The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

As He Knows Himself

[Transcription note: Bracketed [Page] links provide access to the individual images from which these transcriptions were made]

[Page 90: Title] [Page 91]

Hitler has always been extremely secretive in all his dealings. Hanfstangl tells us that this trait is carried to such a degree that he never tells one of his immediate associates what he has been talking about or arranged with another. His mind is full of compartments, Hanfstangl says, and his dealings with every individual are carefully pigeon-holed. What has been filed in one pigeon-hole is never permitted to mix with that in another. Everything is scrupulously kept locked up in his mind and is only opened when he needs the material.

This is also true of himself. We have already seen how he has steadfastly refused to divulge anything about his past to his associates. This, he believed, was something which did not concern them in any way and consequently he has kept the pigeonhole tightly closed. He talks almost continually about everything under the sun - except himself. What really goes on in his mind is almost as great a mystery as his past life.

Nevertheless, it would be helpful, and interesting to open this pigeon-hole and examine its contents. Fortunately, a few fragments of information concerning his past life have been unearthed in the course of time and these are extremely valuable as a background for understanding his present behavior., Then, too, we have records of attitudes and sentiments expressed in speeches and writings. Although these utterances are confined to a rather limited area, they do represent the products of some of [Page 92] his mental processes and consequently give us some clue to what goes on behind those much discussed eyes, of which Rauschning writes:

"Anyone who has seen this man face to face, has met his uncertain glance, without depth or warmth, from eyes that seem hard and remote, and has then seen that gaze grow rigid, will certainly have experienced the uncanny feeling: 'That man is not normal.'"

In addition, we have descriptions of his overt behavior in the face of varied circumstances. We must assume that these, too, are the products of his psychological processes and that they reflect what is going on behind the scenes. All of this, however, would be insufficient data for an adequate picture of Hitler, as he knows himself, in everyday life. Fortunately, patients with behavior patterns, tendencies and sentiments very similar to those that Hitler has expressed are not unknown in psychoanalytical practice. From our knowledge of what goes on in the minds of these patients, together with a knowledge of their past histories, it may be possible to fill in some of the gaps and make some deductions concerning his extraordinary mode of adjustment.

We have learned from the study of many cases that the present character of an individual is the product of an evolutionary process, the beginnings of which are to be found in infancy. The very earliest experiences in the lifetime of the individual form the foundation upon which the character is gradually structured as the individual passes through successive stages of development [Page 93] and is exposed to the demands ant influences of the world around him. If this is true, it would be well for us to review briefly Hitler's past history, as far as it is known, in the hope that it may cast some light upon his present behavior and the course he is most likely to pursue in the future. Such a review of his past is also pertinent to our study insofar as it forms the background through which Hitler sees himself. It is a part of him he must live with, whether he likes it or not.

There is a great deal of confusion in studying Hitler's family tree. Much of this is due to the fact that the name has been spelled in various ways: Hitler, Hidler, Hiedler and Huettler. It seems reasonable to suppose, however, that it is fundamentally the same name spelled in various ways by different members of what was basically an illiterate peasant family. Adolph Hitler himself signed his name Hittler on the first party membership blanks, and his sister at the present time spells her name Hiedler. Another element of confusion is introduced by the fact that Adolph's mother's mother was also named Hitler which later became the family name of his father. Some of this confusion is dissipated, however, when we realize that Adolph' s parents had a common ancestor (father's grandfather and mother's great-grandfather), an inhabitant of the culturally bakcward [sic] Waldviertel district of Austria.

[Page 94]

Adolph's father, Alois Hitler, was the illegitimate son of Maria Anna Schicklgruber. It is generally supposed that the father of Alois Hitler was a Johann Georg Hiedler, a miller's assistant. Alois, however, was not legitimized, and bore his mother's name until he was forty years of age when he changed it to Hitler. Just why this was done is not clear, but it is generally said among the villagers that it was necessary in order to obtain a legacy. Where the legacy came from is unknown. One could suppose that Johann Georg Hiedler relented on his deathbed and left an inheritance to his illegitimate son together with his name. However, it is not clear why he did not legitimise the son when he fineally married the mother thirty-five years earlier. Why the son chose to take the name Hitler instead of Hiedler, if this is the case, is a mystery which remains unsolved. Unfortunately, the date of the death of Hiedler has not been established and consequently we are unable to relate these two events in time. A peculiar series of events prior to Hitler's birth leaves plenty of room for speculation.

There are some people who seriously doubt that Johann Georg Hiedler was the father of Alois. 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 was prepared which proved that Maria Anna Schicklgruber was living in Vienna at the time she conceived. At that time she was employed as a servant in the home of Baron Rothschild. As soon as the family [Page 95] discovered her pregnancy she was sent back to her home in Spital where Alois was born. If it is true that one of the Rothschilds is the real father of Alois Hitler, it would make Adolph a quarter Jew. According to these sources, Adolph Hitler knew of the existence of this document and the incriminating 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. Several stories of this general character are in circulation.

Those who lend credence to this story point out several factors which seem to favor its plausibility:

(a) That it is unlikely that the miller's assistant in a small village in this district would have very much to leave in the form of a legacy.

(b) That it is strange that Johann Hiedler should not claim the boy until thirty-five years after he had married the mother and the mother had died.

(c) That if the legacy were left by Hiedler on the condition that Alois take his name, it would not have been possible for him to change it to Hitler.

(d) That the intelligence and behavior of Alois, as well as that of his two sons, is completely out of keeping with that usually found in Austrian peasant families. They point out that [Page 96] their ambitiousness and extraordinary political intuition is much more in harmony with the Rothschild tradition.

(e) That Alois Schicklgruber left his home village at an early age to seek his fortune in Vienna where his mother had worked

(f) That it would be peculiar for Alois Hitler, while working as a customs official in Braunau, should choose a Jew named Prinz, of Vienna, to act as Adolph's godfather unless he felt some kinship with the Jews himself.

This is certainly a very intriguing hypothesis and much of Adolph's later behavior could be explained in rather easy terms on this basis. However, it is not absolutely necessary to assume that he had Jewish blood in his veins in order to make a comprehensive picture of his character with its manifoid traits and sentiments. From a purely scientific point of view, therefore, it is sounder not to base our reconstruction on such slim evidence but to seek firmer foundations. Nevertheless, we can leave it as a possibility which requires further verification.

In any event, Maria Ann Schicklgruber died when he was five years of age. When he was thirteen he left the Waldviertel and went to Vienna where he learned to be a cobbler. The next twenty-three years of his life are largely unaccounted for. It seems probable that during this time he joined the army and had perhaps been advanced to the rank of non-commissioned officer. His service in the army may have helped him to enter the Civil Service as Zellamtsoffizial later on.

[Page 97]

His married life was stormy. His first wife (born Glasl-Hoerer) was about thirteen years older than himself. She is alleged to have been the daughter of one of his superiors and seems to have been in poor health. In any event, the marriage turned out badly and they finally separated since, as Catholics a complete divorce was not possible. His first wife died in 1883.

In January, 1882, Franziska Matzelsberger gave birth to an illegitimate son who was named Alois. After the death of his first wife on April 6, 1883, Alois Hitler married Franziska Matzelsberger on May 22, 1888 and legitimized his son,. On July 28, 1883 his second wife bore him another child, Angela, and a year later, on August 10, 1884, she also died. During the time of his first marriage the couple had taken as a foster-daughter Klara Poelzl, Alois Hitler' s second cousin, once removed. He had reared her up to the time of the separation from his first wife when she went to Vienna as a servant. During the last months of the life of his second wife, Klara Poelzl returned to his home to look after the invalid and the two children. She remained in his home as housekeeper after the death of his second wife and on January 7, 1885 he married her.

On May 17, 1885 she gave birth to a son who died in infancy. It is alleged by William Patrick Hitler that an illegitimate child was born previously, but we have no other record of this. In any event, at least one child was conceived out of wedlock. Four more children were born of this union. This is certainly a [Page 98] tempestuous married life for a customs officer - three wives, seven or possibly eight children, one divorce, at least one birth and possibly two before marriage, two directly after the wedding, one wife thirteen years older than himself and another twenty-three years younger, one the daughter of a superior, one a waitress, and the third a servant and his foster-daughter. All of this, of course, has never been mentioned by Hitler. In MEIN KAMPF he gives a very simple picture-of conditions in his father's home.

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