He was responsible for sending six million Jews to their deaths. But where little Rosa Bernile Nienau was concerned, Adolf Hitler seemed blind to his own warped ideology.
This astonishing photograph shows the smiling Nazi leader embracing the young Jewish girl – who referred to him as ‘Uncle Hitler’ and became known as his ‘sweetheart’ – at his Alpine retreat.
Personally inscribed by Hitler, the photograph was taken in the summer of 1933 at the Berghof – just six years before the outbreak of the Second World War.
Incredibly, Hitler knew Rosa, aged just seven when the picture was taken, was considered Jewish under German racial laws at the time.
The Nazi persecution of Jews had already started, with attacks and boycotts of Jewish shops and a purge of the civil and professional services.
But he refused to sever ties with her – and it was only when the Fuhrer’s private secretary, Martin Bormann, discovered Rosa’s lack of ‘German bloodliness’ in 1938 that she and her mother were eventually banned from seeing him. Tragically, Rosa died of spinal polio five years later.
The photo, taken by his official photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, is signed by Hitler in dark blue ink: ‘The dear and considerate Rosa Nienau, Adolf Hitler Munich, the 16th June 1933.’
It is being sold at Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City in the US state of Maryland on November 13, and is expected to attract bids of up to $12,000 (around £10,000).
In February last year, the same auction house sold Hitler’s personal telephone for £195,000 after it was offered for sale by the family of a British brigadier who was given it by Russian allies in Berlin following Hitler’s suicide in April 1945.
Auctioneer Bill Panagopulos said: ‘The signed version is a never-before publicly seen piece, Adolf Hitler inscribing a warm photograph showing him with a charming little girl whom, amazingly, he knew to be a Jew.
‘Hitler was very often photographed with children for propaganda purposes. The shocking thing about this piece is it seems he had a genuine affinity for the young girl. I was simply stunned.
‘Rosa and Hitler grew very close, so much so that the dictator refused all efforts to ban her from his company. In the end, he gave in and the girl and her mother were instructed to keep away and remain silent.’
Rosa visited the Obersalzberg complex for the first time with her mother, a doctor’s widow, in 1932.
The following year, they were among a group of visitors who congregated outside Hitler’s retreat on his birthday, April 20.. When the Fuhrer was when informed that the child shared his birthday, he invited her up to the house and gave Rosa strawberries and whipped cream on the terrace.
Mr Panagopulos added: ‘She quickly developed a close and warm friendship with her ‘Uncle Hitler’ which lasted until 1938. Indeed, the Bundesarchive retains 17 letters from her to Hitler and aide Wilhelm Bruckner between 1935 and 1938.
Führer’s child: Who was Rosa Bernile Nienau?
Rosa was a German girl who became known as ‘the Führer’s child’ because of her close friendship with Hitler that lasted from 1933 to 1938. One of her grandmothers was Jewish.
Bernile Nienau and her mother, a doctor’s widow, visited the Hitler’s retreat for the first time in 1932.
The following year, 1933, when informed that he and the child shared the same birthday, 20th April, Hitler singled her out from the large crowd, invited her up to the house, then walked hand-in-hand with her back to his house.
Rosa was treated to strawberries and whipped cream on the terrace.
She stayed in touch with Hitler by writing letters to his aid Whilhem Bruckner.
In one letter dated September 27, 1936, she wrote: ‘Dear Uncle Brückner! Today I have a lot to tell you. I am already working on some christmas socks for Uncle Hitler because I asked him if they fit him last year. He said yes!
‘This year I can knit with finer wool, mum only helps me with the heel. They are going to be very warm, and where he always travels so much, his feet will not feel cold. Mummy also sends you greetings and many greetings and kisses from your Bernile!’
Rosa died died on 5 October 1943 at 17 of polio.
‘Rosa’s grandmother was a Jew so she was one-quarter Jewish, and therefore ‘Jewish’ under German racial laws in 1933.’
Mr Panagopulos said research showed that Hitler became aware of the girl’s Jewish heritage, but ‘chose to ignore it’. But when Reichminister Martin Bormann discovered her lack of ‘pure’ German blood, he forbade mother and daughter access to the Berghof.
He added: ‘In the book Hitler, As I Saw Him, Hoffmann tells us that Hitler is said to have overruled Bormann, complaining: “There are people who have a true talent for spoiling my every joy.”
‘However, despite Hoffman’s continued use of Nienau’s images in his books and publications, by May, 1938 the family was ordered to cease contact with upper party members, including Hitler.
‘Hoffmann captioned another photo of Rosa and the Fuhrer strolling in the grounds ‘Hitler’s Sweetheart’. It delighted him to see her at the Berghof until some busybody found she was not of pure Aryan descent.’
Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, shortly before the photo was taken.
It is believed the nine Edelweiss flowers – said to be Hitler’s favourite flower – and a four-leaf clover, were added by Rosa. The lot includes Hoffmann’s memoir Hitler Was My Friend, first published in 1955.
Hitler’s scored red phone was offered for sale by the son of Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner, one of the first non-Soviet soldiers to enter Berlin following the German surrender, when he arrived to establish contact with his Russian counterparts.
Hitler had taken the phone with him on his travels around Germany for the last two years of the war. The item was retrieved from the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin where the Nazi dictator killed himself as Russian forces approached.
The Berghof: Hitler’s retreat in the Bavarian mountains
It was Hitler’s retreat, tucked away in the Bavarian Alps, away from the bustle of Berlin.
The Nazi leader spent more time at the Berghof than anywhere else during World War II.
It was also one of the most widely known of his headquarters, located throughout Europe.
The Berghof was built in 1916 and rented to Hitler in 1928. He then bought the building in 1933 with the proceeds from his political manifesto Mein Kampf, and set about extending it.
He even had a spread in Homes and Gardens magazine in 1938. The retreat also became a tourist attraction in the mid 1930s with people queuing up to get a glimpse of the leader.
Before the war several British leaders even visited the dictator at the retreat, including former Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and David Lloyd-George and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
The building itself was heavily modified in the run up to the war so that Hitler could use it as a base.
Hitler left it for the last time in mid 1944 to run the final stages of the war from his eastern front headquarters in Poland.
In April 1945, 12 days before the Germans surrendered, the house was bombed by hundreds of British Lancaster Bombers.
It was then set on fire by retreating SS troops in early May, and looted after Allied troops reached the area.
The burnt out shell was demolished by the West German government in 1952.
SOURCE: Daily Mail