Hitler’s Favorite Children
The quick succession of children pumped out by Magda did not signify steady bliss and tranquility in the Goebbels home. Indeed, the couple came close to divorcing because of Joseph Goebbels’ notorious womanizing, which reached a peak in the summer of 1938, when he fell head over heels for a Czech actress named Lida Baarova. The propaganda minister sought to abandon his family to be with Baarova, until Hitler, leery of the negative PR from a scandal involving one of his top henchmen, demanded that Goebbels end the relationship.
Goebbels kept backsliding, however, so Magda sought a divorce, and once again, Hitler personally intervened. The Fuhrer brokered a reconciliation by banishing Baarova. He demanded that the couple maintain at least the appearance of marital bliss in public, and agreed to let Magda get her divorce if, after a year’s separation in which he hoped the duo would cool off, she still wanted out of the marriage. Goebbels laid on the charm once more, and became the model of a solicitous and repentant husband. The couple eventually got back together, and their last child, Heidrun, was called their “reconciliation child”, because she was conceived after her parents had smoothed things over.
Hitler’s efforts to save the Goebbels’ marriage did not stem solely from his fears of public scandal tarnishing his regime. The Nazi leader saw the Goebbels’ as personal friends, and he was quite fond of their children. While Hitler was one of history’s most horrible figures, he did have some soft spots, and one of those was for children. Or, to be more accurate, he had a soft spot for the type of blond and blue eyed children featured on Nazi posters as ideal Aryan offspring. Children who did not meet those criterion, Hitler had no trouble condemning to their deaths by the million.
The Goebbels’ children met Hitler’s criterion of the Germanic ideal, and their eldest, Helga, was always said to be Hitler’s favorite girl. During the twelve years of his rule, Hitler often visited the Goebbels home, where he played with and showed marked affection towards their children, or had them visit him in his office and residence. Helga Goebbels, in particular, was regularly seen and photographed with the Fuhrer, and he often sat her on his lap, while conducting meetings late into the night.
During the war, the Goebbels children were featured in dozens of newsreels as examples of ideal Germanic children, and film and photos of them with the Fuhrer were frequently displayed in the media. However, as the doom of Germany drew nearer, so did that of the Goebbels’ and their offspring. In April of 1945, with the Red Army massing outside Berlin, Joseph Goebbels moved his wife and children into Hitler’s bunker compound beneath the Reich Chancellery. The Fuhrer was determined to go out in an operatic manner worthy of Richard Wagner’s Twilight of the Gods. Goebbels was equally determined to follow his master into the great beyond – and to take his family with him.