Magda Goebbels

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Magda Goebbels

Johanna Maria Magdalena "Magda" Goebbels (née Ritschel; b. 11 November 1901 in Berlin, Germany; d. 1 May 1945 in Berlin, Germany) was the wife of Joseph Goebbels. Some historians refer to her as the unofficial "First Lady" of National Socialist Germany, while others give that title to Emmy Göring.


Joseph and Magda's wedding day, with her son Harald Quandt. Adolf Hitler, their best man, can be seen in the background.
The family Goebbels visit Adolf Hitler in Obersalzberg, 1938
Magda Goebbels with her Children, circa 1938

Early life

Magda was born in 1901 in Berlin, Germany to an unwed couple, Auguste Behrend and building contractor and engineer Oskar Ritschel. The couple were married later that year and divorced in either 1904 or 1905. When Magda was five, her mother sent her to Cologne to stay with her ex-husband. In 1908, her mother married Richard Friedländer (1881– 1939), a Jewish businessman who worked in Brussels.

In 1919, Magda was enrolled in the prestigious 'Töchternheim Holzhausen' (Ladies' College Holzhausen) near Goslar.

Marriage and son with Günther Quandt

At the age of 17, Magda met Günther Quandt, a rich German industrialist twice her age. He had large shareholdings in BMW and Daimler-Benz. He demanded that she change her name back to Ritschel (having borne the name of her mother and stepfather, Friedländer) while converting from Ritschel's nominal Catholicism to Protestantism.[1] She and Quandt were married on 4 January 1921, and her first child, Harald, was born on 1 November 1921. Harald was her only child to survive the war.

Magda soon grew frustrated in her marriage; Quandt spent little time with her, as his main interest was the expansion of his business.

In October 1927, the couple went on a two-month visit to the United States, to conduct business with the Lloyd Electric Storage Battery Co. of Philadelphia. In 1929, Quandt discovered that Magda was having an affair, so they separated and divorced later in the year. The terms of the divorce were quite generous to Magda.

Marriage and family with Joseph Goebbels

Magda attended a meeting of the NSDAP, where she was impressed by one of the speakers, Joseph Goebbels, then the Gauleiter (regional leader) of Berlin. She joined the party on 1 September 1930, and did some volunteer work. From the local branch, Magda moved to the party headquarters and for a brief period became secretary to Hans Meinshausen, Goebbels' deputy, before being invited to take charge of Goebbels' own private archives.

Magda married Goebbels on 19 December 1931 with Adolf Hitler as a witness.

Joseph and Magda Goebbels had six children: Helga Susanne (1932), Hildegard "Hilde" Traudel (1934), Helmut Christian (1935), Holdine "Holde" Kathrin (1937), Hedwig "Hedda" Johanna (1938), and Heidrun "Heide" Elisabeth (1940).

It is claimed that Joseph Goebbels had several affairs with other women during his marriage to Magda. One of them being with the popular Czech actress Lída Baarová.

War years

At the beginning of the war Magda threw herself enthusiastically into her husband's propaganda machine. Her other official functions involved entertaining the wives of the foreign heads of state, supporting the troops and comforting war widows. Joseph (as propaganda minister) and Magda remained loyal to Hitler and publicly supported him.

Magda's first son, Harald Quandt, became a Luftwaffe pilot and fought at the front, while, at home, Magda strove to live up to the image of a patriotic mother by training as a Red Cross nurse and working with the electronics company Telefunken. She insisted on traveling to work on a bus, like her co-workers.

Towards the end of the war, Magda is known to have suddenly begun to suffer from trigeminal neuralgia.[2] This condition affects a nerve in the face, and although usually harmless is considered to cause more intense pain than many other condition and can be notoriously hard to treat.[3] This often left her bedridden and led to bouts of hospitalization as late as August 1944.[4]



In late April 1945, the Soviet Red Army entered Berlin, and the Goebbels family moved into the Vorbunker, that was connected to the lower Führerbunker under the Reich Chancellery gardens.[5] One of the rooms they occupied had been recently vacated by Hitler's personal physician Theodor Morell. Meanwhile, reports of Soviet troops looting and raping as they advanced were circulating in Berlin.

With defeat imminent during the Battle of Berlin at the end of World War II, she and her husband killed their six children with something "sweetened" to drink. About two hours later, Magda came back down to the Führerbunker, alone. She looked very pale, her eyes very red and her face was "frozen". After their children were dead, Magda and Joseph Goebbels walked up to the garden of the Chancellery, where they committed suicide.


There is no evidence that Magda intervened to help her Jewish stepfather from the Buchenwald concentration camp. Though his fate has not been established.


  1. Meissner, Hans Otto, Magda Goebbels, First Lady of the Third Reich, p. 31
  2. Klabunde, Anja, Magda Goebbels, p.302
  3. What is Trigeminal Neuralgia? TNA Website
  4. Meissner, Hans Otto, Magda Goebbels, First Lady of the Third Reich, pp. 141, 228 & 234
  5. Mollo, Andrew & Ramsey, Winston, ed. After the Battle, Number 61, Seymour Press Ltd., London, 1988, pp 28, 30