I'll put money down that there is no more unfortunate of a surname than Hitler. The same way that no one will ever wear one of those little tiny moustaches again I would even guarantee that if there was a Hitler the parents would never give the child the first name of Adolf. At least I would have before watching the documentary Hitler's Family. As I learned there not only is an Adolf Hitler alive, but he lives in New York. And he is a descendant of the infamous chancellor.
Seems that Adolf had a half-brother named Alois. Alois moved to Dublin, met an irishwoman named Bridget Dowling, eloped to Liverpool and had a child. In 1911, Alois and Bridget Hitler gave birth to a son named William Patrick. Growing up he was called either "Paddy" Hitler or "Billy" Hitler by his classmates and townsfolk. He grew up on Upper Stanhope Street in Liverpool. This house was destroyed in 1942 by the last German air-raid on Liverpool and is still a bomb-site.
Alois ran a hotel, restaurant, and a boarding house. Eventually, he went bankrupt returning to Germany leaving his wife and child. 1929 would be the next time that Paddy would see his now polygamous father by visiting him in Germany. This is an uneventful part of the story but I like the thought of a polygamous Hitler. I don't know why.
When Billy Hitler grew up he moved to London. By this time his uncle had risen to power and his life, for the first time, began to change due to his surname. He was fired from his job for being a Hitler. Having bad luck reestablishing himself in London, he decided to take advantage of his uncle's new power and moved to Germany in 1933.
Adolf got his nephew many jobs. Among them a banker, car salesman, and a factory worker. Unhappy with vocational choices his uncle was giving him he opted to ask the fuhrer for a better job. Foolishly, he did this by blackmailing Adolf. He threatened to go public with the fact that Adolf's grandfather was an Austrian Jew. This did not sit well with Germany's leader. In response to the threat, Adolf demanded that William give up his British citizenship and join the Third Reich in a senior position. This response made William nervous.
Distrusting his uncle and frightened that maybe this whole blackmail thing may have been a bad idea, William fled Germany and returned to London. Here he wrote his first article for the magazine Look entitled, Why I hate my Uncle. Despite his article, the British were still not thrilled to have a Hitler in their midst's and William left for the land of freedom, the U.S.A.
Paddy arrived in New York in 1939 and began speaking on the lecture circuit (at the behest of yellow journalism founder William Randolph Hearst) with his lecture "My Uncle Adolf." In 1941, once the US entered WWII, interest in his lectures waned. People apparently did not want to hear about Hitler, they just wanted him dead.
In 1942, William wrote President Roosevelt to ask that he be allowed to join the US military. The British would not take him due to his surname. He noted in his letter to the president that he and his mother owed a "great debt" to the US. It took a while for the FBI to look into his background but in 1944 he was allowed to join the Navy. One of the last stories of our William Patrick Hitler occurs at this time. When he enters the draft office and tells the recruiting officer his name the officer replies, "Glad to see you, Hitler. My name is Hess."
This would be the last time that W.P. would ever be seen or heard from in public again.
I know this is long but admit it, it is fascinating. Now here comes the part that you could not have read in the papers of the day. In fact, no one knew this part until 2002 when David Gardner wrote the book, Last of the Hitlers, which the BBC documentary is based off of.
In the 1930's Billy had a friend in England. When the war was looming, he asked W.P. to look after his younger sister. William accepted. The friend's sister, Phyllis, was 12 years younger than William and in 1947, post-WWII they were married. The Hitlers had changed their names to the Stewart-Houstons. They had four sons.
The new moniker Stewart-Houston came, strangely, from Stewart Houston Chamberlain who was a British ideologist whom Adolf Hitler once referred to as "The Prophet of the Third Reich."It was Mr. Chamberlain that first starting referring to the Aryan race in terms of the racially elite and not by ethno-linguistic origins. Sorry. I digressed. Just note that Chamberlain was anti-Semitic too. This is probably why they changed the name to Stuart-Houston at some point. As I was saying, they had four sons.
One son, Howard, died in 1989. He was the only son who was married. He had no children. The remaining siblings, Alex, Brian and Louis are still alive and well. There is a rumor that they have a pact to not have any children so that the Hitler blood-line would die with them. The youngest, Brian, claims that if there is such a pact he is unaware of it.
I claimed at the beginning of the post that there is still an Adolf Hitler alive in NY. The oldest son's full birth name is Alexander Adolph Hitler.
Addendum: William Patrick Stuart-Houston died in 1987 and is buried next to his mother in NY. The family decided to use the Stuart-Houston name after much debate about whether or not to leave the tomb unmarked. Phyllis is still alive.
Last month in New York a play opened entitled Little Willy. It is about the life of William Patrick Hitler. A musical.