MAGDA GOEBBELS: The First Lady of the Third Reich by Hans-Otto Meissner

MAGDA GOEBBELS: The First Lady of the Third Reich

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Meet Joseph and Magda Goebbels, ""the dark-haired undersized man of the petite bourgeoisie and the beautiful blonde of the haut monde,"" whose mutual attraction ""was so powerful that the bond between them could never be broken. So, inexorably, that somber night of May 1945 in the underground bunker, they died together."" The author of this bathos-and-bombast is the son of Otto Meissner, head of Hitler's chancellory, who knew the parties concerned and now sets out--with the aid of Magda's one-time sister-in-law--to demonstrate that she was a political innocent in thrall to the demonic Joseph. It's not an edifying story, a plausible story, or even, here, a particularly exciting one. It's also encumbered with Meissner's thesis that Magda was a lifelong closet Buddhist--hence her willingness to sacrifice her six children (in the belief that they'd be reborn)--which even the translator, in a note, dismisses. And most of the lineaments are well-known: Magda's unsatisfactory marriage to ""one of the wealthiest German industrialists"" has broken down; she is not about to marry her ""eternal student"" lover; she turns down ""Mr. Hoover, nephew of the American President and one of the richest men in America"" (or so, at least, we're told); she goes to a Nazi meeting, ""probably out of boredom""; and there she is struck by the ""short and puny"" speaker, Goebbels, who puts her ""almost in a state of trance."" Hence she endures, later, his constant and flagrant infidelities (on one notorious occasion, Hitler intervenes); she reigns, off and on, as high-Nazidom's most presentable female; and ultimately she takes poison--having ""forfeited"" (she tells ex-sister-in-law Ello) ""the right to live."" Pernicious piffle.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1981
Publisher: Dial