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What David Irving wrote of Magda's tumultuous affair with Viktor [Haim] Arlosoroff in his biography. (Original 1994 MS)
SHE began a furtive relationship with his [Günther Quandt's] oldest son Hellmut [Quandt]. Sexually unfulfilled, the twenty-three year old Magda [Quandt] was fatally attracted to this gifted and delicate young man, then aged only eighteen. Her husband found it wise to send young Hellmut to complete his studies in London and Paris. After an operation for appendicitis in Paris, complications set in and young Hellmut died tragically in her arms in 1927. Heartbroken, she accompanied her husband on a six month tour of the Americas, taking their big red Maybach car everywhere they went. Standing next to the balding, blazered, bow-tied millionaire Quandt this bored, blue-eyed blonde was a star attraction in high society on both sides of the Border. Something intimate evidently passed between Magda and the former president Herbert Hoover's nephew, because he came to Berlin after her estrangement from Quandt and pleaded with her to marry him.20
Back in Berlin Quandt had settled down and purchased a roomy winter home in Charlottenburg, while keeping on their new villa at New Babelsberg for the summer. Magda took refuge from her boredom in books-buying a ten-volume Buddhist catechism one day in Leipzig-and wafted from store to store, from one empty social event to the next until she could stand it no longer.21
In the summer of 1929 she embarked on an affair with a thirty-year old law student, a Jew.22 She pleaded in vain with Quandt to release her. Hoping to catch him in some infidelity, she had him watched, but equally in vain. The student was a perfect and attentive lover, plying her with flowers, and she accompanied him on a trip to the Hotel Dreesen at Godesberg. This time however Quandt had hired the detectives; after reading their report, he threw her out.
Penniless and unemployed Magda returned to her mother while she negotiated a settlement with Quandt. Ello Quandt, her sister-in-law, advised her to blackmail her aging husband about a bundle of papers she had found.23 It proved unnecessary, however. He remained a perfect gentleman, agreed to a divorce, and willingly accepted the fiction that he had contributed to the breakdown of the marriage. 'Do we not all,' he would write, 'at times assume the blame, when in fact we are not in the wrong?'24 Until she remarry he granted her custody of their son, a lavish four-thousand mark monthly allowance, and fifty thousand marks to purchase a house. She leased a seven-room luxury apartment at No.2 Reichskanzler Platz in West Berlin.
There could be no question of marrying her unemployed student lover -- marriage to anybody would cut off her alimony cornucopia. So she lived, loved, and travelled around as her law student's paramour while privately planning her future -- without him. Drinking heavily one evening at the Nordic Ring club she met the Hohenzollern Prince August-Wilhelm (Goebbels' S.A. comrade, 'Auwi'). The prince suggested that the party needed people like her. She heard Goebbels speak soon after; fascinated, she enrolled at the Nazi party's minuscule West End branch run by the young engine-driver's son Karl Hanke. Her Party membership dated from September 1, 1930.25 She found herself taking charge of the local Women's Order. From there she gravitated to headquarters at No.10 Hedemann Strasse. With her above-average education she was appointed secretary to Dr Hans Meinshausen, Goebbels' deputy as gauleiter.26
Goebbels, it must be said, had little going for him at this time. He was a cripple; his total monthly salary was one-eighth of Magda's monthly alimony; but she heard him speak again, and she passed him once as he came limping up the steps. 'I thought I might almost catch fire,' she told her mother excitedly, 'under this man's searching, almost devouring, gaze.'27 She told Ello Quandt that to judge by his suit Goebbels was obviously in need of, well, mothering. A few weeks later it struck Günther Quandt, who still frequently met her, that she talked of nothing but the Nazis. 'At first I thought it was just a passing fad for the oratorical gift of Dr Goebbels,' he wrote. Her law student lover also noticed, and flared that she seemed to be losing her head to that clubfooted loudmouth.
'You're mad,' she snapped. 'I could never love Goebbels!'
Chapter 16: The Stranger and the Shadow
THE thermometer's mercury thread has climbed to 40C. Goebbels is ill, but Magda phones only once, saying she's at the Quandt estate in Mecklenburg.1 He struggles out of bed on the Friday, April 10, 1931, to speak to two thousand party officials. On Saturday he learns that she is back in Berlin; she does not contact him. Ilse [Stahl] and Olga fuss around the invalid. He is too weak to resist. On Sunday he phones her home. She is not there; later however she phones him, and admits that she has been seeing off a young lover -- but he has brought things to a head and fired a revolver at her. She tells Goebbels she is injured (in fact the Jewish law student's bullet has struck the door frame next to her. 'If you had really aimed at me and hit me,' she scoffs, 'I might have been impressed. I find your behaviour ridiculous.')2
Too late Goebbels realizes how much he loves her. Must he always be lonely? These and other thoughts lay siege to him. He spends Sunday pining for her and writing a gripping description of his jealous delirium. Perhaps thirty times he telephones her home, but nobody answers. He glares at the phone, willing it to ring. Staying home on Monday the thirteenth he at last reaches her by phone. They drive out to a remote forest house at Pichelsdorf. She pours out her heart about the grief her crazed ex-lover has caused her. She answers his reproaches with floods of tears, the last resort of feminine culpability; but she wishes to spend Saturday with the other man, to say farewell. She refuses Goebbels' ultimatum to spend that Saturday with him. 'Thus it is over,' writes Goebbels. Unconsciously scriptwriting again, he adds: 'She exits weeping.'3
KEEPING a tryst with Magda at the five star Kaiserhof hotel, he recognizes that the other man, the 'shadow', is still coming between them.27 Fretting, he spends his evenings alone at Steglitz fingering his piano keyboard, leafing idly through a book or fitfully dozing. He phones countless times without reaching her. After one colossal Sport Palace gathering she invites him back to her own luxurious apartment for the first time. The Shadow has gone. Her elegant suite of seven rooms includes a music room, and quarters for her guests and servants. He decides that the worst is over between them. His diary soon finds him making plans for the future with her: and he is no longer keeping score.28
Shadows flit in and out from his own past. Magda remains a vexatious enigma still, often inexplicably unpunctual for their dates. Once she tells him that 'a stranger' has warned her that Dr Goebbels is a Jew, and has shown her an original letter 'stolen from the gau HQ files' written a decade earlier by Goebbels to Director Cohnen, a family friend at Mönchen Gladbach. Cohnen was the gauleiter's real father, suggests the stranger, who also mentions Peter Simons, the husband of Goebbels' maternal aunt Anna. 'This is what I have to put up with,' winces Goebbels, puzzling over the stranger's identity.29 (The 'stolen' document is probably a product of Magda's own feline dustbinning around while working in his personal archives, but this evidently does not occur to him.)
The two spend Whitsun on her ex-husband's estate Severin in Mecklenburg. Günther Quandt's manager, a leading local Nazi, lets them in. Alone at last they iron out their remaining differences. Sometimes she still wounds him with an ill-considered word, but the wound soon heals.30 He longs for a hearth and home. He begins talking about setting up a matrimonial home when victory is theirs; this is comfortingly vague, and she goes along with that.31 After he returns to Berlin -- alone, as she has asked to stay on for another day in this country idyll -- he writes, 'When we have conquered the Reich we shall become man and wife.32 In fact Magda probably entertained little real ambition to harness her uxorial ambitions to such an uncertain chariot. He writes her a real love letter -- the first such essay in ten years.33 Visiting her to give her a clock a few days later, he is thunderstruck to find the Shadow still living there; Magda tells him that since the student will not budge, she is moving out and will have the police evict the trespasser.34 As a sop to Goebbels, she agrees he shall have the right to walk young Harald [Quandt] to the Herder school across the square.
After speaking at Erfurt Goebbels meets Anka Stalherm and breaks the news about Magda to her. He is pleased to see that Anka goes to pieces. She wants not to believe him, thinks she can hook him back even now. But it is too late -- 'I am with Magda,' he vows to his diary, 'and shall stay with her.'35 When his latest book 'Struggle for Berlin' appears later in the year, he will have it mailed to Anka with a typed note ('Dear Party-member...') signed by his secretary.36
© Copyright 1996 Parforce UK Ltd