Birth and Citizenship of Adolf Hitler

David Pike says: ªIn re the birth and citizenship of Adolf Hitler, let me add my contribution to the imbroglio. Since Bavaria joined the Second Reich in 1871, and since Braunau-am-Inn in 1889 was under Bavarian authority, Hitler was born in Germany. (So was Mozart, in HRE times.) The actual issuance of Hitler's citizenship went through either in December 1932 or January 1933 (between two weeks and six weeks prior to his appointment to the chancellorship). The actual date can be found if it's important enough".

I am not the only one confused. Christopher Jones says: "Now I am completely 100% confused. If at the moment of Hitler's birth Braunau was part of Bavaria instead of the Austro-Hungarian empire where does all this Austrian stuff come from? He was Reichsdeutsch. But then, why did Hitler himself say in Vienna, after the Anschluss, that Austria "was the land of my birth, my heimat." I have also heard that the Austrian military authorities pursued young Hitler for what they perceived as his desire to escape the draft into the Austrian army. Against all this, I do know that Braunau changed hands often because it is directly on the border and is known as the knoedel (dumpling)capital of Austria".

Branau and Hitler

Adriana Pena says: "About homosexuality and Fascism, it does not surprise me that homosexuals would be attracted to it. All those handsome young men in shiny uniforms... It is enough to lose your head over it..". Adriana unwittingly brings up another subject: the attraction for women of handsome young men in shiny uniforms. I believe it is correct that women generally supported fascism, Nazism, etc..

Christopher Jones succeeded in writing this without using the word kitsch: "I am wondering if any WAISers have visited Braunau and penetrated into the dark world of Hitler souvenirs. As late as 1982, there was a flourishing cottage industry manufacturing a Hitler beer krug, that ceramic tankard Americans call a stein. They were nice decorated with phoney alpine rocks which held in place a portrait of the Führer. Some in party uniform others in his Wehrmacht CinC outfit etc. There were also Hitler keychains, swastika decorated japanese lanterns and whole range of NS junk. I understand that this industry was closed down by the Austrian authorities only after the Germans customs complained of the lines at the border -- it was illegal in Germany, and the police were having a time going through every car.

There was quite an uproar when the news broke that Hitler was possibly bi-sexual. It is a curious story -- but having spoken with many from that period, I think we can safely say that if there is any truth to it, he was certainly bi and not homosexual. Hitler came across very well to the ladies of the period. There was an aura of security around him and he was of course very well mannered and traditional. In fact, most of Hitler's early patrons were all women. Winniefred Wagner (married to a homosexual) and the heiress to the Beckstein piano fortune (same case). From time to time after he became the Great Dictator, the latest movie starlets were presented to their Führer and he enjoyed it immensely. His majordomo, Wilhelm Schneider said that Hitler, who preferred his rooms to be slightly underheated, asked him to turn up the heat at Berchtesgaden because the ladies with plunging decolletés might catch cold! How thoughtful.

But, there is a discreet homosexual past to Fascism. In France, the author Henri de Montherlant is recognized today as a brilliant writer, who covered up his homosexuality throughout his life. His books, steeped in the Fascist ideals of strength are classic right wing literature. A member of the Académie Française, he killed himself in 1972. And Ernst Röhm was homosexual.

James Tent introduces new factors into our discussion of Hitler's citizenship: "Braunau was part of Austria in the time of Hitler and his father. In earlier times it had been part of Bavaria, but, following the "Potato War" of 1778 between Prussia and Austria it was ceded to Austria. This obscure war was called the "Potato War" because the elderly Frederick II of Prussia and Josef II of Austria (son of Maria Theresa) neglected their armies to the extent that the soldiers were reduced to grubbing in the already harvested fields for the odd potato. Braunau remained Austrian territory thereafter, and Hitler was definitely evading Austrian military service when he moved to Munich in 1913. When he finally did submit to an examination, and possible conscription into Austria's 59th Rgt., he was found "unfit." Rumor had it among officers in that unit that such status was tantamount to today's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. However, decades later when Hitler was Reichschancellor of Nazi-controlled Germany, no one dared to repeat rumors of homosexuality".

Hitler and Opera

Randy Black sends us the pages from August Kubizek, The Young Hitler I Knew, describing the impact opera had on Hitler (see attachment). It is fascinating, but did Hitler show passion for any music other than opera? He was a competent painter, and painters are seldom great music fans. We should bring Hitler into our Teaching History project, Since the opera "Rienzo" helped trigger a political movement which shook the world.

Hitler had only one boyhood friend and his name was August Kubizek and he recalled Hitler as a shy, reticent young man, yet he was able to burst into hysterical fits of anger towards those who disagreed with him. The two became inseparable during these early years and Kubizek turned out to be a patient listener. He was a good audience for Hitler, who often rambled for hours about his hopes and dreams. Sometimes Hitler even gave speeches complete with wild hand gestures to his audience of one. Hitler would only tolerate tolerate approval from his friend and could not stand to be corrected, a personality trait he had shown in high school and as a younger boy as well Kubizek later recalled his friend this way :
"There he stood,this pallid,skinny youth,with the first dark brown showing on his upper lip,in his shabby pepper- and- salt suit,threadbare at the elbows and collar, with his eyes glued to some architectural detail,analyzing the style,criticizing or praising the work,disapproving of the material - all this with such thoughtfulness and such expert knowledge as though as though he were the builder and would have to pay for every short coming out of his own pocket."
Then one day in 1905 the pair went to see a performance of Wagner's Rienzi at the linz memorial theater. This became a decisive event for the teenaged Hitler,as he was to refer to it after he came to power.In Kubizek's biography of Hitler "The Young Hitler I knew" , 1953, he recalls how it had a terrifying impact upon Hitler,who left the theater in a state of trance :
"Adolf stood in front of me;and now he gripped bolth my hands and held them tight. He had never made such a gesture before. I felt from the grasp of his hand how deeply moved he was. His eyes were feverish with excitement .. Never before and never again have I heard Adolf Hitler speak as he did in that hour,as we stood there alone under the stars,as though we were the only creatures in the world. He now spoke of a mission that he was one day to recieve from our people, in order to guide them out of slavery, to the heighys of freedom .."
Thirty years later, the boyhood friends would meet again in Bayreuth, and Kubizek told Adolf Hitler what he remembered of that night, assuming that the enormous multitude of impressions and events wich had filled these past decades would have pushed into the background the experience of a seventeen year old youth. But after a few words Kubizek sensed that Hitler vividly recalled that hour and had retained all its details in his memory.Hitler's words were unforgettable for August Kubizek :
"It began at that hour..."

It is assumed that Wagner was Hitler's favorite composer, but Paul Preston says: "It used to be said that Hitler's favourite composer was Franz Lehar. Does he count as an opera composer? He was arguably the best of the operetta composers" RH: This is surprising, since Lehar was a Hungarian, although he performed in Vienna. He is best known for "The Merry Widow" (1905). Did Hitler appreciate this satire on official life? Lehar was also a bandmaster, which would appeal to Hitler. He died in 1948, so he may well have known Hitler. Another subject to research.

Regarding Hitler's musical tastes, Christopher Jones says: "Paul Preston is right in a round about way. Wagner was Hitler's favorite composer of operas and Franz Lehar was his favorite operetta composer. Lehar was a well known National Socialist and the Führer was nutty about "The Merry Widow." Just recently, Johannes Heesters, a Dutch-born entertainer, turned 100 years old. Of course, he had a wonderful career under the Third Reich and I think that he was Hitler's preferred "Count Danilo" (the lead in the story). For TV viewers he recalled his visit to the Führerloge, where the Nazi chieftain received him. To please his Nazi patrons during the war, Heesters even visited a concentration camp (Dachau, I think) and stated for the press that conditions were excellent. After the war, Heesters went straight back to work -- and is still singing and dancing at 100! That's showbiz". RH: In California, India and elsewhere, actors are using their popularity as a springboard to enter politics. If we end up with a world run by actors, what kind of a world will it be?

Hitler's Nationality

RH: We have not yet received a reply to our question about Hitler's Austrian citizenship. When did he become a German citizen? Christopher Jones replies: "Although I am not a biographer of Adolf Hitler, I can add a few things re: his Austrian nationality. First off, Hitler was born in Braunau-am-Inn in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. (Braunau frequently changed hands between the Austrian K&K monarchy and the Bavarian monarchy.) At the outset of World War I, Hitler volunteered in the Bavarian army which would have qualified him automatically for German nationality as a veteran. Finally, the Austro-Hungarian empire was no more when Hitler returned in 1918, so he was in fact either stateless or German. Like many others, he could have claimed "amtlich" (following the normal bureaucratic procedure) his new Austrian nationality, like others who claimed Czech or Hungarian passports, but I think he just registered in Bavaria as a vet and that was it. I wonder if Joachim Fest has anything about this question. So I would put Hitler's German citizenship in the year 1914" RH: I suspect that Hitler became a Bavarian citizen in 1914 and a German citizen in 1918, when the Bavarian monarchy was abolished.

Randy Black has found a different, more complicated but apparently more authoritative account of how Hitler became a German citizen: "A confident Hitler decided to run for president (of Germany) in 1932 against Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg. Hindenburg, who was a national war hero, was up for reelection. But Hitler faced a stumbling block, since he was not a German citizen, he could not legally run for the presidency. He quickly solved this problem by having the Minister of the Interior of the state of Brunswick appoint Hitler as attaché of the legation of Brunswick. By becoming an attaché, Hitler automatically became a German citizen (February 25, 1932). Now the path was clear for him to run for the presidency".

RH: This leaves me more confused than ever. The problem seems to be with reshuffling of Germany and its various sovereignties at the end of World War I. The reference Randy provides gives fascinating information about the intrigues of the time, but it does not answer this question.

RH:"Citizenship is a legal issue, so it cannot be de facto. We go back to the issue of the army. Was the Iron Cross awarded by Germany, not Bavaria?" Christopher Jones explains: "The Iron Cross first class was an imperial award and not royal. It had the " W " for Wilhelm with a German imperial crown above it in the center of the cross. I would only add that among those German states with separate armies was Saxony. There is an unusual story about the dethronement of the King of Wurttemberg by Bismarck which serves as the basis for the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Ludwig II of Bavaria. Citizenship has to be claimed. If Hitler fulfilled the requirements as a decorated veteran, he had to obtain the papers to be able to claim a passport. It is possible that he did not claim all those papsers necessary to run for President. I would speculate that after the war, he obtained his Ausweiss (Interior ID papers) and thought that was it. Christian Leitz's idea that Hitler was denied Austrian citizenship after the war by the new republic is inaccurate-- his political agitation was located in Germany not in the Austrian republic.

James Tent adds these details about the German Army: "When Bismarck created the Kaiserreich on January 18, 1871, at the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, he made a point of gathering the German princes there (as well as the generals), in order that they (not the people) would confer the imperial crown on King William of Prussia. The new entity was ca. 75 percent Prussia, but there were still several states that had nominal control of their armies: Bavaria, Baden, and Wurettemberg. There may have been others too, but those were the significant states. In wartime they came under Prussian control for all intents and purposes, and any differences were trivial. For example, the Bavarians all carried some kind of girt or knife that the Prussians didn't bother with. To be sure, leadership was firmly under the control of the Prussian General Staff, so that the supreme commanders were the likes of Moltke the Younger, Falkenhayn, and finally Hindenburg and Ludendorff (Groener at the very end when overseeing the final withdrawal out of France, etc.)". RH: It sounds similar to the status of the Highland Brigades in the British Army.

Christian Leitz says that Hitler was actually stateless: "In fact, Hitler did not become a German citizen until the early 1930s (if I remember correctly thanks to his Nazi crony Wilhelm Frick who made him an official/Beamter in one of the German states - would have to check Kershaw for the precise details), that is just before he was appointed Reich Chancellor. Before that he was "staatenlos", i.e. the Austrian government had removed his citizenship, in Germany he was not given citizenship. This is important because without the citizenship he would not have been able to become Reich Chancellor". RH: It seems impossible to reconcile the various versions I have posted.

Christopher Jones returns to the question of Hitler's nationality: "I suspect that this should read that he couldn't run against Hindenburg because he wasn't born in Germany. I don't see how his appointment to the Brunswick legation would have changed anything: it seems incredible that a country would concede nationality based on membership of a legation (bureaucracy) instead of military service in the First World War. However, not only Hitler was stateless after the collapse of the Hapsburg empire. Many Jews and even the Hapsburgs themselves had trouble obtaining passports after Woodrow Wilson did his number on Europe. It could be however that everybody is correct: Hitler obtained his de fact German citizenship in 1914-1918 but needed perhaps a particular document (schein) in order to run for the presidency. German bureaucracy is filled with these odd forms and documents. I wonder if Hitler ever asked for a passport?" RH: It seems probable that Hitler was a Bavarian citizen from 1814-18.

David Westbrook says: "One of the postings referred to the Bavarian army in World War One, which raises questions about the degree of unification of the Kaiserreich in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries. Did other Laender raise armies? Or was this special to Bavaria? I had simply assumed that the Reich raised armies ". RH: This is precisely the question which bothers me . Since Bavaria was a kingdom until 1918, it presumably had most of the trappings of a sovereign state, but which?

James Tent, a German history specialist,says: "The legal issues surrounding Hitler's nationality were undoubtedly complex and probably required some sophistry in order for him to be a candidate as president or later as chancellor.
His service in the Bavarian Army, 1914-1918 are what gave him de facto citizenship. More specifically, his wartime decoration of the Iron Cross, First Class (unusually high honor for someone who served as a lowly message runner) conferred on him a kind of honorary citizenship". RH: Citizenship is a legal issue, so it cannot be de facto. We go back to the issue of the army. Was the Iron Cross awarded by Germany, not Bavaria?

Christian Leitz says: "Hitler was not denied Austrian citizenship, his Austrian citizenship was withdrawn. It should be remembered that Hitler avoided Austrian army service by fleeing to Bavaria. And Randy Black's information is absolutely correct. Hitler's German citizenship has nothing whatsoever to do with his army service during World War I". RH: This information does not jibe with what David Pike said about Braunau being Bavarian, so that Hitler was born a Bavarian. His father was employed by the Austrian customs service. It seems odd that Hitler would flee to Bavaria to escape Austrian military service and then distinguish himself in the Bavarian Army.

Cameron Sawyer says: "Wait a minute, Hitler did NOT avoid Austrian army service by fleeing to Munich. He was summoned to muster in Vienna from Munich and was rejected from the Austrian service as untauglich. Only after that did he return to Munich and enlist in the Bavarian Army.

And Braunau was NEVER Bavarian during Hitlers lifetime. Braunau is one of the main cities of the region called the Innviertal. It was indeed Bavarian for centuries but was ceded to Austria by the treaty of Teschen in 1779 after the Potato War, between Prussia and Austria, which followed the end of the Wittelsbach dynasty. Except for a hiatus between 1810 and 1816, the Innviertal, and Braunau, has been Austrian ever since.

Hitler lived in Passau (Bavaria) and Linz (Austria) in his youth besides in Braunau, and one historian, Egon Fein, has speculated that Hitler might have been accidentally born across the river in Simbach, Bavaria. In any case, the border between Upper Austria and Bavaria is vague in the cultural sense. The dialect and traditions are the same. Hitler would have felt right at home in Bavaria; not like a Bavarian in Berlin, for example. Citizenship would have been a relative technicality.

I know this region very well. When I lived in Munich, I had a friend who lived in Pfarrkirchen, just north of Simbach, and I frequently drove to visit him from Munich via Muehldorf and Simbach. These are the foothills of the Alps and beautiful country".

Hitler's Religion

Our discussion of Hitler's nationality did not lead to clear conclusions. Here is a more significant subject: Hitler's religion. U,S, News (3/8/04) has a feature article on "The Real Jesus", for which the film by Mel Gibson provides a peg, It traces the growth of anti-semitism, and the belief that the Jews must be exterminated. It quotes Susannah Heschel, professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth, as saying that "Hitler became the Christ figure, the one sent by God [to exterminate the Jews]". Did Hitler think he had a Christian mission to exterminate the Jews? He was born a Catholic, but did he ever display any real piety? In his speeches, does he ever make reference to exterminating the Jews in the name of Christianity? Remember that a crazy Nazi theory was that Christ was not a Jew, but some kind of Aryan.

As for Hitler's religion, Randy Black says: You will find this in Mein Kampf: "Therefore, I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord's Work." Hitler said it again at a Nazi Christmas celebration in 1926: "Christ was the greatest early fighter in the battle against the world enemy, the Jews ... The work that Christ started but could not finish, I -- Adolf Hitler -- will conclude." In a Reichstag speech in 1938, Hitler again echoed the religious origins of his crusade. "I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord's work."

Hitler regarded himself as a Catholic until he died. "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so," he told Gerhard Engel, one of his generals, in 1941. http://www.ffrf.org/fttoday/back/hitler.html

Ronald Hilton -