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Alois Hitler

Alois Hitler in 1901.
Born 7 June 1837(1837-06-07)
Strones, Waldviertel, Lower Austria
Died 3 January 1903 (aged 65)
Gasthaus Stiefler, Linz, Upper Austria
Occupation Customs officer
Spouse(s) Anna Glassl
Franziska Matzelberger
Klara Pölzl
Children with Franziska Matzelberger
Alois Hitler, Jr.
Angela Hitler

with Klara Pölzl
Gustav Hitler
Ida Hitler
Otto Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Edmund Hitler
Paula Hitler
Parents Johann Georg Hiedler and Maria Anna Schicklgruber

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


Early life

Alois Hitler was born in the small 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,[1] 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".[2] 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, Alois 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

Alois Hitler in the uniform of an Austrian customs official

Hitler made steady progress in the semi-military profession of a customs official. The work involved frequent re-assignments and he served in a variety of places across Austria. By 1860, after five years of 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. He later became an inspector of customs posted at Braunau in 1875.

While his professional duties involved strict attention to rules, his personal and private life seems to have flouted the social norms of the time. 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. Hitler was 36 when he married for the first time, and it may have been for money. Anna Glassl was a wealthy, 50-year-old daughter of a customs 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 in 1876 transformed "Alois 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.[citation needed]

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.

Some Schicklgrubers remain in Waldviertel. One of this extended clan, "Aloisia V" aged 49, died in 1940, in an Austrian Nazi gas chamber.[3]

Alois Hitler's biological father

Historians have discussed three 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.

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.


Not long after marrying his first wife Anna, Alois Hitler began an affair with 19-year-old Franziska "Fanni" Matzelsberger, one of the young female servants employed at the Pommer Inn, house #219, in the city of Braunau am Inn, 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 the 43-year-old Hitler's girlfriend, but the two could not marry since under Roman Catholic canon law, divorce is 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.

On 13th 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, making him "Alois Matzelsberger." Hitler kept Matzelsberger as his wife while his lawful wife grew sicker and died on 6 April 1883. The next month, on 22nd May[4], 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..

Later 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.[citation needed] 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.[5] Hitler was immune to what the local people thought of him since his salary came from the finance ministry and he 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, future Nazi dictator 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 (48 km) 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.[citation needed] 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 January 3, 1903, Hitler went to the Gasthaus Wiesinger 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.


  1. ^ Sometimes spelled "Schickelgruber"
  2. ^ John Toland, Adolf Hitler, Doubleday & Company, 1976, pp.3-5 ("Toland"); William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon & Shuster, 1960, p. 7 ("Shirer"); Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris, W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, pp. 3-9 ("Kershaw").
  3. ^ Kate Connolly, "Hitler's Mentally Ill Cousin Killed In Nazi Gas Chamber", HNN copy of 19 Jan 2005 Daily Telegraph article.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Alois petitioned the church for an episcopal dispensation citing "bilateral affinity in the third degree touching the second" to describe his rather complicated family relationship to Klara. The local bishop apparently believed this relationship was too close to approve on his own authority, so he forwarded the petition to Rome on behalf of Alois, seeing instead a papal dispensation, which was approved before the birth of the couple's first child. See Rosenblum article.

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
  • Langer, Walter C. The Mind of Adolf Hitler. Basic Books Inc., New York, 1972 ISBN 0-465-04620-7 ASIN: B000CRPF1K

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun


  1. A surname. ( The original surname of Adolf Hitler's father.)

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