Whose My Daddy?
Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Germany, led that country on an aggressive and expansionist rampage in the pursuit of world domination. His Nazi regime, also expounded and put into practice, ideas of genocide and other eugenic policies targeting such groups as disabled and homosexual people. In considering Hitler and his infamous tenure of terror, we may well wonder, what type of parenting did Hitler have? And, did this parenting impact on the person he was to become?
All of us are a product of a complicated interaction between our genes and environment. We don't however, get to pick our genes or our early environment; factors which shape who we are and how we will develop. Hitler was the fourth of six children. He was born on 20 April 1889, at Salzburger Vorstadt, a town on the border with Bavaria, Germany. He moved to Germany with his family when he was three years of age.
Hitler's father, is credited as being Alois Hitler (born Alois Schicklgruber) However there is another story put forward by a Lady Windsor-Cragg, the (illegitimate) daughter of the Edward VIII, regarding the paternity of Adolf. She said that Edward's father, George V, had an affair while in Germany and the result was the birth of a boy named Adolf in 1889. Making Hitler a close relative of Queen Elizabeth!
Hitler's most probable father however, Alois, was born out-of-wedlock to a peasant named Maria Anna Schicklgruber. Five years after Alois birth, Maria married the unemployed journeyman, miller Johann Georg Hiedler. The couple were so impoverished that they "slept in a cattle trough." Alois however, at the age of 10 was sent to live with Hiedler's brother, who some historians believe, was perhaps his biological father.
Various candidates have been proposed as the father of Hitler senior. One conspiracy theory claims he was the illegitimate son of Maria Anna Schicklgruber and Baron Rothschild. Giving Adolf Hitler a Jewish grandfather. However, on his baptismal certificate, no father was entered and the priest wrote "illegitimate." One would have to wonder, what such a murky background and probably shameful experiences, would have had upon Hitler's father and his later fathering abilities?
Alois Hitler married three times. His first wife was much older than himself and his other two wives were young enough to be his daughters. Adolf Hitler's mother Clara, was the 16-year-old granddaughter of his step-uncle (possible father) when they married. She was a devout Roman Catholic, who had six children; only two survived, Adolf and his sister Paula. When Adolf was born, his father was 51 years of age; a cruel and brutal man, with little patience. A man who almost certainly experienced shame and trauma about his origins and paternity. A man who would likely pass his anxiety and feelings of stigma along to his only surviving son.
And yet, Adolf's sister Paula, later said in material which is part of the Toland Collection, that:
It was my brother Adolf who especially provoked my father to extreme harshness and who got his due measure of beatings every day. He was rather a nasty little fellow, and all his father's attempts to beat the impudence out of him and make him choose the career of a civil servant were in vain.
Adolf Hitler, did not do well at school and he had few friends of which to boast. He was a great disappointment to his authoritarian and moody father, especially when Adolf expressed the view that he did not wish to be a civil servant; he wanted to become an artist. His father however, died when Hitler was 13 and as Adolf was not doing well academically, he left school at 15 without a qualification.
Hitler's mother was a kind woman, but she was intimidated by her domineering husband Alois, whom she called "uncle". She died when Hitler was 18, of advanced breast cancer. Dr. Bloch, the Jewish physician who treated Hitler's mother stated "Never in my entire career have I seen anyone so destroyed by grief as Adolph Hitler." And interestingly, the totalitarian dictator later showed mercy to Dr. Bloch, by allowing him to leave Germany in 1940.
After his mother died, Adolf tried twice to gain entry into the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (1907, 1908). After his second rejection, he lived for a time in a homeless shelter. It was also in Vienna that his anti-Semitism began to emerge. Yet, like his mother, Adolf was religious. According to Goebbels, Hitler was “deeply religions but entirely anti-Christian.” Hitler believed that the religions of the Japanese and the Muslims were superior to Christianity, because Christianity was too “meek” and “flabby". He never formally left the Catholic Church, but regarded "Confucius, Buddha, and Mohammed" as providers of "spiritual sustenance."
Before he came to power in Germany, Hitler had been obscure, uneducated and unsuccessful. His family background featured illegitimacy and interbreeding. And we can only speculate about his reasons for ordering the destruction of the Austrian village of Döllersheim in 1939; the birthplace of his ancestors. However, it has been noted, that Hitler was a secretive man who sought to hide his background and past.
While in prison in 1924, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.In this deluded tome, he described his parents as dutiful models of traditional German values. He did not make mention, of the words that he had said to his lawyer Hans Frank, about his fathers heavy drinking and how he experienced feelings of shame, when he had to drag his father home from drinking at bars.
Dr Bloch, his mother's doctor described Adolf as a "mother's boy". He described her as "submissive" and "retiring". Hitler's overwhelming love for his mother has Freudian overtones. It did not protect him however, from being bitter, filled with hate and having feelings of being persecuted. He also had delusions of grandeur, believing himself to be a "genius" and that he would become a great architect, painter or writer. It seems that he was a very unhappy man with parental issues, who craved some type of fame and glory. And sadly, this festering anger, hatred and megalomania would lead to one of history's darkest times.
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