We all know that Adolf Hitler was responsible for sending six million Jews to their deaths. Her name was Rosa Bernile Nienau and she was a little girl of Jewish origin in Germany in the 1930s. After this premise, you could imagine her end in a gas chamber of Auschwitz or another Nazi camp. Instead Rosa has a friend who preserves her from any racial persecution, a friend with a high-sounding name: Adolf Hitler.
This incredible 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, this photograph was taken in the summer of 1933 at the Berghof just six years before the outbreak of the Second World War!
The photo, taken by Hitler’s official photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, is signed by Hitler in dark blue ink which says: “The dear and considerate Rosa Nienau, Adolf Hitler Munich, the 16th June 1933”. Incredibly, Hitler knew Rosa, aged just seven when the picture was taken, was considered Jewish under German racial laws at the time!
The story of Bernile is very unique, and also tells a small aspect not very well known of the Führer’s life.
She was born in 1926 in Dortmund, and she was the only daughter of Bernhard Nienau, a doctor (1887 – 1926). Her father died shortly before she was born and her mother Karoline, a nurse (1892 – 1962), moved to Munich around 1928. Bernile’s maternal grandmother was a Catholic teacher, and was Jewish.
Bernile Nienau and her mother visited the Hitler’s retreat for the first time in 1932.
The following year, in Obersalzberg, 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. She was treated to strawberries and whipped cream on the terrace, and from that first contact a strange friendship was born and lasted until 1938.
In the Federal Archives of Berlin there are 17 letters written by Rosa between January 1, 1935 and November 12, 1939. 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!”
The Jewish origins of Bernile’s grandmother and mother were known to Hitler as early as 1933. The friendship between the Führer, which had made the extermination of the Jews the top priority of his government, is particular and strange, and was noted by numerous members of the party. 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.
However, Rosa and her family were never persecuted.
Tragically, Rosa died of spinal polio five years later, on 5 October 1943 at 17.
Her grave is located in the western cemetery of Munich.
Some photographs remain of her, the most famous the first in this article, taken in 1933 by Heinrich Hoffmann, and which was recently auctioned at the Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake (Maryland) for over $ 11,000.