Historian Claims Hitler Had A Younger, Disabled, Brother

The Hitler family; Klara, Adolf and Alois
The Hitler family; Klara, Adolf and Alois

Historians have long believed that Hitler, born on April 20th, 1889, was the fourth of six siblings. Florian Kotanko, chairman of the local Historical Association, has studied records from Braunau am Inn, the northern Austrian town where Adolf Hitler was born. He believes that Adolf was actually the third child in the family, based on the parish records from the town.

On 17 May 1885, five months after the wedding between Hitler’s Parents, the new Frau Klara Hitler gave birth to her first child, Gustav. A year later, on 25 September 1886, she gave birth to a daughter, Ida. During the winter of 1887–1888, diphtheria struck the Hitler household, resulting in the deaths of both Gustav (8 December) and Ida (2 January).

Otto Hitler is considered by most to be the last sibling born before Adolf. However, according to Kotanko’s research, he was actually born three years after Adolf, on June 17, 1892 (and not 1887) and died within three days from hydrocephalus, or swelling of the brain.

“The conclusions of many Hitler biographers about the mental development of Adolf Hitler, who allegedly received special attention from his mother Klara as the only surviving child after the deaths of three siblings, are no longer tenable,” Kotanko said.

Infant Adolf, son of Alois and Klara.
Infant Adolf, son of Alois and Klara.

“How was the 3-year-old Adolf Hitler confronted with the birth and death of a brother?” Kotanko asked. It remains to be discovered whether Adolf knew of his brother’s condition and if it affected him. What is known is that Adolf was a sickly child, and his mother fretted over him constantly. It’s also known that the relationship between the parents was not a happy one; Alois has been described as a hard, unsympathetic, bullying man who had a number of affairs and was not kind to the family.

Paula Hitler, Adolf’s youngest sister, gave a family history to U.S. Military investigators in 1945. She stated that the two oldest siblings died of diphtheria in infancy. Mr. Kotanko told the Austrian newspaper Oberösterreichischen Nachrichten, “The conclusions of many biographers about the psychological development of Hitler — who was said to have received special care from his mother, Klara, as the sole surviving child after the death of three siblings — is no longer tenable. “To what extent this [the brother’s condition] affected the subsequent behavior of Hitler towards people with disabilities is an open question.”

As the final act in the Hitler family tragedy, Klara Hitler gave birth to their fifth child, Edmund, on 24 March 1894. He died of the measles almost 6 years later on February 2, 1900.



Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE