Was Hitler Jewish?

The recent thread by GermanicPride has brought up a question. The column argues that Hitler was not Jewish because the claim that his grandfather might have been Jewish is not substantiated.

However, there is another claim with regards to Hitler’s ancestry, specifically

I’m not sure which person to which this refers. It could mean either Maria Anna Neugeschwandter, or Anna Maria Goeschl, or possibly someone else.


Does anyone know more about this claim? Can narrow down the identity intended? Refute the claim?

“(his great-great-grandmother was a Jewish maid).” Is from the Weekly World News which has no evidence to support this ridiculous claim, and no his great-great grandmother was not Jewish.

As regards to his paternal grandfather, there are certainly rumours saying he was Jewish but these have been proven to be false.

The third possibility is that Adolf Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish. Rumours to that effect circulated in Munich cafes in the early 1920s, and were fostered by sensationalist journalism of the foreign press during the 1930s. It was suggested that the name Huttler' was Jewish, revealed’ that he could be traced to a Jewish family called Hitler in Bucharest, and even claimed that his father had been sired by Baron Rothschild, in whose house in Vienna his grandmother had allegedly spent some time as a servant. But the most serious speculation about Hitler’s supposed Jewish background has occurred since the Second World War, and 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 instalments 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. No correspondence between Maria Anna and a family called Frankenberg or Frankenreiter has ever turned up. The son of Leopold Frankenreiter and alleged father of the baby (according to Frank's story and accepting that he had merely confused names) for whom Frankenreiter was seemingly prepared to pay child support for thirteen years was ten years old at the time of Alois's birth. The Frankenreiter family had moreover hit upon such hard times that payment of any support to Maria Anna Schicklgruber would have been inconceivable. Equally lacking in credibility is Frank's comment that Hitler had learnt from his grandmother that there was no truth in the Graz story: his grandmother had been dead for over forty years at the time of Hitler's birth. And whether in fact Hitler received a blackmail letter from his nephew in 1930 is also doubtful. If such was the case, then Patrick -- who repeatedly made a nuisance of himself by scrounging from his famous uncle -- was lucky to survive the next few years which he spent for the most part in Germany, and to be able to leave the country for good in December 1938. His `revelations', when they came in a Paris journal in August 1939, contained nothing about the Graz story. Nor did a number of different Gestapo inquiries into Hitler's family background in the 1930s and 1940s contain any 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.

So there you have it, his family did have incest —(his parents were first cousins once removed)— but his ancestry was not at all Jewish.

His great great grandmother was Maria Anna Neugeschwandter and she was just an Austrian German like the rest of his family.

The short answer the same as the long one -no. You’re either Jewish or you aren’t. You can’t be a half-Jewish or a quarter or a sixteenth. You are or you aren’t. Clearly he wasn’t. And even if a grandmother on the maternal side were Jewish, there isn’t a Jewish person I know who would accept him as such. That whole Jesus thing is a deal-breaker.

A mild nitpick, or more accurately a pet peeve.

It’s true that the majority of states in the U.S. ban marriage between first cousins. But that means that 19 states do not. And we’re alone in this among developed nations. And even if that weren’t true, I’m not sure that first cousins once removed would qualify since that is a more distant relationship.

Incest is defined culturally or religiously. It has no fixed meaning. Insofar as it does have a cultural meaning, it’s one of “badness” because of either revulsion about being brought up in the same household or about the chances of harm to the children, and neither of those have much place being applied to first cousins, let alone first cousins once removed.

Yeah, I’ve had to put up this caveat about first cousins about half a dozen times on Facebook and in real life this last week, mostly because of North Carolina.

Jewishness is an ethnicity as well as a religion, isn’t it? Why would the rules for measuring quantity of Jewish ancestry be any different than for any other ethnicity?
Powers &8^]

By convention and for certain purposes, Judaism uses matrilineal descent. Not quite what you were getting at I assume though.

Depends on who and for what purpose.

Ethnicity has, as far as I know, no firm “rules” - being a social construct. For example, in some places and cultures people create an elaborate system concerning how “Black” one is (“mulatto, quadroon, and octoroon”); in others, any amount of visible “Black” ancestry is sufficient to make one “Black”, with only the single category. Neither is objectively right or wrong as to who is “Black”.

That’s an ethnicity that is socially-constructed around skin colour. Judaism is an ethnicity that is socially-constructed around tribal identity. Within Judaism, you are either a member of the tribe or you are not. There are two ways to gain membership - by birth or by conversion - and equally, conversion out of Judaism to another religion incompatible with Judaism makes you lose membership, according to most Jews.

Thus, as far as Jews are concerned, Judaism is binary; non-Jews may, for their own purposes, create a more elaborate characterization.

You’re conflating ethnically Jewish with religiously Jewish. While the two are interrelated, it is possible to be ethnically Jewish but reject Judaism as a practice, and be fully atheist, or pick another religion. And it is possible to be non-ethnically Jewish but elect to become religiously Jewish.

The question is not whether Hitler practiced Judaism, the question is with regards to his ethnicity.

And it appears all evidence points to “not ethnically Jewish”.

As far as Judaism, religious or not, are concerned, you can be a Jewish atheist, but not a Jewish Christian.

That’s because Judaism is an ethnic identity that is built around tribalism, which can be thought of as a sort of non-localized nationality.

If you are born American you stay American, right up to the point you officially change your nationality to (say) Canadian. At that point, you are not a Canadian American, but fully Canadian and not American. You may have been “born American” but you are “now Canadian”.

Thus, within Judaism itself as an ethnicity you can’t be “half Jewish” or “quarter Jewish”, any more that you can be “quarter American, three-quarters Canadian” by nationality. You are either one or the other.

I’m not conflating ethnically Jewish and religiously Jewish. I know exactly what I’m saying. You’re either Jewish or you aren’t.

And he wasn’t.

Does it really matter whether Hitler had some Jewish ancestor or not? Does it change what the man did? Does it change the devastation and destruction he caused?

Judaism is a religion. Like many religions, it sometimes recognizes members who are rather lapsed in their practice, and even will claim their children as members. But, in the end, it is just a system of beliefs. If everyone who was matrilineally descended from a Jew was actually Jewish, there would be a lot more than the 12 or so million Jews around today.

Until quite recently, no Jewish authority would question anyone who claimed to be Jewish. If you said you were, that was good enough. No one bothered to check birth records. It was simply assumed that if you claimed to be Jewish, you were either insane, a glutton for punishment, or Jewish.

What made being Jewish an ethnicity were those outside of Judaism. To these people, you can’t be Jewish and whatever their ethnicity was. These people made the special laws that kept Jews in their place. They forced Jews to live in certain areas and prevented Jews from holding certain jobs. They made Jews were special clothes and pay special taxes. Hitler merely took the tradition to its logical conclusion.

I am almost 100% German/Austrian by ethnicity. My family can trace their root to Vienna and to Western Germany all the way back to the 14th century before the idea of what was France and what was Germany were firmly established. German Jews, like many Germans were very proud of their German roots. They spoke German, and even had proper German names. Yet, in 1936, these deep German roots would have done nothing to save them.

My Father-in-law’s family lived in Iraq for over 2000 years. His family spoke Iraqi Arabic, dressed like other Iraqis, and participated in their culture. They even had Arabic names. To anyone outside of Iraq, my Father-in-law’s family would be just another Arab Iraqi family. However, to Arab nationalists of the first half of the 20th century, he was not an Iraqi, but a Jew – a foreigner. It didn’t matter that his Iraqi roots probably stretch farther back then any of theirs. He was a Jew. In 1952, his family was forced to flee Iraq, leaving behind all property and possessions.

Ethnicity is a social construct. What made someone Black in the U.S.? That was set by the various state laws, and could be arbitrated in court. Some states even had special courts to determine ethnicity. In Louisiana, it was officially 1/16 Negro blood. If you had that, you better make sure you walked the right way down the sidewalk and didn’t drink from the wrong water fountains. Before 1865, you could even become the legal property of another person. Twain’s story Puddin’ Head Wilson showed how much race was a social construct.

I always get the feeling that this Was Hitler Jewish? question is somehow going to be detrimental to us Jews. You have people like the OP protesting that their Hitler was completely German and thus couldn’t be tainted with Jewish blood – as if those were incompatible. But, what is the other side trying to prove by claiming Hitler had some Jewish ancestry? See, that’s why Hitler was evil! Deep down, he was Jewish!.

Hitler claimed he wasn’t Jewish, and that’s good enough to make him not Jewish. And, as a Jew, I wouldn’t want him anyway. The OP can have him.

Mike Kelly, a columnist for the Austin Statesman, once wrote about a book he read where the author claimed that Jesus had children, and those children became the royalty of Europe. Kelly mused that he could imagine someone tracing his family tree all the way back to Jesus, then getting kicked out of his country club for having Jewish ancestry.

Naw, I think the reason the “was Hitler Jewish” question pops up is because people love pat irony. It’s more a ‘isn’t it funny that Hitler really was what he purported to hate?’ issue, than a ‘Hilter got his evil from the Jews’ issue.

The real irony, of course, is that the Jews Hilter hated were in many cases good self-identifying Germans - many a German who had fought with distinction in WW1 ended up in the death camps; more significantly, many a German scientist, vital for the war effort, was either killed or driven to work for Germany’s enemies. Hitler ‘was one of whom he hated’, not because he was Jewish, but because so many Jews he persecuted were German …

Well, I hold passports for three different countries and often find myself using affiliative language when referring to a country I don’t reside in (“we could do with more Democrats in Congress” or a similar sentiment). Not belonging exclusively to any one nation has made me suspicious of patriotism. I feel camaraderie with humans in general.

That’s nice, but it has nothing to do with the issue. Some countries do not allow for multiple citizenship. It isn’t a question of what is desirable, but of what the particular rules for holding that particular identity are. The rules as far as Jews are concerned are that you are either a Jew or not - and this goes for non-religious Jews as much as for religious ones.

If you are arguing that having national or tribal identities is overall a bad thing, I’d perhaps agree - but this argument is about what a particular tribal identity is. The argument is not affected by whether or not having such identities is good or bad.

I’m just pointing out that using “nationality” as an analogue for a discrete trait may not be ideal.

No analogy is perfect, but this one seems to work- some countries prohibit dual or multiple citizenship; others do not. Similarly, some ethnic identies allow for subdivisions and percentages, and others do not. If you are a citizen of one of the countries which prohibits multiple citizenship, you can’t really claim that status, since the rules don’t allow for it to exist.

Judaism is one that doesn’t allow people to be half-Jewish. Within Judaism itself, that is. You are either Jewish, or you are a non-Jew with some Jewish ancestry.

You gain Jewish status by either birth or conversion (Judaism is generally matrilineal, so in most varieties of Judaism you gain Jewish status by having a Jewish mother); you lose Jewish status by conversion to a religion that is incompatible with Judaism (you can probably be a Jewish Buddhist of the philosophical school, but not a Jewish Christian).

According to new DNA results and genetic evidence, the Jews are a race not just an ethno-religious group.

Read more about it here

There is no evidence to support Hitler had any Jewish ancestors, so no he was not part-Jewish.

Read this for a full explanation on how he had no Jewish ancestors, it actually was impossible as Jews were expelled from that part of Austria until well after his father (Alois) birth.

It’s just one of them well circulated myths about Hitler, the same as the one testicle and so on…

Meh. Certain Jewish groups have been genetically isolated - most notably, some Ashkenazim from Eastern Europe. But those Jews are no more a “race” than Newfoundlanders.

Jews cannot be a “race”, because there are many Jewish groups who are quite obviously more different from other Jews than they are compared to the people around them.

For example, no-one would deny that Eastern European Ashkenazim generally have white skin … but the Beta Israel (sometimes known as “Falashas” though the term is derogatory) are also “Jews” and they have Black skin. It’s an odd sort of “race” in which some members of the “race” have white skin, and others black.