Random Images: The Goebbels Children

(Last Updated On July 30, 2023)

The death of children is always heartbreaking. And there seems no end to the atrocious ways they reach their demise. The most poignant cases do not have so much to do with the manner of death, but the reason for its necessity. In the case of Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda minister, and Magda, their offspring—five daughters and a son—were the victims of fanatical ideology.

The children’s upbringing seemed pleasant enough with their own ponies and a little carriage in which to ride around. Joseph was photographed in public with some of his children on several occasions and set up a concealed camera to film them as a “healthy” contrast to the handicapped children in a propaganda film. In 1942, the children appeared 34 times in weekly newsreels, participating in pleasant everyday family activities. Goebbels was presented that October with a copy of those films. The children were moved around to put them out of harm’s way of advancing troops toward the end of the war. By April 22, 1945, the Goebbels moved their children into the Vorbunker, connected to the lower Führerbunker where Hitler and a few personnel were staying. Goebbels in an act of personal loyalty refused to flee Berlin and in a note stated that the children would have supported the decision to commit suicide if they had been old enough to speak for themselves! The plan was to have the children injected with morphine so they would be unconscious when the cyanide was administered. Magda was apparently contemplating the killing of her children a month beforehand. Her rationale was that she did not want them to grow up hearing that their father had been one of the century’s foremost criminals. The bodies were discovered by Soviet troops dressed in their nightclothes, with ribbons tied in the girls’ hair.

Graham Ovenden was inspired to write a poem commemorating this tragedy.

Graham Ovenden – Now six are dead … (poetry broadsheet) (date unknown)

[230730] A reader was kind enough to provide more details about this incident. There is apparently another blog that goes into this story in detail but I was not given the link. -Ron

The Goebbels children were the five daughters and one son born to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda Goebbels. The children, born between 1932 and 1940, were murdered by their parents in Berlin on May 1, 1945, the day both parents committed suicide.

Magda Goebbels had an elder son, Harald Quandt, from a previous marriage to Günther Quandt. Harald, then aged 23, was a prisoner of war when his younger half-siblings were killed. There are many theories of how they were killed; one is that Goebbels gave them something sweetened to drink. Currently, the most supported theory is that they were killed with a cyanide capsule.

Children’s names are Helga 12 , Hilde or Hildegard 11, Helmut 10, Hedda 8, Holde 7 and Heide 5.

In 1945 Helga was 12 years old when she was murdered by her parents. In her autopsy, bruises were found on her body mostly on her face which led to wide speculation that she had struggled against receiving a cyanide capsule, having crushed it between her teeth. There are many photos of Helga and a few were provided by the reader.

8 thoughts on “Random Images: The Goebbels Children

  1. Helga was beautiful. The autopsy photo is heartbreaking seeing that lifeless face There is film footage of the children on YouTube, the last one I saw was recorded in 1943 while riding in a horse drawn carriage, oblivious that the war was not going well for the Third Reich.
    The Goebbels children, all with a first name starting with an “H” to honor Hitler, were victims of World War II just like all of the other children who died.
    There are reports from some historians that Hitler ordered Goebbels to get the children out of the bunker and to the Western Allies but he disobeyed his Fuhrer; he didn’t want them to grow up in a world without Adolph Hitler The Western Allies would have protected the children as they did the two young daughters of Himmler and Goering who both lived to an old age.

  2. This is so heart breaking the horror of war and how man can lose our humanity and in hindsight it can never make any sense. It’s very hard to look at those images but I think maybe it will remind us to take a different path. Rich

  3. Nazi troops invading Russia were ordered that when firing into crowds, they should shoot at waist level rather than head level so as NOT to miss the children.

  4. I must express my appreciation to Graham Ovenden for his poignant, poetic memorial to these innocent youngsters. The photograph has been widely seen in many documentary films, but it still continues to evoke horror and the deepest feelings of regret. We know that over a million children were killed by the Nazi regime – through mass murder in the death camps or by direct military action – but the wanton destruction of these six little ones seems to symbolise the hideous waste of all those vibrant young lives and the total folly and futility of war. The scenario is vividly recreated in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s brilliant (2004) movie, ‘Der Untergang’ (‘Downfall’) but the sequence had me turning my face away from the screen in tears.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.