Just weeks away from one of the holiest holidays of the Jewish year, news wires report that a recent DNA study of Adolf Hitler’s family revealed that he may have had African and Jewish ancestry. This report comes as a surprise to some of the world, but as vindication for many who believed the infamous Nazi leader was not a “pure” Aryan.
The Old Debate
Adolf Hitler was born in n April 20th 1889 in Braunau-am-Inn, Austria. The town is near to the Austro-German border, and his father, Alois HItler, worked as a customs officer on the border crossing. Hitler’s father was the illegitimate son of Maria Anna Schicklgruber. While paternity was not listed on Alois’ birth certiticate, there was several claims in regards to whom Alois’ father was; however, in 1842, when Maria married Johann Hiedler, testimony was given that another Hiedler was Alois’ father.
While the controversy may have ended there, it did not. It is believed that Hitler may have suspected that he had Jewish ancestry and sought out help in confirming or denying the information. With the help of former Governor of General Poland and Nazi Party lawyer Hans Frank, Hitler’s lineage was investigated in the 1930s. Frank learned that Hitler’s grandmother, Maria, had been employed by a Jewish family in Graz by the name of Frankenberger. Frank allegedly found the existence of letters from the Frankenbergers to Maria with payment allowances for Alois for fourteen years, but no complete proof was ever established. It was believed that Leopold Frankenberger, 19 at the time of Alois’ conception, was Alois’ actual father. While Frank’s claims were widely believed in the 1950s, doubt began to surface and ultimately dismissed his claims that Hitler had Jewish ancestry.
Also, in a written statement presented to a priest when Frank was on trial at Nuremberg, Frank confessed his investigation of Hitler’s lineage. He stated that Hitler sent for him and revealed a blackmail letter from a nephew, William Hitler, who hinted that he would reveal a family secret about Hitler. The press reports in question suggested that Hitler had Jewish blood in his veins and hence was hardly qualified to be an anti-Semite.” by writing “the possibility cannot be dismissed that Hitler’s father was half Jewish.”
The New Data
The stories about Hitler still intrigue people almost a seventy five years following his death. In 2010, DNA would spark more debate about Hitler’s lineage. Belgian historian and customs agent Marc Vermeeren along with journalist Jean-Paul Mulders traced 39 of the German Fuhrer’s relatives living in The United States and Europe. DNA samples were taken from relatives from collections of cigarette butts, letters and papers.
The DNA analysis revealed that the relatives had chromosome Haplogroup E1b1b or Y-DNA. This particular chromosome is rare in those people with ancestry in Germany and other parts of Western Europe. Y-DNA, however, is more commonly found in the people from Northern Africa, such as the Berbers of Morocco, and in Jewish communities, such as Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. The Haplogroup E1b1b1 chromosome, which accounts for approximately 20% of Ashkenazi and between 9 to 30% of Sephardic Y-chromosomes, appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population.
From these findings, new wires were announcing that Hitler, the son of Alois, may have had African and/or Jewish ancestry. For some people, this news is validation of Frank’s assertions to others it is a disturbing paradox.
Does it Really Matter?
While scholars are extremely interested in these new findings about Hitler’s ancestry, many others question why people are still fascinated with the demonic German dictator. For people of African descent, news of possible links to the Mother Continent does not impact their concepts about their identity or alter their perspective about European history. However, for those who have Jewish ancestry, the idea that Hitler was a kinsman is both disturbing and saddening. Hitler, a man responsible for the death of millions, of Jews, is considered one of the most diabolic souls of all time. His campaign against the Jews remains unrivaled in history.
The recent findings of his ancestry do not take away his intent on Jewish genocide and the other atrocities against other minorities and the disabled. The reality of the DNA evidence may reveal that Hitler, if he knew of his Jewish ancestry, either suffered from incredibly fierce self hatred or that he disregarded his father’s people in pursuit of absolute power.
Science sometimes toys with history in order to somehow revise or revisit controversial moments or people. When DNA was used to reveal that Thomas Jefferson had African American descents, the world debated one of America’s founding fathers perspectives on race and rights. When DNA confirmed the Princess Anastasia was actually killed by Bolsheviks, decade long search for the lost Romanov ended. However, the DNA evidence regarding Hitler, does not offer any resolution for the lives that were lost and the families that were destroyed. Maybe, scientists could better use their resources to find a cure for AIDS, a solution for international poverty, or way to end war.