The Ghost of the Jewish Hitler

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By FLAVIO AGUIAR*

The account of suspicions about the ancestry of Adolf Hitler

Calm down: at the outset, I want to appease the moods of Greeks and Trojans, not to mention other more complicated belongings: there is no proof – not even conclusive evidence – that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry, not even a shadow of it. What exists is a phantasmagoria, based on a suspicion that was embodied around the 1950s. But the curious thing, and what makes this story interesting to be told, is that there are indications that those who began to give substance to the suspicions – two decades before them to swell – were attitudes of Hitler himself and his surroundings.

O Leader he was particularly obsessed with proving his 100% Aryan ancestry. The reason for this obsession was the fact that his father was what was called a “natural child”, or even worse, “illegitimate”. Baptized with the name of Alois, he had this prejudice registered on his baptismal certificate, because his mother, Maria Schicklgruber, Hitler's paternal grandmother, did not declare the name of her son's father at the time of the christening.

Five years after the birth of her son, Maria Schicklgruber married Johann Georg Hiedler, who ended up adopting Alois. Years later, his own birth certificate was changed, adding Johann's name as the biological father, including the signature of three witnesses corroborating this "paternity". a posteriori” in the new document, issued in 1876 by the same curate who had registered the previous one with the father's name blank.

It so happens that in Nazi Germany the issue of documentally proving 100% Aryan ancestry was crucial, even more so when it comes to the Leader. Hitler's opponents began to raise the suspicion that he had compromising "Jewish ancestry". Although Johann Hiedler was officially recognized as his paternal grandfather, Hitler ordered the SS to look into his background. The result was negative regarding the discovery of such ancestry, and to corroborate the “non-discovery”, Hitler published a book – Die Ahnentafel des Führers – title that can be translated as “The Leader's family tree”, or “The Leader's lineage” (more evil translations say “The Leader's pedigree”). It is evident that such publication contributed to throw more smoke over the supposed brazier.

This brazier only became a bonfire in 1953. In this year the book Im Angesicht des Galgens – title that can be translated as “Face to face with the gallows”, or “with the gallows” – which consisted of the memoirs of the prisoner of war Hans Michael Frank, executed in 1946. Hans Frank had been a minister without portfolio and the main legal advisor of Hitler. In 1939 he was appointed Governor General of occupied Poland, becoming the head responsible for administering the concentration and extermination camps in that country.

Hans Michael Frank was captured by US troops on May 4, 1945 in Bavaria. While awaiting his trial at the Nuremberg Tribunal, he wrote that memoir of his. Among other things he said that in 1930 Hitler, pressured by the blackmail of his nephew William Patrick Hitler, commissioned him to research his lineage. Frank then says that he hypothesized that Hitler's grandmother, Maria Schicklgruber, had worked as a domestic in the house of a Jew named Leopold Frankenberger in the Graz region of Austria.

He then “discovered” the version that Alois' father was this Leopold or one of his sons, which would corroborate William Patrick's blackmail. He also tells in his book that during the investigations he had made he was convinced that Falkenberger or his son were not Hitler's ancestors, believing the version that the Leader had told him, according to which his grandmother would have pressured the supposed employer to obtain a financial stipend, but that this did not eliminate the possibility that he had such ancestry.

It appears that this William Patrick did indeed write threatening letters to Hitler, wishing to gain financial advantage by exploiting his uncle's growing power. Born in England, he went to Germany with the rise of Hitler, but ended up leaving this country, heading to the United States, where he became a nursing officer in the Navy and fought the Nazis in the war.

Hans Frank's memoirs made a splash, despite the fact that several historians have pointed out inconsistencies in it, and also despite the fact that no other evidence of the existence of that Falkenberg has ever been found other than the author's reference in his book.

To complete this somewhat outrageous story, Hans Frank's son also published his memoirs, where he says that his father was a stubborn mythomaniac. Several hypotheses accumulated about the case, including that that Frank had sought revenge on the man who had led him to the disgrace he was in, or that, due to his persistent anti-Semitism, he wanted to demonstrate that, after all, the tragedy of the world, of Europe and of his country was caused by someone who could be... a Jew!

Since he had already been executed, it was impossible to question him again. In turn, the suspicions you mentioned, however inconsistent they were, continued their winding path until they landed, noisily, in the arguments provoked by the war in Ukraine, causing more diplomatic incidents in this already troubled scenario. But this is a subject for another article.

* Flavio Aguiar, journalist and writer, is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Chronicles of the World Upside Down (Boitempo).

 

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