Alois Hitler in 1901
7 June 1837
Strones, Waldviertel, Lower Austria, Austrian Empire
|Died||3 January 1903
Gasthaus Wiesinger, Linz, Upper Austria, Austria-Hungary
|Children||with Franziska Matzelsberger:|
Alois Schicklgruber was born in the village of Strones in the Waldviertel, a hilly forested area in northwest Lower Austria just north of Vienna, to a 42-year-old unmarried peasant, Maria Anna Schicklgruber, whose family had lived in the area for generations. At his baptism at the nearby village of Döllersheim, the space for his father's name on the baptismal certificate was left blank and the priest wrote "illegitimate". His mother cared for Alois in a house she shared at Strones with her elderly father, Johannes Schicklgruber.
Sometime later, Johann Georg Hiedler moved in with the Schicklgrubers; he married Maria when Alois was five. By the age of 10, Alois had been sent to live with Hiedler's brother, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, who owned a farm in the nearby village of Spital (part of Weitra). Alois attended elementary school and took lessons in shoe-making from a local cobbler. At the age of 13 he left the farm in Spital and went to Vienna as an apprentice cobbler, working there for about five years. In response to a recruitment drive by the Austrian government offering employment in the civil service to people from rural areas, Alois joined the frontier guards (customs service) of the Austrian Finance Ministry in 1855 at the age of 18.
Alois Schicklgruber made steady progress in the semi-military profession of customs official. The work involved frequent re-assignments and he served in a variety of places across Austria. By 1860, after five years of service, he reached the rank of Finanzwach-Oberaufseher (Revenue guard superintendent). By 1864, after special training and examinations, he had advanced further and was serving in Linz, Austria. He later became an inspector of customs posted at Braunau am Inn in 1875. He eventually rose to full inspector of customs and could go no higher because he lacked the necessary school degrees.
Change of surname
As a rising young junior customs official, he used his birth name of Schicklgruber, but in mid-1876, 39 years old and well established in his career, he asked permission to use his stepfather's family name. He appeared before the parish priest in Döllersheim and asserted that his father was Johann Georg Hiedler, who had married his mother and now wished to legitimize him. Three relatives appeared with him as witnesses, one of whom was Johann Nepomuk, Hiedler's brother. The priest agreed to amend the birth certificate, the civil authorities automatically processed the church's decision and Alois Schicklgruber had a new name. The official change, registered at the government office in Mistelbach in 1877 transformed him into "Alois Hitler". It is not known who decided on the spelling of Hitler instead of Hiedler. Johann Georg's brother was sometimes known by the surname Hüttler.
Smith states that Alois Schicklgruber openly admitted having been born out of wedlock before and after the name change. Alois may have been influenced to change his name for the sake of legal expediency. Historian Werner Maser claims that in 1876, Franz Schicklgruber, the administrator of Alois' mother's estate, transferred a large sum of money (230 gulden) to him.
Supposedly, Johann Georg Hiedler, who died in 1857, relented on his deathbed and left an inheritance to his illegitimate stepson (Alois) together with his name.
Historians have discussed three candidates as Alois' biological father: Johann Georg Hiedler, his brother Johann Nepomuk Hiedler (or Hüttler), and Leopold Frankenberger (whose existence has never been documented). Most historians are satisfied that Alois' father was Johann Georg Hiedler, who during his own lifetime was the stepfather and posthumously legally declared birth father of Alois. According to historian Frank McDonough, the most plausible theory is that Johann Georg Hiedler was the real father of Alois. An explanation for Alois being sent to live on his uncle's farm as a child is that Hiedler and Maria were simply too poor to raise him, or could not raise him as well as his uncle, or perhaps Maria's health was in decline (she died when he was 10).
Werner Maser suggests that Alois' father was Johann Nepomuk, Georg's brother and Hitler's step-uncle, who raised Alois through adolescence and later willed him a considerable portion of his life savings, but never admitted publicly to be his real father. According to Maser, Nepomuk was a married farmer who had an affair and then arranged to have his single brother Hiedler marry Alois' mother Maria to provide a cover for Nepomuk's desire to assist and care for Alois without upsetting his wife. This assumes Hiedler was willing to marry Maria in this situation, and Adolf Hitler biographer Joachim Fest thinks this is too contrived and unlikely to be true.
Alois' son Adolf Hitler, following the rumours that his paternal grandfather was a Jew, in 1931 ordered the SS (Schutzstaffel) to investigate the alleged rumours regarding his ancestry; they found no evidence of any Jewish ancestors. After the Nuremberg Laws came into effect within the Third Reich, Hitler then ordered a genealogist by the name of Rudolf Koppensteiner to publish a large illustrated genealogical tree showing his ancestry; this was published in the book Die Ahnentafel des Fuehrers ("The Pedigree of the Leader") in 1937, which concluded that Hitler's family were all Austrian Germans with no Jewish ancestry and that Hitler had an unblemished "Aryan" pedigree. As Alois himself legitimized Johann Georg Hielder as his father and the priest changed this on his birth certificate in 1876 this was considered certified proof for Hitler's ancestry, thus Hitler was considered an Aryan.
After the war Hitler's former lawyer, Hans Frank, claimed that Hitler told him in 1930 that one of his relatives was trying to blackmail him by threatening to reveal his alleged Jewish ancestry. Hitler asked Frank to find out the facts. Frank says he determined that at the time Maria Schicklgruber gave birth to Alois she was working as a household cook in the town of Graz, her employers were a Jewish family named Frankenberger, and that her child might have been conceived out of wedlock with the family's 19-year-old son, Leopold Frankenberger.
All Jews had been expelled from the province of Styria (which includes Graz) in the 15th century and were not allowed to return until the 1860s. There is no evidence of a Frankenberger family living in Graz at that time. Scholars such as Ian Kershaw and Brigitte Hamann dismiss the Frankenberger hypothesis (which had only Frank's speculation to support it) as baseless. (Kershaw cites several stories circulating in the 1920s about Hitler's Jewish ancestry including one about a "Baron Rothschild" in Vienna whose household Maria Schicklgruber had worked for some time as a servant). Frank's story contains several inaccuracies and contradictions, such as he said "The fact that Adolf Hitler had no Jewish blood in his veins, had, from what has been his whole manner so blatant that it needs no further word", also the statement Frank had said that Maria Schicklgruber came from "Leonding near Linz", when in fact she came from the hamlet of Strones, near the village of Döllersheim. Rosenbaum suggests that Frank, who though he had turned against Nazism after 1945 remained an anti-Semitic fanatic, made the claim that Hitler had Jewish ancestry as a way of proving that Hitler was a Jew and not an Aryan.
In 2010 Jean-Paul Mulders's and historian Marc Vermeeren used samples from Adolf Hitler's distant relatives to try and trace the Hitler family's haplogroup. Their conclusion was that it belongs to the Haplogroup E1b1b (Y-DNA). This haplogroup originated in East Africa about 22,400 years ago.
The largest Y-chromosome testing organization for genealogy and ancestry purposes (‘Family Tree DNA’) later announced that the interpretation of the Hitler family ancestry given by certain media outlets based on the information released by Jean-Paul Mulders and historian Marc Vermeeren was "highly questionable". Family Tree DNA’s Chief Y-DNA Scientist, Professor Michael Hammer said that “scientific studies as well as records from our own database make it clear that one cannot reach the kind of conclusion featured in the published articles.”
Based on Family Tree DNA records, some 9% of the populations of Germany and Austria belong to the haplogroup E1b1b, and among those, about 80% are not associated with Jewish ancestry.
"This data clearly show that just because one person belongs to the branch of the Y-chromosome referred to as haplogroup E1b1b, that does not mean the person is likely to be of Jewish ancestry," said Professor Hammer.
Therefore contrary to newspaper headlines regarding the Hitler family DNA, it is not correct to say that they had any Jewish or recent African ancestry as the DNA found is relatively common in Austria and Germany (9% in Austria and 8% in Germany) and the tests remain inconclusive until they have been scientifically verified.
Mulders confirmed the misinterpretation of his research with the following statement to Family Tree DNA: "I never wrote that Hitler was a Jew, or that he had a Jewish grandfather. I only wrote that Hitler's haplogroup is E1b1b, being more common among Berbers, Somalian people and Jews than among overall Germans. This, in order to convey that he was not exactly what during the Third Reich would have been called 'Aryan.' All the rest are speculations of journalists who didn't even take the trouble to read my article, although I had it translated into English especially for this purpose."
The conclusion that Jean-Paul Mulders comes to in these results contradicts what his DNA research showed when he tried to determine whether or not it was Hitler who was allegedly the German soldier who had a son to a French woman and the conclusion from the results was that "Adolf Hitler had no Jewish blood nor a French son."
Marriages and children
Early married life
Alois was 36 when he married for the first time. Anna Glasl-Hörer was a wealthy, 50-year-old daughter of a customs official. She was sick when Alois married her and was either an invalid or became one shortly afterwards.
Not long after marrying his first wife, Anna, Alois Hitler began an affair with Franziska "Fanni" Matzelsberger, one of the young female servants employed at the Pommer Inn, house #219, in the city of Braunau am Inn, where he was renting the top floor as a lodging. Smith states that Alois had numerous affairs in the 1870s, resulting in his wife initiating legal action; on 7 November 1880 Alois and Anna separated by mutual agreement. The 19-year-old Matzelsberger became the 43-year-old Hitler's girlfriend, but the two could not marry since under Roman Catholic canon law, divorce is not permitted.
In 1876, three years after Hitler married Anna, he had hired Klara Pölzl as a household servant. She was the 16-year-old granddaughter of Hitler's step-uncle (and possible father or biological uncle) Nepomuk. If Nepomuk was Hitler's father, Klara was Hitler's half-niece. If his father was Johann Georg, she was his first cousin once removed. Matzelsberger demanded that the "servant girl" Klara find another job, and Hitler sent Pölzl away.
On 13 January 1882, Matzelsberger gave birth to Hitler's illegitimate son, also named Alois, but since they were not married, the child's last name was Matzelsberger, making him "Alois Matzelsberger". Hitler kept Matzelsberger as his wife while his lawful wife (Anna) grew sicker and died on 6 April 1883. The next month, on 22 May at a ceremony in Braunau with fellow custom officials as witnesses, Hitler, 45, married Matzelsberger, 21. He then legitimized his son as Alois Hitler, Jr. Alois' second child, Angela, was born on 28 July 1883.
Hitler was secure in his profession and no longer an ambitious climber. Historian Alan Bullock described Alois as a "hard, unsympathetic, and short-tempered". Matzelsberger, still only 23, acquired a lung disorder and became too ill to function. She was moved to Ranshofen, a small village near Braunau. During the last months of Matzelsberger's life, Klara Pölzl returned to Alois' home to look after the invalid and the two children (Alois Jr and Angela). Matzelsberger died in Ranshofen on August 10, 1884 at the age of 23. After the death of his second wife, Pölzl remained in his home as housekeeper.
Marriage to Klara Pölzl and family life
Pölzl was soon to be pregnant by Hitler. Smith writes that if Hitler had been free to do as he wished, he would have married Pölzl immediately but because of the affidavit concerning his paternity, Hitler was now legally Pölzl's first cousin once removed, too close to marry. He submitted an appeal to the church for a humanitarian waiver. Permission came, and on 7 January 1885 a wedding was held at Hitler's rented rooms on the top floor of the Pommer Inn. A meal was served for the few guests and witnesses. Hitler then went to work for the rest of the day. Even Klara found the wedding to be a short ceremony. Throughout the marriage, she continued to call him uncle.
On 17 May 1885, five months after the wedding, the new Frau Klara Hitler gave birth to her first child, Gustav. A year later, on 25 September 1886, she gave birth to a daughter, Ida. Her son Otto followed Ida in 1887, but he died shortly after birth. Later that year, diphtheria struck the Hitler household, resulting in the deaths of both Gustav and Ida. Klara had been Hitler's wife for three years, and all her children were dead, but Hitler still had the children from his relationship with Matzelsberger, Alois Jr., and Angela.
On April 20, 1889, she gave birth to another son, future Nazi dictator Adolf. He was a sickly child, and his mother fretted over him. Alois was 51 when he was born. Hitler had little interest in child rearing and left it all to his wife. When not at work he was either in a tavern or busy with his hobby, keeping bees. In 1892, Hitler was transferred from Braunau to Passau. He was 55, Klara 32, Alois Jr. 10, Angela 9 and Adolf was three years old. In 1894, Hitler was re-assigned to Linz. Klara had just given birth to Edmund, so it was decided she and the children would stay in Passau for the time being. On 21 January 1896, Paula, Adolf's younger sister, was born. She was the last child of Alois Hitler and Klara Pölzl. Hitler was often home with his family. He had five children ranging in age from infancy to 14. Edmund (the youngest of the boys) died of measles on 2 February 1900.
Alois wanted his son Adolf to seek a career in the civil service. However, Adolf had become so alienated from his father that he was repulsed by whatever Alois wanted. Adolf sneered at the thought of a lifetime spent enforcing petty rules. Alois tried to browbeat his son into obedience while Adolf did his best to be the opposite of whatever his father wanted.
Robert G. L. Waite noted, "Even one of his closest friends admitted that Alois was 'awfully rough' with his wife [Klara] and 'hardly ever spoke a word to her at home'." If Hitler was in a bad mood, he picked on the older children or Klara herself, in front of them. William Patrick Hitler says that he had heard from his father, Alois Jr, that Alois Hitler, Sr. used to beat his children. After Hitler and his oldest son Alois Jr. had a climactic and violent argument, Alois Jr. left home, and the elder Alois swore he would never give the boy a penny of inheritance beyond what the law required. According to reports, Alois Hitler liked to lord it over his neighbors.
In February 1895 Hitler purchased a house on a nine acre (36,000 m²) plot in Hafeld near Lambach, approximately 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Linz. The farm was called the Rauscher Gut. He moved his family to the farm and retired on 25 June 1895 at the age of 58 after 40 years in the customs service. He found farming difficult; he lost money, and the value of the property declined.
On the morning of 3 January 1903, Hitler went to the Gasthaus Wiesinger (No.1 Michaelsbergstrasse, Leonding) as usual to drink his morning glass of wine. He was offered the newspaper and promptly collapsed. He was taken to an adjoining room and a doctor was summoned, but Alois Hitler died at the inn, probably from a pleural hemorrhage. Adolf Hitler, who was 13 when his father died, says in Mein Kampf that he died of a "stroke of apoplexy". The large leather couch on which he died can still be seen today in the inn.
Removal of tombstone
On 28 March 2012 the tombstone marking Alois Hitler's grave (and that of his wife, Klara) in Leonding was removed, without ceremony, by a descendant according to Kurt Pittertschatscher, the pastor of the parish. The descendant is said to be an elderly female relative of Alois Hitler's first wife, Anna, who has also given up any rights to the rented burial plot. The plot was covered in white gravel and left with a distinguishing single tree which has since been removed, but the grave is very easy to locate. The remains of Adolf Hitler's parents are still interred there.
- "Alois Hitler". Find A Grave.
- Sometimes spelled "Schickelgruber"
- Toland, John. Adolf Hitler, Doubleday & Company, 1976, pp. 3–5 ("Toland"); Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon & Schuster, 1960, p. 7 ("Shirer"); Kershaw, Ian. Hitler, 1889–1936: Hubris, W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, pp. 3–9 ("Kershaw").
- Smith, Bradley F. Adolf Hitler: His Family, Childhood and Youth. Hoover Institute, 1967 ISBN 0-8179-1622-9
- Werner Maser – Hitler: Legend, Myth and Reality (in German, 1971; Penguin Books Ltd 1973 ISBN 0-06-012831-3)
- "The Mind of Adolf Hitler",Walter C. Langer, New York 1972 p.111
- Kate Connolly, "Hitler's Mentally Ill Cousin Killed In Nazi Gas Chamber", HNN copy of 19 Jan 2005 Daily Telegraph article.
- Frank McDonough, Hitler and the rise of the Nazi Party, Pearson Education, 2003, p.20
- Kershaw, Ian. Hitler, 1889–1936: Hubris, W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, pp. 4 ("Kershaw")
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- "Ancestry of Adolf Hitler". Wargs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
- Die Ahnentafel des Führers - Rudolf Koppensteiner - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
- Rosenbaum, Ron Explaining Hitler, New York: Random House 1998 pages 20–22.
- Rosenbaum, Ron Explaining Hitler, New York: Random House 1998 pages 20–21.
- Brigitte Hamann; Hans Mommsen (3 August 2010). Hitler's Vienna: A Portrait of the Tyrant as a Young Man. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. pp. 50–. ISBN 978-1-84885-277-8.
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- Rosenbaum, Ron Explaining Hitler, New York: Random House 1998 page 21.
- Rosenbaum, Ron Explaining Hitler, New York: Random House 1998 pages 21 & 30–31.
- Cruciani; La Fratta; Santolamazza; Sellitto (May 2004), "Phylogeographic Analysis of Haplogroup E3b (E-M215) Y Chromosomes Reveals Multiple Migratory Events Within and Out Of Africa" (PDF), American Journal of Human Genetics 74 (5): 1014–1022, DOI:10.1086/386294, PMC 1181964, PMID 15042509
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- "Hitler As He Knows Himself", report by Walter Langer for the OSS
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- Bullock, Alan Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, Harper&Row Publishers, 1962, pg. 25
- "The Mind of Adolf Hitler",Walter C. Langer, New York 1972 p.114
- Alois petitioned the church for an episcopal dispensation citing "bilateral affinity in the third degree touching the second" to describe his rather complicated family relationship to Klara. The local bishop apparently believed this relationship was too close to approve on his own authority, so he forwarded the petition to Rome on behalf of Alois, seeing instead a papal dispensation, which was approved before the birth of the couple's first child. See Rosenblum article.
- Payne, Robert (1973). The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler. New York: Praeger. p. 12.The marriage took place early in the morning, and Klara is said to have complained: "We were married at six o'clock in the morning, and my husband was already at work at seven."
- The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, Robert Payne, 1973, page.17
- Hamann, Brigitte (2010). Hitler's Vienna. New York: Tauris Parke Paperbacks. p. 10-11. ISBN 978-1-84885-277-8.
- Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, 4%
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17562615 Adolf Hitler parents' tombstone in Austria remove BBC
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