Klara Hitler, nee Pozl, was 29. She was a dutiful homemaker to her much older husband Alois — first, years earlier, as his maid, and then later, as his third wife. Tall, with a long face and a gentle smile, Klara was quiet and shy. Alois, a local civil servant, was a stern, bad-tempered, authoritative bully.
At night, as young Adolf grew up, Klara would stand outside his bedroom door, listening as Alois beat him. Adolf’s younger sister Paula remembered those nights years later, speaking to U.S. Army officials investigating his monstrous acts.
“He was a scrubby little rogue,” Paula said of her brother, “and all attempts of his father to thrash him for his rudeness…were in vain.” But their mother was always there after the beatings to caress him and bathe him in kindness. “My mother,” Paula said, “was a very soft and tender person, the compensatory element between the almost too harsh father.”
Alois died in 1903 of heart failure while drinking his morning pint. Klara became a single mother, tolerating, seemingly without question, her unruly and headstrong son.
Adolf did not excel at school or almost anything else.
In 1905, when he was 16, he faked an illness “to persuade his mother that he was not fit to continue school and gladly put his schooling behind him for good with no clear future career path mapped out,” the historian Ian Kershaw wrote in “Hitler: A Biography.” “Adolf lived a life of parasitic idleness – funded, provided for, looked after, and cosseted by a doting mother.”
Klara, her sister Johanna, and Paula all enabled Adolf’s slothful existence, looking “after all his needs, to wash, clean, and cook for him,” Kershaw wrote.
Adolf fantasized about becoming a musician and artist. Klara bought him a grand piano. He drew and painted. He wrote poetry. At night, he went to the theater, often with his mother. He bought her a ticket every year for her birthday.
“It was little wonder,” Kershaw wrote, “that Hitler came to refer to this period as ‘the happiest days which seemed to me almost like a beautiful dream.’”
Until Klara got sick.
With pain in her breast, she went to see the family doctor, Eduard Bloch, who was Jewish. In 1907, he diagnosed Klara with breast cancer, telling her and Adolf that the breast would need to be removed. The future Führer sobbed. Klara endured the painful surgery, then even more painful treatment at home, soaking her chest area in iodoform, a disinfectant then thought to heal wounds.
“My brother Adolf spoiled my mother during this time of her life with overflowing tenderness,” Paula told the Army. “He was indefatigable in his care for her, wanted to comply with any desire she could possible have and did all to demonstrate his great love for her.”
Bloch, the doctor, attested to this love years later in a memoir.
“Outwardly, his love for his mother was his most striking feature,” he wrote. “I have never witnessed a closer attachment.”
Klara slept in the kitchen, the warmest part of the apartment, so he slept there too. Klara’s sickness seemed to center her son. His cross, disobedient ways seemingly vanished. “He would scold Paula for doing poorly at school and one day made her swear solemnly to their mother that she would henceforth be a diligent pupil,” historian John Toland wrote in “Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography.”
But Adolf could not succeed in the first thing he truly wanted to succeed at — saving his mother. In late December 1907, in the early morning darkness pierced by the flickering lights of a Christmas tree, Klara died. What became of her son, she would never know.
Bloch came over at sunrise to sign the death certificate.
“He found Adolf, face wan, at his mother’s side,” Toland wrote. “On a sketchbook was a drawing of Klara, a last memory.”
Bloch tried to comfort Adolf.
“In all my career,” he later wrote, “I never saw anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolf Hitler.”
Adolf was thankful for the care the doctor had provided.
“I shall be grateful to you forever,” he told the doctor, bowing.
The Bloch family received postcards from Adolf for several years after. An Israeli medical journal documented the relationship in a 2014 article.
“The Hitler family send you the best wishes for a Happy New Year, in everlasting thankfulness,” Adolf wrote.
In 1937, the Führer made inquires to the Nazi party in Austria “about Dr. Bloch — whether he was alive and, if so, if he was still practicing medicine.” The Führer called him a “noble Jew,” allowing him and his family safe passage, a future that eventually led him to the Bronx, not a gas chamber. Some historians have questioned parts of Bloch’s story, mostly out of sheer disbelief.
There are many enduring mysteries about why Adolf Hilter became a monster who slaughtered millions. The questions have been asked again and again. Was it because of his father? Was it because a Jewish doctor couldn’t save his mother? Was there a Freudian thing that set this all off? Was he just totally insane?
In the end, there are just theories.
Except for Klara.
“He carried her picture with him down to the last days in the bunker,” Kershaw wrote. “Her portrait stood in his rooms in Munich, Berlin” and elsewhere. “His mother may well, in fact, have been the only person he genuinely loved in his entire life.”
|Klara Hitler and her son Adolf Hitler. (AP photos)|
Book flips conventional wisdom on Hitler
UNITED NATIONS -- A new book that examines previously restricted files from the U.N. War Crimes Commission cites documents showing that Adolf Hitler had been indicted as a war criminal for actions by the Nazis during World War II before his death - contrary to longstanding assumptions.
The book, “Human Rights After Hitler” by British academic Dan Plesch, says Hitler was put on the commission’s first list of war criminals in December 1944, but only after extensive debate and formal charges brought by Czechoslovakia, which had been occupied by the Nazis.
The previous month the commission determined that Hitler could be held criminally responsible for the acts of the Nazis in occupied countries, according to the book. And by March 1945 - a month before Hitler’s death - “the commission had endorsed at least seven separate indictments against him for war crimes.”
Plesch, who led the campaign for open access to the commission’s archive, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the documents show “the allies were prepared to indict Hitler as head of state, and this overturns a large part of what we thought we knew about him.”
A Dec. 15, 1944 document submitted to the commission by Czechoslovakia accuses Hitler and five members of “the Reich government,” including his deputy Rudolf Hess and Heinrich Himmler, one of the Nazis most responsible for the Holocaust, of crimes including “murder and massacres-systematic terrorism.” A photocopy is included in the book.
The United Nations War Crimes Commission was established in October 1943 by 17 allied nations to issue lists of alleged war criminals - ultimately involving about 37,000 individuals - and examine the charges against them and try to assure their arrest and trial.
Its unrestricted records, related to more than 10,000 cases, were put online in July 2013 by the International Criminal Court after an agreement with the U.N. Three months later, then U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power announced that the restricted files - which contain some 30,000 sets of pre-trial documents submitted by national and military tribunals to the commission to judge whether a case should be pursued - would be given to the Holocaust Museum in Washington.
According to the book, legally certified documents, government transcripts and interviews with torture victims “prove beyond doubt” that the U.S. and British governments were told about Hitler’s extermination camps in the early years of World War II.
Plesch said both governments acknowledged their existence but did almost nothing to stop the mass killings.
The earliest condemnations of Nazi atrocities were made in a joint statement by the Czech and Polish governments in November 1940.
In 1942, the American, British and Soviet governments led their allies in a public declaration “that explicitly condemned Hitler’s ongoing extermination of European Jews” and the book says that condemnation was far stronger than commonly believed.
“The records overturn one of the most important accepted truths concerning the Holocaust: that, despite the heroic efforts of escapees from Nazi-occupied Europe, the allies never officially accepted the reality of the Holocaust and therefore never condemned it until the camps were liberated at the end of the war,” Plesch wrote.
“The book documents not only that the extermination of the Jews was condemned officially and publicly by the allies but that specific features of the extermination were publicized, including a favored method - lethal gas - and the central place of execution - Poland,” he said.
Plesch wrote that it was beyond the scope of the book to assess why public condemnations of the extermination of Jews aren’t prominent in public and scholarly narratives of the Holocaust.
One possibility, he said, is that “significant parts of the governments in the United States and the United Kingdom were directly opposed to doing anything to help the Jews or to support war crimes prosecutions.”
Nonetheless, he cited material from the commission’s restricted archive which shows that hundreds of German “foot soldiers of atrocity” were indicted while the Holocaust was still underway by states where the crimes took place - and it shows that these national indictments were endorsed by the War Crimes Commission up to its final meetings before it was closed in March 1948.
One chapter analyzes country-by-country the indictments that began to be made early in 1944 for anti-Jewish persecution by Germans. It includes 372 cases submitted against Germany by Poland, 110 by the Netherlands, 91 by France, 52 by Czechoslovakia, 30 by Yugoslavia, 21 by the United Kingdom, 18 by Belgium, 14 by Denmark and 12 by Greece.
The book also notes cases brought against German allies Japan and Italy.
“Ultimately thousands of soldiers were tried for war crimes after World War II,” the book says. But Plesch wrote that “the commission’s files contain indictments against thousands of Nazis who were then allowed to go free.”
REICH OR WRONG? Would you kill Hitler as a child if you had a time machine? Philosopher says he’s FINALLY solved the age-old paradox
A PHILOSOPHER reckons he’s finally discovered the correct answer to one of history’s most notorious head-scratchers – would you kill an infant Hitler?
The widespread paradox has provoked heated debate among thinkers for decades since the Nazi leader’s suicide in 1945.
It asks whether a time traveller would kill a baby Adolf Hitler in the knowledge of the horrors he would go on to wreak upon the world.
Doing so would potentially see the Holocaust and the Second World War avoided.
But German university Professor Christof Mandry says he has the answer – and that the killing could never be justified.
Speaking ahead of the 128th anniversary of the evil tyrant’s birth, Mandry said: “It is a paradox. Because it suggests that you should execute Hitler as an infant for crimes he did not commit.
“It is a seductive thought – you avoid the Second World War, the Holocaust and all evils of the 20th century if you simply kill Adolf Hitler as a toddler!
“But that assumes that Hitler was the scapegoat for the disasters of the 20th century and without him everything would have been completely different, and above all much better.
“So simple, to place all responsibility on Hitler and so hide the fact that so many supported him so enthusiastically.”
Under the Nazi leader Germany descended into the world’s most destructive war.
His rabid anti-Semitism led to the Holocaust during which six millions Jews were killed by firing squads and later by gas at death camps.
But the Frankfurt University professor argues that, had Hitler not lived, another politician could well have seized upon the widespread anti-Semitism that was common in Germany following the First World War.
He added: “No-one can answer the question whether the Holocaust would ever have happened without Hitler.
“But I find it misleading to say he it was solely and exclusively attributable to Hitler, and his assassination would have been the only, or the best, way to prevent this.
"Actually the Holocaust could have been prevented if only not so many people had contributed to it and turned their faces against National Socialist and racist thought."
The professor was asked if there were other alternatives - perhaps kidnapping the baby Hitler and placing him in a children’s home in Australia - or using the time machine to ensure that his parents never met.
But he added: “The idea of the time machine is so seductive, because all people yearn for a more peaceful and more equitable world.
“There is no such magic wand. Peace and justice are only to be achieved through determined and deliberate and sustained commitment to human rights."
German newspaper readers are currently voting on whether they would kill a baby Adolf Hitler given the chance with the answer revealed tomorrow.
Readers were offered the choice of ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘I am not sure’.