Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler’s longtime mistress whom he married in the hours before his suicide, may have been of Jewish ancestry, according to an analysis of her DNA done for a British TV documentary.
The analysis was based upon a study of a strand of hair taken from a hairbrush with the monogram “E.B.” that was found after the war at Hitler’s Alpine home. Experts found that it “contained the hair of someone who could have had Jewish ancestry,” specifically Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, according to the Channel 4 documentary, “Dead Famous DNA.”
About 80 percent of the world’s Jewish population is Ashkenazi, having descended from those who settled first in The Rhineland. Many converted to Catholicism in the 19th century and historians said it is doubtful Braun even knew of her probable Jewish heritage.
An American intelligence officer found the hairbrush. After his death, his son sold it to a relics dealer, according to the documentary. Channel 4 bought eight strands from the brush for $2,000, but two of Braun’s surviving female relatives refused to provide the station with DNA samples of their own to prove the brush was Braun’s.
It was not the first time Braun’s ancestry was investigated. The New York Times, quoting from a biography of Braun, noted that sometime after Hitler met Braun in 1929 he had her “investigated for Jewish taint.” She was 17; he was 40. It was found that she was of pure Aryan descent.
The couple finally married on April 29, 1945, one day before they committed suicide in Hitler’s bunker after learning of the assassination of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
Although Channel 4 was unable to certify the veracity of the hair on the comb, it was able to check a claim by Holocaust denier David Irving that a strand of hair Irving sold it for 3,000 euros was from Hitler himself. As it turns out, a DNA test showed there is strong evidence the hair is a fake. Radio Times quoted a Channel 4 official as saying it is not known whether Irving knew it to be a fraud, and that it was not asking Irving to return the money.
The United Kingdom’s Mirror called the whole thing “tawdry” and “disgusting.”
Members of parliament and community groups also condemned the station for buying the hair, with one person saying that it was “distasteful” that Irving should profit from it.