rapper Ye, formally known as Kanye West, caused outrage after telling conspiracy theorist Alex Jones “we’ve got to stop dissing the Nazis all the time.”
In response, Caitlyn Jenner insisted anti-Semitism “has no part” within the MAGA movement, and suggested Ye should seek rehab.
In a piece for Newsweek Jewish writer Lindsay Karp, responding to Ye’s remarks, said: “Antisemitism is so constant and so colossal that it’s become expected in the lives of Jewish people. That needs to change.”