Hitler: His Irish Relatives
by Tony McCarthy
half-brother, Alois, was working as a waiter in the Shelbourne Hotel,
There was no place better than the Dublin Horse Show to display such elegance. The nobility, the English and Irish sportsmen and tourists from all over the world provided a perfect background for Alois's dashing appearance.
While admiring the horses at the 1909 show, Alois struck up an idle conversation with two locals, William Dowling and his neighbour, Mr Tynan. Soon William's daughter, seventeen year old Bridget, took an interest. She was immediately fascinated by the handsome foreigner. 'Everything he said was so new and interesting that even his broken English seemed charming'.
Alois and Bridget met in the National Gallery,
Adolf was going through the worst period of his life.
He was sleeping rough or living in doss houses.
Eventually he took up permanent residence in a hostel for men in
attempted to cash in on her connection with the German Fuehrer by writing a
book. She wrote My Brother-in-Law Adolf in
most sensational part of the book deals with an alleged visit to
claims to have introduced Adolf to astrology, a subject in which she herself had
been interested since childhood. Before
Adolf's arrival, she had become acquainted with a Mrs Prentice who cast
horoscopes. Again and again, she
claims, Adolf asked Mrs Prentice to cast his horoscope.
Reflecting on how it was said that in later life Adolf Hitler did very
little of importance without consulting his astrologers Bridget says 'I thought
back then to the idle words I had spoken which had served as an introduction to
this absorbing interest'. In May
1913 Adolf took leave of his sister-in-law and her family and went, on Alois's
Before he left, Bridget advised Adolf to trim his moustache. Like Alois, he sported a handlebar moustache at that time and she suggested that he should cut off the points. Years later, when she saw his picture in a newspaper she noticed that he had taken her advice but, she comments, 'Adolf had gone too far'.
It is difficult to imagine how Bridget and Adolf managed to communicate so well on such a variety of subjects. Bridget says that Adolf hadn't enough English at the end of his stay to enable him to ask directions to the railway station. She describes her own German as 'stumbling'.
suspicion that My Brother-in-Law Adolf
is a work of the imagination is strengthened by much of the rest of the
book. When Bridget meets Adolf
again he is Chancellor of Germany. His
only acknowledgement that they met before is the rather flattering comment 'the
years have passed over your head without touching you'. The part of the book
dealing with Bridget's attempts to rescue her son from
Despite the book's lack of authenticity it has been accepted as reliable by some of Hitler's best biographers. John Toland uses it as a source in his 1,000 page book Adolf Hitler, as does Robert Payne in his The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler. Robert Waite, an American professor, provides convincing evidence in an appendix to his The Psychopathic God Adolf Hitler to show that the book is mostly fiction.
Patrick tried to gain advantage from his famous uncle by more direct means:
blackmail. At least this is the
story told by Hitler's close associate Hans Frank, in the course of his trial as
a war criminal at
When Alois was five years old, his mother married a mill worker named Johann Georg Hiedler. Alois was passed over to his step-father's brother, who raised him like his own son.
In 1876, when he was 39, Alois, now a customs official in the Austrian service, succeeded in persuading his foster father, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, to have his birth records altered. In the old register, under the entry of 7 June 1837, the parish priest was persuaded to change the term 'illegitimate' to 'legitimate', to fill in the name Johann Georg Hiedler in the blank space for the name of the father – accidently mis-spelling it 'Johann Georg Hitler' in the process, and to insert a marginal note: 'The undersigned confirm that Georg Hitler, registered as the father, who is well known to the undersigned witnesses, admits to being the father of the child Alois as stated by the child's mother, Anna Schickelgruber, and has requested the entry of his name in the present baptismal register'. Three illiterate witnesses appended their marks to the statement. The statement was clearly false if only to the extent that by this time both the mother and alleged father had been dead for about twenty years. From January 1877 Alois Schickelgruber called himself Alois Hitler.
In later years, Adolf Hitler's political enemies tried to ridicule him by claiming that he had changed his name to Hitler because 'Heil Schickelgruber' did not roll as trippingly off the tongue as 'Heil Hitler'. This, of course, was nonsense since Hitler's father used the surname Hitler twelve years before the birth of his infamous son.
Hitler's father's marital experiences made the family background even more curious. He was married three times. His first marriage, to Anna Glassl who was fourteen years his senior, was childless. He was 46 when he married for the second time. Franziska Matzenberger, his new bride was 22. She had already borne him a son before their marriage, Alois junior, the future Shelbourne waiter. Two months after the wedding she gave birth to a daughter called Angela. When Franziska died of T.B. Alois married Klara Polzl. She was 23 years younger than him. He had to get a papal dispensation for the marriage as Klara was the daughter of his niece. Of the six children born of this marriage, two survived, Adolf and a younger sister called Paula.
During his lifetime, Hitler was very secretive about his background. Only the dimmest outline of his parents emerges from the biographical chapters of Mein Kampf. He falsified his father's occupation, changing him from a customs official to a postal official. He repulsed relatives who tried to approach him.
One of the first things he did after taking over
When in 1942 he was informed that a plaque had been set
up for him in the
His obsession for secrecy has been explained as the strategy of a born propagandist. A man of mystery arouses interest in himself. The fact that at the beginning of his career he took care that no pictures of himself were published gives some credence to this theory. Perhaps Hitler never lost a sense of the distance between his origins and the elevated position he had attained. However, there is a far simpler explanation for Hitler's need to keep public attention away from his genealogy. The Nazis were obsessed with 'racial purity'. An essential requirement for membership of the elite S.S was positive proof of Aryan descent from 1750. Hitler would have failed this test. He did not know who his paternal grandfather was.
Under these circumstances the letter sent to Adolf Hitler towards the end of 1930 by his nephew William Patrick, must have had a devastating effect. It referred to the 'very odd circumstances in our family history', and went on to claim not only that Hitler had a Jewish grandfather but that documentary evidence existed which proved the connection.
Hans Frank was given the job of
confidentially investigating this very sensitive affair.
Frank did so and discovered, he said, that Hitler’s father had been the
illegitimate son of Maria Anna Schickelgruber, who had worked as a domestic in
The blackmail story is based entirely on the memoirs of
Hans Frank. He was a close associate
of Hitler. As well as being his
personal lawyer, he was later given special powers: President of the
This episode does not appear to have caused a total rift
between William Patrick and Adolf. William
Patrick spent most of the 1930s in
'The twenty-six-year-old son of Alois Hitler, the
Fuhrer's innkeeper brother, is in
'"I find it difficult speaking English again after so long, although of course, it is my native language".
'Occasionally there is a trace of German accent. William Hitler bears a strong resemblance to the uncle who is his idol. The moustache is copied almost to a hair, the same parting but in black hair which is sleek, but not unruly. He has the same height and build'.
William Patrick seems to have changed his views about
the Fuhrer. Two years later he was
earning his living in the
William Patrick served in the US Navy during the World War II and was honourably discharged at the end of hostilities. He worked for a while in an American hospital and then changed his name and went into total obscurity. The historian John Toland was able to confirm that he was still alive in 1977.
Has he been sighted lately?
What happened to Alois Hitler
May 1914 Alois left his wife and child in
William Patrick stayed with Alois and his new family
during his early trips to
After a short association with a right-wing party, Alois
known to have sold photographs of his famous brother to tourists. They were made
more attractive by being autographed by himself.
He was last seen in 1968 in
Irish Roots Issue No. 1 (1992 First Quarter)
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