Hitler's Origins
Alexander Lernet-Holenia

[To access the reference to the Porges family, click here]

It has become customary to judge National Socialism, the Third Reich, Greater Germany--or however one prefers to address this political fabrication so neglected by Salvation--solely by the years of its decline, by the abundance of its committed atrocities, and by the profusion of destruction that it caused in its early--but even more so in its final stages. Yet, such judgment adds up to nothing less than to inferring the life of an organism from its final agony; and it entails the attempt at depicting the death-throes of a wild beast as the actual cause of the outrages which it has ventured upon from the beginning. In reality, though, the origins of the Third Reich differ from its end as completely as is imaginable. All the way from the more or less controversial legitimacy of its beginning it advanced irresistibly to its undeniably rightful decline; and its passing through countless most heterogeneous states as well as its incessant evolution contain not one moment of stagnation--not even one moment of shuddering before its inescapable doom.

Its origins, of course, were as unsuitable to generate speculations about the enormity of the consequences it was to bring about, as its horrifying end is unsuitable to allow for drawing conclusions to the actual wretchedness of its beginnings. For if one refrains from starting with Adam and Eve (or rather their Nordic pendants Ask and Embla) as Adolf Hitler himself was fond of doing in many of his speeches, and if one respectively turns to the documented facts instead, the story begins with a certain Maria Schickelgruber, age 42, the unmarried daughter of farmer Johann Schickelgruber of homestead No.1 in Strones, a village in Austria's Waldviertel region, and his wife Theresia, née Pfeisinger, a farmer's daughter from Dietreichs. On June 7, 1837, in house No.13 in Strones (where she served the farmer Trummelschlager as a hand-maid) said Maria Schickelgruber gave birth to a male infant whose father remained unknown: a boy that was christened Alois--Alois Schickelgruber, the father of Adolf Hitler.

This event took place in the Northern parts of Lower Austria, thus in a region of which popular judgment from old holds not exactly the best of views, as is evident, for example, from local place-names such as the hamlet Gaunersdorf [Scoundrel Village] or in a still prevailing proverb that portrays the aura of some other local settlements:

Zu Oberleis, Au und Püra
schaut's Elend füra.

Gaunersdorf* --which upon the residents' petition had its name changed to a somewhat more eccentric Gaweinstal* [Gawein's Vale] during the Third Reich--had, to be sure, as little to do with any scoundrels as with Gawein; it derived its name merely from the time-defaced Old High-German name of a former feudal lord. And the Elend [poverty] which allegedly "peeks forth" ["schaut füra"] in Püra, Au and Oberleis, is nothing but an old word for the remainders of certain "foreign"edifices--Elend originally signifying "foreign"-- to wit: crumbled bricks, rubble and decayed walls of some Roman forts that had been advanced as observation posts far beyond the Danube river into the land of the Quades and Markomans. These forts had served the purpose of informing by firesigns the legions stationed on the Danube limes such as the X.Gemina Pia Fidelis and the XIV.Gemina Martia Victrix of occurring enemy movements. But the days when the Imperium had stretched thus far were long gone and lay even further behind than their derelicts lay distant from Strones and Dietreichs. Yet, an aura of disdain, negligence, and sadness unquestionably still lingers in these parts.

* Note :
The village of Gaweinstal, where I live in, changed its name from Gaunersdorf to Gaweinstal in the year of 1917, long before anybody knew about Hitler. Hitler, at this time, was a soldier fighting on the German side in WWI and completely unknown to the public.
Here is an excerpt of the webpage of www.gaweinstal.at <http://www.gaweinstal.at/>  :
 „Am 11. Juni 1917 findet schließlich, aufgrund der oftmaligen falschen Auslegung (Dorf der Gauner), die Umbenennung in "Gaweinstal" statt.“
The reason for the change of the name had nothing to do with ideology, but simply was done because the first word of the old name “Gauner” means something like racketeer. The very old and original name was “Gunestorf”, village of “Guni” who was the founder of the village. The name later turned from Gunestorf to Gaunersdorf over the centuries.
Gerhard Hickl

* * *

Be this as it may, the Führer's origin remains more or less shrouded in darkness, as it is not possible to trace any further than to those dates and individuals mentioned above, at least not with any certainty. Even the village Strones, the scene of this fateful childbirth exists no longer--Adolf Hitler ordered it destroyed when the adjoining military training facility of Döllersheim was expanded; and this is even all the more peculiar since the village had been located at the outermost perimeter of this facility and could have been spared with only minimal effort. But it was demolished, leveled, "eradicated" in the very fashion the Führer had pledged to do with the cities of his enemies: shot to smithereens by artillery fire, leaving behind a mere moonscape. And although its residents were each given new homes someplace else, Siedlungsraum and an album with photographs of the vanished community, it is gone nevertheless--vanished like the knowledge of Adolf Hitler's true origins.

Yet, there were already more than enough to crowd around him as worshippers and to staff the ranks of his party, of his Schutzstaffeln and his Sturmabteilungen for dear profit's sake. And among those, to be sure, were not only people with as brief an ascendance as the Führer himself, but also the descendants of families with family-trees whose magnitude easily outreached the would-be-"thousand-yearhood" of the Reich.

True nobility, it seems, has just as little or nothing to do with range of ancestry as does ignobility, and for this reason all the genealogical research rendered so fashionable by the Third Reich led to as few real results as those dubious Kämmerer- [chamberlain's] and Maltese-investigations practiced from old. The parents of that illegitimate Alois's mother, for example, were preceded by simple farmers and farmers' daughters, with names like Pfeisinger and Schickelgruber, Hamberger and Reitterer, Sillip and Leidenfrost, Assfall and Ledermüller, of whom, however, no one any longer can say whether, and if, what qualities they may have once possessed; and, ultimately, how long this had gone on, is of no interest to us, nor, for all we care, even if it goes back in that fashion to the dawn of time. In any case they remain mere Pfeisingers and Assfalls, Ledermüllers and Schickelgrubers, and it makes no difference whatsoever to us whether they resided on homestead No.1 or No.13 in Spital or Strones, in Refing or Rotfahrn, in Raabs or in Waldteich, the county of the Earl of Lamberg. They were--only so much is certain--serfs to the Stift Zwettl or to the Johanniter-Kommende Mailberg and to the earls of Noirquermes or Althan, or, earlier, to the Kuenringers or to some, by now completely forgotten secondary vassals of the Kuenringers to whom they were to surrender such and such many bushels of grain each year, this or that hen and several threescores of eggs, and whom they had to serve with compulsory labor. And as with these country folk it was with the townsfolk, too, were they burghers or even patricians: craftsmen and merchants followed upon craftsmen and merchants, doctors and magistrates upon doctors and magistrates, be their names now Reichlin or Schertlin, Welzer or Holzschuer. Hence, be all that as it may--ultimately they were nothing more than farmers and small-lot-owners: i.e. Hüttlers or Hitlers. Even with the noblest of families, nobility seldom extends back more than a mere handful of generations, and one discovers--or would discover, if one still could--the never-ceasing succession of farmers and Hüttlers and small lot-owners, just as with anybody else. The gap between us and those Germanic warriors and heroes, noblemen and gods, from whom all of us allegedly descend, can no longer be bridged. If, for example, the nearly almighty counts of Flanders and Namur--these off springs of Charles de Magne and Hildegarde of France, the Mahaut de Bourbon and Margarethe of Constantinople, those crusaders and victors of the Sporen battle--originally named themselves after the simple hill-castle or motte of Dampierre, built by one of their forgotten vassals named Petrus upon an artificial hill for himself and his family; and if the later dukes of Lothringia and the Holy Roman Emperors of the German Nation ultimately descended only from the later ever so modest court of Richwinestein or Reichenstein, erected by their official ancestor Richwin of Verdun, on the Roer river in the Ardennes... if all this is so: what, then, are we to think of all the minor families! Today, cattle grazes around the Tourist Bed & Breakfast w/ Garden Restaurant and the Agricultural Distillery of Reichenstein; and on the spot where the now long-destructed donjon of Dompierre once stood, nothing remains aside from two hemispherically trimmed box-trees: symbolizing, as it were, the bosom of the all-birth-giving Earth--which eventually takes everything back into her womb.

* * *

Thus, Adolf Hitler, just like anyone else, really needed not be overly proud of his rural origin--nor, for that matter, to be ashamed of it, either. For, it is after all clear that most families are of no nobler descent than the Führer's. But hardly anyone is also much ignobler than his neighbor--which is to say: neither much better than those numberless who allowed themselves to be unconditionally pushed and ordered around by Hitler, nor considerably worse than all those generals and other dignitaries who first had the cheek to accept all sorts of posts and decorations from that Bohemian private and who later would betray and attempt to assassinate him. Just as trivial and normal as they was that illegitimate child who, in time, was to become the father of the Führer. And that is precisely why later there were attempts made--for good or bad intentions--to fabricate a considerably more exciting ancestry for him.

Thus, it was claimed that Maria Schickelgruber's son was fathered by none less than a member of the Rothschild family for whom she had been in service.

If true, the child's father could only have been Baron Anselm von Rothschild, Member of the House of Lords for Life (that is, until his earthly departure on July 27, 1874). At the time of Alois Schickelgruber's birth, this Anselm would have been at the height of his manhood; a fact which--as his presumable grandson later would somewhat pleonastically express it--certainly made the supposed impregnation of an Aryan folk-comrade an unproblematic issue for him. And if one furthermore considers the Jews' nearly unlimited sensuousness (as irrefutably established by the National Socialists!) such an act could easily have been credited to him. Not likely credited to him, however, can be the circumstance that for the execution of his lusty design--or accident!--he would not have found a woman more attractive than a forty-two year-old backwoods peasant maid. Assuming such a set of circumstances, it seems to us, would be thinking in terms too provincial--if not too nationalistic--after all; and consequently the Lifetime Member of the House of Lords can de facto be ruled out as the Führer's grandfather.

Much rather, it appears, this entire story is a mere variant of a different legend (or, more precisely, a local rumor), according to which one of Hitler's relatives was employed as a humble cook with the Rothschilds at a time when the Führer had already become Reichs-Chancellor, and who supposedly from this humble yet comfortable position took to badmouthing him. Yet, the wives of the now deceased Rothschild brothers Alphonse and Louis--i.e., the alleged employers of that cook-servant--never made any mention of such a fact; a fact which, after all, would not have been completely without implications for their husbands. And besides: the circumstance that such stories out of principle seem to be dealing with no lesser a house than the Rothschilds, the fact that any other super-rich families such as the Foulds and Montefiores, the Thorschs and Porges, the Portheims and Mayers are apparently regarded too minor already to sustain such theories, shows the fallibility of these reports. Surely, these rumors aimed at showing how Hitler's larger family was altogether much more respectable than their offspring himself; that they sought no benefits from him, and that they even wanted nothing to do with him whatsoever. Of course, one case where this is true is that of a half-brother of the Führer, a certain Alois Hitler, who quietly continued to run a small restaurant on Wittenberg Square in Berlin whilst Adolf Hitler was already busily at work with the expansion of Germany in the nearby Reichskanzlei. And just as little benefit did one of Hitler's nephews, a Gottfried Hitler, reap from his uncle: he fell on March 5, 1942 in the field; his name is still engraved on a war memorial in the home village of the Hitlers, Spital, while any other traces of the Hitler family were carefully purged--including their graves which were removed from the local cemetery.

At any rate, when the Rothschild-story fell through, the need for a more humble non-Aryan grandfather of the Führer arose, and he was eventually made out in the son of a certain Frankenberger family of Graz, where Maria Schickelgruber had also been in service. In that petty shopkeeper-environment, so the story goes, she was impregnated by that impassioned young Israelite and then cast off to her native village, Strones, where she was delivered of Alois Schickelgruber, for whom the old Frankenberger supposedly paid alimonies for a full fourteen years. But in respect to this particular story, no credible evidence has been brought forth, either. And just as uncertain is it finally whether Alois Schickelgruber was not really the child of that traveling miller-journeyman Georg Hiedler whom Maria Schickelgruber officially named as father of her baby son on the occasion of his baptism and whom she eventually married on May 10, 1842--that is, nearly five years after the birth of her illegitimate son. It remains without consequenc, too, that this merrily journeying journeyman's brother, Johann Hiedler, a farmer in Spital near Weitra, induced the parish priest of Döllersheim--where Georg Hiedler and Maria Schickelgruber had been married--to change the name of Alois Schickelgruber (then aged 40) to Alois Hittler in 1876. To this end he supplied three witnesses from his family who testified that Alois Schickelgruber was really Hiedler's son. But, for one, things had happened four decades ago, of course. And, secondly, it is not overly likely that either one of these witnesses had actually borne the candle for the young lovers in those bygone days, either.

* * *

To cut a long story short: Alois Hittler must have had some father somewhere, but in no case was he a legitimate child. Which ultimately renders the matter rather insignificant whether all those Hitlers, Hiedlers, Hüttlers, Hydlers, and all their relatives--those Haubners and Kollers, Capellers and Lauterbecks--can actually be traced back to the 15th century, as was later triumphantly announced. And just as little does it matter if they actually resided in Walterschlag, Stierberg, Reinpolten, Mannshalm, Kühbach, or some other god-awful corner of the Waldviertel. Neither Alois nor Adolf Hitler, however, had any Jewish features about them, although--to the great amusement of some political opponents--their family-tree did list several Pollacks. But even these, alas, had not been Jews but rather Christian farmers in Ober-Windhag. The Hitlers were, at any rate, vulgarily Aryan. And there can hardly be any doubt as to the Führer's lineage from some slightly slavicized Lower-Austria petit-bourgeois--perhaps not unlike one of those Pollacks whose name certainly derived from nothing but their origin in the Polakei [Poland]. Hindenburg's epithet of the "Bohemian private" alludes to this very background.

Of course, do not many of our best families hail from Lower Austria and are marked by a distinctly Bohemian streak?

Georg and Maria Hiedler lived under the most destitute of conditions at Strones; they are said to have used nothing better than a fodder-trough for a bed. Thus, although Hitler's assertions of his parents_ proletarian background (stated and maintained for propagandistic reasons many times over in later years) were untrue as we are about to see, they were indeed justified in regard to his grandparents. Alois Schickelgruber, howbeit, soon came to live in more regular circumstances after his mother died of consumption in 1847. He was then taken in by his then-uncle-in-law, the farmer Johann Hiedler in Spital near Weitra, where he was apprenticed as a cobbler while his presumptive father, the vagrant Georg Hiedler, continued to live (or rather, vegetate) in Strones, Klein-Motten, and, eventually, resettled in Spital. By 1855, however, Alois Schickelgruber had already abandoned cobblery and had joined the Royal Fiscal Force. And since he distinguished himself by conscientiousness and eagerness--qualities certainly not inherited from the slovenly work-shirker Georg Hiedler--he began to make a career in the customs force. In due time he would rise to the position of a Zollamtsoberoffizial (to use the complicated nomenclatura of Austro-Hungarian administration, which provided a several-hundred-page directory of such awkward titles for official use and which, in later days, had no scruples of affixing a Georg Trakl with the title of a Militärmedikamentenakzessist!) Through marriage and inheritance, Alois Schickelgruber eventually acquired moderate wealth.

Along with that, however, he was a typical Deutschnationaler, a Pan-German nationalist, which is to say that--just like most Austrians at the time--he was opposed not only to Austria's separation from the German motherland but also opposed to supra-national (i.e., anti-national) tendencies, to conservatism, and to the submissivereligiosity of the reigning dynasty. This peculiar nationalism, furthermore, included most notably a general fondness for singing clubs, beer-houses and waitresses (in short: wine, song and women, predilections all of which Alois Schickelgruber shared wholeheartedly), as well as--particularly on those long provincial winter nights--enthusiasm for the Pan-German Reichsrat MP Georg von Schönerer.

Said Schönerer, too, hailed from the Hitler region; that is, before dedicating himself to the idiocy of politics he was an estate owner in the Waldviertel region. Adolf Hitler's father raved about him much the same way other estate owners from the Waldviertel--Weitra, to be exact-- were later to rave about Alois Hitler's son, probably because they were simply accustomed to seeing the then-settled vagabond Georg Hiedler as well as the alleged offspring from his menage with Maria Schickelgruber around Spital village. For although the chief of the large family clan that owned Weitra held the most remarkable titles, he still became such an ardent follower of the Führer that he--when in 1945 interned at the American correction camp Glasenbach near Salzburg--was put in charge of tending the pigs...; from which time on he was generally referred to as Eumaios.

We, of course, think such mockery ill-advised. For if National Socialism had any halfway redeeming quality at all, it was not only that of mentally orienting all its followers towards the same main goal, but that of practically eliminating all differences in social rank and status between them....

* * *

Fiscal Officer Alois Schickelgruber was married three times, and while he may have had extramarital offsprings on the side, his first marriage remained childless. After separation from his--by the way, much older--first wife, he entered into matrimony with one of his Teutonic ideals, namely a young waitress by the name of Franziska Matzelsberger with whom he had maintained a previous relationship and with whom he begat three children: a son Alois, born before the marriage of his parents, whom we have already encountered in the restaurant-keeper from the Berlin Wittenberg Square. (This Alois, in turn, would wed a woman from Ireland with whom he had a variety of children--among them a son William Patrick Hitler who later made himself a name through mysterious allusions to his family's alleged Jewish origin.) The Schickelgrubers also had a daughter, Angela. But Franziska Matzelsberger died young, and now Alois Schickelgruber married for the third time; this time his presumable--or at least purported--niece, Klara Pölzl, then twenty-five.

Klara Pölzl was the daughter of farmer Johann Pölzl of Spital, No.37; a half-foundered farmstead on the slopes on the Northern village limits which neighbored (and still neighbors) the house No.36 whence Georg and Johann Hiedler emanated. From this very house No.36, Klara Pölzl's mother, too, happened to come, for her name was Johanna Hüttler, and she was the daughter of Johann Hüttler or Hiedler. Johann himself, however, was son to the farmer Martin Hiedler (also from Spital No.36) and to Maria Göschl of Walterschlag. Thus in short: If Alois Schickelgruber was indeed the son of Georg Hiedler, Klara Pölzl was Johann Hiedler's granddaughter, or, as we said above, his niece. For which reason they necessitated a churchly dispensation to be married.

Above all, though, Klara Pölzl's mother, Johanna Pölzl, née Hüttler, demanded that her son-in-law have his name changed from Schickelgruber to Hüttler; albeit not because she disliked the name Schickelgruber, but to indicate publicly that the inheritance which Klara Pölzl in turn was about to enter upon was a Hüttler inheritance. She considered this matter so important that she even included a clause to this effect in her will; and this is also the reason why Johann Hiedler with his three witnesses later called at the Döllersheim priest_s, petitioning for his nephew's name-change in the registry rolls. The priest--since Johann Hiedler's vagrant brother was named Hiedler and the bride's mother Hüttler--choose the happy medium and renamed the customs officer Alois Schickelgruber into Alois Hittler, which name his later-famous son would then gradually slur into Hitler.

These events in the dark Waldviertel may seem minuscule enough--especially since what happened was nothing more than some peasant woman stamping the provenance of her heritage with her birth-name. Yet, in time they would assume global significance. For the people of Germany would not--or at least not after overcoming some serious inhibitions of taste!--have readily taken to shouting "Heil Schickelgruber!". Because they could shout "Heil Hitler!" instead, though, the National Socialist movement gained unprecedented momentum.

At any rate, Adolf Hitler--even if indeed he hadn't been a real Hitler from his father's side--now became something like a real Hitler: not only by way of the name-change through the Döllersheim cleric, but also through his father's third marriage and thus at least from his grandmother's side. For Alois Hittler's wedlock with Klara Pölzl begat six children, four of which died early, but two survived: One daughter Paula, later to be married under the name of Wolf (she and her half-sister, Angela, could indeed have served as cooks with the Rothschilds), and a son, born April 20, 1889 in Braunau on the Inn (where the customs officer was then posted): the Führer- and Reichs-Chancellor-to-be.

With all this said: Is it now conceivable, though, that an astronomer, astrologer, or prophet of the stature of Nostradamus--whose thoughts were devoted to the revolutions of the stars and whose visions concerned the fates of kings and countries and the world in its entirety--is it conceivable that Nostradamus himself could actually have predicted that very child-birth in the pettiest of all spheres and have distinguished its resulting events as predestined? If this were so, then the fact that legions of members of the highest society (as long as they were not "Jewishly related," that is), packs of decommissioned career officers and the lot of all those otherwise untalented and unsuccessful would eventually flock to the ranks of the Hitlerians almost seems excusable. After all: perfidy, brutality and murder as means for advancement in life come all too easy to those who are otherwise complete failures. The verses, at any rate, which are believed to make reference to these events--in translation and with a preliminary commentary--read thus :


On the Rhine of the Noric Alps, that is, the Inn river, a powerful man shall be born from base folk, but he will come too late to truly fulfil his mission. Furiously will he fight for Sarmatia, that is Poland, and Pannonia, that is Hungary--thus, the so-called Ostraum--and in the end it will not be known what will have become of him, his end will be veiled in darkness and shrouded in shadowy mysteries.

Do these verses indeed speak of Adolf Hitler? In French they read thus:

Auprès du Rhine des montagnes Noriques
Naistra un Grand des gens trop tard venu,
Qui deffendra Saurome et Pannonique,
Qu'on ne saura qu'il sera devenu.

Translated by Thomas G. Ringmayr
Published in Southern Humanities Review, 1998
(special thanks to Tony Osborne)