Hitler's maid on living with the Fuhrer: He loved midnight cake, lie-ins and tea from porcelain china cups

The former Nazi leader's maid opens about his unlikely habits

There aren’t many men who have been discussed or loathed as much as Adolf Hitler.

However, despite being written about by countless historians, his personal life is still shrouded in mystery. He kept his relationship with his long-term partner and eventual wife, Eva Braun, a secret from the German public up until they both commit suicide (ahead of the ending of the Second World War) – as part of his aim to uphold an image of a strong chaste hero.

He thought himself as attractive to the opposite sex and reportedly used his single status as a way of elevating his political standing – apparently, marriage would have decreased his appeal.

Little is known about their lives together - until now, coincidentally, as Israel celebrates its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. One of Hitler’s maids, Elisabeth Kalhammer, has broken her silence on working for the Fuhrer – divulging some surprising details about his character and tastes. The 81-year-old worked at his mountain retreat in Bavaria, called Berghof, which he shared with Braun.


She landed the role after applying for an advert in the paper in 1943. She didn’t know that her boss would be Hitler, and, unsurprisingly, her mother advised her against accepting the post. Her first day involved passing through three SS guard posts, before entering her new place of employment.

“I felt queasy when I arrived,” Kalhammer told the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper in an exclusive first interview. “I was allowed to think but not to speak [in his presence].”

Although the then teenager wasn’t permitted to communicate with Hitler, she did gain an insight into his personality. Despite giving the impression that he kept to a strict diet (he had problems with his spleen), Hitler had a sweet tooth.

In fact, staff were asked to leave a special cake for him before he went to bed, which he then ate while the household slept. A ‘Fuhrer Cake’ – an apple cake strewn with nuts and raisins – had to be baked each day and left out every night. He was also partial to chocolate biscuits and scones with tea, which he would drink from a Nymphenburg porcelain cup. Kalhammer once broke one of the cups and lost several of her days off.

He was also a film-lover and had his own personal cinema installed in the house. He was apparently “spellbound” by Austrian-German singer, dancer and actress Marika Roekk. Staff were permitted to watch propaganda films.

He was also keen on frequent lie-ins, and would often not rise until 2pm.

Braun ran the household and treated the staff well. Friends often came to visit her and she was a fan of fashion fan, and always looked “elegant”.

“She was our best friend,” said Kalhammer. “She was always good to me. She behaved like the lady of the house, even though she was not married. She designed our uniforms. For Christmas she presented me with wool, to knit socks for the men on the front.”

The Berghof was a sanctuary for Hitler up until the end of the war, until it was bombed and evacuated in an air raid in April 1945.

Read more: Is it ever safe to laugh at Hitler?
Did Hitler marry a Jewish woman?
Mein Kampf legalised
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot