Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuhrer of the SS and the dossier keeper of National Socialists, compiled information on everyone within the party for political purposes, Hitler being no exception. The confidential “Fuhrer file” contained information that might be useful for blackmail in the future. He was to use this file, undoubtedly with information concerning Hitler’s possible Jewish ancestry, when he planned to arrest Hitler with the help of the SS if the war had turned against Germany. He hoped that Hitler’s arrest would aid the possibility of German forces joining the Allies in an effort to turn back the advancing Soviets.
There is evidence that Hitler feared he had Jewish ancestry, and to assure his fellow Nazi Party members he showed an extreme hatred for Jews so no one doubted his ancestry. A closer examination of his family history shows that he had reason to believe he had Jewish ancestry though any definitive answer to this question will probably remain a mystery.Tracing the possibility of Jewish ancestry in Hitler starts with his birth in 1889 in the small Austrian village of Braunau am Inn. He was two of six children to survive infancy and raised by a civil servant (Alois) and a peasant woman (Klara Poelzl). Through an amazing set of circumstances, and a fanatical ambition rarely matched in any historical figure, the country Austrian boy rose to be the ruthless leader of Germany and during 1933-1942 conquered 1.37 million square miles. His climb to power was the most unlikely of any European leader, especially a German leader.
Hitler was an Austrian who never excelled at school, hated his teachers, had no family backing, no academic diploma, was rejected from architectural school twice, lived the life of a vagrant in Vienna and post-war Munich, rose no higher than the rank of corporal within the Second Reich’s army, blatantly kidnapped three members of the Bavarian government at gun point, was jailed thirteen months for treason, and wrote a book that spewed hundreds of pages of racial hatred and presented a blue-print on how he intended to expand Germany’s “living space” by occupying neighboring countries. Like another European dictator, Napoleon, he hated intellectuals, used military might to conquer large parts of Europe, and met disaster during winter campaigns in Russia. Where Napoleon had arrogantly stated he would “bury the world beneath my ruin”; Hitler said, “We may be destroyed but if we are we’ll drag the world down with us a world in flames.”
Hitler’s father (Alois) and mother (Klara Poelzl) were Austrians and, depending on the identity of Alois’s father, were possibly niece and uncle, or second cousins but due to the lack of known documentation concerning Alois’s father a true relationship will probably be never known. Alois was the son of Maria Anna Schicklgruber, a peasant cook. His father is unknown but there has been speculation that he was either Johann Nepomuk Hiedler; his brother Johann Georg Hiedler (a wandering miller who married Maria five years after Alois’s birth), or a Jew from Graz named Frankenberger or Frankenreither.
It is possible that Maria worked as a domestic in a house with the name of Frankenberger. The consensus of serious opinion makes Johann Nepomuk the grandfather; the man who raised Alois, though historian Fest writes that Johann Nepomuk eventually claimed his brother was the real father. As biographer Kershaw points out, the question of family in-breeding becomes more obvious if Johann Nepomuk is the grandfather, which would make him the grandfather of both Adolf and his mother Klara Poelzl. Both historians Toland and Fest believe that there was only a slight chance of a Frankenberger or Frankenreither being Alois’s father.
Hitler asked Hans Frank, once Governor General of Poland and Hitler’s attorney, in the 1930’s to investigate the chance that his grandfather was the nineteen-year old son of the Frankenberger family from Graz. Frank allegedly found the existence of letters from the Frankenbergers to Maria with payment, but no complete proof was ever established.
In a written statement presented to a priest when Frank was on trial at Nuremberg (executed October 16, 1946 for being part of the liquidation and transportation of Polish Jews), and not released until 1953, Frank wrote, ” . . . towards the end of 1930, Hitler sent for me . . . he showed me a letter . . .blackmail on the part of one of his most loathsome relatives [his nephew William Hitler] 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.” Frank goes on in the document to say that “the Frankenberger’s paid maintenance allowance” to Maria until Alois’s fourteenth year. Correspondence concerning the issue was kept secret by a Hitler relative living near Graz. He summarizes the statement by writing “the possibility cannot be dismissed that Hitler’s father was half Jewish.”
However, the mystery of the Frankenbergers deepens when considering the extensive research on the subject by biographer Werner Maser. Maser’s research found no demonstrable proof that Maria had been employed in Graz, that there was a Hitler relative in Wetzelsdorf, or there were any Frankenbergers that lived in Graz in 1836. Maser goes as far as to say that from the fifteenth century until well after Maria’s death no Jews could be found in Graz at all.
The issue takes an intriguing turn considering the possibility that Maria had domestic duties at the home of Baron Rothschild of Vienna, the same Rothschilds of staggering European wealth and political influence. Dr. Walter C. Langer wrote a psychoanalysis of Hitler for the American OSS (Office of Strategic Services) in which he reported the existence of a pre-war Austrian police report that proved Maria was a domestic in the Rothschild house during the time she conceived Alois.
Langer wrote in his report that the Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss prepared a secret study on the Hitler family. Langer cites two sources that say Hitler knew of the study and tried to obtain the document in vain. It was the existence of the alleged Dollfuss document on Hitler’s ancestry that led, at least in part, to Hitler ordering the assassination of Dollfuss on July 25, 1934, the task done by SS members dressed in Austrian army uniforms, who fatally shot Dollfuss in the neck at point-blank range.
Hitler’s attorney may have known all along that a Rothschild was the real father of Alois but substituted the name of Frankenberger for Rothschild. It has been suggested that the real connection between Hitler and the Rothschilds was known throughout the war and in part the reason for the significant support Hitler received from international banking throughout his political career. Langer also reported that Hitler was a neurotic psychopath and had extreme masochistic tendencies.
The ferocious nature of Nazi genocide on the Jews may have been fanned by Hitler’s desire to prove to his party and henchmen that there was no possibility that he had any kind of Jewish ancestry. Though the real identity of Hitler’s paternal grandfather is a minor issue, the question was always on Hitler’s mind. He may have shared the same fate as one of his most admired aides, SS General Reinhard Heydrich, widely believed as the major architect of the “final solution.” Both wondered their entire lives if a question of their ancestry would arise and destroy their ability to rule their offices.
Maser, Werner. Hitler, Legend, Myth and Reality, Harper Row, New York, 1971.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: 1889-1936, Hubris. Norton, New York, 1998.
Payne, Robert. The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler. Dorsett, New York, 1973.
Langer, Walter C. The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report, Basic Books Inc. New York, London. 1972.