An Austrian historian has found 31 letters from Adolf Hitlers father. Roman Sandgruber used them to write the first biography of Alois Hitler and sketch the youth of the later dictator.
“ There are many myths, fictions and assumptions about Adolf Hitlers youth,” writes Sandgruber in Hitlers Vater. “Thats partly because there were hardly any sources about this little conspicuous county official and partly because when he came to power, Adolf Hitler did everything he could to destroy sources about his past and create a myth.”
“ Any light that can be shone on the darkness of its early years is valuable. We get a look at how the personality of a dictator was formed. They highlight the daily life of the Hitlers, their wishes, values and conflicts.”
The 60-year-old Alois Hitler wrote the 31 letters in 1895 when he bought farm Rauschergut near Lambach from Joseph Radlegger just before his retirement. His granddaughter discovered the correspondence in the attic some time ago and played the bundle to Sandgruber.
The letters deal with the financial settlement of the sale, and offer a look into the wallet of the Hitler family. But Alois, according to Sandgruber, talks, also gives a glimpse of his family life: the maids who come and go, a horse that does not satisfy and the purchase of new equipment and livestock.
Hitlers mother Klara is called “an active woman with many friends”. The 6-year-old Adolf passes by as “mein bub”, my boy.
The letters create a broader picture of Alois, who has gone into history as a bully with fangled ambitions. It strikes Sandgruber that Alois spends the importance of his own role, while giving off on colleagues at customs. “He sounds courteous and binding, but at the core he has little respect for others.”
According to Sandgruber, the writing style is also telling. Alois uses Beamtendeutsch formally and uses expensive words, but dialect words also slip in here and there. He signs with a solemn courtesy formula, including his function: “Mit der vorzüglichsten Hochachtung Euer Wohlgeboren sehr ergebener Alois Hitler, Zolloberamtsofficial am Hauptzoll Linz”.
“ Alois Hitler failed in many areas: as a father, husband, educator, businessman and, moreover, as a human being, without many friends and without a real home. But you can also see other aspects: the meticulous duty, the constant career drive, attention to education, interest in innovation and the pleasure in convivial meetings.”
Although Sandgruber recognizes character traits that father and son share and concludes that Alois has had a great influence on the development of Adolf, he cannot answer one interesting question: was the upbringing of young Hitler already full of anti-Semitism, or is he came into contact with that later?
Sandgruber calls it plausible that customs officer Alois shared in the Alltagsantisemitismus of the double monarchy, but does not find any evidence of it in the letters.