Monday, August 08, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Journal reveals Hitler's dysfunctional family

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Journal reveals Hitler's dysfunctional family:

Two historians yesterday acclaimed the discovery in Germany of a journal written by Adolf Hitler's sister, saying it offers remarkable insights into the dysfunctional nature of the F├╝hrer's family.

Paula Hitler's journal, unearthed at an undisclosed location in Germany, reveals that her brother was a bully in his teens, and would beat her.

Recounting the earliest memories of her childhood, when she was around eight and Adolf was 15, Paula wrote: "Once again I feel my brother's loose hand across my face."
"The typewritten journal is among an assortment of documents which have been disclosed by historians Timothy Ryback and Florian Beierl.

Dr Ryback is the head of Germany's Obersalzberg Institute of Contemporary History, which is dedicated to research into Hitler, while Mr Beierl has written several books about the Nazi party leader and Third Reich chancellor.

They said that scientific tests had verified the documents' authenticity.

Other insights include the revelation that Paula, always thought of as the innocent bystander of the Hitler family, was engaged to one of the Holocaust's most notorious euthanasia doctors. Dr Ryback told the Guardian: 'This is the first time that we have been able to get an insight into the Hitler family from a very young age.

'Adolf was the older brother and father figure. He was very strict with Paula and slapped her around. But she justified it in a starry-eyed way, because she believed it was for the good of her education.'

The two historians have also located a joint memoir by Hitler's half-brother, Alois, and half-sister, Angela.

One excerpt describes the violence exercised by Hitler's father, also called Alois, and how Adolf's mother tried to protect her son from regular beatings.

'Fearing that the father could no longer control himself in his unbridled rage, she [Adolf's mother] decides to put an end to the beating.

'She goes up to the attic, covers Adolf who is lying on the floor, but cannot deflect the father's final blow. Without a sound she absorbs it.'

Mr Beierl said: 'This is a picture of a completely dysfunctional family that the public has never seen before.

'The terror of the Third Reich was cultivated in Hitler's own home.'

Mr Beierl's research also led him to Russian interrogation papers, which exposed the fact that Paula Hitler was engaged to Erwin Jekelius, responsible for gassing 4,000 people during the war.

Mr Beierl said: 'Until this point, Paula Hitler had a clean slate. But the portrayal of her being a poor little creature has suddenly shifted."

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