The leader of the Nazi Party and the man ultimately responsible for the Holocaust: Adolf Hitler. He has inspired many conspiracies over time as people try to understand how an ordinary person can incite a nation to hatred. Some today even suggest these conspiracies are fact, but let’s unpick them a little to get to the truth!
“Hitler was Jewish though, wasn’t he?”
The idea that Hitler was Jewish comes from the fact that the parentage of his father is unknown. Hitler’s father, Alois Hitler, was illegitimate and we don’t believe ever knew his father. Alois’ mother (Maria Schicklgruber), Hitler’s paternal grandmother, was known to have worked as a housemaid in the house of a wealthy Jewish businessman; therefore some claim that Alois was the child of an illicit relationship. However, even if this was the case, it would not have meant that Hitler was Jewish. The Jewish line is passed maternally not paternally.
“Hitler survived the war and escaped to South America!”
There are many rumours that Hitler did not commit suicide on 30th April 1945 in the Führerbunker under the streets of Berlin. The theory is that in the final days of the war, Hitler and his new wife, Eva Braun, were spirited out of the capital to South America where they lived a peaceful life. This theory has been around since the end of the war; even Stalin believed that Hitler had escaped. However, witnesses who were in the bunker with Hitler have stated they heard the shot, then witnessed Hitler and Braun’s bodies being burnt. Jaw fragments were also discovered after the war that matched Hitler’s dental records. Many high-profile Nazis did escape to South America, such as Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele, however Hitler was not one of those and died in Berlin in 1945.
“Didn’t Hitler have a child?”
It is generally accepted that Hitler did not have any biological children. There was a case of one man, Jean-Marie Loret, who claimed to be Hitler’s son from an affair during the First World War, but this has never been proven. Despite the Nazis’ focus on marriage and repopulation, Hitler remained unmarried (until the day before his death). He did not have children so that he could maintain his image as a father figure for the nation.
“Did Hitler know about the Holocaust?”
Hitler knew about the Holocaust. Although we have no signed order from Hitler for the Holocaust to happen, this is due to the polycratic and confusing way that Hitler’s government ruled. Hitler gave many verbal orders (ex. ‘create a Jew-free Europe’), which subordinates then interpreted themselves through various brutal and violent methods (ex. round-ups and mass killings). But the Nazi administrators were pedantic record-keepers; almost everything that happened in the Nazi regime was recorded, although much was admittedly destroyed in the final days of the war. Hitler was sent reports from the SS on the camps and the killing actions in the East. Those who say that Hitler did not know about the Holocaust are usually Hitler Apologists and Holocaust Deniers.
“I heard Hitler didn’t like Jews because he had a Jewish girlfriend who dumped him.”
If you google ‘Why did Hitler hate the Jews?’ some of the common findings are that he had a Jewish girlfriend, that he didn’t get into art college, or that a Jewish doctor failed to save his mother. In his book ‘Mein Kampf’ Hitler explains that he became antisemitic due to his experiences whilst living in Vienna (1908-1913). However, this could have been his excuse given in hindsight, as it is documented that his antisemitic views began when he was young. There are no specific facts to support any of these claims of why Hitler hated the Jews. However, it is important to remember that antisemitism was common across Europe at the time and it increased in Germany after the end of the First World War following Germany’s defeat.
“Hitler and the Nazis escaped, and are living on the moon, waiting to come back.”
By far the most ludicrous conspiracy that I have heard as a Holocaust educator is that Hitler and the leading Nazis escaped at the end of the war and are living on the dark side of the moon. Apparently, they are rebuilding their army until an opportune moment to retake Germany and the rest of the world. Despite experimenting with space travel, the Nazis did not have the technology to send Hitler to the moon, let alone to live there for the past 80+ years.
Hannah May Randall