(Review) Nazi Wives by James Wyllie

Publisher and Publication Date: St. Martin’s Press. November 3, 2020.
Genre: Nonfiction. History. German History. World War II. Nazi Germany.
Pages: 288.
Source: I received a complimentary eBook copy from NetGalley and the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of nonfiction history with the subject of Nazi Germany.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

These men were either Nazi Party leaders or in Adolf Hitler’s personal staff.
Martin Bormann was married to Gerda. They had 10 children. His mistress was Manja Behrens.
Joseph Goebbels was married to Magda. She had a son from a first marriage. Joseph and Magda had 6 children, 1 son and 5 daughters.
Hermann Göring or Goering was married first to Carin and later Emmy. Goering had 1 daughter with Emmy. Carin had a son from a previous marriage.
Reinhard Heydrich was married to Lina. They had 4 children.
Heinrich Himmler was married to Margarete. They had 1 daughter and an adopted a son. His mistress and the mother of 2 of his children, Hedwig Potthast.
Adolf Hitler had 2 mistresses, the last one he married. Angela Maria “Geli” Raubal and Eva Braun. No children.
Rudolf Hess married Ilse. They had 1 son.

Nazi Wives is an in-depth study of the wives and mistresses of the men who were closest to Adolf Hitler. Magda Goebbels was considered the 1st lady of the 3rd Reich. In addition, 2 of the women examined were Hitler’s mistresses [1 of them became his wife].

Nazi Wives is also an overview of the Nazi party and its origins. For example, the start of the German Worker’s Party in 1919 and the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923.

My Thoughts:
My first thought is Nazi Wives is a difficult book to read. It is difficult because I dislike all of the characters. They are repulsive to me. However, Nazi Wives is a book unlike other books I’ve read about the Nazi Party and the people who were its leaders.
I read a reviewer remark these people were just like any other people. No. No. I vehemently disagree. Healthy functioning people do not create and collect furniture crafted from human bones. Humans who perished because they were murdered!

An early statement in the book set the tone and theme.
“The women were drawn to savior like men.”
In looking at men as their savior, they idolized them to the point of taking on whatever belief and ideology these men believed. The women were absorbed in the godlike men. This is scary stuff, because the women gave control of themselves, their children, and their belief system over to mere humans who were of course murderers.
It is hard to wrap my mind around a woman who let her daughter have an affair with an uncle. Hitler was technically the half brother of the young woman’s mother. This is still, at the least, inappropriate. Yet, she displayed the savior like mind-set for Hitler.

This is a heavy and ambitious book because it is about several people and families. I’m a note taker for every book I read. So, keeping up with Nazi Wives was not a problem. It might be a problem for people who do not take notes.

Not all the wives were in the inner circle compared to those who were often at Hitler’s Berghof home; and, there was jealousy and envy among them. There was a pecking order with the women. Certain women were regarded more Aryan looking or they represented the idea of what a Nazi wife should be like.

There are several new things I learned in reading Nazi Wives.
For example, both Hitler’s girlfriends attempted suicide. One of them succeeded.
I didn’t know several in the Nazi Party believed in paganism.
One of the men was revolted by sex, but most of them had multiple sex playmates besides their wives.

Nazi Wives reveals the specific roles of the wives who contributed to the mistreatment and abuse of Jews. And, their continued anti-Semitism post war.

I believe the research for Nazi Wives is remarkable. For example, Hitler’s valet gave information about the final days of Hitler and Eva Braun. Some of the wives gave interviews or wrote memoirs. Some of the wives remained quiet, never revealing their candid stories.

The final chapter chronicles the characters post World War II. Those who were arrested for war crimes, exonerated, sentenced for prison terms or death, and those who took their own lives.

Over-all this is an important book! It’s important in the revealing of critical information about these people. History knows their action against the Jews. History knows their specific work in the Nazi Party and World War II. Nazi Wives recreates the personal and intimate nature of their lives.


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