Friday, April 16, 2010

A Fathers Legacy

Historians are unable to pinpoint the exact identify of the biological father of Alois Schicklgruber, but suspect it is one of these three men:
  • Johann Georg Hiedler
  • Johann Nepomuk Hiedler
  • Leopold Frankenberger
If there was ever a "Worst Absent Biological Grandfather in History" award, one of these three guys would likely be in the running.

Alois was born to Maria Anna Schicklgruber, an unmarried 42 yr-old peasant, just North of Vienna, Austria, on 7th June 1837. Unlike the common presentation of traditional, strong and unshakable families during these times (and the Schicklgruber's had apparently been in the area for generations), it doesn't take much reading between the lines to get the impression that Alois spent many of his formative years in spectacularly unstable and unloving conditions.  Whoever impregnated Maria was obviously committing a range of morally and socially unacceptable behaviors, and for whatever reason, would not, or could not, marry her and legitimize his son. Moral and spiritual failures are often personal in nature, but the unforeseen consequences can spiral out of control, and in this particular case were perhaps not felt for a full hundred years.

Maria shared a house with her elderly father, but by the time Alois was was 5, Johann Georg Hiedler had moved in and they were married (ie suspicion of paternity). However, by the age of 10 Alois was sent to live with Hiedler's brother Johann Nepomuk on a farm in a nearby village (ie more suspicion). Alois began lessons in shoe-making from a cobbler, and at age 13 was sent to Vienna as an apprentice. Alois joined the customs service at the age of 18, apparently to seek a career of his own choosing. Let those ages sink in for a moment. Effectively fatherless since birth, Alois was shipped around throughout his childhood. Could there possibly have been any impact on his persona, personal choices and consequences?

Alois fathered an illegitimate child in the late 1860's, and when he married for the first time at age 36, it was likely for money. His wife Anna was 50 yrs old, the daughter of a customs official, and wealthy. She was either an invalid, or was shortly thereafter. (OK, so by this time Alois had learned to play the public service career to perfection). In an effort to gain legitimacy at 39 yrs of age, Alois asked permission to use his stepfather's name. It was granted by the the priest who had married his mother, and witnesses asserted that Alois's father was Johann Georg Hiedler. Of course, Alois intention may also have been purely financial, as a large sum of money was subsequently transferred from his mothers estate, according to her final wishes. His name change was registered at a government office in 1876, but "Heidler" was misspelled by an official.

Alois first marriage was hardly smooth sailing. He began an affair with a 19 yr old, Franziska, shortly after marrying, and apparently had numerous affairs in the 1870's. Anna initiated legal action, and they separated. Alois and Franziska could not marry under Roman Catholic cannon law. They had an illegitimate son, and after Anna sickened and died, they married. They had a second child, a daughter, after which Franziska died of a lung condition. Alois then brought an even younger woman back to his home, whom Franziska had previously insisted be sent away (she had been a servant there as a 16 yr old, you get the idea). Klara was soon pregnant. This is where it gets complicated. Because of the legal deposition stating that Johann Georg was his father (true or not), Alois and Klara were legally recognized as first cousins once removed. Somehow, they received permission to marry, although throughout the marriage she continued to call him "Uncle". Together they had 6 children, the name of their fourth child was Adolf.

Alois Hitler was known as a "hard, unsympathetic, and short-tempered" man. Some historians suggest that he yelled at his children continually and being involved with their daily life during his retirement annoyed him. Long visits to the local tavern and heavier drinking appear to have been one outcome. A close friend admitted that Alois was "awfully rough" with Klara and "hardly ever spoke a word to her at home". Eventually he had a violent argument with his oldest living son (Alois Jr, ironically), who left. Alois swore to cut him out of his inheritance. After other children died, Alois had dreams that his last son at home would follow him and build a career in the civil service. However, tragically, Adolf was alienated from his father and rejected his wishes, choosing a fate of his own making. While an inexcusable monster of historic proportions, one wonders what his upbringing was like under the guidance of Alois Hitler.

Ever tempted to think that poor personal choices shouldn't affect anyone else? One of these three men probably thought so.

Leopold Frankenberger was the owner of the Frankenberger house in Graz, Austria, where Maria Schicklgruber had worked as a maid or a cook. Hans Frank was a high-ranking Nazi party official and lawyer, who apparently had been sent to investigate Hitler's Austrian ancestry. Frank claimed at his Nuremberg trial for war crimes that Frankenberger had fathered Alois Hitler.

Leopold Frankenberger was Jewish.

Dad U
-personal integrity counts

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