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The mainstream academic consensus is that Adolf Hitler was neither Jewish, nor did he have any Jewish relatives. There is a possibility, however, that his paternal grandfather was a Jew, and one of the most vocal opponents of this theory was revealed as a Nazi sympathiser.
Leonard Sax, a New York Times best-selling author and psychologist, claims he has uncovered evidence that Adolf Hitler was partly Jewish.
In his findings, published in the peer-reviewed academic Journal of European Studies, Sax relies on the revelations of German politician and war criminal Hans Franc.
Frank was Adolf Hitler’s personal lawyer and governor-general of Poland during the Third Reich’s occupation.
During his testimony at Nuremberg, Frank made a sensational claim that he had investigated Hitler’s ancestry after the Nazi leader’s half-nephew, William Patrick Hitler, allegedly blackmailed him with threats to reveal embarrassing details about his family.
Frank is said to have discovered the correspondence of Adolf Hitler’s grandmother, Maria Anna Schicklgruber.
He purportedly found out that Maria Anna was working for a Jewish man in the Austrian city of Graz, and the teenage son of her employer impregnated her in 1836 – the year Adolf Hitler’s father Alois was conceived – in what is suspected to be a rape.
But it is claimed that Maria Anna’s family turned her away and she was forced to give birth to her son in the barn of a stranger the following year. Leonard Sax says the baptismal record does not mention the father’s name, and Maria Anna was living on “alimony” sent by the Jewish family.
She then married a man called Johann Georg Hiedler, and when her son Alois Schicklgruber was 39, he decided to legitimise Hiedler as his biological father, but a priest misspelled his name, which became ‘Hitler’.
As per Sax, Adolf Hitler knew that his parental grandfather was a Jew and was “desperate to conceal it”. Maria Anna’s correspondence with the Jewish family was never published, and the fuhrer ordered the elimination of any mention of the town where his grandmother lived.
Adolf Hitler, in lieu, employed a genealogist, Rudolf Koppensteiner, who put up his family tree saying that all of his ancestors were Austrian Germans.
The story of Hitler’s lawyer has been called into question by many researchers, and a general consensus is that he was not Jewish. One of the first critics was Nikolaus von Preradovich, an Austrian historian who stated in 1957 that there was “not a single Jew” in Graz when Hitler’s grandmother was living there.
But Sax claims to have studied all the major biographies and references linked with Adolf Hitler, to find out that all assertions that Hitler didn’t have Jewish ancestry are based on that of von Preradovich.
He goes on to say that von Preradovich revealed himself down the line as a “Nazi sympathiser” who had heaped praise on Hitler and “quoted from Mein Kampf at length”. So, Sax argues, the Austrian made his claims because he was “offended” by the suggestion that the late fuhrer had partly Jewish ancestry.
Further debunking the claims, Sax says he has looked through Austrian archives from the early 19th century, showing that there had been an “established Jewish community” in Graz in 1850.
Sax insists that there is no strong evidentiary basis regarding Hitler’s ancestry, and suggests that further research is required.