Frank,Im Angesicht des Galgens. This paragraph in Frank's memoirs caused widespread, even wild, speculation. But there is no reason to suppose Frank's account as a whole untrustworthy or to suspect him of unserious motives, of sensation-mongering or notoriety seeking. The loyalty that Frank maintained towards his Fuhrer to the end supports this.
Nevertheless, in 1956 Franz Jetzinger, in the first critical study of Hitler's formative years, "Hitler's Youth", cast the first doubts on Frank's version of Hitler's origins. In particular, he pointed out that it can by no means be assumed that the name Frankenberger is of exclusively Jewish origin. Up to now the most conclusive version of Hitler's family background has been that given by the historian Werner Maser, according to which Hitler had no Jewish ancestors but was the product of a particularly close knit peasant interbreeding. Maser believes Hitler's father had no connection with either Frankenberger or Johann Georg Hiedler, the miller's apprentice whom Hitler's grandmother Maria Anna Schicklgruber married in 1842, but was the natural son of his 'foster father', Johann Nepomuk Hiedler (or Huttler). The latter, however, was not only Hitler's grandfather but also the grandfather of Klara Polzl, Hitler's mother. Thus Hitler's father must have been the uncle of his wife and Hitler himself his mother's cousin. But Maser cannot produce the vital document showing that Johann Nepomuk Hiedler (Huttler) was in fact the natural father of Alois Schicklgruber—Hitler. Also Frank's assurance about the paternity payments, which doubtless were not invented, is not satisfactorily explained in this version.
Yet whichever version seems the more credible, the fact
remains that Hitler was unable to furnish the so called 'Aryan' documentary proof to which he attached such lethal importance. He himself certainly felt his handicap and, despite all the ancestor investigations he instigated, never spoke of his origins. 'These people must not know who I am,'
he said nervously to his nephew William Patrick Hitler. 'They must not know from where and from what family I come'
("Der Spiegel", No. 31,1967).
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