Special Geobbels Family Chest
The Special Chest of Magda Goebbels (Item PERS GOEBBELS)
|DESCRIPTION: This is the story of a small copper box, a dedicated mother, and a tragic end to the dreams and ambitions of a family that aspired to greatness for their nation and themselves. But, all of these ideas died with the collapse of the Third Reich of Germany in 1945. If an inanimate object could talk, the box could no doubt spin a tale of grandeur and dreadful woe. The box that is about the size of a Fanny Farmer candy box and is handmade in the-arts-and-crafts style. It is not beautiful, but it does rate as a great piece of folk art and probably would get first prize in a competition of metal-art offerings. Historically, it is very important indeed and may be one of the last and certainly most significant objects left from this family of eight, which, itself, left an indelible mark on the history of the 20th century and particularly the era known as the Third German Reich. Since this was obviously a gift to the family and in German custom and tradition the woman (mother) would be the person who would accept such for the family. We will give a brief summary of this mother and her very important connections to the Reich of Adolf Hitler. The box is profusely adorned with symbolism of the Nazi mythos to include insignia of various professions, N.S. groups, trade-group logos, ancient symbols, and most important, runic letters that when translated spell out "Family Goebbels." The central theme is a baby crib with an infant within and beside it the Teutonic symbol for birth. Behind the crib there is a Sonnenrad (sun wheel) swastika with rays emanating from it and to the left a sword and to the right a strand or sheath of wheat. Across the top the runes are to be found in a scroll that proclaims "Anno 1688 - 1935." History recorded that the son of Paul Josef Goebbels and Magda Goebbels was born to them on October 2, 1935. Besides the date of 1688, there are other dates that are scattered here and there throughout the design. We assume 1688 was the point that the official Goebbels genealogy began; at least in traceable research. Other dates such as 1700, 1732, 1742, 1777, 1781, 1818, 1823, 1867, 1896, 1895, and 1929 must have meaning to the family's saga. The box is constructed to look like a book. On the section that would be the page leaves is a depiction of a large oak tree with symbols to each of its sides and beside these to the left a farmer's plow and to the right a miner's device. Perceptively these objects had something to do with the land-based occupations of early Goebbels ancestors. There are 21 roundels about the size of an American 25-cent piece lining the "book's" spine and forming left and right columns on each side of the central crib scene. The meaning of most of these designs within these disks is unfortunately unknown to us with the exception of 3 or 4 that are obvious such as the familiar Hitler Youth logo, the miners' organizational crossed hammers, the architect's hammer and compass, a drum with sticks, and an effigy that looks like the Irminsul of the ancient Saxons. This was the venerated religious monument destroyed by Charlemagne in the first act of the Diet of Worms in the year 9 a.d. Thus, in the form of a simple little box the epic story of a family, a nation, and its mythos is revealed in commemoration of the birth of a little boy named Helmut, who would live only a few years until his tragic end and with this came the end of not only his whole family, but the Götterdämmerung (twilight of the gods) for the Thousand Year Reich that had been called the Aryan Imperium. Now and then some article shows up from the past that might carry with it vestiges of romance, heroics, culture, lust, and, alas, sometimes, a fateful doom. Mystics would say this box has powerful karma. We say it has historical significance beyond any article we have ever offered. Now, let us tell you a story:
The four passengers in the car had shared an enjoyable picnic on the way to the 1931 Nazi rally they were attending. One of them, Adolf Hitler's confidant, Otto Wagener, suggested to the beautiful blonde divorcee, Magda Quandt, that she take a stroll with him in the woodlands before driving on. Not surprisingly, he needed privacy for his extraordinary proposal. The Führer, he told her, had decided not to marry, but if and only if she married another man, she could be Hitler's close devoted friend and supporter. The obvious choice for marriage was already her lover, Josef Goebbels, an important member of the Nazi leadership. Magda gazed at Wagener raptly as he explained how such a marriage would be of great benefit to the German people.
This appeal to patriotism struck a deep chord with Magda. "For Adolf Hitler I'd be prepared to take everything on myself, even to die for him. If I get engaged to Josef you will know that we made the greater commitment at the same time." She wrote to a friend soon afterwards, "If Hitler's movement comes to power I would be the First Lady of Germany."
Magda Goebbels, as she became when she married the future minister of propaganda, was born Johanna Maria Magdalena Ritschel in November of 1901. She was raised in a strict Roman Catholic home and she had only just left convent school when she was spotted in a train by the wealthy industrialist, Günther Quandt, a widower and father of two daughters. In an early example of her magnetic affect on men, he fell in love with her immediately. They married in January of 1921. The following November she gave birth to their only child, Harald. Soon afterwards, the marriage quickly weakened, largely because Quandt's heavy working schedule prevented him from paying much attention to his young bride, who felt neglected when she is said to have taken a lover and even the rumor of this precipitated a divorce in 1929. Quandt provided well for Magda giving her a good allowance and a very fine apartment on Berlin's Reichskanzlerplatz, and agreed that Harald would stay with his mother until she remarried or he reached the age of 14, at which time he would return to his father.
Magda, young, beautiful, well off, and with no household to run, found herself searching for something interesting to pursue. One day during the 1930 election campaign she wandered into a rally of the NSDAP (Nazi Party). Hitler and Goebbels were the speakers and they made such an impression on her that she decided to join the party right there and then.
Once a member she began to work at party headquarters where one day she passed none other than Josef Goebbels on the stairway. He was very intrigued though possibly few would have given him a real chance with such a ravishing beautiful young woman. To Goebbels Magda was desirable in every way not just for her striking looks, but for her sophistication, refinement, and elegance. Goebbels fell deeply in love with her saying that he was almost in a dream; so full of fulfilled happiness. In subsequent meetings Magda was very enthralled with the extreme intellectual propensity and the magnificent use of the German language as used by this petite, but forceful and dynamic party member.
Then, one day, she was introduced to Adolf Hitler over tea at the Kaiserhof Hotel. Both Goebbels and Otto Wagener, who was a close member of Hitler's entourage, arranged this invitation for Magda. Even at first glance, Frau Quandt (Magda) "…made an excellent impression…" wrote Wagener. "She was blonde, with bright blue shining eyes and manicured hands. She was dressed well, but not excessively. She appeared calm in her movements, assured, self-confident with a winning smile. I am tempted to say 'enchanting.' I noticed the pleasure Hitler took in her innocent high spirits. I also noticed how her large eyes were hanging on Hitler's gaze."
Hitler later told Wagener how taken he was with her. Later Hitler learned from the rest of his group who had visited Magda's flat that Goebbels had turned up there after midnight and let himself in with his own key-an unmistakable sign of intimacy.
According to Wagener, Hitler said of Magda: "This woman could play an important role in my life, even without being married to her. In all my work, she could represent the female counterpart to my one-sidedly male instincts. Too bad she isn't married. Indeed, if she were married to someone like the Führer, who was so wedded to politics, could be permitted a platonic intimacy with her of a depth impossible with a single woman."
Hitler depended on the political support of women. Almost half of those that voted for the N.S.D.A.P. were women. Cynically he once remarked: "Women will always vote for law and order and a uniform you can be sure of that." Finally, Magda was determined to make "the greater commitment" and married Josef Goebbels in December of 1931. Adolf Hitler was one of their two witnesses.
Her value to the party was quickly recognized. She broadcast the first Mother's Day address in May 1933 just after the party seized power. "The German mother instinctively should place herself at the side of our Führer" declared this blond blue-eyed mother who was to have six children by her husband.
In the Nazi state, Goebbels proclaimed "a woman's duty was to be beautiful and bring beautiful children into the world." Magda, beautiful and fertile, came to be the living embodiment of the National Socialist ideal of German womanhood and the party's greatest female asset. Everyone admired and loved her. Very socially assured, the impression she created at gala dinners and trips abroad was excellent. One of her myriad admirers was the Italian leader Benito Mussolini, who was noted to say fabulous things about Magda and soon she was indeed regarded as the First Lady of the Reich. Her devotion to Hitler was absolute. To her, his word was law, so much so that he was able to settle the couple's quarrels when Magda and Josef had help form Hitler to buy a summer house on the island of Schwanenwerder in the River Havel near Berlin. Magda did her best to repay Hitler by doing up the little guest cottage in the grounds as a retreat for him and he visited often, but this idyllic retreat became the cause of the most serious rift between Magda and her husband. One of their neighbors was a young Czech actress who lived with the actor Gustav Frouch. Goebbels unfortunately had a practically insatiable appetite for beautiful women-almost understandable to a degree since the man was vastly impressed with Nordic beauty in the arts, poetry, architecture, and the German language. "I believe it to be virtually impossible to separate these desires and admiration from the adoration of God's most beautiful creation (Eve) or Aryan womanhood."
Unfortunately some men cannot savor the beauty of a flower without touching and that was the abject weakness of Josef Goebbels and some of his extramarital affairs were notorious.
He seemed to feel that real men had some sort of divine license to conduct themselves differently than women. Thus, he began an affair with Baarova and invited her constantly to his family home and he also boosted her career.
He began to be considered a conscientious libertine in party circles then it was quite natural that Magda wanted a divorce, but no lawyer would handle the case because the Führer had vetoed the idea. By 1938, Josef was so much in love with the actress that it was decided that Baarova should talk to Magda and when that finally happened Magda told Lida, "I am the mother of his children. What happens outside does no longer concern me, but you must promise me not to have a child with him." Then she took the step that Goebbels never expected. She went to Adolf Hitler and the Führer, who disdained scandals within his party refused to countenance the idea that his propaganda minister, who extolled the virtues of marriage and family life should divorce a woman that was of iconic importance to the party. He sent for Goebbels and reminded him of his responsibilities to the NSDAP and ordered him to separate form Baarova at once! Hitler then ordered that Magda and Goebbels must agree to stay together for a year, after which, it would be up to her to decide whether the marriage continued. In his diary Goebbels reminded himself that duty came before all else and vowed to bow to his duty without complaint. Baarova was a broken woman after this and eventually suffered a nervous breakdown in Prague.
Finally, on January 27, 1939 the couple signed a new marital contract and a complete reconciliation was managed and the marriage vastly improved. When the war broke out in 1939 their solidarity returned and strengthened. Their sixth child was born in 1940 and quickly became known as the "reconciliation child."
Magda spent most of the war at their Schwanenerder looking after their children (she lived for them) and doted over them incessantly. Occasionally she and her husband would join Hitler for a holiday at the Berghof, his mountain retreat above Berchtewgaden. There have been films found about 3 years ago that portray her overwhelming fondness for Adolf Hitler reflected in her face each time she glanced at him. Some writers say that there was personal emotion-perhaps so. But I believe it was total dedication to the man and his ideals.
Toward the end of the war Magda became rather deeply depressed. Her first son and soldier, Harald, was reported missing. Later, he was found to have survived and she believed the war was lost seeing no future for herself, husband, and family. It seemed that the conquest of Germany by the enemy was imminent. Magda was in despair. Even the masterful Berlin Sportspalist speech of her husband in 1945, called the "Total War" speech, could not bring her out of this eerie feeling of doom for the Fatherland and the NSDAP. As the Barbarian Russian troops rolled relentlessly nearer and bombs rained down on the once-beautiful Berlin it was painfully obvious that the city could not hold out much longer. Magda was determined to stay at her husband's side until the end. All previous thoughts of separation from him now seemed so trivial to her as their souls now merged in an Armageddon visage. Götterdämmerung had arrived. She made this decision although she clearly knew that that meant death or horrible imprisonment by what they considered subhuman savages (the Russians). Her greatest agony was for their children. There had been verified reports of the communist hordes cutting the throats of babies while the mothers were repeatedly raped. Children did not escape the rage of the drunken thugs of the Red Army. In fact, they seemed to be even more fun to kill and maim. Ilya Ehrenberg, the Chief Commissar, ordered his "troops" to 'kill! kill! kill!' This was the constant message heard throughout the Imperial City in 1945. We now know it was all too true!
Early on the morning of April 16 the battle for Berlin began. On his birthday, April 20th, Adolf Hitler entered for the first and last time the bunker below the Reich chancery and 2 days later ordered the Goebbels family to seek safety. When Magda arrived, he tried to persuade her to flee with the children to Bavaria. She refused saying that she saw it as her duty to stay with her leader. Unfortunately it was a decision that could have only one outcome, and her distress at the impending fate of these beautiful and beloved children was obvious to all around her. When on April 29th, Adolf Hitler said his farewells to those still in the bunker, she wept bitterly then urged him to flee. Perhaps in her mind, besides not wanting to see her beloved leader die or be captured, she also thought this might give a better chance for her children. When Hitler refused she wept even more profusely. Soon after, the shot that signaled the death of Adolf Hitler was heard. It was now only a question of time. On May 1st, with the murderous Russians already in Berlin, the family's fate could be postponed no longer. That evening Magda asked Hitler's doctor to administer morphine injections when they were asleep. She then put broken cyanide capsules into their mouths and thereafter poisoned herself, as well.
In her last letter to her son, who was then fighting against the Russians, she explained: "The world which will come after the Führer and National Socialism will not be worth living in. Therefore, I have brought the children over with me. We now have only one resolve, to remain true to the death to the Führer. That we can end our lives together with him is a blessing for which we never dared to hope." The First Lady of Germany then entered Valhalla with her husband and beloved children.
Just before the fateful hour Hitler took his golden party pin from his tunic pocket and gave it to her. The elation she felt was enough to make her momentarily forget the sadness all around.
Authors have called the euthanasia of these innocent children cold-blooded murder and twisted family values. I believe that before any such judgment call be made, these writers should read the statistics and the verified accounts of the vicious and brutal 1945 conquests of the Red hordes that would have loved the wife of Josef Goebbels and their children to fall into their claws. Magda and Josef, regardless of what they might think of their politics, did what was right and absolutely necessary thereby saving them from untold horrors that are surely unimaginable.
There actually very little of the personal possessions of this family that would have survived the conflagration. The party pin of Adolf Hitler that Magda was so proud to receive lies in burned condition in a Russian museum. This box that we display is probably the singular most important art object with obvious Goebbels-family importance to the saga of this turbulent era. We do not believe there could be anything more personal and historically valuable except it be the Goebbels diary, itself. This is very probably the most important item we have ever offered that in itself recounts the hopes, ambitions, and destiny of a family that went tragically asunder.
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