Henriette von Schirach, the daughter of Hitler’s close friend and personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, had known the Führer since she was a child. In her book Frauen Um Hitler Henriette tells happy memories about her childhood and Hitler, who used to call her “my sunshine”. She was only nine when she met him.
One day, answering the bell, she opened the front door to find him on the step. Her father was taking a nap, and she had been practicing the piano. When she grumbled that practice was boring, Hitler surprised her by sitting down to play her a Strauss polka. She started to dance, but he stopped her – she must listen. Afterwards he told her stories.
When Heinrich Hoffmann came downstairs Henriette was reluctant to let Hitler go, but he offered to make a bargain with her. He was going to come every afternoon, read the newspaper while she practiced, and then play something for her. Their friendship continued, and when she was twelve he took her to the Bayreuth Festival.
Nerin E. Gun tells in her book Eva Braun: Hitler’s Mistress that Hitler frequently came to dinner in the Hoffmann house. Henriette recalled:
“He gave himself great airs, with his dark leather coat, his whip and his Mercedes, whose driver waited for him in front of the door. After dinner Hitler – at that time he was still Herr Hitler to us – sat down at the piano and played some Wagner followed by some Verdi. Do you recognize the leitmotiv of La Forza del Destino? He addressed me as Du, for I was only seventeen and he was over forty. Then he took his leave and my father went with him.”
Henriette joined the Nazi party in 1932 and in March that same year she married Baldur von Schirach, a young and very prominent Nazi official, Hitler Youth Leader and later Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter of Vienna. The reception was held in Hitler’s flat.
Ranking at the top level of the Nazi hierarchy, Baldur von Schirach’s pictures were second only to Hitler’s in displays throughout Germany and were used more widely than those of either Hermann Goering or Rudolf Hess.
During all the years Henriette and her husband belonged to the inner circle around Hitler and were frequent personal guests of him, but in 1943 she brought about a definitive break – she pleaded for a moderate treatment of the Jews …