In what could prove to be one of the biggest ironies of history, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, infamous for the genocide of Jews, may have unwittingly married a Jewish woman, new British research has found. The German Nazi leader known for his persecution of Jews had wed his long-term lover Eva Braun just hours before their joint suicide in his Berlin bunker in 1945 towards the end of World War II.
The Holocaust, or the genocide of about six million Jews during World War II, was a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Hitler-led Nazi Germany. Hitler and Braun killed themselves to avoid capture following the German defeat in the war and their corpses were burned.
Latest DNA analysis of hair samples from a hairbrush claimed to belong to Braun suggests that she may have had Jewish ancestry. "In the 19th century, many Ashkenazi Jews in Germany converted to Catholicism, so Eva Braun is highly unlikely to have known her ancestry and -- despite research he instigated into Braun's race -- neither would Hitler," said a spokesperson for Channel 4, which will air the findings as part of its 'Dead Famous DNA' show in Britain on April 9.
Photography assistant Braun fell in love with Hitler aged just 17, although he was 23 years her senior. Hitler ordered his private secretary, Martin Bormann, to investigate her family who sent Braun to a Catholic school, to ensure that they were "Aryan" and that she had no Jewish ancestry.
After being assured there were none, the courtship advanced. But Hitler, fearful that the relationship would harm his public image, refused to marry Braun and kept her a state secret, hidden away at his mountain-top residence, the Berghof.
Channel 4 used hair initially recovered in the summer of 1945 by Paul Baer, a US 7th Army captain, who was posted to the Berghof and took personal items, including the hairbrush, from Braun's private apartment.
There are photographs of Baer at the Berghof in 1945 and the hairbrush has been authenticated by experts. Baer's son sold Braun's hairbrush to a relic dealer who separated the hair and sold it on to hair dealer John Reznikoff.
'Dead Famous DNA' presenter Mark Evans bought eight strands of the hair from Reznikoff for $2,000. The hair was then sent to an international team of forensic scientists for analysis. The results, however, are not definitive. To prove that the hair came from Braun's head, Evans attempted to get a DNA swab from one of her two surviving female descendants, but both refused.