The same British TV show that recently bought what turned out to be a fake lock of Adolf Hitler’s hair for intended DNA testing now claims Hitler’s girlfriend of 12 years and wife of 40 hours, Eva Braun, may have had Jewish ancestry, based on DNA testing performed on ostensible hairs from her toothbrush.
The Channel 4 show Dead Famous DNA, which tests the genetic material of historical figures such as Elvis Presley, Charles Darwin, John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Napoleon, acquired the hairs from specialist dealer John Reznikoff. They are said to have come from personal belongings found in Braun’s private apartment after the war.
The hairs reportedly came from a monogrammed hairbrush found at Braun’s Bavarian residence by American army intelligence officer Paul Baer, a US 7th Army captain, who had privileged access to the property and took a number of items from the flat.
Photographs taken at Berghof in 1945 show him with the hairbrush.
Baer’s son Alan said his father had kept the items in a duffel bag in the basement of the family’s home. After his death in the 1970s, his son sold the items to Reznikoff — who then sold them to Dead Famous DNA presenter Mark Evans for £1,200, or nearly $2000.
After the hairs were acquired, a genetic analysis by a team of scientists on the show revealed that Braun, the Aryan poster girl, may have had Jewish ancestry on her mother’s side. In DNA from the hair, they found a sequence passed down through the maternal line — haplogroup N1b1 — which was “strongly associated” with Ashkenazi Jews.
Ashkenazi Jews dispersed into central and eastern Europe in the early Middle Ages, and some converted to Catholicism in Germany in the 19th century.
“This is a thought-provoking outcome — I never dreamt that I would find such a potentially extraordinary and profound result,” presenter Evans said of the findings.
Nevertheless, the conclusions are not definitive, and Braun’s two surviving female relatives refused to give DNA samples to confirm that the hairs were really Braun’s own.
Braun became Hitler’s lover in the early 1930s, while the latter’s Nazi power was gaining substantial influence in the German political arena. She married him in a small civil ceremony in his Berlin bunker just after midnight on April 29, 1945. The two committed suicide the next day, on April 30 — two days before the city’s defenders surrendered to the advancing Red Army. Hitler was 56 years old, and Braun was 33. They had been married for less than 40 hours.
The episode concerning Braun will air in the UK Wednesday.
In March, Channel 4 and the same documentary show came under fire for buying a lock of hair allegedly belonging to Hitler from a convicted Holocaust-denying historian, only to discover that the relic was a fake.
The TV station paid £3,000 ($4,957) to David Irving, who is barred from entering Austria, Germany, Italy, and Canada for his writings on World War II that deny the atrocities perpetrated by the Third Reich.
News of the acquisition drew sharp condemnation from Labor MP Ian Austin, whose father’s family perished in the Treblinka death camp. Austin referred to the buy as “sick,” “tawdry,” and “bizarre.”
“It’s disgusting, and raises questions about Channel 4’s public broadcasting remit,” he said, according to a report Sunday in Britain’s Daily Mirror.
Upon scrutiny, the lock of hair, claimed to have been acquired from Hitler’s barber who gathered it using sticky tape attached to the sole of his shoe, turned out to be inauthentic.
Marissa Newman contributed to this report.