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Adolf Hitler: Was Hitler Jewish?

One of the most frequently asked questions about the Holocaust and the Nazi party is whether Adolf Hitler was Jewish or had Jewish ancestors. The question received new media attention in May 2022 when Russia’s foreign minister claimed Hitler had Jewish blood.

Alois Hitler

Though the idea may seem preposterous to some, the question seems to stem from the remote possibility that Hitler's grandfather was Jewish. Hitler’s father, Alois, was registered as an illegitimate child with no father when born in 1837 and to this day Hitler’s paternal grandfather is unknown. In 1842, Johann Georg Hiedler married Alois’s mother. Alois was brought up in the family of Hiedler’s brother, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler. In 1876, when Alois was 39, he was made legitimate and his baptismal record annotated by a priest to register Johann Georg Hiedler as Alois’s father (recorded as Georg Hitler). Alois then assumed the surname Hitler.

In his 1953 memoir In the Face of the Gallows (published after his execution in 1946), Hitler’s lawyer Hans Frank claimed that Hitler had told him to investigate rumors of him having Jewish ancestry. Frank said Hitler showed him a letter from a nephew who threatened to reveal he had Jewish blood. Frank wrote that he found evidence that Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish and that Alois’ mother, Maria Schicklgruber, worked as a cook in the home of a wealthy Jewish family named Frankenreiter in Graz. Austria, was impregnated by a member of the family – possibly their 19-year-old son – when she was 42.

Historians dispute his account. Ian Kershaw, for example, wrote in his biography of Hitler Hubris, “A family named Frankenreiter did live there, but was not Jewish. There is no evidence that Maria Anna was ever in Graz, let alone employed by the butcher Leopold Frankenreiter.”

In fact, no Jews lived in Graz at the time. They were expelled in the 15th century and didn't return until decades after Hitler’s father was born.

On October 14, 1933, the London Daily Mirror published a picture of a gravestone in a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest inscribed with some Hebrew characters and the name Adolf Hitler, but this Bucharest Hitler could not have been the Nazi leader’s grandfather. 

In 2010, the British paper The Daily Telegraph reported that a study had been conducted in which saliva samples were collected from 39 of Hitler’s known relatives to test their DNA origins and found, though inconclusively, that Hitler may have Jewish origins. The paper reported: A chromosome called Haplogroup E1b1b1 which showed up in [the Hitler] 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 ... Haplogroup E1b1b1, which accounts for approximately 18 to 20 percent 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. This study, though scientific by nature, is inconclusive.

Despite the claims, Adolf Hitler was not Jewish.

Hitler’s Family Tree
(Click to enlarge)


Sources: John Toland, Adolf Hitler, (NY: Anchor Books, 1992).
Hitler Jewish? Huffington Post, (August 25, 2010).
“Adolf Hitler,” Wikipedia.
Ofer Aderet, “Et Tu, Lavrov? The Bountiful Conspiracies About Hitler's Jewish Blood,” Haaretz, (May 2, 2022).
“Israel outrage at Sergei Lavrov’s claim that Hitler was part Jewish,” BBC, (May 3, 2022).
Glenn Kessler, “The roots of the zombie claim that Hitler had ‘Jewish blood,’” Washington Post, (May 3, 2022).

Photos: Portrait - Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H1216-0500-002 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE via Wikimedia Commons.
Alois Hiitler - Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Hitler’s Family Tree from Wikipedia.