Foreign News: Uneven Romance

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Only two women had emerged with any clarity from Adolf Hitler's shadowy private life: his youthful niece, Geli Raubal, and Eva Braun. Both died violent deaths. When last March Hitler's sister, Paula Wolf, casually mentioned to a German reporter that she had recently visited with "perhaps the only woman my brother ever loved," Günter Peis's news instincts were understandably aroused. The woman turned out to be Maria Reiter, blonde, buxom and 49, now living quietly in a Munich suburb. Reluctant at first, Maria finally gave Peis the long-kept secret of her uneven romance with Hitler from 1926 into the '305. As Peis reported it in the German weekly, Der Stern, and in the London Sunday Pictorial, it was straight soap opera. But Maria had letters to prove it.

Mimi & Wolf. It all began in a Berchtesgaden park in 1926. Maria, 16, and Hitler, 37, were walking their police dogs. He was just a struggling young party leader then. Hitler liked Maria's fresh Nordic charm, and she confessed to her sister: "He cuts a fine figure with those riding breeches and that riding crop." Hitler invited her to come and hear him speak. Afterward, he fed her cake with his fingers, but when she refused him a good-night kiss, Hitler glowered and stalked out with an abrupt "Heil!"

But soon they were taking long rides in Hitler's Mercedes. Hitler called her "Mimi," and at his request she called him "Wolf." The only thing that troubled Mimi was that Wolf would never put down his riding crop. Then one golden day they got out of the car and romped in the meadows like children. Leading Mimi to a tall pine, Hitler said: "Just stand there as you are. You're my forest sprite . . . Later you will understand." It was their first stormy kiss. "I was so happy I wished I could die," says Maria. On the way back to the car, Hitler told her that his ideal was to marry and have blond children, but that he must save Germany first. After that, there were tète-à-tètes in Hitler's Munich apartment, and they dreamed aloud of their future together. But it was not to be.

Liebesnacht. Worried by rumors that his romance with Mimi was hurting him politically, Hitler broke things off in the summer of 1928. Mimi tried hanging herself, finally instead married a hotelkeeper in Seefeld. Then in January 1931, there was a knock on her door. It was Rudolf Hess. "Hitler sent me," he said. "He wants to know if you are happy." Maria got the idea and soon ran off to Munich. There was a touching reconciliation on Hitler's sofa and one breathless Liebesnacht—night of love. Peis quoted Maria: "I let him do what he wanted. I was never so happy." Hitler told her: "Mimilein, I'm rich now. I can offer you everything. Stay with me . . . I've never loved any woman as I love you."

But Mimi wanted marriage and refused to feather the Munich love nest Hitler offered. Growled Hitler: "All women ever think of is having babies." Having divorced her first husband, lonely Maria married an SS officer named Kubisch in 1936. Hitler congratulated Kubisch before the assembled Munich SS, and later sent Mimi 100 red roses when Kubisch was killed in France in 1940.

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