Another event that could be perceived as a ‘sign’ happened thirteen years before his birth. In 1876, the man who was to become his father changed his last name from ‘Alois Schicklgruber’ to ‘Alois Hitler’. It was, indeed, a stroke of good fortune for Adolf as ‘Heil Schicklgruber’ would have sounded an unlikely salutation to the Führer of Germany.
The most likely reason for this change was simple and obvious. ‘Hitler’ was a version of ‘Hiedler’ (last name of Czech origin) – the last name of Alois’ stepfather Johann Georg Hiedler, a fifty-year-old miller’s journeyman, who married Alois’ mother – Maria Anna Schicklgruber – five years after Alois was born.
Alois was registered as an illegitimate child – the baptismal register left a blank in the space allocated to the baby’s father (which was not unusual at that time). However, persistent rumors were that Alois was actually out-of-wedlock son of Johann Hiedler and thirty-nine years later it was decided that it was time to recognize this fact.
So the legalization protocol of a notary in Weitra on 6 June 1876, signed by three witnesses, duly recorded Alois as the son of Georg Hitler. It should be noted that the last names ‘Hiedler’, ‘Hietler’, ‘Hüttler’, ‘Hütler’, and ‘Hitler’ occurred interchangeably in official documents of the XIX century and were phonetically barely distinguishable.
The following day the legitimation of Alois was completed when the parish priest of Döllersheim altered the birth register to strike out the name ‘Schicklgruber’, replacing ‘out of wedlock’ by ‘within wedlock’, and entering in the hitherto empty box for the father’s name ‘Georg Hitler’.
Despite this legalization, there were persistent rumors (mostly spread by political opponents of Adolf Hitler) that Alois’ father (Adolf Hitler’s grandfather) was… Jewish.
These rumors circulated in Munich cafés in the early 1920s, and were fostered by sensationalist journalism of the (mostly anti-Nazi) foreign press during the 1930s. And even found their way into the memoirs of the leading Nazi lawyer and Governor General of Poland, Hans Frank, dictated in his Nuremberg cell while awaiting execution.
According to these rumors, Maria Anna Schicklgruber had given birth to Alois while serving as a cook in the home of a Jewish family (Frankenberger) in Graz.
These rumors were, well… rumors. In other words, totally bogus. For one simple reason – there were no Jews at all in Graz (actually, in the whole of Styria) at the time, since Jews were not permitted in that part of Austria until the 1860s.
There was no family called Frankenberger in Graz during the 1830s. A family named Frankenreiter did live there, but was not Jewish. And there is no evidence that Maria Anna was ever in Graz, let alone was employed by the butcher Leopold Frankenreiter.
Adolf Hitler respected and even admired his father. More than that, Alois Hitler became the first and probably the most important role model for his son.
In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler with deep admiration stated that his father had the courage to “leave home and face the unknown” (Adolf will do the same at the age of nineteen by moving to Vienna).
Alois Hitler made up his mind to achieve something higher than his environment had in store for him. And “succeeded in making himself what he had resolved to become”. Adolf Hitler specifically stressed that his father’s achievements “were exclusively the result of his own indefatigable industry and energy”. And explicitly called him “self-made man”.
Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf that he loved his father. It does not seem to be the case, though. Respected, honored, admired, revered (maybe) – yes. Loved – not likely. It appears that the only person Hitler has ever genuinely loved was his mother.
In 2005, two historians (Timothy Ryback and Florian Beierl) announced that they discovered the personal journal allegedly written (typed, actually) by Paula Hitler (Wolff). According to this journal, Hitler grew up in a severely dysfunctional family.
The journal claims that Alois Hitler beat his wife on a regular basis (and his son – almost daily) and that after his father died, Adolf bullied, slapped and even beat his sister – also on a regular basis.
The authenticity of this journal is, however, highly questionable. Primarily because on June 5th, 1946 Paula was interrogated by a U.S. Army agent and gave a very different account of her family life.
“The married life of my parents was a very happy one” – she said. Doesn’t sound like permanent domestic violence at all. And characterized her childhood relationship with her brother as one of both “constant bickering and strong affection”. Ditto.
She confirmed that Adolf was a “domestic rebel”, who “challenged my father to extreme harshness and who got his sound thrashing every day. He was a scrubby little rogue, and all attempts of his father to thrash him for his rudeness…were in vain”.
Domestic corporal punishment of children in Austria at that time was the norm, not the exception so it is very likely that Adolf did receive his “thrashing” on a regular basis (although “every day” is most likely an exaggeration). And considered it (judging by how he described relationship with his father in Mein Kampf), well… normal.
According to Ian Kershaw, “Alois Hitler was authoritarian, overbearing, domineering husband and stern, masterful and irritable father”. And his mother “submissive, pious, retiring and quiet woman absorbed in care of her children”.
Which again, Adolf Hitler considered normal. More than that, he later viewed his family as the role model for the ideal German family. Which is hardly compatible with the picture of a ‘dysfunctional family’.
Paula called her father “the absolute type of the old Austrian official, conservative and loyal to his emperor to the skin”. This loyalty profoundly influenced Adolf – so profoundly that he made loyalty the most important feature of the ‘ideal German’ and the ‘ideal national-socialist’.
Adolf was the fourth of six children in Hitler family. Four children died at a very young age so Klara – his mother – poured all her love onto Adolf and his younger sister Paula. Consequently, Adolf received a much higher than usual amount of maternal love. Which he has reciprocated – in a deep, sincere and powerful way.
Adolf Hitler’s love for his mother proved beyond the reasonable doubt that he was capable of very powerful devotion and feelings of love. Love for his biological mother subsequently was transformed into deep, powerful and passionate love for Mother Germany.
Paula Hitler stated in her 1946 interview: “Assisting me, my brother Adolf spoiled my mother during the last weeks of her life with overflowing tenderness. He was indefatigable in his care for her, wanted to comply with any desire she could possibly have and did all to demonstrate his great love for her.”
Dr. Eduard Bloch – Hitler’s family physician – later also testified to Hitler’s devoted and ‘unrelenting’ care for his dying mother. And stated that he has never seen anyone so prostrate with grief when Hitler’s mother died from cancer on December 21st, 1908 (she was just 47 years old).
It is important to note that Dr. Bloch was Jewish – the fact that apparently did not cause any negative feelings in Adolf Hitler (or in anyone in his family, for that matter). Which means that Adolf Hitler developed his Anti-Semitic (Judeophobic, actually) feelings and attitudes later (possibly much later).
In 1946, Paula testified about her relationship with her brother Adolf: “Naturally he was the great brother for me, but I submitted to his authority only with inner resistance. In fact we were brother and sister, who did frequently quarrel, but were fond of each other”. And added: “My relationship with my brother remained as affectionate as it was unto his death”. Which was very dangerous to admit in 1946.
U.S. Army agent who interrogated Paula in 1946, confirmed these statements, noting in his comments to the interrogation transcript: “This woman is not in the least denying the fact that she was extremely fond of her brother”.
In 1921 (thirteen years after Adolf Hitler left his family home for good), he and Paula met in Vienna. In 1946, Paula told U. S. Army agent who was interrogating her: “I admit that I can remember this meeting with my brother always as a great and happy event. Living alone and in modest conditions in Vienna, I happened to meet my brother I had imagined lost through the war, who was showing his love for me and giving me presents, which meant exorbitant luxury for me! It were few but happy days we spent together in Vienna”. Again, does not sound at all like a bully and a domestic abuser.
Adolf Hitler continued to care for his sister after he became the Führer of NSDAP and then of the whole Germany. Paula testified “I went to Munich and described my difficult position of life to my brother. With full understanding he assured me that he would provide for me in future. He did so until his death and at first transferred the sum of 250 Mk, later on since 1938 – the sum of 500 Mk to me. Moreover I got a present of 3000 Mk every Christmas”. According to her testimony, in 1941 his financial support allowed her to buy a little house in Weiten in the Wachau.