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The Lives of Nazi Wives

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Date Host Ian Punnett
Guests James Wyllie

Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Heydrich, Hess, Bormann - names synonymous with power and influence in the Third Reich. Perhaps less familiar are Carin, Emmy, Magda, Margarete, Lina, Ilse, and Gerda. These are the women behind the infamous men—complex individuals with distinctive personalities who were captivated by Hitler and whose everyday lives were governed by Nazi ideology. Historian and author James Wyllie joined Ian Punnett (Twitter) to discuss Nazi wives who've been treated as minor characters - their significance ignored, as if they were unaware of their husbands' murderous acts, despite the evidence that was all around them.

According to Wyllie, the Nazi wives he examined in his book were attracted to and participated in Nazism before Hitler came to power. Hermann Goering's first wife, Carin von Kantzow, came from a family with anti-Semitic views and Aryan ideology. "Carin fell much harder for Hitler than Goering did, and she was definitely the one who really pushed him to get involved in the Nazi movement," he explained. After Carin died Goering married his second wife, Emmy Sonnemann, a well-known actress who enjoyed the lavish lifestyle afforded her by Goering's position. She was never a fanatic but willfully blocked out the reality of what her husband was doing for Hitler, Wyllie noted.

Joseph Goebbels' wife, Magda Ritschel, pledged herself to the Nazi cause."The impact [Hitler] had on her was so great that she just committed completely and utterly to Nazism," Wyllie explained. After meeting Magda, Hitler allegedly floated an idea about having a relationship with her but only in the context of her being married to someone else, Wyllie revealed. Margarete Boden, the wife of Heinrich Himmler, was an anti-Semite which was a common though appalling view of the era. Hatred of Jews was casual, instinctive, and normalized for these people, he reported. "[Magda] knew more, I think, than anyone did about what was going on," Wyllie added. He covered a few other Nazi wives and pointed out most of them had an opportunity after the war to apologize for what they and their husbands were a part of, but none of them did.

In the first half hour, Dr. Ken Hanson commented on the possible use of hallucinogenics in ancient Judaic religious practices, as well as Merkabah mysticism.

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