Lonely, almost friendless in his first 18 years, in which he moved 18 times, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) is “impregnated” by his father, a provincial customs official, with unsuccessful ambitions, sour character, and nationalist stances.
It is the thesis that supports the first biography of Alois Hitler (1837-1903) which, published this week in German and based on 31 unpublished letters discovered three years ago, traces the features of a grumpy man, who thinks he is a “know-it-all” and despises his environment.
“The son copied his father in a fairly exact way. He admired him, although he also rebelled against him and at the same time did everything possible to overcome him, “explains Austrian historian Roman Sandgruber.
For more than a century, the letters Alois Hitler wrote over a year to the man who had sold him a country house in Upper Austria survived forgotten in an attic, before a great-granddaughter of the addressee discovered them there.
“It is a sensational find because there was practically nothing written about Hitler’s father”says Sandgruber, Emeritus Professor of History at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz (Austria).
Written in an elaborate official language, and peppered with dialect terms, the manuscripts, which cover the year 1895, are “very revealing” for the historian. The Nazi dictator, the greatest mass murderer in history, is probably the most studied character in history, with nearly 150,000 publications and biographies.
The fact that until now there was no work on his father among them “It may be due to a shortage of sources”Sandgruber points out in his book entitled “Hitler’s Father. How the son became a dictator.”
The new light thrown by the letters forced Sandgruber to revise previous theses on the life of the family and presents “a new image of the young Adolf Hitler.” Of unknown father, “the origins of Alois Hitler are surrounded by myths, fabrications and conjectures”, says the historian.
In large part because his son, when he became powerful, sought to “hide his own history and that of his parents and ancestors” or “twist it for his own benefit,” he explains. The new discoveries contrast with the idealized images that Hitler draws of the father in his work “My Struggle.”
The main conclusion is that the influence of Alois’s personality was much more decisive than previously assumed: “Even the signatures of the father and the son are identical”, Sandgruber emphasizes.
“The letters reveal very clearly how Alois feels superior to others. He expresses great contempt for the bureaucracy, notaries, lawyers, judges, servants and peasants in the area,” the historian explained in a telephone interview. “That image is exactly the same as that of Adolf Hitler: a self-taught man who thinks he is better than the others”, Add.
Everything indicates that Hitler Jr. absorbed the ideology of 19th century German nationalism from his father, plagued with hatred towards the Slavs, especially the Czechs. While Sandgruber found no anti-Semitic manifestations in Alois’s letters, other documents make it clear that the future dictator arrived in Vienna already a convinced anti-Semite.
On the other hand, the missives correct the image of the mother, Klara Hitler (1860-1907), the third wife of Alois, who in one of the letters describes her as an enterprising and energetic woman. That is far from the vision of “a submissive woman, dedicated exclusively to her children”, according to the Nazi ideal.
The letters further reveal the financial situation of the family and that the capital with which Alois sought to become “an independent gentleman farmer” actually came from Klara. Hitler’s father completely fails in this attempt, “both financially and because of his lack of organizing ability” and the family lives on the brink of bankruptcy.
The thirty letters, which reached the 21st century well preserved, with envelopes, stamps and postmarks, It will be handed over to a museum or archive so that “anyone who wants can see them,” Sandgruber concludes.