Magda Goebbels
The First Lady of Germany

This page was made by Angela Mesna, a senior English major at UCSB (link to author's page). I became interested in Magda and wanted to learn how a well-off and well-rounded woman could get involved in with the Nazi elite. The information about Magda was gathered from various internet sites as well as a Biography by Hans-Otto-Meissner (sources).

Magda Goebbels, was born in 1901 to Auguste Behrendt and Oskar Ritschel, who married shortly after her birth. Their family atmosphere helped set her up for the rest of her life. Her father was a well cultured, and well-connected engineer. Her mother came from a more humble background in which she had worked as a chambermaid. The marriage between Magda's mother and father ended in divorce when Magda was three years old. Her mother remarried two years later to a Jewish man named Richard Friedländer. Friedländer became a second father to Magda. Her mother and stepfather moved near her father in Brussels where she spent time with and was raised by both fathers. This early childhood experience allowed Magda to learn to adjust to and manage two very different mentalities. Although she first lived mainly with her mother and Jewish stepfather, she then went to boarding school at the Ursuline convent of Sacre Coeur near Brussels, which was one of the strictest Catholic schools in existence.

Magda married the multi-millionaire Günther Quandt in 1921, after changing her adopted surname Friedländer, since Quandt did not want to marry someone with a Jewish last name. They had one child, born that same year. Quandt proved to be too involved and rather anti-social, which went against Magda's sociability and desire to use her skills at entertaining and social graces to advance his business. She was also taken aback by his intense jealousy and the imbalance between his tight penny-pinching and extravagant spending. Magda eventually grew to despise being married to Quandt, who divorced her in 1929 after discovering that she was having an affair with a Zionist student. However, they remained on speaking terms.

Magda began courting again and was on the verge of marrying Mr. Hoover, nephew to President Hoover but was so occupied with her new freedom that she said she would never marry again. At this point in her life she came into the clutches of Nazi propaganda. Magda, who had never really been involved or interested in politics, found herself in a massive Nazi meeting in the Berlin Sportpalast. She was captivated by the speaker and found herself fascinated by what she heard. Later she came to find that she was not fascinated by the words the man spoke, but by the man himself, the ever charismatic and enthusiastic speaker Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels had a knack for connecting with his women listeners, and in this case the connection altered the woman's life irrevocably.

The magnetic speaker and his captivated listener were engaged in the summer of 1930. It is said that during her marriage to Goebbels Magda became so obsessed with him that she was in a state of complete self-surrender. Magda set up their household that soon became an entertaining place for many Nazi gatherings and personal meetings between Goebbels and Hitler himself. She also bore Goebbels six children. Goebbels, despite all that Magda had given him, remained a womanizer and expected his wife to allow him to have extramarital affairs for the sake of his happiness. Not only did he sleep with other women, but also refused to help her stepfather who later perished in Buchenwald. After catching her husband in her own bed with one of his lovers she decided to file for divorce. The only way to divorce at that time was through Hitler. She went to Hitler and showed him all the incriminating evidence she had gathered against her husband. Hitler would not allow the couple to divorce and said that they must stay together and keep up appearances, especially for the sake of the reputation of the Third Reich. Magda agreed to this but observed that Goebbels was the "biggest scoundrel who has ever held the German people in thrall."

The ultimate blow that came to Magda and her family was in April of 1945 when the Nazi regime had been overrun and they had sought refuge with Hitler in his Berlin bunker. After the suicide of Hitler, and other officials, Magda poisoned her six children [or had them poisoned by a doctor] and then herself. Joseph Goebbels shot himself and appointed his servant to shoot him once more to make sure he was dead. So, this is the end of the "First Lady of Germany." The woman that was well respected and known in Germany, the daughter of a decent family, found herself bound to the murderous Nazi regime. She was wholly captivated by the propaganda and charismatic leaders, but when she finally figured out what she had gotten into it was too late to get out [this refers to her marriage to Joseph Goebbels, not to her involvement with the Nazi regime--she was a dedicated follower of Hitler and National Socialism to the bitter end]. Hitler would not let her divorce, and in the end, her children were forced to suffer for their mother's tragic misjudgment of their father's character. Magda is an example of a woman who was utterly captivated by Hitler's ideologies and paid the ultimate price.

UCSB Hist 33D course homepage

Hist 33D web projects index page

Hitler's Women homepage
Angela Mesna
Brittney Smith
Jessica Evans

Nazi Relatives:
Eva Braun
Magda Goebbels
Winifred Wagner
Leni Riefenstahl
Zarah Leander
Marlene Dietrich
Concentration Camp Guards:
Ilse Koch
Irma Grese
Herta Bothe
Images and Bibliography pages

Content by: Angela Mesna
Web Design: Brittney Smith
Date created: December 8, 2003
[corrections 11/17/11]