One of the most influential members of the Nazi Party, and a part of Hitler’s inner sanctum was Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda. His wife Johanna Magdalena Goebbels, commonly known as Magda, was also a prominent Nazi and she was later referred to as “The First Lady of the Reich”.
She was married for the first time in 1921, with her son Harald born soon after. However the marriage ended in divorce in 1929 and she joined the Nazi Party soon after. It was through this connection that she met and married Joseph Goebbels, a rising star in the party.
They were married in 1931 and over the following decade had six children with the family becoming close friends of Adolph Hitler. Magda herself was a prominent member of a group of Nazi women all of whom were personal companions and friends with Hitler. These women, together with their husbands and families, enjoyed a luxury lifestyle that was a consequence of their position as high-ranking members of the Nazi Party.
Despite an idyllic matrimonial appearance, both Joseph and Magda had extra-marital affairs, with their marriage only surviving through the personal intervention of Hitler who believed that a scandal would damage the Party.
One of the fundamental planks of the Nazi Party was virulent anti-Semitism, but it had been rumoured that Magda Goebbels had saved the life of her Jewish stepfather earlier in he war. When asked about her husband’s record with the Jews she replied ”The Fuhrer wants it thus and Joseph must obey”.
Magda also began to doubt Hitler’s ability as a leader, particularly later in the war when the tide was turning against Nazi Germany. As the Russians stormed towards Berlin in 1945 Joseph and Magda decided they must kill their six children – and then themselves – to escape the retribution of the enemy.
Accordingly, on 1 May 1945, in the Fuhrerbunker complex in Berlin, the Goebbels children were poisoned and Magda and Joseph suicided in the nearby Chancellery garden soon after. Hitler had also suicided and the Third Reich was in its final convulsions.
Harald, Magda’s son from her previous marriage, served in the Luftwaffe during the war and survived the conflict to become a wealthy industrialist with a stake in the BMW car company. He was killed in an aircraft accident in 1967.
Image: Magda and Joseph on their wedding day, 19 December 1931. Her son Harald from her first marriage, is to the right of Goebbels in the uniform of the Hitler Youth. Adolph Hitler himself can be seen in the background wearing a hat, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.