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  • Adolf Hitler.

  • One of the worst human beings ever to walk the earth.

  • The very existence of a man like Hitler raises a lot of questions about the nature of good

  • and evil.

  • One of the biggest ones being: Are monsters like Hitler born evil, or has something in

  • their life made them that way?

  • That's why we're going back to where it all started, and taking a look at Hitler before

  • he became the Fuhrer.

  • Before he even joined the Nazi Party in the first place.

  • Did something happen to this man in his youth that made him the monster he turned out to

  • be?

  • Let's take a look and find out.

  • It probably doesn't come as a surprise that Hitler's father was a terrible guy.

  • Alois Hitler Sr. was born Alois Schicklgruber in 1837 in the small Austrian town of Strones.

  • He was an illegitimate child of a 42-year-old unmarried catholic peasant known as Maria

  • Shicklgruber, which carried a fair bit of social stigma at the time.

  • He wasn't even given a proper surname on his baptismal certificate, the priest just

  • wroteIllegitimateinstead.

  • This was likely a major source of insecurity for young Alois.

  • When Alois was five, his mother married a local miller by the name of Johann Georg Hiedler.

  • It's strongly believed that Johann could have actually been Alois' biological father,

  • but nobody can ever really know for certain.

  • Some have speculated that a Jewish man named Leopold Frankenburger was actually Alois'

  • real biological father, but there isn't any hard evidence for this whatsoever.

  • It likely just came into popular belief because the idea of Hitler, history's most famous

  • antisemite, having a Jewish grandfather seemed darkly ironic, but this assumption really

  • doesn't line up with the facts.

  • Four years after the marriage, Maria passed away, and Alois was sent away to live with

  • his new uncle, Johann Nepomunk Hielder, with whom he trained to become a cobbler.

  • But that wasn't the path that Alois ended up taking in life.

  • Instead, he became a civil servant, and joined the semi-military profession of being a customs

  • official.

  • This led to him bouncing around Austria for a number of years, and in 1877, he decided

  • to right the biggest perceived wrong of his life and legitimize himself.

  • With permission from his Church, he asked to change his surname from Schicklgruber to

  • that of his legal father, Johann Georg Hiedler.

  • For reasons lost to time, the official who filled in Alois' papers wrote his name as

  • Alois Hitlerrather thanAlois Hiedler.”

  • It's crazy to think that, if Alois had never gotten his name changed, we may all have been

  • looking back in fear at the dreaded Adolf Schicklgruber.

  • Doesn't quite have the same scary ring to it, does it?

  • So, who was Hitler's mother?

  • She was actually the third wife of Alois.

  • His first wife was the wealthy Anna Glasl-Hörer.

  • But, much like his future son, Alois was a bad guy, and would have affairs frequently,

  • often cheating on her with girls as young as 19 when he was 43.

  • He next married one of his mistresses, Franziska "Fanni" Matzelsberger, after Anna died, and

  • had two children with her.

  • However, he would soon leave her too for his housekeeper: young Klaralzl.

  • But there was one problem: Depending on the truth of Alois' parentage, Klara may have

  • also been his first cousin, or even his niece.

  • Yes, that's right, Hitler could have been the product of cousin incest.

  • And things would only get stranger from there, as Alois and Klara started having children

  • together.

  • They had six in total, Hitler included, but the grand majority of them died in their infancy.

  • Gustav, Otto, and Ida died of Diptheria the year before Hitler was born, and another one

  • of his brothers, Edmund, would die of Measles in 1900.

  • The only surviving children of Alois and Klara were Adolf and his younger sister, Paula.

  • Adolf was born on April 20th of 1889, in the small Austrian town of Braunau am Inn, close

  • to the German border.

  • He lived with his mother and father, his biological siblings, Paula and Edmund, and his two half-siblings

  • from his father's second marriage, Angela and Alois Jr.

  • While he was close with his mother, conflict with his father and his inability to adapt

  • to school gave young Adolf a troubled childhood.

  • Alois Hitler Sr. was a profoundly cold and cruel man to his immediate family.

  • He was controlling, distant, and would beat his wife and children at the drop of a hat.

  • Some even recounted that he'd make a show of beating the family dog until it wet itself

  • on the carpet.

  • Adolf was a confident and free-spirited young man, so he received the worst of his father's

  • physical abuse in their frequent fights.

  • They also moved around a lot during Hitler's youth, as Alois Sr. retired from his job as

  • a customs official and decided to move to the Austrian town of Hafeld to farm bees.

  • The move made things even worse for Adolf and Alois Sr.'s relationship.

  • Adolf was enrolled in a strict, state-funded elementary school, and found himself at odds

  • with the establishment's rules and regulations.

  • This led to further violence from Alois, who wanted his son to take a similar career path

  • to himself.

  • While Klara tried to defend her son from his father's wrath, she often ended up on the

  • receiving end instead.

  • It was a truly toxic home life.

  • When the bee business failed, the Hitlers continued to move around over the next few

  • years.

  • Hitler, now eight years old, started to take an interest in art and performance.

  • He began painting watercolors, and even taking singing lessons from his school choir.

  • However, his life would take a major hit when his brother Edmund died in 1900.

  • This tragedy shook young Adolf, changing him from a confident, outgoing child to a withdrawn

  • oddball who regularly got into fights with teachers and, of course, his father.

  • By this point, the seeds of hatred and nationalism were already growing within young Adolf.

  • A frightening but important thing to remember is that Hitler's views, while obviously

  • scary and extreme to us in the modern day, had its roots in extremely common sentiments

  • for pre-World War One Austria and Germany.

  • Hitler and his friends, despite being Austrian, were loyal to the German cause, hated growing

  • ethnic diversity in Austria, and would even greet each other withHeil!”

  • It's likely that many of the adults in his life expressed similarly hateful views, including

  • his father and school teachers, making it seem extremely normal to believe such things

  • to a growing Hitler.

  • His school performance only got worse as the years went on.

  • Alois wanted Adolf to work at the customs office, and even took him on a tour of one

  • in his early teen years.

  • Hitler felt that this was the moment the differences between him and his father became truly irreconcilable.

  • He knew by now that he wanted to attend a classical school and develop his painting

  • skills to become a professional artist, but his father instead forced him to attend a

  • technical school.

  • Hitler would later recount in Mein Kampf that he did badly in this school on purpose, hoping

  • that when his father saw how terrible his performance was, he'd allow him to pursue

  • his dream.

  • This was the first of many grave miscalculations in Hitler's life.

  • But in the end, one event did allow Hitler to drop out of school: The sudden and unexpected

  • death of Alois Sr. in 1903, likely due to a pleural effusion.

  • He was out drinking at a local inn when he suddenly collapsed and died shortly after.

  • When the 14 year old Hitler saw his father's corpse, he supposedly began to weep uncontrollably.

  • He and his father may have constantly been at each other's throats, but losing another

  • family member was just too much.

  • His school performance deteriorated further, until his mother eventually pulled him out

  • of school entirely.

  • After a year to put himself back together, under the doting care of his mother, Hitler

  • returned to school with improved grades and performance.

  • He was never a particularly good student, but he was able to pass his exit exams with

  • two different attempts.

  • He left school with no intentions to continue pursuing a technical career.

  • With his controlling father dead, and his mother being far more supportive of her son

  • following his dreams, he set off to Cosmopolitan Vienna to develop his artistic skills and

  • hopefully join the Academy of Fine Arts.

  • But by now, we all know how that turned out for the aspiring artist.

  • Hitler was rejected twice by the Academy, finding his artistic abilities subpar.

  • Because Hitler specialised in drawingфs and buildings, they suggested instead that he

  • try his luck at the local Academy of Architecture.

  • However, this is where Hitler's earlier decisions came back to bite him, because his

  • poor school performance left him without the necessary academic qualifications to enter

  • the architecture college.

  • Naturally, this left Hitler feeling pretty sour about his time in Vienna, but contrary

  • to popular belief, his rejection from art school wasn't nearly as important in his

  • development as the ideas and beliefs he was beginning to learn from his new locale.

  • Hitler had always been a nationalist, but in Vienna, it's believed that he first started

  • developing his hardcore antisemitism.

  • He read local magazines that blamed Jewish people for all the problems that Austria and

  • Germany were experiencing.

  • Some who knew Hitler claimed his antisemitism pre-dated his time in Vienna, but it seemed

  • as though his time in Vienna finally gave him the political and philosophical framework

  • for his irrational hatred of the Jewish people.

  • But amongst all this, one final tragedy would strike the now 18-year-old Adolf.

  • His mother, Klara, the only surviving member of his family that he was truly close with,

  • had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer at the age of 47.

  • She was diagnosed and treated by the Hitler family doctor, Dr. Eduard Bloch.

  • He later recounted that Klara took the news with dignity, as a deeply religious woman

  • who believed that everything that happened was part of God's plan.

  • Adolf was devastated.

  • Dr. Bloch described the closeness of their relationship in later interviews, saying:

  • While Hitler was not a mother's boy in the usual sense, I never witnessed a closer

  • attachment.

  • Their love had been mutual.

  • Klara Hitler adored her son.

  • She allowed him his own way whenever possible.

  • For example, she admired his watercolor paintings and drawings and supported his artistic ambitions

  • in opposition to his father at what cost to herself one may guess.”

  • When she finally died from the disease, Hitler was, according to Bloch, the saddest man he'd

  • ever seen.

  • He was utterly broken - his last tether to humanity and decency, cut.

  • It was clear that Dr. Bloch's good treatment of his mother meant a great deal to Hitler,

  • as he was one of the few Austrian Jews that Hitler allowed to move from Austria to the

  • United States in 1940, as his genocidal plans were beginning to pick up steam.

  • Later being interviewed, Dr. Bloch described Klara as a kind and decent woman, and said

  • that she would roll in her grave if she ever knew what a monster her beloved son became

  • in the end.

  • So, we return to the big question: Did Hitler's childhood turn him into a monster?

  • Did Klara and Alois raise him to be a person capable of committing genocide?

  • Was his childhood so tragic that it made him evil?

  • Well, no.

  • Hitler's beliefs were the product of popular and toxic philosophies that were rife during

  • his time: Nationalism, Authoritarianism, Anti-Semitism.

  • It might be more comforting to believe that Hitler was some kind of fluke, a supervillain

  • born out of incest and abused into being evil by a controlling father.

  • But even if Adolf Hitler had never joined the Nazi Party, a man like him would have,

  • given how common it was to think like he did back then.

  • Hitler never could have done what he did alone.

  • It took millions agreeing with him, and millions more simply doing nothing, or being killed

  • while trying to rebel.

  • Bad childhoods don't cause genocides.

  • A society growing to hate its most vulnerable people does.

  • Now go check outWhat If Hitler Never Existed?” andHow Rich Was Hitler (Where Did All

  • His Money Come From)” for more facts about history's worst monster!

Adolf Hitler.

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Who Raised Hitler?

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    Summer posted on 2021/07/16
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