This book was born out of the author’s paradoxical wish simultaneously to condemn Hitler for the death of his beloved niece, Angela (Geli) Raubal, and to humanise the beast and justifying his motives, not for the murder of Geli but for her “manslaughter”.
Geli Raubal, the daughter of Hitler's half-sister, Angela, was 17 when he first enticed her to become one of his select coterie. By most accounts, she was a bouncy, impulsive and self-possessed young woman who variously attracted and repelled men. Josef Goebbels, like Hitler, found her enchanting to the point of being irresistible, and Hitler's photographer, Heinrich Hoffman, thought her "an enchantress". "Putzi" Hanfstaengl, the Nazi's foreign press secretary, however, regarded Geli as " an empty-headed little slut, with the coarse sort of bloom of a servant girl without wither brains of character".
Whatever she was, it was only in Geli's company that Hitler could truly relax, and for this he indulged her. He took her shopping (she deems to have had a weakness for hats) and he took her on picnics and he housed her and he clothed her and - herein lies the enigma - he did or did not do untold other things to her. To more than one person, she confided: "You'd never believe the things he makes me do". Still, historians agree that Hitler probably loved Geli, to the extent that he was capable of loving anyone. This love, such as it was, did not prevent him, according to Hayman, from making the first of his 40 million-odd victims.
Geli's death in 1931, when she was 23 and Hitler 42, was declared to be suicide. Hayman, however, strenuously argues that Geli had insufficient motive to take her own life, and claims - although he cannot identify the colour of her hair - that suicide would have been out of character. Hitler, on the other hand (and here Hayman states the obvious), was sado-masochistic and impervious to the value of human life and therefore predisposed to murder, even of someone he allegedly loved.
Hayman is convinced that there was a conspiracy of silence aimed oat preventing public knowledge that it was in Hitler's palatial Munich flat that she lived and by Hitler's gun in Hitler's hand that she died, thus protecting Hitler from indictment at a particularly important point in his political career.
Hayman's reconstruction of the events which led to and followed Geli's death reads like the script of a third-rate gangster film. Hayman reckons that when Hitler found out Geli was pregnant (by someone other than her "Uncle Alf") there was a row, then he went on the batter, and in consequent lager-lout rage (i.e., temporary insanity), shot her in the vicinity of the heart.
Then, of course, he made his get-away in his big Mercedes (as phallic as his salute). Feigning shock at the news the following day, he sped back to Munich. To prove this, Hayman has dug up evidence that Hitler's driver got a speeding ticket of the way.
In an effort to substantiate his theory, Hayman spends approximately half of Hitler and Geli establishing Hitler's sado-masochistic nature and the inherent criminality of his regime. Presumably, too, this substantiation is designed to compensate for a conspicuous lack of reliable witnesses. The remainder of Hayman's argument is painfully speculative, with a disproportionate number of crucial sentences structured like hypothetical syllogisms - "IF x is tr5ue, THEN it follows y is true"
In this regard, however, Hayman fails to consider that Eva Braun (who was already of the scene) may have been sufficiently jealous of Geli to kill her, or that one of her other suitors got to her before Hitler or his thugs could get to him.
Also, Hitler may very well have killed the girl through psychological and emotional abuse, without having had actually to pull the trigger. Hayman tends to gloss over the facts that Renate M
I will have to rethink my affection for bassets, and certainly stop calling my daughter by the pet-name “Geli”, but the mystery surrounding Geli Raubal’s death is not clarified to any significant degree by Ronald Hayman’s speculations.
Ellen Beardsley is a critic and a writer.