The destination for history

Unity Mitford meets Hitler


The relationship between Unity Mitford and Adolf Hitler continues to fascinate readers even today but how did the paths of a socialite and a world leader happen to cross?

For all Adolf Hitler’s obvious lust for power and theatrical political persuasion he was remarkably catholic in his choice of restaurants and, fortunately for Unity Mitford, he was equally remarkable for his unswerving routine and apparent lack of any desire for social status. This resulted in his invariably taking lunch at the Osteria Bavaria and tea at The Carlton Tea Rooms; both were Munich establishments, especially the former, noted for their lack of pretension. He also tended to dine with friends rather than senior party members and obviously felt the need for minimal security. So it was that, having established his routine, all Unity had to do was dine and take tea in the same restaurants, with sufficient frequency for his curiosity to eventually cause him to invite her to his table. Could it have been as simple as that? Perhaps not quite.

Having enrolled at Baroness Laroche’s finishing school she was soon introduced to the cream of Munich society, including Erna Hanfstaengl. Erna’s Harvard educated brother, Putzi, was a close, personal friend and confidant of Hitler. Extremely well connected socially, in both England and Germany he helped Hitler polish his international image and introduced him to all the ‘right’ people, particularly in Munich. It thus seems highly likely that he would have been influential in gaining an introduction for Unity.

Unity also had a number of affairs with various ‘storms’ or Hitler’s SS officer adjutants who not only gave her details of their leader's movements but on entering the either restaurant or teashop, would have greeted her and the various friends she often took with her, and doubtless told Hitler who she was and where she came from. So while the Mitford family subsequently gave the impression that Unity’s success in gaining an introduction to the Führer was the result nothing than patient, romantic determination, it seems to have been planned with considerably more guile and forethought. 

By David R.L. Litchfield

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