Hitler’s right hand Hans Frank claimed to have discovered that the Fuhrer’s grandfather was indeed Jewish.
German Fuhrer Adolph Hitler doing a Nazi salute. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Was Adolf Hitler’s paternal grandfather Jewish?
The controversial theory has been debated for decades by historians, with many agreeing that he was not a part of “the tribe,” as there was no evidence to substantiate this claim.
However, a study by psychologist and physician Leonard Sax has shed new light supporting the claim that Hitler’s father’s father had Jewish roots.
The study, titled “Aus den Gemeinden von Burgenland: Revisiting the question of Adolf Hitler’s paternal grandfather,” which was published in the current issue of the Journal of European Studies, examines claims by Hitler’s lawyer Hans Frank, who allegedly discovered the truth.
Hitler asked Frank to look into the claim in 1930, after his nephew William Patrick Hitler threatened to expose that the leader’s grandfather was Jewish.
In his 1946 memoir, which was published seven years after he was executed during the Nuremberg trials, “Frank claimed to have uncovered evidence in 1930 that Hitler’s paternal grandfather was a Jewish man living in Graz, Austria, in the household where Hitler’s grandmother was employed,” and it was in 1836 that Hitler’s grandmother Maria Anna Schicklgruber became pregnant, Sax explained.
“Frank wrote in his memoir that he conducted an investigation as Hitler had requested, and that he discovered the existence of correspondence between Maria Anna Schicklgruber – Hitler’s grandmother – and a Jew named Frankenberger living in Graz. According to Frank, the letters hinted that Frankenberger’s 19-year-old son had impregnated Maria Anna while she worked in the Frankenberger household: …that the illegitimate child of the Schickelgruber [sic] had been conceived under conditions which required Frankenberger to pay alimony.”
Sax writes in the study that according to the letters in Frank’s memoir, “Frankenberger Sr. sent money for the support of the child from infancy until its 14th birthday.”
“The motivation for the payment, according to Frank, was not charity but primarily a concern about the authorities becoming involved: ‘The Jew paid without a court order, because he was concerned about the result of a court hearing and the connected publicity,’” the letters state.
However, Sax noted that the accuracy of Frank’s claims and his memoir “have been questioned.”
He added that “contemporary scholarship has largely discounted Frank’s allegations regarding a possible Jewish grandfather for Adolf Hitler.”
In the ’50s, German author Nikolaus von Preradovich said he had proved that “there were no Jews in Graz before 1856,” rejecting Frank’s account.
However, Sax explained in the study that he found evidence to the contrary in Austrian archives that there was a Jewish community in the Austrian town before 1850 and highlighted that Preradovich was a Nazi sympathizer, “who was offended by the suggestion that Adolf Hitler was a “Vierteljude (a one-quarter Jew).”
According to Sax’s paper, “Evidence is presented that there was in fact eine kleine, nun angesiedelte Gemeinde – ‘a small, now settled community’ – of Jews living in Graz before 1850.”
Sax also refers to Emanuel Mendel Baumgarten, who was elected to the Vienna municipal council in 1861, “one of the first Jews to hold that honor.
“In 1884, he wrote a book titled… The Jews in Styria: a historical sketch,” in which he states that “in September 1856, he and several Jewish colleagues met with Michael Graf von Strassoldo, who at that time held the post of governor for the province of Styria.
“Baumgarten and his colleagues petitioned Strassoldo to lift the restrictions on Jews residing in Styria,” Sax explained. Baumgarten cited a letter to local mayors in Styria which noted “that Jews are staying in local districts for a long time and are taking up residence for a long time.”
Sax goes on to say that the official register of Jews in Graz “appears to have been launched following this meeting.
Thus, the establishment in 1856 of a community register of Jews in Graz seems not to have been a first step in the foundation of the Jewish community in 16 Graz, as Nikolaus von Preradovich assumed, but rather the recognition of a community already in existence,” he pointed out.
According to a statement accompanying the study, “Sax [also] presents overwhelming evidence that Preradovich was a Nazi sympathizer.
“Sax’s paper shows that the current consensus is based on a lie,” it states. “Frank, not Preradovich, was telling the truth. Adolf Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish.
He added that “no independent scholarship has confirmed Preradovich’s conjecture.”