Recent genetic evidence has given some credence to old rumors about Adolf Hitler that dogged him throughout his life.
The TelegraphBy Heidi Blake24 Aug 2010
Saliva samples taken from 39 relatives of the Nazi leader show he may have had biological links to the “subhuman” races that he tried to exterminate during the Holocaust.
Jean-Paul Mulders, a Belgian journalist, and Marc Vermeeren, a historian, tracked down the Fuhrer’s relatives, including an Austrian farmer who was his cousin, earlier this year.
A chromosome called Haplogroup E1b1b1 which showed up in their samples is rare in Western Europe and is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.
"One can from this postulate that Hitler was related to people whom he despised," Mr Mulders wrote in the Belgian magazine, Knack.
Haplogroup E1b1b1, which accounts for approximately 18 to 20 per cent of Ashkenazi and 8.6 per cent to 30 per cent of Sephardic Y-chromosomes, appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population.
Knack, which published the findings, says the DNA was tested under stringent laboratory conditions.
"This is a surprising result," said Ronny Decorte, a genetic specialist at the Catholic University of Leuven.
"The affair is fascinating if one compares it with the conception of the world of the Nazis, in which race and blood was central.
“Hitler's concern over his descent was not unjustified. He was apparently not "pure" or ‘Ayran’.”
It is not the first time that historians have suggested Hitler had Jewish ancestry.
His father, Alois, is thought to have been the illegitimate offspring of a maid called Maria Schickelgruber [sic] and a 19-year-old Jewish man called Frankenberger.
A simple Google search reveals that much has been made about these allegations. I’m no Hitler scholar, but my impression from reading Ian Kershaw’s biography was that the rumors of the Führer’s Jewish ancestry were mostly bunk.
The most serious speculation about Hitler’s supposed Jewish background has occurred since the Second World War, is directly traceable to the memoirs of the leading Nazi lawyer and Governor General of Poland, Hans Frank, dictated in his Nuremberg cell while awaiting the hangman.
Frank claimed that he had been called in by Hitler towards the end of 1930 and shown a letter from his nephew William Patrick Hitler (the son of his half-brother Alois, who had been briefly married to an Irish woman) threatening, in connection with the press stories circulating about Hitler’s background, to expose the fact that Hitler had Jewish blood flowing in his veins. Allegedly commissioned by Hitler to look into his family history, Frank reportedly discovered that Maria Anna Schicklgruber had given birth to her child while serving as a cook in the home of a Jewish family called Frankenberger in Graz. Not only that: Frankenberger senior had reputedly paid regular installments to support the child on behalf of his son, around nineteen years old at the birth, until the child’s fourteenth birthday. Letters were allegedly exchanged for years between Maria Anna Schicklgruber and the Frankenbergers. According to Frank, Hitler declared that he knew, from what his father and grandmother had said, that his grandfather was not the Jew from Graz, but because his grandmother and her subsequent husband were so poor they had conned the Jew into believing he was the father and into paying for the boy’s support.
Frank’s story gained wide circulation in the 1950s. But it simply does not stand up. There was no Jewish family called Frankenberger in Graz during the 1830s. In fact, there were no Jews at all in the whole of Styria at the time, since Jews were not permitted in that part of Austria until the 1860s. A family named Frankenreiter did live there, but was not Jewish. There is no evidence that Maria Anna was ever in Graz, let alone was employed by the butcher Leopold Frankenreiter. […]
[A] number of different Gestapo inquired into Hitler’s family background in the 1930s and 1940s contain [no] reference to the alleged Graz background. Indeed, they discovered no new skeletons in the cupboard. Hans Frank’s memoirs, dictated at a time when he was waiting for the hangman and plainly undergoing a psychological crisis, are full of inaccuracies and have to be used with caution. With regard to the story of Hitler’s alleged Jewish grandfather, they are valueless. Hitler’s grandfather, whoever he was, was not a Jew from Graz.
Perhaps Hitler was a quarter Jewish after all -- which would have made him a German according to the Nuremberg Laws, by the way -- or had a Jewish relative on another branch of his family tree. This controversy is certainly fascinating, though I don’t know what it actually tells us about the Second World War, National Socialism, or Hitler’s rise to power.
The story will, no doubt, be picked up on by anti-racists and race deniers. The new critique against the Bell Curve and similar argument will be, “But how can you say that race exists when the ultimate Aryan Übermensch, Adolf Hitler, was part Sephardic Jewish?” That such a claim is logically incoherent won’t stop people from making it. As a friend wrote me via email, the “notion that you can determine such things as Jewish ancestry using DNA testing doesn't square well with ‘race does not exist.’”