Alois Hitler

Alois Hitler

Infobox Person
name = Alois Hitler

image_size = 200px
caption = Alois Hitler
birth_date = birth date|1837|6|7|df=y
birth_place = Strones, Waldviertel, Lower Austria
death_date = death date and age|1903|1|3|1837|6|7|df=y
death_place = Gasthaus Stiefler, Linz, Austria
occupation = Customs officer
spouse =Anna Glassl
Franziska Matzelberger
Klara Pölzl
parents = Johann Georg Hiedler (officially) and Maria Anna Schicklgruber
children = Alois Hitler, Jr.
Angela Hitler
Gustav Hitler
Ida Hitler
Otto Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Edmund Hitler
Paula Hitler

Alois Hitler (born Alois Schicklgruber; 7 June 1837 – 3 January 1903) was the father of Adolf Hitler.


Alois Hitler was born in the tiny rustic 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, [Sometimes spelled "Schickelgruber"] whose family had lived in the area for generations. After he was baptized 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".Fact|date=April 2008 Hitler was cared for by his mother in a house she shared at Strones with her elderly father Johannes Schicklgruber.


Sometime later, Johann Georg Hiedler moved in with the Schicklgrubers and married Maria when Alois was five. By the age of 10, Hitler had been sent to live with Hiedler's brother Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, who owned a farm in the nearby village of Spital. Hitler attended elementary school and took lessons in shoe-making from a local cobbler. When he was 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, Hitler joined the frontier guards (customs service) of the Ingland Finance Ministry in 1855 at the age of 18.

Early career

Hitler made steady progress in the semi-military profession of a customs guard. The work involved frequent re-assignments and he served in a variety of places across Austria. By 1860, after five years' service, he reached the rank of "Finanzwach Oberaufseher" (a non-commissioned officer). By 1864, after special training and examinations, he had advanced further and was serving in Linz, Austria. In 1875 he was an inspector of customs posted at Braunau.

While his professional duties involved strict attention to (and application of) set rules, his private life seems to have flouted society's norms. In the late 1860s, he fathered an illegitimate child with a woman named Thelka (or perhaps "Thekla") whom he did not marry and whose family name is lost to history.Fact|date=August 2007 Hitler was 36 when he married for the first time in 1873, and it may have been for money. Anna Glassl was a well-to-do, 50-year-old daughter of an official. Glassl was sick when Hitler married her and was either an invalid or became one shortly afterwards.

As a rising young junior customs official, Hitler used his birth name, but in the summer of 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. Hitler apparently did not disclose to the priest that Johann had been dead for almost 20 years. Three relatives appeared with Hitler as witnesses, one of whom was Johann Nepomuk Hiedler's son-in-law. The priest agreed to amend the records, the civil authorities automatically processed the church's decision, and Alois had a new name. The official change, registered at the government office in Mistelbach on January 6, 1877 transformed "Aloys Schicklgruber" into "Alois Hitler." It is not known who decided on the spelling of "Hitler" instead of "Hiedler". It may have been the clerk in Mistelbach. Spellings were still being standardized at the time.

Alois Hitler's biological father

Historians have discussed four candidates:
*Johann Georg Hiedler, who in his lifetime was the stepfather and later legally declared as the birth father.

*Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, Georg's brother and Hitler's step-uncle, who raised Hitler through adolescence and later willed him a considerable portion of his life savings but who (if he was the real father) never found it expedient to admit it publicly.

*Leopold Frankenberger, claimed by Hans Frank to have fathered Hitler when his mother Maria worked in the Frankenberger house as a maid in Graz, Austria.

*Salomon Mayer von Rothschild, claimed by many authors (e.g. Hansjurgen Koehler, Walter C. Langer, Greg Hallett) to have fathered Hitler when his mother Maria worked in the Rothschild house as a maid in Vienna, Austria.

Johann Georg Hiedler

Some historians surmise that Hitler's father really was Johann Georg Hiedler. An explanation for Hitler being sent to live on his uncle's farm as a child is that Hiedler and Maria were simply too poor to raise Hitler, or could not raise him as well as his uncle, or perhaps Maria's health was in decline (she died when he was 10). Unexplained is why Hiedler and Maria did not declare Hitler their legitimate son once they were legally married, or why Hiedler died without legitimizing his son and perpetuating his line of the family.

Johann Nepomuk Hüttler

Historian Werner Maser suggests that Alois's father was Hiedler's brother, Johann Nepomuk, a married farmer who had an affair and then arranged to have his single brother Hiedler marry Hitler's mother Maria to provide a cover for Nepomuk's desire to assist and care for Hitler 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.

Leopold Frankenberger

Soon after Adolf Hitler became politically active in the 1920s, rumours spread that his ancestry was Jewish. His opponents found out his father had not originally been named Hitler, and nobody seemed to know who his paternal grandfather had been. What Adolf really thought about these rumours (as opposed to his public statements) is unknown. When Hitler's nephew threatened Hitler with blackmail, Hitler asked his attorney, Hans Frank, to investigate his family lineage. [Robins, Robert, & Post, Jerrold, "Political Paranoia", Yale University Press]

Hans Frank, in a confession to a priest while awaiting execution after the war, claimed that after having been asked by Adolf Hitler to investigate, he discovered Hitler's grandmother, Maria, had worked as a servant in Graz for a wealthy Jew named Leopold Frankenberger. According to Frank, who wrote his account during the Nuremberg Trials, the elder Frankenberger sent Hitler's grandmother, Maria Schicklelgruber, regular child support payments until Hitler's father, Alois, was fourteen. [Crowe, David. "The Holocaust: Roots, History, and Aftermath", Westview Press.] According to Frank, Hitler denied the implication that Frankenberger was Alois' father and instead indicated that his grandmother accepted the money from Frankenberger simply because she was poor. [Robins, Robert, & Post, Jerrold, "Political Paranoia", Yale University Press] Frank asserted that Maria got pregnant and returned to her native village of Strones to have the baby. Frank's testimony was widely believed in the 1950s, but by the 1990s, this claim was generally doubted by historians.Fact|date=August 2007 Ian Kershaw dismisses the Frankenberger story as a "smear" by Hitler's enemies, noting that all Jews had been expelled from Graz in the 15th century and were not allowed to return until the 1860s. No evidence has been found that Maria Schicklgruber ever lived in Graz.

Addtionally,Heinrich Himmler had the Gestapo investigate in 1942 and they are said to have turned up nothing. In "Mein Kampf" Hitler states his paternal grandfather was "a poor cottager" and writes implicitly as a German. Adolf Hitler considered his family German, and the fact they were Austrians was politics, not nationality.

It has been said that Alois Hitler's grandson William Patrick Hitler, upon leaving Germany in the 1930s, threatened to blackmail his uncle Adolph by telling the press that the senior Alois's father was Leopold Frankenberger. [ "The black sheep of the family? The rise and fall of Hitler's scouse nephew"] in "The Independent", 17 August 2006 (accessed 14 August 2007)] Kershaw believes this story to be false for many reasons though.. [Ian Kershaw, Hitler : 1889-1936 : Hubris, Penguin Books, 1998, pp.8-9.]

alomon Mayer von Rothschild

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 proved that Maria Anna Schicklgruber was living in Vienna at the time she conceived her son. At that time, she was employed as a servant in the home of Baron Salomon Mayer von Rothschild. As soon as the family discovered her pregnancy, she was sent back to her home in Spital where Hitler was born. If it is true that one of the Rothschilds is the real father of Alois Hitler, it would make Adolf a quarter Jewish. According to these sources, Adolf Hitler knew of the existence of this document and the 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. This information came from the high-level Gestapo officer, Hansjurgen Koehler. In 1940, Koehler published a book under the title "Inside the Gestapo. Hitler's Shadows over the World." [(Pallas Publ. Co., Ltd. London, 1940)] He writes about the investigations into Hitler's background carried out by the Austrian Chancellor, Dolfuss, in the family files of Hitler. Koehler actually viewed a copy of the Dolfuss documents which were given to him by Heydrich, the overlord of the Nazi Secret Service. The file, he wrote, "caused such havoc as no file in the world ever caused before." [(Inside the Gestapo, p 143)]

Other factors

Hitler may have been influenced to change his name for money. Maser reports that in 1876, Franz Schicklgruber, the administrator of Hitler's mother's estate, transferred a large sum of money (230 gulden) to Hitler. This related to a family decision involving changing Alois' last name from Schicklgruber to Hitler in accordance with his mother's alleged wishes when she died in 1847. Moreover, six months after Nepomuk died, Hitler made a major real estate purchase inconsistent with the salary of a customs official with a pregnant wife.

Shame seems to have played no part. Smith states that Hitler openly admitted having been born out of wedlock before and after the name change. He had done well by local standards and was not hampered by his name. The limiting factor was education. Hitler eventually rose to full inspector of customs and could go no higher because he lacked the necessary school degrees.

Whether Hitler's father was either of the two brothers has little historical interest except for making his son Adolf Hitler's ancestry more incestuous since his mother Klara Pölzl's maternal grandfather was Nepomuk.

Some Schicklgrubers remain in Waldviertel, where it was a traditionally Jewish name. One of this extended clan, "Aloisia V" aged 49, died in 1940, in an Austrian Nazi gas chamber. [Kate Connolly, "Hitler's Mentally Ill Cousin Killed In Nazi Gas Chamber" THE DAILY TELEGRAPH(LONDON), 1/19/05.] Other Jewish Schicklgrubers from that quarter have emigrated, at least one of whom came through Ellis Island, changing his name to Gruber.


Not long after marrying his first wife Anna, Hitler began an affair with 19-year-old Franziska "Franni" Matzelsberger, one of the young female servants employed at the Braunau inn (the Pommer Inn, house #219), where he was renting the top floor as a lodging. Smith states that Alois had numerous affairs in the 1870s, resulting in his sick wife Anna initiating legal action; on 7 November, 1880 Alois and Anna separated by mutual agreement. Matzelsberger became 43-year-old Hitler's girlfriend, but the two could not marry since under Roman Catholic canon law, divorce was not permitted.

In 1876, three years after Hitler married his first wife 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 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.

In 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's, making him "Alois Matzelberger." Hitler kept Matzelsberger as his wife while his lawful wife grew sicker and (more than a year after the birth of Matzelberger's child) died. The next month, 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..

Late career

Hitler was secure in his profession and no longer an ambitious climber. Alan Bullock described Alois as a "hard, unsympathetic, and short-tempered" man. For reasons unknown to historians, Matzelberger went to Vienna to give birth to Angela Hitler. Matzelberger, still only 23, acquired a lung disorder and became too ill to function. She was moved to Ranshofen, a small village near Braunau. With no one but him to take care of the house or the children, Hitler brought back Klara Pölzl, Matzelberger's earlier rival.Fact|date=August 2007 Matzelberger died in Ranshofen on August 10, 1884 at the age of 23.

Pölzl was soon 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, not mentioning Pölzl was already pregnant.

Hitler was immune to what the local people thought of him since his salary came from the finance ministry and probably intended to keep Pölzl as his "housekeeper" if permission was refused. It came, and on 7 January 1885 a wedding was held early in the morning 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. Son Otto followed Ida in 1887, but he died shortly after birth. Later that year, diphtheria tragically 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 Matzelberger, Alois Jr. and Angela.

On April 20, 1889, she gave birth to another son, Adolf. He was a sickly child, and his mother fretted over him. 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.


In February 1895, Hitler purchased a house on a nine acre (36,000 m²) plot in Hafeld near Lambach, approximately 30 miles southwest of Linz. The farm was called the "Rauscher Gut". Hitler fantasized he would spend his retirement as a "gentleman farmer," indulging in beekeeping and living an easy rural life.Fact|date=August 2007 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. A lifetime as a civil servant had made Hitler forget what farm life was like. He found taking care of nine acres (36,000 m²) to be more work than he had thought it would be, and he didn't want it. The land went uncultivated, and the value of the property declined. Far from being his dream retirement home, the "Rauscher Gut" was a money-losing nightmare.

Meanwhile, the family was still growing. On 21 January, 1896 Paula was born. With no workplace to escape to, Hitler was often home with his family. He had five children ranging in age from infancy to 14, and being involved with their daily life annoyed him. Smith suggests he yelled at the children almost continually and made long visits to the local tavern where he began to drink more than he used to.

It has been said he behaved like a self-important tyrant at home. 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. 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.

Edmund (the youngest of the boys) died of measles on 2 February 1900. If there was to be a family legacy, Adolf would have to carry it. Alois wanted his son to follow him and seek a career in the civil service. However, Adolf had become so alienated from his father that he was repulsed by whatever Alois wanted. Where his father glorified the role of the civil servant, 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.


On the morning of 3 January 1903, Hitler went to the Gasthaus Stiefler 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, aged 65.


Additional sources

* Marc Vermeeren, "De jeugd van Adolf Hitler 1889–1907 en zijn familie en voorouders". Soesterberg, 2007, 420 blz. Uitgeverij Aspekt. ISBN = 978-90-5911-606-1
*Bullock, Alan "Hitler: A Study in Tyranny" 1953 ISBN 0-06-092020-3
*Fest, Joachim C. "Hitler" Verlag Ullstein, 1973 ISBN 0-15-141650-8
*Kershaw, Ian "Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris" W W Norton, 1999 ISBN 0-393-04671-0
*Maser, Werner "Hitler: Legend, Myth and Reality" Penguin Books Ltd 1973 ISBN 0-06-012831-3
*Smith, Bradley F. "Adolf Hitler: His Family, Childhood and Youth" Hoover Instituted, 1967 ISBN 0-8179-1622-9
*Waite, Robert G. L. "The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler" Basic Books 1977 ISBN 0-465-06743-3
*Payne, Robert "The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler" Praeger Publishers 1973 LCCN 72-92891
*Koehler, Hansjurgen "Inside the Gestapo. Hitler's Shadows over the World" Pallas Publ. Co., Ltd., London, 1940
*Langer, Walter C. "The Mind of Adolf Hitler" Basic Books Inc., New York, 1972 ISBN 0-465-04620-7 ASIN: B000CRPF1K

External links

* [ Alois Hitler's last house in Leonding, Austria]
* [ Ancestry of Adolf Hitler - Who was Adolf's grandfather?]
* [ The Straight Dope: Was Hitler part Jewish?]

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