One of the most tiresome, but off repeated, myths concerning Adolf Hitler is the story that his father Alois Hitler was half Jewish making Hitler one quarter Jewish. The fact is this story is frankly very unlikely.
The story does have a certain neatness and a rather grotesque irony, but that is not enough to make it true. This legend as two versions let us deal with the more outrageous version first.
The chief modern source of this hypothesis is Walter C. Langer’s Psychological profile of Adolf Hitler done in 1943 for the American OSS. It was subsequently published in 1972.
There are some people who seriously doubt that Johann Georg Hiedler was the father of Alois. Thyssen and Koehler, for example, claim that Chancellor Dollfuss had ordered the Austrian police to conduct a thorough investigation into the Hitler family. As a result of this investigation a secret document was prepared which proved that Maria Anna Schicklgruber was living in Vienna at the time she conceived. At that time she was employed as a servant in the home of Baron Rothschild. As soon as the family discovered her pregnancy she was sent back to her home in Spital where Alois was born. If it is true that one of the Rothschild’s is the real father of Alois Hitler, it would make Adolph a quarter Jew. According to these sources, Adolph Hitler knew of the existence of this document and the incriminating evidence it contained. In order to obtain it he precipitated events in Austria and initiated the assassination of Dollfuss. According to this story, he failed to obtain the document at that time, since Dollfuss had secreted it and, had told Schuschnigg of its whereabouts so that in the event of his death the independence of Austria would remain assured. Several stories of this general character are in circulation.
Those who lend credence to this story point out several factors which seem to favor its plausibility:
(a) That it is unlikely that the miller's assistant in a small village in this district would have very much to leave in the form of a legacy.
(b) That it is strange that Johann Hiedler should not claim the boy until thirty-five years after he had married the mother and the mother had died.
(c) That if the legacy were left by Hiedler on the condition that Alois take his name, it would not have been possible for him to change it to Hitler.
(d) That the intelligence and behavior of Alois, as well as that of his two sons, is completely out of keeping with that usually found in Austrian peasant families. They point out that their ambitiousness and extraordinary political intuition is much more in harmony with the Rothschild tradition.
(e) That Alois Schicklgruber left his home village at an early age to seek his fortune in Vienna where his mother had worked.
(f) That it would be peculiar for Alois Hitler, while working as a customs official in Braunau, should choose a Jew named Prinz, of Vienna, to act as Adolph's godfather unless he felt some kinship with the Jews himself.1
Since the war not one scrap of evidence has been found to validate the story or to make it even in the slightest bit more plausible. It seems to be nothing more than a piece of gossip, of no value. It can be dismissed as nonsense. For example there seems to be no evidence that Maria Schicklgruber ever lived and or worked in Vienna much less worked for the Rothschilds.2
As for the origins of the story Ian Kershaw says:
Finally there is a third hypothesis. According to this A.H. had a Jewish grandfather. Such rumors were rife in Munich's cafés already during the early 1920s, and they were later fueled by foreign tabloids during the 1930s. The newspapers claimed that the name Hüttler was Jewish, they 'revealed' that it went back to a Jewish family named Hitler in Bucharest, and they even wrote that Hitler's father was the child of Baron Rothschild, in whose house Hitler's grandmother allegedly spent some time as a maid.3
This is certainly a very intriguing hypothesis and much of Adolph's later behavior could be explained in rather easy terms on this basis. However, it is not absolutely necessary to assume that he had Jewish blood in his veins in order to make a comprehensive picture of his character with its manifold traits and sentiments. From a purely scientific point of view, therefore, it is sounder not to base our reconstruction on such slim evidence but to seek firmer foundations. Nevertheless, we can leave it as a possibility which requires further verification.4
The second version of the story is more substantial and has a more substantial basis. Hans Frank, who was executed after his trial at Nuremburg, in his memoirs gives the following story.5
According to Frank William Patrick Hitler a son of Hitler’s half brother Alois Jr. threatened in 1930 via a blackmail letter to reveal that Hitler had Jewish ancestors:
…a son of Hitler’s half-brother Alois who was gently hinting that in view of certain allegations in the press it might be better if certain family matters weren’t shouted from the roof tops. The press reports in question suggested that Hitler had Jewish blood in his veins and hence was hardly qualified to be an anti-semite. But they were phrased in such general terms that nothing could be done about it. In the heat of the political struggle the whole thing died down. All the same, this threat of blackmail by a relative was a somewhat tricky business. At Hitler’s request I made some confidential inquiries.6
…intensive investigation elicited the following information: Hitler’s father was the illegitimate son of a women by the name of Schicklgruber from leonding near Linz who worked as a cook in a Graz household….But the most extraordinary part of the story is this: when the cook Schicklgruber (Adolf Hitler’s grandmother) gave birth to her child, she was in the service with a Jewish family called Frankenberger. And in behalf of his son, then about nineteen years old, Frankenberger paid a maintenance allowance to Schicklgruber from the time of the child’s birth until his fourteenth year. For a number of years, too. The Frankenbergers and Hitler’s grandmother wrote to each other, the general tenor of the correspondence betraying on both sides the tacit acknowledgement that Schicklgruber’s illegitimate child had been engendered under circumstances which made the Frankenbergers responsible for its maintenance …. Hence the possibility cannot b e dismissed that Hitler’s father was half Jewish as a result of the extramarital relationship between the Schicklgruber woman and the Jew from Graz. This would mean that Hitler was one-quarter Jewish.7
Also although no Frankenberger family has been found; a family by a similar name, Frankenreiter as in fact been found. Leopold Frankenreiter was a butcher and his son was 10 years old at the time of Alois' birth.
Before I close about the Frakenreiters I should mention the family was thoroughly Catholic.10
Another problem with the story is, although William smeared his uncle in an article in 1939 after he had left Germany, that the idea of him trying to blackmail his uncle in 1930 and then surviving intact and in fact prospering throughout most of the 1930’s in Nazi Germany beggars belief. It is so hard to believe that Adolf Hitler well known for carrying a grudge would not have, when he attained power seriously punished such an attempt.11
Other problems like the alleged letters, which apparently Frank never saw, have not turned up. Further Frank is not the most reliable of sources. Despite his repentance at Nuremberg Frank retained certain Nazi attitudes and certain aspects of his testimony like where Maria Schickelgruber came from are demonstatably wrong. Niklas Frank one of Hans Frank’s sons has written a caustic and vicious memoir about his father in which he characterizes his father has an egomaniac right to the end filled with self importance and anxious to be a legend and “great” at something even if it is wallowing in self pitying repentance. In his book Niklas tears apart Hans Frank’s memoirs revealing them to be in the end self serving and mendacious.12
So it appears that Alois Hitler’s parents were Maria Anna Schicklgruber and Johann Georg Hiedler, who married Maria 5 years after Alois’ birth, or possibly Georg’s brother Johann Nepomuk Hiedler. Which one of the two is in fact Alois’ father is a tangle I might try at a different time.13
Just to wrap things up Klara, (nee Pölzl) Hitler, Hitler’s mother, her parents were Johann Pölzl and Johanna Hiedler, both Catholics.14.
1. See copy of the report written by Langer, Walter C., at Nizkor Here. It is also published in Langer, Walter C., The Mind of Adolf Hitler, Basic Books, New York, 1972.
2. See Wikipedia Discussion at Alois Hitler, Here, Kershaw, Ian, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris, W.W. Norton & Co, New York, 2000, p. 35, Hamann, Brigette, Thornton, Thomas, Hitler's Vienna, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 77. See also Rosenbaum, Ron, Explaining Hitler, HarperPerennial, New York, 1998, pp. 16-36.
3. Kershaw, p. 35.
4. See Footnote 1, Langer.
5. Frank’s Memoirs, Im Angesicht des Galgens. Deutung Hitlers und seiner Zeit aufgrund eigener Erlebnisse und Erkenntnisse, have never been translated into English.
6. Quoted in Rosenbaum, p.20.
7. IBID. pp.21-22.
8. Footnote 2. Kershaw, pp. 35-40, Waite, Robert G., The Psychopathic God, Signet Books, 1977, pp. 150-157.
9. Waite, pp. 151-152.
11. Kershaw, pp. 35-40.
12. Frank, Niklas, In the Shadow of the Reich, Knopf, New York, 1991.
13. See Wikipedia, Alois Hitler, Here
14. See Wikipedia, Klara Hitler, Here