The Devil’s Mistress, nominated for a National Book Award, is a chilling, satirical work of extrapolation that has been grafted onto a fragment of Eva Braun’s actual diary written in 1935. Based on extensive research and supported by a factual armature, this personification of evil takes the reader into the hidden erotic life of Hitler, and — as she was affectionately nicknamed, Fraulein Effie. And, without ever realizing that she was the sex slave of one of the cruelest men in history, she was nonetheless able to chisel out a powerful identity for herself within a loathsome, amoral milieu of mass killers.
A diary purchased at great cost in modern-day Munich by a representative of “the organization” (and
based in part on a real fragment of Braun’s diary from 1935) reveals the whole dreadful tale of relations
between “Herr Wolf” and “Fräulein Effie.” The two meet in a Munich photo store in 1929: he an older,
rumpled, but clearly important customer, she a pretty girl who parts her legs to give him a better look when
she sees him eyeing her on the stockroom ladder. Their subsequent encounters are as intermittent as
they are perverse, but by the time he becomes Chancellor, in 1933, Effie has a clear place in his life. Hitler
is never seen with her in public, but he buys a villa for her in Munich, she’s a regular guest at his fortress
in the Alps, and Hindenburg’s old Chancellery apartment in Berlin becomes her own. Meanwhile, Effie
soothes her bruised ego at his slights and infidelities by shopping endlessly and by obsessive workouts on
the uneven parallel bars—but she also practices her vindictiveness regularly. As war begins, then as the
tide of battle turns, she sees less of him than ever, so vermouth and sleeping pills are added to her
routine. Her devotion undimmed, she returns from relative safety in Bavaria to join him as bombs rain
down on Berlin, gaining in the final days her fervent desire to be not his Fräulein but his Frau.
Beyond most non-fiction accounts of that place and period, the author has created a personal life for Hitler
and his syncophants to give the reader the look and feel of what it must have been like to dwell in such
6 June 1929
This afternoon as I climbed the ladder to get new film stock, Herr H., his face like not yet baked bread, was fawning over a rumpled old man with a flabby face who was wearing a black slouch hat and a long black coat.
The old man carried a thick whip with a large handle.
When I glanced down I saw that the old man was looking up at my legs with bright blue eyes.
I climbed another step higher, which caused my skirt to hike up, my thighs to part with a popping noise as the sweat had made them stick together. When I presented the old man with my Holbein smile—my blue goose eyes—his ears became stiff and erect.
He looked away, which made me think that I’d offended him.
A moment of terrible dread that he might report me to my boss for flirtation.When I was again in the stockroom Herr H. growled, Fräulein! Go fetch beer and Leberkäs for Herr Wolf. He threw a handful of money into my hand. So much, my hand began to sweat.
So, in my work smock, I dashed between green streetcars to the butcher, and—after wild spending—ran back with delicious Brotzeit.
Good appetite, I wished them, and piled a garland of small pale Weisswursts, also Leberkäs, Lungerl, and bread onto a plate, feeling my own stomach clench with hunger.
How old are you? Asked the old one without tact, examining me closely with ice blue eyes while breaking through the tough skin of the sausage with his teeth.
Seventeen, I told him. He put down the sausage and pinched my hand with his salty fingertips. Then he pressed my hand to his lips, “drinking me” in with his dominating eyes.
When the old man had gone my boss’s face got mawkish. Don’t you know him?Herr Wolf?
That’s not his real name he spat out, spat with glee. I am his exclusive photographer!